Planning a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park?
When I was growing up, I visited Bryce Canyon National Park regularly, because we often visited family in Southern Utah. I have returned to Bryce Canyon with my own children several times in all seasons. It's a special place.
Here are some of my favorite places in Bryce Canyon National Park. They include places where I return over and over again, and a couple of new discoveries as well.
Our first stop at most national parks is the visitor center. Bryce Canyon has a pretty good one with the usual short film, exhibits and gift shop. We always visit the ranger desk for Junior Ranger information for our kids and to up-to-the-minute information about whatever we might want to know about the park.
Bryce Canyon can be easily appreciated from a string of accessible viewpoints. You can spend a full day driving from one to the other, or from several of these points you can get a different perspective of the amphitheater by hiking in.
Sunrise to Sunset Point
Sunrise Point and Sunset Point are adjoining viewpoints and you could drive to both, but to really soak up the scenery, I recommend walking the easy half-mile trail between them. The trail is paved and wide and is the only wheelchair or stroller trail in the park. There are benches along the way for resting and savoring the view.
Sunrise to Sunset is a small section of the longer Rim Trail. You can hike as much of it as you like. During warm weather months, you can hop on the free shuttle and ride back to your starting point at any time. Even better, start by riding the shuttle and then your walk along the rim will be mostlydownhill.
Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden
Navajo Loop starts and ends at Sunset Point. It is only 1.3 miles round-trip, but it descends from the rim to the bottom of the canyon and hiking back to the top is strenuous. If you're up for that, every step is worth it. The trail descends dramatically among the hoodoos for a completely different view of the canyon.
At the bottom, there is an opportunity to connect to the slightly longer Queen's Garden trail which will take you back to Sunrise Point and is considered the easiest of the trails going down from the rim. On the walk back up to Sunset Point, the excellent photo opportunities of Thor's Hammer and other formations are a good reason to stop and catch your breath.
Wear sturdy shoes with good traction and bring plenty of drinking water. This is a high elevation hike in the desert. In the summer, it's quite hot as well.
I didn't know anything about this trail for years, but am glad I finally found it. It's so fun. Not so much because of Mossy Cave, though that's fine. There is a small waterfall and stream where it's fun to play when the weather is warm.
This short and easy trail is on Highway 12, on the way to Tropic. It's outside the main amphitheatre of Bryce Canyon and the fee area.
Bryce Canyon's clean, dry air and distance from the light pollution produced by cities makes it one of the best places for stargazing. On a clear night, 7,500 stars can be seen above the canyon. Night sky programs are available throughout the year.
Stargazing programs begin with a ranger talk inside the visitor center. Once it's good and dark, the program moves to the parking where big telescopes are set up and pointed at interesting stars and planets. Stargazing programs are popular, so expect crowds.
Come see what makes Bryce Canyon special and lose yourself in Bryce Canyon's amphitheater of delicate red sandstone spires and hoodoos.
Good to Know
Where: On Highway 63 in southwestern Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park is located near the towns of Panguitch and Tropic.
When: Bryce Canyon National Park is open year-round. Warm weather months are the most popular time to visit. Roads and trails will be less accessible in winter, but it's a great time to see the park in a new way, without the crowds.
How Much: $35 per vehicle. Good for 7 days. Click the button to read my post about ways to save on national park admission.
How Long: At least one full day
Amenities: Visitor Center, Lodge, Restaurant, Camping, Ranger Programs, Shuttle
How Else Can I Help?
Need a place to stay? We usually stay in Cedar City because we have family there and it's a good hub for other Southern Utah activities. However, it's about 90 minutes from Bryce Canyon. If you want to stay close to the park, stay just outside the gates at Ruby's Inn or one of the other properties nearby.
Click the button to see rates and availability for Ruby's Inn and other hotels near Bryce Canyon on TripAdvisor.com.
I have reviewed the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel on Tips for Family Trips. Click the Next button to read my review. Or, visit my Garfield County page to get all my tips for visiting this area.