Of all the Utah natural wonders, the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park is spellbinding—from looking out over the amphitheater from Inspiration Point to hiking deep into the canyon via the Navajo or Fairytale Loop. The tall clay structures—hoodoos—are fantastical-looking and completely unlike natural structures you’ve encountered in other U.S. national parks. Best of all, you can visit Bryce National Park year-round. If you go in the off season, you’ll have the the park entirely to yourself—an accomplishment considering Bryce sees two million travelers each year. Here’s everything you need to know when planning a trip to Bryce Canyon:
Best Hikes in Bryce National Park
Navajo Loop is the most popular Bryce Canyon National Park trail. Starting at Sunset Point, it winds into the park’s main amphitheater. Navajo Trail itself is only 1.3 miles, but many hikers tack on the Queen’s Garden Trail, making for a combined 2.6-mile hike. On the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail, you’ll encounter Thor’s Hammer, one of the most iconic hoodoos in the park.
Fairyland Loop takes hikers through the northern part of Bryce, revealing rim views and delving deep into the canyon. Starting at Fairyland Point, the hike is eight miles and takes four to five hours.
Sunset Point is for the Bryce-visitor who wants the views without the trek. Sunset Point is a famed Bryce National Park vista, and the start of the Navajo Loop trail. However, you can skip the Navajo Loop and take the half-mile, wheelchair-accessible rim trail to Sunset Point if you’re in the market for a leisurely walk and photo opp rather than a full-blown hike.
Best View Points That Are Easy to Drive to
One of the best ways to tackle Bryce Canyon National Park is to make a day out of hiking and driving the park. Navigating the park is fairly easy—after your hike, pile into the car to see a few more views of Bryce on high.
Inspiration Point should top your list if you only have time to drive to one vantage point. From Inspiration Point, viewers look toward the Silent City with a clear view of the entire main amphitheater.
Fairview Point shows you the magnificent colors of Bryce National Park: the pink cliffs of Aquarius Plateau, gray cliffs of Kaiparowits Plateau, and white cliffs of Molly's Nipple.
Natural Bridge is exactly what it sounds like: a mother nature-made arch in Bryce Canyon National Park. Peak through the natural bridge to see the dense Ponderosa pines lining the mountains beyond.
Rainbow Point sits at the southern edge of the park and offers an expansive view of Bryce to the north. Yovimpa Point is an easy walk from Rainbow Point. From Yovimpa, you’ll get an unobstructed view of the Grand Staircase while standing atop the Pink Cliffs.
Bryce Point is the quintessential Bryce lookout, famous for its majestic sunrises over the full amphitheater.
When to Visit Bryce Canyon
High season in Bryce Canyon is May through September. These are the warmest months, and the park sees the longest hours in summer—8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The visitor center is only open until 6 p.m. in April and October—which is fall-spring shoulder season. October is still a beautiful month at Bryce Canyon; though it’s chillier, the crowds have started to filter out.
Finally, the visitor center closes at 4:30 p.m. from November to March, but don’t let that dissuade you. Hiking a snow-covered Bryce is exceptional. The dusting of snow on the hoodoos makes for spectacular photos. If you’re looking for a strenuous three-day backpacking excursion, the summer and fall are the best months to visit. But if you’re after a two-hour hike and a drive around the park, fall and winter are a great time to experience the park in the post-high-season stillness. For winter driving in Bryce National Park, four-wheel-drive is encouraged.
Best Hotel Options Close to Bryce National Park
Bryce Canyon Villas are modernized cabins sitting within the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, a 20-minute drive from the park entrance. The cabins are outfitted with small kitchens, remodeled bathrooms, and cozy king or queen beds.
Bryce Trails Bed and Breakfast serves a delicious home cooked breakfast in the dining room at 8 a.m. before you set out to the hoodoos. The B&B sits directly to the east of Bryce in Tropic, Utah, also about 20 minutes from the park. Book their Queen’s Garden room with a king bed and decor inspired by an English garden. Bryce Trails can also facilitate one-on-one photography classes for those looking to learn more about how best to capture the national park.
Getting to Bryce National Park
Increasingly popular for the luxury traveler, you can fly a private or group charter to Bryce Canyon Airport, in Garfield County, just four miles north of the park. Alternately, you can fly into Las Vegas (McCarran International Airport) or Salt Lake City International Airport, both of which are a four-hour drive to Bryce National Park.