When you plan your Bryce Canyon vacation, remember there’s more to the park than the amphitheater.
The Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive offers views of hoodoos, arches and windows at various viewpoints and overlooks.
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.
You can also use the free shuttle during the summer season.
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WHAT TO PACK FOR BRYCE CANYON
Hiking Shoes & Socks
Did you know the #1 and #2 causes of injury at Bryce Canyon is bad choice of footwear. Be sure to wear hiking boots with good ankle support and ample traction. Sport-sandals & “trainers” are NOT safe hiking footwear. We use and always recommend our Merrell Moab hiking shoes or Oboz hiking shoes worn with Darn Tough socks.
Hydration and Food
The #5 cause of injury at Bryce is dehydration. Drink 1 quart / liter every 1-2 hours. Always carry water with you during all hiking activities. Refill stations at Bryce Canyon: Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point and Bryce Canyon Lodge. We use Camelbak hydration packs or carry Hydroflask bottles in our packs. Also eat plenty of healthy snacks and food.
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.
Sunburns also lead t dehydration. Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect from the sun overhead and reflected UV light.
Bryce Canyon summers mean high temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight.
During the winter, be sure to wear the right clothing to stay dry and warm.
National Parks Pass
Before you visit Bryce Canyon National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
Other items we recommend you pack for visiting Bryce:
- US National Parks packing list – FREE DOWNLOAD!
- Fleece jacket
- Buff headbands
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera gear – FREE CHECKLIST DOWNLOAD
Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive Viewpoints
The viewpoints along the scenic drive are considered the best Bryce Canyon photo spots so be sure to have your camera ready!
Rainbow and Yovimpa Points
The Rainbow Point is a good introduction to Bryce Canyon National Park with views of the pink cliffs and hoodoos along with a fabulous panoramic view.
At Yovimpa Point you can see the various “steps” that make up the Grand Staircase landscape. Each step of the Grand Staircase is named after its colors. For instance, there are Pink Cliffs, White Cliffs, and Grey Cliffs.
Both the Rainbow Point and the Yovimpa Point are adjacent to each other with an elevation over 9,000 feet!
Black Birch Canyon
Many people skip the small turnout for Black Birch Canyon. 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.
Ponderosa Canyon earned its name from the Ponderosa pine trees that surround the entire viewpoint. Some of these Ponderosa pine trees have lived a hundred years, making them very precious. For most visitors, the view here is not as impressive as others.
The Agua Canyon viewpoint is a fun stop to 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. If you’re looking for sunset photography spots in Bryce, head to this viewpoint!
One of the most scenic vistas you’ll see of the full amphitheater is from Bryce Point. It’s known for its extraordinary sunrises. 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!
Sunset Point is a well-visited overlook due to the popular Thor’s Hammer and Silent City you can see from here. The name Sunset Point is deceptive thought because it’s NOT a good location for sunset photography. At this viewpoint, the best Bryce Canyon photos happen at sunrise when the light illuminates the hoodoos.
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. It’s also a pretty good spot for sunset photography to see and capture the last bit of light on the Sinking Ship in the distance.
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.
How long does it take to drive through Bryce Canyon?
Driving through Bryce Canyon will take you approximately three hours if you do the full scenic drive and take your time at each stop.
The Bryce Canyon scenic drive includes 13 viewpoints along the 38-mile roundtrip adventure.
To have a clearer and detailed location of the 13 places to stop on the scenic drive, check out this map.