Lose yourself at Bryce Canyon

Posted By Allison on Apr 27, 2012

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When I was growing up, I visited Bryce Canyon National Park regularly, because we often visited family in Southern Utah. I introduced my children to Bryce Canyon for the first time in Fall 2011. It won’t be our last visit.

Ebenezer Bryce, the Mormon pioneer for whom the park is named, described Bryce Canyon as “a h— of a place to lose a cow.” Come see what makes Bryce Canyon special and lose yourself in Bryce Canyon’s amphitheater of delicate red sandstone spires and hoodoos.

Top stops for families in Bryce Canyon National Park | tipsforfamilytrips.com | summer vacation | Utah


What to see and do

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.

Two of my favorite walks are the trail from Sunrise to Sunset Point and Navajo Loop.

Sunrise and 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.

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. When we visited Bryce Canyon last October, this is the trail that inspired me to make my kids their own water bottle holders because I carried their water for too much of the time. We went with our two children, my 10-year-old niece and my husband’s parents. The kids reached the top first, sporting a couple of skinned knees, with my husband close behind and me and my in-laws bringing up the rear at our own speed.


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. On the night we attended, the ranger talk was a little long for my kids, but I thought it was fun and educational. 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.

When to Go

Bryce Canyon is open year-round, and the contrast of snow on the colorful sandstone is gorgeous, but at elevations of up to 9,100 feet, April through October are the most comfortable and popular months of year to see the park. There is a convenient and complimentary shuttle available during peak season, but unlike at Zion National Park, visitors are not required to use it.

I like using the shuttle because we don’t have to worry about finding parking spaces at the popular view points. I also like it because we can get off the shuttle at one stop, walk the Rim Trail, and pick up the shuttle again down the road.


Where to Stay

There are a lodge and campgrounds inside Bryce Canyon National Park, but most visitors stay outside the park at Ruby’s Inn or one of the other establishments in Bryce Canyon City or or in the the nearby communities of Panguitch or Tropic.

Planning a trip to Bryce Canyon?

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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.


  1. Great post, however you left out the “E-double-hockey-sticks” that would have really driven the point home for me! 🙂

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    • LOL. This is a family blog and I decided to err on the side of safety, though it’s one of my favorite national park-related quotes.

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  2. Thanks you for all the information especially the trails. We are heading to Bryce, Cedar Breaks and Zion this summer. We’ve usually gone to this area and Brian Head during the winters so it will be a welcome change.

    Post a Reply
    • I hope you have a great time! I so love all those places and it makes me happy when others discover them as well.

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  3. Bryce Canyon looks incredibly beautiful – I would love to visit some of the U.S national parks someday.

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