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Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary & Guide

Bryce Canyon National Park is a stunning natural reserve located in southern Utah. It’s known for its unique rock formations – the landscape is covered in red, orange, and white, with tons of hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock) throughout the park. There’s tons to do at Bryce Canyon, including hiking, camping, and stargazing. This guide will tell you about the best things to do, and give you a sample Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary – along with some tips for visiting the park!

The view from Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because I was going to share anyway, and this helps me keep making free guides for you!

About Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is a fairly small national park, located about a two hour drive from Zion National Park. In my opinion, it’s an underrated park, as a lot of people skip it because of its remote location, and because the towering cliffs of Zion are more popular.

Is Bryce or Zion Better?

A lot of people wonder which Utah national park they should visit – and because Bryce and Zion are close together, you might be choosing between the two. The parks are really different from each other, each offering something unique. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, and I think both parks are absolutely worth visiting if you can do both.

Zion National Park is bigger, with more hikes, more variety in scenery, and more of those breathtaking, truly jaw dropping views like what you’d find at Angel’s Landing. This park is very popular, and during the peak season, you can’t even drive private vehicles on the main road in the park.

Bryce Canyon National Park is smaller, and also less popular – so while you definitely won’t be alone in the park, there are about half as many visitors as there are in Zion, which means fewer crowds to navigate, and it’s easier to find parking. The views at Bryce Canyon are really unique, so it’s worth a visit! If you can, plan a Utah road trip that allows you to see both parks. But, you won’t need as much time in Bryce as you need in Zion. While I recommend at least two days in Zion National Park, one day in Bryce Canyon National Park is enough for most people.

Hoodoos at sunset point in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Planning Your Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary

When you’re planning your Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary, whether it’s a pit stop on a road trip through Utah’s national parks, or just a little getaway to go hiking in the high desert, my favorite tool for trip planning is The Dyrt. With the free app, you can find campsites and places to stay – and with The Dyrt Pro, you can also create a road trip route and find must see spots in Bryce Canyon National Park!

How to Get to Bryce Canyon National Park

Flying to Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is pretty remote, and a little far from major airports. The closest big airports are in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

Expedia is a good way to find flights and rental cars, and I super recommend signing up for Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) – they send you amazing deals, so you can find cheap flights. The free account is great and totally worth the few minutes it takes to sign up, and I do recommend the premium account too!

Driving to Bryce Canyon National Park

Once you fly in, you’ll need a car – which you can rent through Discover Cars or Rental Cars.

But, a great alternative to a rental car is a tiny home on wheels! With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option for vans is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb for campers – you can rent a van, RV, or trailer from a person in the area!

To get to Bryce Canyon National Park from Las Vegas, you’ll take I-15 > UT-9 > US-89 > UT-12 into the park. If you go this way, I definitely recommend stopping at Zion National Park. The drive is about four and a half hours.

From Salt Lake City, you’ll take I-15 > UT-20 > UT-89 > UT-12. This drive is four hours long.

Tours to Bryce Canyon National Park

Taking a tour is a great alternative if you don’t want to rent a car or drive yourself. There are several tours of Bryce Canyon that leave from Las Vegas, including this day trip to Zion and Bryce, this full day excursion to Bryce Canyon, and this 3 day trip around several parks and natural wonders in the Southwest.

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Getting Around Bryce Canyon National Park

A car is the easiest way to get around Bryce Canyon National Park, but there is also a shuttle available. You can rent a car at the airport, or use Escape Campervans or Outdoorsy to book a van – this way you have a car and a home on wheels!

The Bryce Canyon shuttle usually runs from April to October (exact dates can depend on weather), and is free for park visitors. The shuttle stops several times in the north section (the Bryce Amphitheater area) of the park. Taking the shuttle is a great option to prevent issues with parking, and reduces traffic in the park! There’s a parking area at the shuttle station outside the park, and a smaller parking lot at the Visitor Center.

What is The Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park?

Though Bryce Canyon is in a desert landscape, it sits at a high altitude. The average elevation in the park is 8,000 feet, which means it gets pretty chilly! It also means that there’s less oxygen in the air, so you might find yourself more out of breath than usual.

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is late spring and early fall, but here’s some information on Bryce Canyon’s seasons.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

You can definitely visit Bryce Canyon in the winter, but it gets cold! Daytime temperatures are usually in the 30s, while night time drops to well below freezing. It does snow quite a bit from December through February, but the park looks really beautiful as the orange spires get covered in white – you’ll get a unique view of the park, and there are fewer visitors around. Bring some snowshoes and hit the trails! Be aware that weather can sometimes cause road closures.

Bryce Canyon National Park in spring

March is still pretty cold, and snowstorms are common – but in April, the weather starts to warm up, and this is one of the best times to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s not as crowded as the summer, and the weather is great for hiking. It does get pretty cold at night, so bring layers!

Bryce Canyon National Park in the summer

Summer is definitely the most popular time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, so you will run into more crowds. The weather is warm, reaching the high 70s or low 80s during the day. It’s a great time for hiking and exploring the park, but in July and August, afternoon thunderstorms are common. They usually pass quickly, but it rains pretty heavily, so plan your adventures for earlier or later in the day.

Bryce Canyon National Park in the fall

Fall is another great time to visit Bryce Canyon. There isn’t a ton of fall foliage in the park, since most of the trees are pines, but there are some aspens that turn orange and yellow! As the weather cools down, it’s a nice time to hike some of the trails, and there are fewer people around than the busy summer season. Snow can start falling as early as October, so bring layers and be prepared!

Bryce Canyon National Park Entrance Fee

To visit Bryce Canyon National Park, you will need to pay the entrance fee – and you’ll need to display your pass in your car anytime you park.

It costs $35 per car, but if you visit national parks often (or at least more than twice a year), I recommend getting an America the Beautiful Pass! It’s an annual pass that will get you into every national park in the country for an entire year, for just $80.

You can purchase either pass on your way into the park, or get an America the Beautiful pass online ahead of time!

Things to Bring to Bryce Canyon National Park

To help you pack for your Bryce Canyon National Park trop, here are some essentials to bring with you!

Bonus Tip: A lot of these links are for my favorite place to buy outdoor gear – Backcountry. If you install the free Lolli extension on your browser, you can earn free Bitcoin when you shop online at certain retailers, including Backcountry. You can transfer it to a crypto wallet, or just cash out to your bank account.

Things to Do & What to See in Bryce Canyon National Park

During your trip, here are a few must see places in Bryce Canyon National Park!

Sunrise Point

Sunrise Point offers gorgeous views of the Bryce Amphitheater and the array of hoodoos, spires, and rock formations. This panoramic vista is a great place to start your day at Bryce Canyon National Park, and a great introduction to its unique landscape.

Sunset Point

Not far from Sunrise Point, Sunset Point provides panoramic views of the Bryce Amphitheater, showing off the hoodoos and geological formations that create Bryce Canyon’s landscape. The viewpoint offers visitors a breathtaking vista that is especially dramatic during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset.

Navajo Loop

This popular hiking trail lets you get down into the canyon and see the hoodoos up close. It passes through several iconic landmarks in Bryce Canyon, like the narrow slot canyon of Wall Street and the dramatic Thor’s Hammer hoodoo.

Wall Street

Wall Street is a narrow slot canyon in the Bryce Amphitheater, and one of the most iconic areas in the park. The towering walls of sandstone surrounding the switchbacks make for a dramatic view! It’s located along the Navajo Loop trail, but keep in mind that this section of the trail closes in the winter.

Thor’s Hammer

There are a lot of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, but Thor’s Hammer stands out – due to it’s resemblance to, well, Thor’s Hammer. You can see it from Sunset Point, and descend down a little along the Navajo Loop to get closer!

Queen’s Garden

The Queen’s Garden trail winds down through a maze of hoodoos. One of the rock formations is called Queen Victoria, because it’s said to resemble a queen on her throne, and the surrounding hoodoos are her royal garden!

Hole in the Wall

Along the Queen’s Garden trail, there’s a hole in the rock wall, creating a natural tunnel that you can walk right through. It’s fun to walk through, but the best view of the hole in the wall is from above – if you’re walking uphill on the Queen’s Garden trail, look down at the tunnel!

Rainbow Point

One of the highest points in the park is Rainbow Point, located at the south end of the park’s scenic drive. It sits at about 9115 feet (2778 m), and you can enjoy a sweeping view of the colorful rock formations of Bryce Canyon. The Bristlecone Loop trail, home to ancient trees that are nearly 2000 years old also starts here, so you can take a short walk before heading to some of the other overlooks.

Rainbow Point at Bryce Canyon National Park, with hoodoos and trees.

Black Birch Canyon

Black Birch Canyon is a lesser known, quieter overlook, a little bit north of Rainbow Point. It’s a good place for panoramic views of the rugged canyon!

Ponderosa Canyon

From the Ponderosa Canyon viewpoint, you can see some of the huge Ponderosa Pines that line the canyon floor, some of which are as tall as 150 feet (46 m)! This, along with the colorful hoodos, make this a great overlook to stop at.

Agua Canyon Overlook

At the Agua Canyon overlook, you can see the gorgeous canyon, and the hoodoos, rock formations, and colorful walls that surround it.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge is an arch formed by erosion, creating a hole in the rock. It’s a unique sight, and a great viewpoint to stop at while you’re in Bryce Canyon National Park!

Piracy Point

To get to Piracy Point, you’ll stop at Fairview point and take a short walk. It overlooks Swamp Canyon and the Sheep Creek drainage system to the north, and the Willis Creek drainage system to the south. Here, the Ponderosa Pine forest transitions into a Spruce-Fir forest, and this is a good place to see wildflowers in the spring, and even to spot Osprey!

The view from Piracy Point at Bryce Canyon National Park, with hoodoos and spruce trees.

Swamp Canyon Overlook

Here, you’ll get a closer view of the canyon seen from Piracy Point. Swamp Canyon is where you move from the hoodoo-filled Bryce Amphitheater to the landscape of the rest of the park, characterized by steep cliffs and towering buttes.

Bryce Point

This is, in my opinion, the best view in Bryce Canyon National Park. A short walk from the parking lot takes you to a platform over the canyon, where you’ll be above the hoodoos and layers of rock that make up the walls of the Bryce Amphitheater.

Inspiration Point

There are three overlooks at Inspiration Point – lower, middle, and upper. The lower and middle overlooks are close to the parking area, and to get to Upper Inspiration Point it’s about a .6 mile (1 km) walk. The views get better as you go up, but all three overlooks offer really beautiful, dramatic views of the Bryce Amphitheater.

Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

If you want to hit the trail, here are a few of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park!

Navajo Loop Trail

The Navajo Loop Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, passing through iconic features like Wall Street and Thor’s Hammer. The hike begins at sunset point, and descends down into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. It’s a moderate hike with a lot of switchbacks and incredible views of the hoodoos. Keep in mind that the Wall Street portion of the trail closes in the winter, so you may have to do this as an out and back, or I recommend combining it with the Queen’s Garden trail!

  • Distance: 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) loop
  • Elevation Gain: 515 feet (167 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Queen’s Garden Trail

Queen’s Garden has some of the best views in the park, and I really recommend combining this hike with the Navajo Trail to make it a loop. This trail starts at Sunrise Point, and descends into the canyon to gorgeous views of the hoodoos that surround Queen Victoria – a rock formation shaped like a queen on her throne.

  • Distance: 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 450 feet (137 meters)
  • Difficulty: moderate

Navajo Loop & Queen’s Garden Trail

The Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail is a combination of the two trails, and it’s the hike I most recommend doing in Bryce Canyon National Park! Combining the trails makes this a loop, and you’ll see the unique hoodoos of Queen’s Garden and the towering canyon walls of the Navajo Loop.

  • Distance: 2.9 miles (4.6 kilometers) loop
  • Elevation Gain: 625 feet (191 meters)
  • Difficulty: moderate

Fairyland Loop Trail

If you’re looking for a longer hike, and a quieter one, the Fairyland Loop trail is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s less popular, but the views are just as beautiful, taking you around the rim of the Amphitheater and down to see hoodoos.

  • Distance: Approximately 8 miles (12.9 kilometers) loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1900 feet (579 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Peekaboo Loop Trail

This is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, starting at the stunning Bryce Point. It descends down into the Amphitheater, where you’ll be surrounded by hoodoos before coming back up to the rim. This is one of the more strenuous hikes in the park, gaining elevation quickly on the way up. One thing to remember about hiking into Bryce Canyon is that you go downhill first – make sure you can get back up!

  • Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,560 feet (474 meters)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
Bryce Point at sunset in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Rim Trail

The Rim Trail is a great option for a hike that’s customizable. This hike goes along the rim of Bryce Canyon, from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, taking you to Sunrise and Sunset Points and Inspiration Point along the way. You can do this hike as an out and back and make it an 11 mile walk, but you can also take the shuttle back to your car instead! Keep in mind that the shuttle doesn’t go to Fairyland Point, but it does stop at all the other overlooks along this trail. You can make this hike as short or as long as you’d like!

  • Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) one way
  • Elevation Gain: 719 feet (219 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
A view of the Navajo Loop trail from the rim of Bryce Canyon.

Mossy Cave Trail

This hike is unique, because it’s one of the only hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park where you can see water! This is an easy trail that follows the river, and ends in a waterfall. It’s a perfect hike for those who want something mild, and a great place to cool off in the summer.

  • Distance: 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) one way
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet (46 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy

Bryce Canyon National Park Map

This Bryce Canyon National Park map will show you all of the best things to do and see that I mentioned here!

The hiker icons are trails (green is easy and yellow is moderate), and the binoculars are overlooks or viewpoints.

Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary

Here are some sample itineraries for a trip to Bryce Canyon! I’ll include a one day Bryce Canyon itinerary, as well as a two day itinerary.

Is One Day in Bryce Canyon Enough?

The first thing to decide is how many days you need in Bryce Canyon National Park! It’s a pretty small park, so I think one day in Bryce Canyon is enough. A day gives you enough time to do a hike and go to some viewpoints, but two days is great if you want to explore more of the park.

One day Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary

Here’s a one day Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary:

  • Start at Sunset Point and hike the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden trail counter clockwise (you can also go clockwise instead, but I think the views are better and the hike is slightly easier this way).
  • Have lunch at the Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • Take the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive up to Rainbow Point.
  • Drive to Bryce Point and take in the view!
  • End the day at Inspiration Point for sunset before heading out of the park and into Bryce Canyon City for dinner.
The Bryce Canyon Lodge at the national park.

Two Day Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary

If you have two days in Bryce Canyon National Park, here’s a sample itinerary!

Day 1:

  • Start at Bryce Point and hike the Peekaboo Loop trail.
  • Have dinner at the Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • Watch the sunset at Inspiration Point.
  • Stay in the park after the sun sets and stargaze!

Day 2:

  • Catch sunrise at Sunset Point – yes, this is actually better than Sunrise Point.
  • Hike the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden trail – you’ll likely have it mostly to yourself by starting early.
  • Have lunch at the Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • Take the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive up to Rainbow Point.
  • Drive back out of the park and stop at some overlooks along the way.
The Queen Victoria hoodoo in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon National Park

camping in Bryce Canyon national park

For camping near Bryce Canyon National Park, I recommend using The Dyrt – it’s the best way to find campsites. You can use the free version to find campsites, but with The Dyrt Pro you’ll also be able to see the boundaries of national forest land all around the national park. On national forest land, you can camp anywhere for free! You can try The Dyrt before you commit, and click here for a free trial.

There are plenty of options for free camping near Bryce Canyon National Park – so check out this guide to learn how to find free campsites!

Try the Dirt Pro

Free for 30 days

Find campsites, plan road trips, and see the boundaries of national forest land where you can camp for free!

hotels near Bryce Canyon national park

Hotels are always an easy, convenient option, and there are plenty of hotels, motels, and inns near Bryce Canyon National Park! Bryce Canyon City is just outside the park, and the nearby town of Tropic has a lot of options.

Check out the Bryce Canyon View Lodge, and the adorable Bryce Canyon Log Cabins.

For more options, check out this map of places to stay. Make sure to change the dates, and zoom out to see all of your options!

Booking.com

Cabins, Glamping, & Yurts

For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins (like this cabin near the Redwoods), glamping sites, and more. 

You can even get $10 off your first booking here!

A Camper van

With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb – you can rent vans, RVs, and trailers from people who live nearby!

More Adventures Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park is close to Bryce Canyon, and is a really incredible place to check off the bucket list – especially the Angel’s Landing hike. I recommend heading there next! If you’re heading north, Fifth Water Hot Springs is a great hike close to Salt Lake City.

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