Travel Guide For Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park

Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.

Use this Bryce Canyon travel guide to plan the perfect vacation: best time to visit, where to stay, things to do, and what to pack when visiting Bryce Canyon!

visiting bryce canyon everything you need to know

There are many ways to explore the park: scenic drives, hiking, biking horseback riding and more!

Check out the Bryce Canyon itineraries we created to help you plan your trip based on the time you have to spend at the park:

Bryce Canyon Travel Bundle
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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: The Basics

It’s important to know what to expect when visiting Bryce Canyon.

When to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon is during the off-season, between the months of October and May. Not only are there fewer people in the park, but the temperatures are cooler too. A fact that makes hiking Bryce Canyon much more pleasant.

Additionally, seasonal weather variations create dazzling fall foliage displays, awe-inspiring fields of wildflowers throughout spring, and heavy blankets of snow that are perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Bryce Canyon Operating Hours

Bryce Canyon National Park is open 365 days a year, twenty-four hours a day. However, there can be temporary road closures due to heavy snowfall or other significant, inclement weather,

Check the Bryce Canyon National Park website for updated Visitor Center hours of operation.

Bryce Canyon National Park Fees

There are a variety of passes available to visit Bryce Canyon. Check the website for the most current fee prices and information.

If you’ll be visiting multiple national parks in Utah, we recommend you purchase the US National Parks Pass. You can get the America the Beautiful pass at the park, but we like to purchase the pass from REI since they donate 10% to the National Parks Foundation.

BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: If you plan on visiting nearby Zion or Capitol Reef, (or any other US National Park during the year), we always recommend getting the US National Park pass(Did you know when you buy the National Parks Pass from REI, they donate 10% to the National Park Foundation?)

Bryce Canyon National Park Weather

Because Bryce Canyon has a high-elevation climate, weather conditions can be extremely variable throughout spring, fall and winter. Therefore, always check the daily Bryce Canyon National Park weather forecast to see if the park is experiencing any weather-related closures.

Between October and May, temperatures at the park regularly fall below freezing at night, with the coldest and snowiest months between December and February (snowstorms are also not unusual in October). Heavy snowfalls are also common throughout March and April. We always pack our winter gear ‘just in case’ because you never know what weather you’ll get during these months in Bryce.

In contrast, the weather throughout the summer is quite pleasant, with June and September temperatures in the high 60s or low 70s (F), and July and August temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s (F). 

However, July and August are the rainiest months at the park so visitors should expect daily, but brief, afternoon thunderstorms with heavy rain and lightning. If you do encounter lightning while visiting Bryce Canyon, remember to stop what you’re doing and quickly get indoors.

Pets at Bryce Canyon

If you choose to bring a pet to Bryce Canyon National Park, please note that pets are only allowed on paved surfaces like campgrounds, parking lots, roads, viewpoints, the paved area between Sunset and Sunrise Point, and on the paved Shared Use Path. 

Accordingly, pets are not allowed on any unpaved surfaces or in public buildings and must always be on a leash that is less than six feet long. Similarly, owners can never leave pets unattended and must always pick up all waste that pet’s produce within the park. Owners must also ensure that pets do not make excessive amounts of noise that could disturb other park guests. Any visitors who do not comply with these regulations may be fined.  

Bryce Canyon National Park Services

Bryce Canyon National Park offers an assortment of services that guests can enjoy. There’s a free shuttle service available April through October. 

The visitor center will have the latest information about park weather conditions, closures, and ranger-led Bryce Canyon tours. It also has a charming museum exhibit that details the area’s geologic history, as well as it’s Native American and Pioneer Heritage. Additional visitor center facilities include a restroom, bookstore, and ranger staffed information desk.

Guests can enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park camping at both the North and Sunset Campgrounds (Bryce Canyon winter camping is a cool experience!) There is also the on-site Bryce Canyon Lodge, with a restaurant and gift shop that is a fantastic Bryce Canyon National Park lodging option.

Bryce Canyon National Park Map

Bryce Canyon maps: printable maps, a hiking guide, a shuttle map and more.

Bryce Canyon Parking and Shuttle Tips

When parking, if you are not staying at a Bryce Canyon accommodation within the park, then leave your vehicle outside the park, near the Shuttle Station adjacent to Ruby’s Inn, on the left side of the road, just before the park entrance. 

Once parked, guests can use the free, Bryce Canyon shuttle service to access some of the park’s most spectacular trails, rock formations, and viewpoints. And while using the shuttle isn’t mandatory, it does help reduce traffic congestion, keep parking lots open so that everyone can enjoy the park, and limit transportation related pollution.

Check the park’s website for the current Bryce Canyon shuttle schedule.

Shuttles depart every 15 minutes and can be accessed with proof of admission. The shuttle route starts at the Shuttle Station and brings visitors to some of the park’s most iconic viewpoints like Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Point.

Guests can also enjoy the Rainbow Bus, one of the many Bryce Canyon tours that are free of charge and that provide guests with a shuttle-based exploration of the park’s southern areas. This three and a half hour tour through Bryce Canyon is offered twice daily. Reservations are required since this is one of the most popular Bryce Canyon tours. You can reserve up to seven days in advance at Ruby’s Inn, Ruby’s Campground, the Shuttle Parking and Boarding Area, and by calling 435-834-5290. 

Leave No Trace

As national park visitors, we need to enjoy nature responsibly and do our best to help preserve the natural areas that we love. To help park guests achieve this goal, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has developed a list of seven principles that help outdoor enthusiasts minimize the negative ecological impact that they have on the natural areas that they love to explore. 

These principles can guide visitor actions while in the outdoors and include tenets like plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly. leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire), respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors.

Safety at Bryce Canyon

The primary causes of injury at Bryce Canyon National Park include unsafe driving, climbing or sliding down unsafe cliffs, feeding wildlife (this makes animals aggressive), dehydration, lightning strikes, over-exertion, and leaving the marked trail.

Therefore, to prevent injury, we recommend:

  • avoid climbing on park cliffs since the rock is quite crumbly
  • refrain from speeding
  • watch wildlife from afar
  • check the weather forecast and heed weather warnings
  • seek shelter if lightning is within 10 miles
  • drink one quart of water every 1 or 2 hours
  • stay on designated park trails
  • wear proper hiking boots with ankle support
  • always turn back before you get tired
  • keep the park’s high elevation in mind when doing strenuous activities (the high elevation of the park means that you get 70% of the oxygen that you’re used to)
inspiration point at Bryce Canyon
Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon

Visiting Bryce Canyon: Directions

From Salt Lake City, Utah take I-15 south then take Exit 95 for UT-20 toward US-89/Panguitch. Take UT-12 through Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park. The whole journey should take 4 hours and cover 268 miles.

From Las Vegas, Nevada take I-15 north until you reach Exit 95 for UT-20 toward US-89/Panguitch. Take UT-12 through Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park. The whole journey should take 4 hours and cover 260 miles

Visiting Bryce Canyon: Things to Do

There are a variety of things to do at Bryce Canyon National Park:

  • Day hiking
  • Ranger-led programs
  • Backcountry hiking
  • Bryce Canyon camping
  • Exploring the visitor center
  • Horseback riding
  • Photographing Bryce Canyon
  • Stargazing
  • Snowshoeing, sledding, cross country skiing in the winter

Plus, Bryce Canyon even hosts a variety of festivals each year that guests of all ages will enjoy, events like the Geology Festival, the Prairie Dog Festival, and the Astronomy Festival.

We recommend 2 days to really explore the park, but you can see Bryce Canyon National Park in One Day. A one day itinerary would include:

If you’ll be driving from Bryce Canyon to Zion, there are quite a few things to see, do, and photograph along the way as well!

Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon
Natural Bridge

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

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.

Bryce Canyon switchbacks along the Navajo Trail
Bryce Canyon switchbacks along the Navajo Trail

Bryce Canyon Hiking Trails

The Bryce Canyon hikes range from easy to strenuous so you’ll find something for all abilities.

You’ll find fun day hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park if you’re short on time. Additionally, many of Bryce Canyon’s most popular hiking trails are interconnected with one another, making it easy for guests to combine several basic trails to create a more strenuous hike.

The top easy hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park include Mossy Cave, Sunset to Sunrise, Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, and Queen’s Garden. 

Some of the moderate hikes in the park include Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden trail, Tower Bridge, Hat Shop, and Sheep Creek/Swamp Canyon. 

While some of the most strenuous hikes through the park include Fairyland Point, Peekaboo Loop, Navajo/Peekaboo Combination, Figure 8 Combination, and Bryce Amphitheater Traverse. 

Thor's Hammer at Bryce Canyon
Thor’s Hammer

Photography Spots at Bryce Canyon

Because of the unique geologic formations found throughout Bryce Canyon National Park, visitors will encounter a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors that make for fantastic photo opportunities. Be sure you pack your camera equipment for this stunning national park! 

We recommend getting up early for Bryce Canyon sunrise photography – you won’t regret it!

To see the most exquisite Bryce Canyon views of the park’s most iconic rock formations, we recommend stopping at the viewpoints and overlooks that are found along the Bryce Canyon scenic drive.

Some of our favorite Bryce Canyon photo spots are:

  • Rainbow and Yovimpa Points
  • Agua Canyon
  • Natural Bridge
  • Bryce Point
  • Paria View
  • Amphitheater Overlooks

Grab our Bryce Canyon Photography Guide with tips and the best times of day to take pictures at each viewpoint!

Bryce Canyon Stargazing

You cannot visit Bryce Canyon National Park without stargazing one evening. As you view the night sky, you will be blown away that you can see up to 7500 stars on a moonless night!

Take advantage of seeing the night sky at one of Utah’s International Dark Sky Parks. From March through October you can photograph the milky way!

hiking trails at Bryce Canyon in the winter
Hiking trails at Bryce Canyon in the winter

Ranger-led Programs at Bryce Canyon

A multitude of ranger guides, outdoor programs are available for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. To find out more, simply check the Ranger Program board in the Visitor Center. Some of the ranger-led programs currently offered at Bryce Canyon National Park include:

  • Geology Talks – These programs are a half an hour long, discuss the geology of the park, and are offered year round.
  • Rim Walk – Offered throughout the spring, summer, and fall, this program is an hour and a half long hike that takes you past some of the best views in the park, while educating guests about the various flora and fauna that can be found within the park. 
  • Kids Program – This hour long program is geared towards families and is fun for both kids and adults alike. 
  • Evening Program – This hour long program focuses on some of the compelling stories and amazing resources within Bryce Canyon National Park. 
  • Full Moon Hikes – Offered throughout the summer, these two to three hour hikes allow you to enjoy the beauty of the full moon and the park with a fun and interactive night walk.  
  • Astronomy Programs – Do an hour of stargazing and explore the park’s many constellations with the help of a local ranger.
  • Snowshoe Hikes – These programs allow you to snowshoe along the Bryce Canyon winter hikes (snowshoes provided) while learning about the park’s winter ecology and about how Hoodoos are actually formed.
Horseback riding tour at Bryce Canyon
Horseback riding tour at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Horseback Riding

Another fantastic way to explore Bryce Canyon’s magical landscape is during a guided horse or mule trail ride.

Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the experts at Canyon Trail Rides lead 2 or 4-hour rides into Bryce Amphitheater and along either Peek-a-boo Trail or a specially designated horse trail.

Horseback riding is a popular tourist attraction in Bryce Canyon as well as other tours in the area

Biking at Bryce Canyon
Biking at Bryce Canyon

Biking at Bryce Canyon

Riding a bike through Bryce Canyon allows you to see the park from a whole different perspective.

The great thing about biking is you can cover a lot more of the park than you can on your feet. So, if you are only visiting for a day or two think about biking for at least one of the days. 

On a bike, you will need to stick to the authorized bike trails or the highways within Bryce Canyon. 

Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Things To Do Near Bryce Canyon

Where to stay in Bryce Canyon

Visiting Bryce Canyon: Lodging

Here’s a list of accommodation options near Bryce Canyon National Park. Keep in mind that there aren’t as many Bryce Canyon winter lodging options as there are other times of the year.

Campgrounds at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park camping is a great way to stay close to the hiking trails and other fun outdoor activities that the park has to offer.

Check out the list of Bryce Canyon National Park RV vacation sites in the area in case you can’t get a spot in the park. There are also options for boondocking near Bryce Canyon as well.

North and Sunset are the two campgrounds within the park. Both campgrounds are available to RV and tent travelers and have flush toilets and drinking water. Some sites are reservable, but most are first-come, first-served and fill up by the early afternoon during the busy summer months. And while there are no hook-ups at either campground, there is a dump station at the North Campgrounds that can be used for a small fee. 

Only the North Campground is open throughout the year (note that one loop is open if Bryce Canyon winter camping). The Sunset Campground is only open between late-spring and early-fall, with a single group site that campers can use. 

Backcountry Camping at Bryce

Experience the solitude of the backcountry trails. Know the guidelines for backcountry travel and camping by going to the National Park Service website for Bryce Canyon.

Indoor Lodging at Bryce Canyon

The Bryce Canyon Lodge, located a short walk from several trails and lookouts, is a national historic landmark and the last remaining of the original park buildings constructed in the 1920s.

It’s a no-smoking facility and, to maintain its authentic rustic feel, there are no televisions. The lodge does have a gift shop and restaurant. Rooms fill up fast so be sure to make your reservations well in advance. 

Accommodations Near Bryce

Bryce Canyon City is adjacent to the park and has many hotel options. The city also has restaurants and shopping. 

Bryce Canyon maps and guides

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Plan Your Bryce Canyon Vacation

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