Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park
After falling asleep beneath a star-filled sky, you’re greeted by rays of pink and orange light from nearby sandstone hoodoos in front of a picturesque sunrise. Needless to say, this is one of the most beautiful places to camp in Utah. There are two established campgrounds to choose from, Sunset Campground and North Campground. Each campground accepts reservations — which are a good idea, because sites tend to fill quickly.
Sunset Campground lies just 1.5 miles south of the visitor center, with 100 sites for RVs and tents. This campground includes sites that are ADA compatible. Reservations are accepted early May through late September, and the fee is $15 per night, per vehicle. These sites are ideal if you’re interested in hiking the trails near Sunset Point.
The nearby North Campground lies just east, across the road from the visitor center. You’ll find 99 available sites for RVs and tents. Reservations are accepted early May through late September, and the campground has at least one loop that is open year-round. North Campground also has an RV dump station (open summer only). If you’re a winter camper, or plan to spend time on the nearby Rim Trail, this may be the campground for you.
Hiking & Backpacking
After a quick camping breakfast, set out on Bryce Canyon’s renowned network of hiking trails. Whether it’s a stroll down the popular Rim Trail, a short family hike on The Mossy Cave Trail, or a multi-day backpacking excursion on the Under the Rim Trail, there is great hiking for everyone to enjoy. Plus, the region surrounding Bryce Canyon is full of equally rewarding trails to explore.
Before you go, it’s always a good idea to stop in at the visitor center. Here you can get a schedule for the Bryce Canyon shuttle, which connects the shuttle area outside the park and the park’s most popular trail heads. To get started, explore the best hiking trails in Bryce Canyon to start building your to-do list.
Once you’ve covered some ground on foot, a guided horseback ride may be the perfect change of pace. There are a number of guides in the nearby town of Bryce, with tours available for every ability level and schedule. Horseback riding is an ideal way to experience a bit of the park’s rich western history, and a local heritage that once heavily relied upon horses for transportation. To get started, browse Bryce Canyon’s horseback riding guides.
As an accredited International Dark Sky Park, Bryce Canyon promises world-class stargazing. In fact, some call it the “last grand sanctuary of natural darkness.” On a clear night you may be able to see planets like Jupiter and Venus, as well as a Milky Way that stretches across the sky. With little to no light pollution from nearby towns, the more desolate regions of the park may fall under the darkest skies you’ve ever seen.
To get started, we’d recommend signing up for the park’s “Dark Rangers” stargazing program. Learn more with this guide to stargazing in Bryce Canyon.
While the hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park is superb, so is the park’s 18-mile scenic drive (Highway 63). Start at the Visitor Center for a brochure full of useful Bryce Canyon information. All of the overlooks lie to the east of the park road (left, as you drive south), but that’s not to say that the western side of the road isn’t packed with jaw-dropping scenery. To avoid cutting across traffic, we recommend that you drive all the way south, then stop at the overlooks on your way back. If you only have a short amount of time, make sure you stop at Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints.
Here’s a tip to help you get a good look at some of the best scenery: Just after passing the park boundary (and before the entrance/fee station) watch on your left for the road to Fairyland Canyon. Many visitors, in their eagerness to enter the park, miss this viewpoint just 1 mile off the main road that allows you an up-close view of the red rock spires. The fantastic hoodoos you see below, for which Bryce is so famous, were explained by the Paiutes as “legend people” who had been turned to stone. As you study the twisted maze of canyons, consider the words of early Mormon pioneer (and park namesake) Ebenezer Bryce, who described it as “a hell of a place to lose a cow.”
Due to congestion on the park road, trailers are not allowed beyond Sunset Campground, and vehicles longer than 25 feet are not allowed at Bryce Point or Paria View. You may leave your trailer in the visitor center parking lot. As noted above, a free voluntary shuttle bus system, operating May through early October (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily), will take you from Ruby’s Inn or the visitor center to all the park’s overlooks and trailheads. So if you want to experience scenic driving through Bryce Canyon National Park but don’t want the hassle of dealing with traffic, take the shuttle.
Cross Country Skiing & Winter Hiking
If your first thought wasn’t to pack your ski gear on a trip to see Southern Utah’s red rocks, you’re not alone. Winter in Southern Utah is one of our local’s best kept secrets. Thanks to the park’s high altitude, its trails, ponderosa pines and red rock hoodoos fall under a blanket of snow come November. For a more tranquil, less-crowded vacation, winter is the perfect time to visit Bryce Canyon. Plus, many trails are still groomed for hikers, others are ready for snowshoeing, and the family can spend an afternoon ice skating in the charming town of Bryce, just outside the national park.
More Bryce Canyon Inspiration
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