Visiting Bryce Canyon in December

Planning a vacation to Bryce Canyon in December is a unique time to go to enjoy winter activities! It’s important to note the weather at Bryce Canyon in the winter is cold and snow storms may create challenging travel conditions and road closures. 

But if you’re looking for a place to see amazing landscapes and enjoy winter activities, then a December vacation to Bryce Canyon might be what you’re looking for!

Bryce Canyon National Park in December

Located in the southwest corner of Utah, Bryce Canyon showcases a unique landscape willed with colorful rock structures called ‘hoodoos’. Use this Bryce Canyon travel guide to plan your winter vacation: services available, weather, what to pack, where to stay, and things to do!

We live only a few hours away from Bryce Canyon and have visited during all four seasons. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting the area throughout the years, and specifically for the month of December!

Our biggest tip is to be prepared for the winter weather so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do at Bryce Canyon! Use our Bryce Canyon Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in December! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

get the free Bryce Canyon National Park packing lists
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A Photo Tour of Bryce Canyon National Park

Take a visual tour through Bryce Canyon National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Visiting Bryce Canyon in December

Bryce Canyon National Park is open 24/7, 365 days a year! Be sure to check the NPS website for the most current Bryce Canyon hours and closures for December.

You will need a National Park pass to enter Bryce Canyon. The annual park pass can be purchased online or at the park entrance booth. If you purchase a digital pass be sure to print or save it on your mobile device since connectivity is limited in the park.

Here’s what you can expect and how to prepare visiting Bryce Canyon in December!

December Weather at Bryce Canyon

Due to the high elevation of Bryce Canyon (near 8,000 feet!), it will be a different experience to visit compared to the other Utah National Parks in the winter.

At Bryce Canyon, the temperatures in December are cold! The average highs around 36 degrees Fahrenheit and the lows around 15 degrees at night.

Bryce Canyon National Park weather can change quickly at this high elevation. Winter storms can create some challenging conditions. You can see current weather conditions at Bryce Canyon on the NPS website and check weather forecasts in advance for storms. We recommend you check out the 7-day forecast as your visit approaches.

The daytime temperatures in December are terrific for exploring the Bryce Canyon hikes if you’re willing to wear layers.

Don’t let these cooler temperatures deter you from visiting, with the right winter gear and clothing you will have an amazing trip to Bryce Canyon in the winter months. It will probably snow in December at Bryce Canyon so be prepared with insulated boots and waterproof hiking gear.

If you’re not used to a dry environment, you may also need to use lotion and lip balm!

Bryce Canyon entrance in the winter
Bryce Canyon entrance in the winter

Bryce Canyon Services in December

The park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, even on holidays! But the visitor center will be closed on holidays so be sure to check the website for the most updated Bryce Canyon hours and closures in December.

Restrooms at the following locations are open in December: Rainbow Point, Farview Point, Sunset Point, Visitor Center and North Campground.

The Bryce Canyon shuttle doesn’t run in the winter. The shuttle service runs mid April through mid October. Check the NPS website for specific service dates.

When a snow storm hits the area, there may be temporary road closures. Road(s) will stay closed until plowing is completed and conditions are safe for visitor traffic. Check current conditions for more information.

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon “might” have some units open in December, but check in advance.

Bryce Canyon winter camping can be found at the North Campground as it’s open year-round and it’s first-come, first-served. The Sunset Campground is closed November through March.

Thor's Hammer in the snow
Thor’s Hammer in the snow

Is December a Good Time to Visit Bryce Canyon

Check out our guide for finding the best time to visit Bryce Canyon. Each season and month of the year will have different activities and services available.

Bryce Canyon in the winter is a fun time to enjoy winter activities and avoid the crowds if you don’t mind cold and snow!

Things to Do at Bryce Canyon in December

December is a magical time to visit because there are so many Bryce Canyon winter activities to enjoy as well as avoid the crowds!

You’ll want to pack your camera gear to capture Bryce Canyon winter photos!

If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon National Park with kids, there are fun way to get them excited before, during and after the trip with National Park activities:

Bryce Canyon Visitor Center in December

If it’s your first time to Bryce Canyon, we recommend you stop at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, especially during the winter.

Find out the latest road conditions, hiking trail conditions and talk to the ranger to see if they have any tips for things to do while visiting. It’s also good to ask about the weather forecast during your stay.

The services at the Visitor Center include:

  • Restrooms
  • Drinking Water
  • Backcountry permits
  • First Aid
  • Ranger Help Desk
  • Book Store
  • Twenty Minute Introduction Movie
  • Exhibits

Kids, and adults, will enjoy collecting stamps in their National Park Passport book! Passport booklets and stamp sets are “usually” available at the park visitor centers, but we recommend you get the passport book before the trip, just in case!! We’ve seen sad kiddos when a visitor center is out of passport books. Rangers can stamp a piece of paper, but it’s not just the same experience! 

Rim Trail with snow at Bryce Canyon
Rim Trail with snow

Bryce Canyon Ranger-Led Programs in December

The ranger-led programs at Bryce Canyon happen all year long, but they aren’t as frequent in the winter. They are all free, but some require you to preregister. 

In December you’ll find the programs include the Hoodoo Geology Talk and Snowshoe Hikes. You can get snowshoes at the visitor center if you don’t bring your own. This snowshoe adventure takes about 1 ½ to two hours to complete. You must be at least 8 years old to go on the hike. 

On some Saturdays, you can enjoy looking at the constellations with the telescopes at the Visitor Center. 

If you are traveling with kids you will want to ask about the Junior Ranger Program!

Natural Arch with snow at Bryce Canyon
Natural Arch with snow

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive in December

The Bryce Canyon scenic drive is the perfect activity if you want to see the views of hoodoos, arches and windows from various viewpoints and overlooks.

In December the road may be closed past the amphitheater at any time during the winter for snow removal. The roads to Fairyland Point and Paria Point are closed during the winter.

We always recommend you start by driving to the end of the road at Rainbow Point then working your way back to the amphitheater. This way all the overlooks are on the right so it’s easy to pull in and out of each parking lot.

Check out the Bryce Canyon GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location. It’s a great way to have a tour guide in your car as you drive!

Bryce Canyon hoodoos in the Winter.
Bryce Canyon hoodoos

Bryce Canyon Photography in December

There’s nothing like capturing your own Bryce Canyon photos of the naturally carved amphitheaters with colorful hoodoos and windows. Your camera will get a workout taking pictures at the Bryce Canyon must see viewpoints that showcase naturally carved amphitheaters with colorful hoodoos and windows.

Bryce Canyon sunrise photography is awesome anywhere along the rim between Sunrise Point and Bryce Point. 

Some of our favorite Bryce Canyon photo spots are the pullouts along the Bryce Canyon scenic drive. Stop and take pictures of the views since each overlook has a different vantage point of the canyon below.

Be sure you have your winter photography gear packed to take pictures at this stunning national park! We love our photography gloves and rechargeable hand warmers!

Grab our Bryce Canyon Photography Guide with tips for taking pictures with any camera!!

Stargazing in December at Bryce Canyon

Stargazing at Bryce Canyon National Park is a must-do activity. It’s worth braving the cold night air to see the sky full of stars on a moonless night!

It will be easy to see why Bryce Canyon is one of Utah’s International Dark Sky Parks.

Bryce Canyon Cross Country Skiing in December

One of the best ways to explore Bryce Canyon is on cross country skis. There are many routes and trails to explore in the winter. Bryce Canyon maintains miles of trails for skiing.

If you are coming from out of town you can rent ski equipment in Bryce Canyon City. 

hikers on the trail at Bryce Canyon in the snow
Winter hiking at Bryce Canyon

Hiking in December at Bryce Canyon

The Bryce Canyon winter hikes can be divided into easy, moderate, and hard depending on your hiking ability.

IMPORTANT TIP: remember that all trails below the rim have steep climbs out of the canyon!

After a snow storm, most of the trails will require snowshoes. After a few days of use, the trails will become packed you’ll need to wear hiking boots with traction devices instead.

When hiking at Bryce Canyon, keep these tips in mind.

  • Carry lots of water (1 liter for every 2-3 hours of hiking) per person, even in the winter
  • Be aware that due to park elevation, you might get a little light-headed while hiking. 
  • Stay on maintained trails and do not climb hoodoos.

Our favorite hikes at Bryce Canyon are the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden trail, Mossy Cave, Sunset to Sunrise, Rim Trail and Bristlecone Loop.

With all trails keep in mind that snow is only cleared from sidewalks as well as the overlooks. The snow can become muddy and slippery so you want to be extremely careful while hiking. 

Backpacking in December at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon backpacking is hard throughout the year, but it is even more difficult in the winter with all the fallen snow and freezing temperatures.

It is easy to find yourself veering off the trail if you are not careful. You must be a very experienced hiker to be issued a permit in the winter months. 

Sledding in December at Bryce Canyon

With all the snow you might find yourself wanting to go on a sledding adventure. Sledding is allowed above the Canyon rim, but you must never sled off the rim of the canyon. It is prohibited and enforced.

There are not a ton of places to sled within the park. Many of the local residents prefer sledding near Red Canyon, but not in the park. 

Bryce Canyon Camping and Lodging in December

There is only one option for Bryce Canyon winter camping. The North Campground is open year-round and it’s first-come, first-served. The Sunset Campground is closed November through March.

Only loop A of North Campground is open in the winter months. It is first come, first serve. Due to the cold temperatures there are times you could find yourself with the campground all to yourself. If you want to experience the campground and Bryce Canyon without all the crowds and people, winter is the time to do it. 

Winter can create challenging conditions especially at high elevations and the inexperienced should be cautious.

It is not uncommon for people to visit the park during the winter. Here are alternative Bryce Canyon winter lodging if you don’t want to camp:

Bryce Canyon maps and guides

Check Amazon for: Bryce Canyon Guides and Maps

Things To Do Near Bryce Canyon in December

Bryce Canyon Itineraries

We’ve put together our favorite Bryce Canyon National Park Itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in the park! Grab a free copy by clicking the graphic below. Click on the links to read the detailed itinerary for Bryce Canyon based on the time you have to spend at the park!

Bryce Canyon Travel Bundle

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