Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is one of Mother Nature’s greatest hits. Nowhere else on the planet, the red, orange, pink, and white hoodoos cut through the blue desert sky with the same intensity and create out of this world painting-like scenery. The park’s main road follows the expansive Bryce Amphitheater (not really a canyon), showing off fantastic rock formation lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. The road offers the overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point, all equally impressive. This broad accessibility gives everyone a chance to see the park. Visitors can expect spectacular hiking, backpacking, camping, and more. In this post, we will take a closer look at things to do in Bryce Canyon.
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THINGS TO DO IN BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is my all-time favorite destination. No other place I visited so far had the same jaw-dropping impact on me, and I do not expect this to change. I am talking goosebumps and tears in my eyes. Even though I returned there a few times since my first visit, my level of fascination is not diminishing. I am pretty sure I will go back.
Bryce Canyon Weather
Summer days in Bryce Canyon are pleasant and nights are cool. July is the warmest month, with an average daytime high temperature of 83 F and a nighttime low of 47 F. Much of the area’s precipitation arrives as afternoon thundershowers during mid to late summer. Spring and fall weather is highly variable. Cold winter days are offset by high altitude sun and dry climate. Winter nights are subfreezing. On occasion, cold fronts bringing temperatures as low as 30 F below zero! Although March is the snowiest month, the area can have snowstorms from October through April.
Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park is open 24/7. Visitor Center and fee booths are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The park receives close to 1.75 million visitors annually. Most visitors arrive in May through September. July and August will be relatively crowded, so try to avoid this time of year. The best months to visit are June, September, and October with pleasant temperatures good for hiking into the canyon. Do not cross out winter when planning a trip to Bryce Canyon. It will be chilly but with a coat of snow, the park will show its amazing frozen beauty. Annual snowfall averages 95 inches, providing opportunities for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing.
Things to do at Bryce Canyon National Park
Enjoy scenic highways and drives in and around the park
The best scenic byway routes in Utah are in the Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante areas. If you are looking for breathtaking views on a casual drive, give Utah’s Byway 12, Byway 143, and Scenic Highway 89 a try! See more details about the scenic routes here.
Hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park
With many easily accessible viewpoints, you can enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park without breaking a sweat. But to truly get a feel of the park, step into the canyon to explore its wonderland up close. You can choose from several hiking trails. Because many of them connect with each other, the most popular hikes are combinations of two or more. It really does not matter which one you take, they are all spectacular.
The Rim Trail is a must-see. It is a fairly easy hike, with less than 200 feet of elevation gain, that spans the rim of the amphitheater from Fairyland Point, past the Bryce Canyon Lodge, and on to Bryce Point. Shaped like a deranged crescent, it offers views of many landmarks. Learn more details about the trail here.
Trail Head: 37.649463, -112.147767
Trail Type: Hiking
Length: 4.7 miles one way
Hiking into the canyon
The majority of visitors stop their exploration at the Rim Trail, but the best hikes in Bryce Canyon lead down into the amphitheater. The difference is that instead of looking at the beautiful art from a distance, you become a part of it. I certainly felt like Alice in wonderland.
Backpacking at Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon’s backcountry is a primitive area managed according to regulations that protect its wilderness values. Camping is allowed on a limited basis and only at designated campsites. The Under-the-Rim Trail extends 23 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point and has eight backcountry campsites. The Riggs Spring Loop Trail (8.8 miles round trip) from Yovimpa Point has four backcountry sites. Both trails drop below the rim of the plateau and lead through forested areas. A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping. Permits are available at the Visitor Center. Open fires are not permitted in Bryce Canyon’s backcountry! Click Here for detailed information.
Depending on the weather, guided trail rides typically begin April 1st and run until October 31st.
Canyon Trail Rides wranglers lead 2-hour ($65 per person) and 3-hour ($90 per person) horse and mule rides into the Bryce Amphitheater along a dedicated horse trail and the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail. For more information or to book a ride, click here.
Bryce Canyon and the surrounding canyons and forests are home to a diverse population of high desert and mountain wildlife. Mammal population includes porcupines, raccoons, the Utah prairie dog, and the more plentiful mule deer. Mule deer tend to migrate to lower elevations during winter, along with mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes. Elk, pronghorn antelope, fox, ground squirrels, and marmots are also found in this region, and on rare occasions, a black bear may be sighted in the forested high country.
175 different species of birds have been documented to frequent Bryce Canyon National Park. Some are just passing through. Others stay for an entire season. Fewer still make this their year-round home. Here are a few you might see in the park: peregrine falcon, Steller’s jay, raven, California condor, Clark’s nutcracker, and osprey.
Bryce Canyon National Park can show visitors up to 7,500 stars on a moonless night. As stargazers look at the sky, the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. The combination of the towering red rocks and shimmering sky can be seen in many areas.
Thanks to an elevation between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, Bryce Canyon is one of few national parks where travelers can spend a day cross country skiing. Explore the Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, and Paria Ski Loop to get started.
As the snow covers Bryce Canyon’s tall pine trees, a calmness envelopes the park. Gear up with some snowshoes (which are available for rental) and venture into the park’s trails for an unforgettable day hiking.
Junior Ranger Program
Camping / Lodging
Bryce Canyon National Park has two established campgrounds, North Campground and Sunset Campground, offering nearly 200 total campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs. All sites are first-come-first-serve. Sites fill by early afternoon during the summer months. There are no hook-ups in the campgrounds, but a fee-for-use dump station is available for RV users at the south end of North Campground. For travelers looking to camp outside the park, the gorgeous Kodachrome Basin State Park offers 52 additional sites less than 30 minutes away.
Lodging inside of Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon Lodge is the only accommodation available in the park. Reserve well in advance, as soon as the dates open. To preserve The Lodge’s rustic feel, there are no televisions on the property. No air conditioning is needed as the mild climate in Bryce Canyon boasts summer highs that rarely reach the 80’s. The lodge closes for winter! Amenities include WiFi in the main lodge; however, coverage does not reach guest rooms. All rooms have mini-fridges, microwaves, telephones, hairdryers, coffee-makers, and thermostat-controlled heat.
Lodging outside of Bryce Canyon National Park
Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn
Rustic but very charming, it is the closest accommodation to Bryce Canyon National Park. Each room comes with a TV and air-conditioning and a private bathroom. Certain units have a seating area to relax in after a busy day. Superior rooms feature a spa bath or a hot tub. An Interior pool is also available. Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn has a feel of a small western village. On the site, you will find a gift shop and general store boasting an impressive selection of Native American arts and crafts. Guests can also buy food, camping gear, clothing, and more. Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn details and reservation.
Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
Look to Bryce Canyon City, Tropic, Cannonville, and Henrieville for a variety of hotels and lodging accommodations. More hotels around Bryce Canyon National Park.