The First-Timers Guide to Bryce Canyon

Janine Brandt | 01.14.21

Bryce Canyon National Park offers an otherworldly experience right in the heart of Southern Utah. Known for its colorful and unique hoodoo rock formations, the park attracts thousands of visitors every year to explore its soaring sandstone scenes.

It would be easy to spend several days or even a week overturning every stone in the park. But, if it’s just one item on a bigger Southern Utah itinerary, you’ll probably want to stick to the best and brightest scenes it has to offer. One of the best things about Bryce Canyon is that there are several ways to see as much – or as little – of the park as you like!

To help you plan the best visit possible, we’ve created this easy first-timer’s guide to Bryce Canyon. Read on to learn what you need to know – and shouldn’t miss – to truly say you’ve experienced all Bryce Canyon has to offer.

The Bryce Canyon Basics:

Physical Address: Highway 63, Bryce, UT 84764

Park Hours: The park is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

 

Fees: All visitors must purchase a recreational-use pass upon entering Bryce Canyon National Park. Passes can be bought onsite or at recreation.gov and cost $35 per car or $20 per pedestrian. Children 15 years and younger are admitted free. Permits are valid for seven consecutive days and include unlimited use of the park shuttle during operating season.

Getting Around: The shuttle system is the easiest way to navigate the park. Shuttles run every 15 minutes through the peak season (April to October) and operate from 8 am to 6pm. There is no additional fee to use the shuttle.

Weather: Because of its high elevation, temperatures in the park can be much cooler than in the surrounding areas. Night-time temperatures drop below freezing from October to May, with the snowiest conditions from December to February. Summer highs are in the mid-70’s with frequent thunderstorms.

Pets: Are allowed in the park with some restrictions.

What to Do

Hiking. The most popular way to explore Bryce Canyon is on foot. There is a vast network of interconnected hiking trails that guide you through the best views and vantages in the park. Difficulties range from easy to extremely challenging, so be sure to pick up a trail map when you arrive to find the best route for your group.

If you have limited time to visit, a few popular trails will help you hit the high points:

The Rim Trail. This easy out-and-back hike offers stunning top-down views of the park’s famed HooDoos as you navigate around the upper rim of Bryce Canyon. Be sure to stop at Sunrise Point and Sunset Point, two of the park’s most famed panoramic overlooks.

The Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Combination. The park’s most popular trail is a moderate three-mile loop that takes you through some of the canyon’s most iconic hoodoo formations like Wall Street, Thor’s Hammer, and Twin Bridges.

Peek-A-Boo Loop. This strenuous 5.5-mile hike winds through the heart of the park, offering excellent views of the popular Wall of Windows, the Three Wisemen, and The Cathedral.

Horseback Riding. Once you’ve covered some ground  on foot, a guided horseback ride through the park can be a fun change of pace. Canyon Trail Rides offers two-hour and three-hour horse and mule rides along a dedicated horse trail into Bryce Amphitheater and Peek-A-Boo Loop.

Ranger Programs.  Bryce Canyon National Park offers free ranger programs throughout the year that take you deeper into the park’s geology, cultural history, and more. Depending on the time of year, you can gather for an in-depth geology talk, take a night-time constellation tour, or strike out on a guided snowshoe adventure.

Where to Stay

For comfort and convenience, we recommend one of our fabulous Bryce Canyon area rentals. From secluded private cabins to luxurious suites in downtown Panguitch, each offers a world of charm just a short drive from the park gates.

For the ultimate Bryce Canyon experience, why not stay directly Under the Rim? This spacious getaway is just minutes from the park and offers stunning views of the canyon rim’s iconic rock structures. The guest house even offers a direct 3-mile hike into the park for the easiest access possible!

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