Bryce Canyon National Park is the shy cousin to nearby Zion National Park. But with fewer crowds and all the beauty, Bryce is a must-see southwestern Utah destination. This stunning red sandstone canyon country will leave you restored and inspired long after you’ve left.
Bryce is also dryer and much easier to navigate, without the rivers, traffic, tunnels and commercial shops of Zion. It is a delightful destination on its own, and one of the most geologically unique places on Earth.
The park is unique because of its vast field of red, orange and white rock pinnacles called hoodoos. These sharp spires climb toward the sky in deep red, vermillion, and a variety of tans and whites. From above, they make for a spectacular view. When approached on foot, they form canyons and sheer walls that enclose sandy hiking trails. Visiting Bryce can mean a scenic tour by car to take in the vistas or hiking through the hoodoos.
What To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park
The best time to see Bryce Canyon National Park is spring or fall, but the winter and summer months are possible if you prefer solitude (winter) or high elevation hikes (summer). In winter, the park is quiet and you’ll have trails to yourself, but snowfall can make it a challenge to reach trails. Summer is a good option for high altitude hiking, since most of the park sits above 8,000 feet. The highest peak, Rainbow Point, is 9,105 feet at the end of a nearly 20-mile slow and scenic drive. Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park requires reliable transportation and paying a fee, but you should map out your destinations. For hiking, we recommend starting with the following amazing trails (keeping the season and temperatures in mind).
Bryce has eight day hikes and two overnight hikes. The longest is the 23-mile Under-the-Rim trail at 23 miles, and both overnighters require a wilderness permit.
Mossy Cave Hike
This is an excellent family hike because it is rated moderate to easy, with a cave at the end of the trail worth exploring. Most of the hike is open, and leads slightly upwards out of the parking lot just off the main road.
The Rim Trail
This easily accessible trail leads between Fairyland Point and Bryce point, for a total of 5.5 miles, one-way. It is heavily used, so it’s best to check it out at times when there are fewer crowds. This trail offers terrific views of what is known as the “amphitheater” from above. This area is the classic view of Bryce Canyon National Park seen on pamphlets and websites advertising the park. The trail is moderate, as there are several fairly steep changes in elevation.
This loop is also about 5.5 miles, but rated “strenuous” due to its elevation changes. The trail begins at Bryce Point, with a view into the canyon, and drops quickly and steeply to the canyon floor. Hikers are likely to encounter horses and mules, and there are shared facilities at the bottom of the canyon. This hike leads to a feature known as the “wall of windows” and takes you through the interior of the main amphitheater in Bryce National Park.
Nearly every hike in Bryce Canyon National Park is scenic, and this one-of-a-kind landscape makes a great destination for families since activities can range from strenuous hiking to easy driving.