How to Spend a Day in Bryce National Park
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Riddled with hoodoos and queens and a deep canyon as far as the eye can see. Bryce Canyon National Park stands at an astounding 8000 ft high which gives you an advantage of views. There’s many loop hikes, short hikes and a sunset and sunrise point.
What are hoodoos? No I did not make up this word, it’s thing and what they’re actually called. Hoodoos are the narrow column structures that make up much of Bryce’s unique landscape. Bryce Canyon is the product from many many years of frozen water expanding and slowly shaping hoodoos and picking away at the sand rock as it crumbles in to what it is now.
Key Take Away: Bryce National Park, sitting between 6,000 to almost 10,000 feet elevation, is one of the must see attractions in Southern Utah. A day trip here is sufficient, I would recommend timing with the sunset or sunrise if possible. You can make your day of hiking as short or as long as possible (see suggestions below). Highly recommend stopping by if you have a day to dedicate or if Bryce NP is on the way to your next adventure! Pairs well with Moab, Canyon Reef or Zion trips.
When to Visit: We visited mid to late November and found it not too crowded, it was chilly but sunny. There was a dusting of snow and traffic wasn’t bad. We were able to find parking easily at 10:30 am.
Suggested Duration: Relatively speaking, I felt like I got a good taste of Bryce National Park within the 6 hours we spent there. If you’re interested in long multi-day backpacking trips you could extend your trip.
Itinerary: Arrive at Bryce, it’s just over 2 hours from St. George or 2.5 hrs if you drive through Zion. (You could pair your trip with a sunrise or sunset in Zion if you are lodging in that area).
Once you arrive: Park at Sunrise or Sunset point. The Queen’s Garden and Navajos Loop is about 3.5 mi and brings you down in to the canyon. Just remember, what you descent you’re going to walk back up :) . The terrain is dusty but well maintained trails, I could imagine it being very slick after a very cold night or snow.
(switchback trail down from sunset point)
Since it’s at higher elevation it was cold in November. Just above freezing and it was dry. Be prepared with lots of water, hiking shoes, gloves, beanie and lots of layers.
There’s plenty of signs along the trail but it doesn’t hurt to keep a map with you (can be obtained in the visitor center or when entering the park).
I recommend taking your time along the hike, take in the hoodoos, use your imagination and take snack breaks to enjoy the scenery. We had lunch at Sunset point (great facilities here).
From here there is a nice paved multi-use path for walking and biking that goes to the visitor center. We drove the rest of the way down the park to Rainbow Point (Total 18 miles).
At Rainbow point take the Bristlecone loop, it’s a one mile well maintained loop (200 ft elevation change) through bristlecone pine trees and expansive view points..
There’s lots of pull-outs along the main road, like the natural bridge (recommend seeing this).
Where to stay: It looked like there was no shortage of motels and hotels near the Bryce enterance, St. George is about 2-2.5 hours away, it’s a long day trip but definitely doable.