Here’s the best Bryce Canyon National Park one day itinerary to experience the stunning beauty of this park.
Use this Bryce Canyon travel guide to plan your one day trip: things to see and do, best time to visit, what to pack, and where to stay.
We recommend at least two days at Bryce Canyon, but if you’re short on time, you can definitely see this park in one day!
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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!
Things to Know Before Visiting Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, even on holidays! Be sure to check the Bryce Canyon website for the most updated information for the visitor center hours and closures when you plan to visit.
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.
Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park
The time of year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park will play a big part in what you can see or do at the park.
Most of the year you’ll enjoy fun outdoor things to do at Bryce Canyon National Park like scenic drives, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. During the winter, the activities are a bit more limited due to the cold and snow!
Due to the higher elevation at Bryce Canyon compared to the other Utah National Parks, the weather and temperatures will be different so it’s important to be up-to-date with current weather and road conditions!
We’ve put together helpful resources so you know what the Bryce Canyon weather is like during all four seasons:
- Bryce Canyon in the Spring
- Bryce Canyon in the Summer
- Bryce Canyon in the Fall
- Bryce Canyon in the Winter
Late spring, summer, and fall are the best times of year to visit Bryce Canyon so you don’t need to worry about the cold weather and snow storms closing roads during the winter months.
Zion & Bryce Canyon AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Bryce Canyon National Park One Day Itinerary
When people ask us “How Many Days Should I Spend in Bryce Canyon National Park”, we always recommend at least two days.
But you can still see a lot of Bryce Canyon in one full day if you’re willing to get an early start in the morning to see the sunrise and stay out until sunset. Here’s the itinerary we suggest you follow.
Watch the Sunrise at Bryce Canyon
If you plan to do any Bryce Canyon sunrise photography, these are the two spots we like:
Bryce Point is our favorite place to watch the sunrise in Bryce Canyon. You’ll find panoramic views of the horizon to the west and the amphitheater to the east.
The point’s elevation above the hoodoo-filled amphitheater provides opportunity for wide angle captures of the brilliant red rock amphitheater, as well as focused telephoto shots.
The changing light as the sun sweeps across the hoodoos provides a constant variety of composition opportunities.
We recommend you get to the overlook early since it’s a popular sunrise photography spot!
Sunset Point is not actually ideal for sunset photography. It is, however, an ideal location for sunrise photography.
At Sunset Point you can capture the rising sun over the distant hills, and take pictures of the morning light reflecting on the hoodoos and landscape features before them.
And it’s a terrific spot to photograph the sunlight on the hoodoos in the amphitheater at this location. Be sure to walk along the rim trail to get different views of the hoodoos here.
Map of Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive Points of Interest
Use this Google map of the Bryce Canyon scenic drive points of interest to navigate through the park.
Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive Best Viewpoints
Usually we tell people to explore the Bryce Canyon scenic drive first thing when they arrive at the park. But if you can, you should definitely watch and photograph the sunset first, then drive the main road through Bryce Canyon.
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.
The viewpoints along the scenic drive are considered the best Bryce Canyon views so be sure to have your camera ready!
Driving through Bryce Canyon will take you approximately three hours if you do the full 38-mile round trip scenic drive with time at each stop to take pictures..
Rainbow and Yovimpa Points
These two points are a good introduction to Bryce Canyon National Park with the best views of the pink cliffs and hoodoos. This area sits at 9,000 feet in elevation which provides amazing panoramic views!
You’ll access Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point from this main parking lot. At Rainbow Point you’ll be looking north. At Yovimpa Point, you can see the various “steps” to the south that make up the Grand Staircase landscape. Each step of the Grand Staircase is named after its colors (Pink Cliffs, White Cliffs, and Grey Cliffs).
The Rainbow Point parking lot is small, but since you’ll be here early you should be able to find a parking spot! If it is busy, just drive around a bit since people don’t usually stay too long at this location.
Black Birch Canyon
The turnout for Black Birch Canyon is small, and many people miss it. From here you can see Rainbow Point in the distance. At this viewpoint you’ll get a good view of the pink, orange, and white-colored cliffs and hoodoos.
The Ponderosa pine trees that surround this viewpoint is why this is called Ponderosa Canyon. Some of these Ponderosa pine trees have lived a hundred years. The view here is not as impressive as others.
One of the popular viewpoints at Bryce Canyon is Agua Canyon. Here you’ll see two famous structures: “The Hunter” and “The Rabbit”.
The Hunter has a hat of evergreens and is easily seen just in front of the viewpoint. To the right is a smaller hoodoo commonly referred to as The Rabbit (the The Hunter’s prey).
The Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon is a popular point of interest. When you catch the light just right at mid-morning, the orange/red hues reflected inside the arch is stunning. Technically, this is an arch, not a bridge. It started as a “window” and has eroded where the opening is nearly 125 feet tall!
Fairview Point displays a vista of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with its blue-hued mesas, canyons, and plateaus. From north to south, you will be able to see the Aquarius Plateau, Molly’s Nipple, Kaiparowits Plateau, and Kaibab Plateau.
At the Swamp Canyon viewpoint you’ll notice the pink and red cliffs that surround and contrast against the evergreen Ponderosa Pines. So why is it called Swamp Canyon? Below the rim, two tiny creeks and a spring provide the water needed for lush vegetation like grasses and willows to grow. It’s a wetland compared to the rest of the park!
Bryce Canyon isn’t known for its sunsets because the canyon features all face east. But you will find the famous “glow” on the hoodoos at Paria View in the evening since the hoodoos here face the west making it a good sunset photography spot in Bryce Canyon.
If you watched the sunrise from Bryce Point, then skip this stop. One of the most popular places to see the scenic vistas of the full amphitheater is from Bryce Point. It’s known for its extraordinary sunrises so it’s a popular place in the park.
From this point you can see the sun rise on the horizon. But the best part is watching the light glow and spread along the tops of hoodoos then into the amphitheater.
Inspiration Point is another must-see viewpoint at Bryce Canyon National Park. There are three levels to view the amphitheater at Inspiration Point. Take note that the cliffs at this viewpoint are exceptionally dangerous. The edges are crumbly rock with slippery slopes and sheer drop-offs below. It’s important to remain on trails and behind railings, and watch children here!
If you went to Sunset Point for sunrise, we still recommend you visit it again. As the light changes, the formation colors change as well. It is a well-visited overlook due to the popular Thor’s Hammer and Silent City you can see from here.
Our favorite hike at Bryce Canyon is the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden trail that starts at Sunset Point and ends at Sunrise Point.
Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park offers stunning views of the Aquarius Plateau and the Sinking Ship. And as the name suggests, the colorful vistas you’ll see at sunrise make it a popular spot at this time of day, but we think Sunset Point and Bryce Canyon are still the best spots for sunrise.
Fairyland Point is the last stop along the scenic drive in Bryce Canyon when going from North to South like we recommend. But it can be easily overlooked and many people drive past without knowing it’s there.
We like to take close-up photos of the hoodoos at Fairyland Point. The hoodoos glow in the morning light and really stand out, creating an amazing photo of Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon Activities
If you started the day early with photographing the sunrise then driving the park road to visit all the overlooks, you should still have time for one of the many Bryce Canyon activities!
Horseback Riding at Bryce Canyon
Horse backing riding is another great way to see the park. You can bring your own horse and ride on the equestrian trails.
There are many guided horseback tours that you can sign up for and do while visiting. This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure we highly recommend!
Bryce Canyon ATV Tours
Bryce Canyon Guided ATV Ride – Follow your guide in your own ATV to explore the Bryce Canyon Rim. Ride lasts an hour.
Private UTV Tour of Little Bryce Canyon – Tour lasts approximately 2 ½ hours. Learn all about the history of the pioneer settlers to the area.
Short Bryce Canyon Hiking Trails
Since you only have a few hours left in your day, it’s probably best to pick one of the short Bryce Canyon hikes.
Here are some things to keep in mind before hitting the trail:
Bryce Canyon high elevation: You’ll be over 9,000 feet in the park. Many visitors can feel light-headed and nauseated with just mild exertion. All of the easy hikes at Bryce Canyon don’t require climbing DOWN into the canyon. If you do want to try one of those trails, keep in mind that all those hikes end with a climb back UP. Leave yourself enough energy for your return trip.
Hiking boots, not sneakers: The top injuries at Bryce Canyon are altitude-related illnesses and ankle injuries! You want to wear hiking boots with good “lug” traction and ankle support. When visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter, you’ll want traction devices and ski poles for extra grip and support. You can rent traction devices and snowshoes at the park.
Water, food and sun protection: Carry plenty of water; 1 quart per 2-3 hours of hiking for each person. Also eat plenty of healthy snacks and food, especially salty treats. You’ll want sun protection year-round: lip balm with UV protection, sunscreen, and a sunhat. Remember it’s just as easy to become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat so carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer.
Hiking with pets: Pets are only allowed on paved trails and viewpoints, roads, campsites, and picnic areas. The 0.5 mi section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points and the Shared-Use Bike Path are the only paved trails at Bryce Canyon. Pets must be leashed at all times and you are required to clean up after your pet. Dog owners looking for hoodoos and dog-friendly trails should consider visiting nearby Red Canyon, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Here are the three best hikes we recommend that take no more than 2 hours.
Sunset to Sunrise Trail
- Distance: 1.0 mile roundtrip
- Hike length: 1 hour
- Hike difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead Location: Sunset Point Parking Lot
The trail from Sunset to Sunrise Point is basically a short walk. You can also do it the reverse say and hike from Sunrise to Sunset Point. You’ll enjoy staggering views of the Bryce Amphitheater from below. There are several benches located along the trail that make a perfect spot to just enjoy the unique landscape scene.
Queen’s Garden Trail
- Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
- Hike length: 1 to 2 hours
- Hike difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead Location: Sunrise Point Parking Lot
The Queen’s Garden Loop is one of the popular hikes at Bryce Canyon It’s a short, steep trail that starts at Sunrise Point. Remember the trail going down the canyon may not seem too difficult, but don’t forget you’ll need to hike back up this same trail!
This trail earned its name because of the iconic Queen Victoria hoodoo. The resemblance of the spire to a carved-out Queen is visibly apparent.
Navajo Loop Trail
- Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip
- Hike length: 1 to 2 hours
- Hike difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead Location: Sunset Point Parking Lot
Along the Navajo Loop Trail you’ll see three famous formations: Thor’s Hammer, Wall Street, and Two Bridges.
We HIGHLY recommend taking this trail down to at least Thor’s Hammer so you can experience seeing the hoodoos and windows up close. That way, the climb back up isn’t as long compared to going down to the canyon floor.
The slot canyon-style narrowness of Wall Street is a famous attraction, making it one of the favorite hikes at Bryce Canyon.
End the Day at Mossy Cave Area
Late afternoon and sunset is a perfect time to visit Mossy Cave that’s just outside the park.
Mossy Cave Trail
- Distance: 0.8 miles roundtrip
- Hike length: 1 hour
- Hike difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead Location: Departing from the park Visitor Center, drive 4 miles (6.4 km) north on UT 63 (main park road) north to its junction with SR 12. Turn right and drive 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east. Parking will be on the right hand side. Do not park along the shoulder of SR 12. If parking lot is full, return to hike at another time.
The Mossy Cave Trail is an easy trail for hikers to get a view from below looking up at hoodoos without the strenuous trek down and back up the canyon!
During the winter, Mossy Cave may have large ice formations. When the weather is good, the dripping spring in the cave remains. You’ll also find the Tropic Ditch waterfall on this trail.
Being one of the most accessible trails, the Mossy Cave Trail is often one of the most visited so arrive early or later in the day to avoid the crowds.
- Visitors are permitted in the water, but only enter and exit at bridge crossings to reduce social trails elsewhere.
- Mossy Cave is a fee area, like the rest of the park. Keep your park pass or proof of admission with your vehicle for rangers to inspect.
Check Amazon for: Bryce Canyon Guides and Maps
Things To Do Near Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon to Zion
- Zion National Park Travel Guide
- Visiting Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
- Best Stops Along Scenic Byway 12
- Capitol Reef National Park Guide
- Lower Calf Creek Falls Hiking Guide
Plan Your Bryce Canyon Vacation
- Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park
- Bryce Canyon Packing List
- Things to Do at Bryce Canyon National Park
- Bryce Canyon Photo Spots
- Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon Tours
Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon:
- Bryce Canyon Places to Stay
- Bryce Canyon Hotels
- Bryce Canyon Winter Lodging
- Bryce Canyon National Park Camping
- Bryce Canyon National Park RV Vacation
- Vacation Rentals Near Bryce Canyon
- Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park
- Best Western Plus – also right outside the park