Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. It’s also shockingly compact and most folks can hit quite a few of the highlights in1 or 2 days. Below we have compiled many of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon from epic hikes to stunning overlooks.
Queens Garden and Navajo Loop
If you are planning to do any hike in Bryce Canyon, this one should be it. It’s one of the easier hikes for the level of pay-off you’ll get from the views and proximity to the hoodoos. It’s about 3 miles and moderate with a fair bit of ascent as you need to hike back out of the canyon again. But oh so worth it. Most folks take about 1.5 – 2 hours, so be sure to know if you can afford the time before committing.
Read our guide on the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail.
There are quite a few overlooks within Bryce Canyon. Sunrise point is an easy to reach overlook with some great views over the amphitheater area. I don’t know if I would consider it providing some particularly great sunrise view (vs. sunset point), but it’s definitely still worth a visit at any time of day.
The point is along the rim trail and Fairyland Loop as well as a starting point of the Queens Garden trail as well. There’s also more parking here than some other spots as well as bathrooms, general store, and picnic tables.
Sunset is worth a visit as a counter view to Sunrise Point which is only about 0.5 miles from Sunrise point along the rim trail. The trail is also the start of the Navajo Trail which can be combined with the Queens Garden for a loop.
You can also drop down the trail a bit to see some interesting formations such as Thor’s hammer from this overlook. The point is also connected via the Bryce Canyon shuttle when it’s running.
Inspiration is probably my favorite of the overlooks. It’s also lovely in that it has a lower and upper observation point for great views over the area. And one of the best places to view the sunrise.
You should be sure to check out both the upper and lower inspiration points. It gives you slightly different views over the hoodoos here in the area.
Bryce is one of my favorite views of the hoodoos all day long and in particular early or late in the day. The different angle here gives you one of the best looks at the amphitheater and hoodoos and one of my favorite places to explore.
The point is also the start of the peekaboo trail as well as the longer backcountry under-the-rim trail. Be sure to check out the famous wall of windows which you can catch from the point as well as along the start of the peekaboo trail.
Mossy Cave Trail
It’s a very different trail in the park from all the other ones. This one is away from all the hoodoos of the amphitheater and canyon area and instead shows you a different area and history of the place. The mossy cave trail takes you through the desert landscape here along a ditch and to a cave and with views of some hoodoos as well. The ditch was a redirection of the Sevier river for irrigation of the area. The trail hikes out to a waterfall along the ditch as well as the “mossy cave” where you can see…well…a mossy cave. It’s a quick 1 mile hike that’s a lovely different view of the park.
If you are up for a longer trail with some great views of Hoodoos and generally less crowds than the Queens Garden / Navajo Loop trail. The fairyland trail takes you through a much longer trail into and around the hoodoos in an area in the less trafficked northern part of the canyon. This was one of my favorite hikes and especially great in the mornings with some lovely light and lighter crowds. It takes about 4 hours on average to finish, so be sure you have the time before beginning.
Located at the far north of the park, fairyland point is a great spot to get some good views over the canyon and one of the higher viewpoints too. The one thing it seemed was that far fewer folks make it up here as it’s not along the main route of overlooks.
The point is also the start of the Fairyland loop which was one of my favorite hikes in the park. You can do this hike either clockwise or counterclockwise from here.
The point is actually located outside of the pay station entrance to the park. And while you are supposed to pay no matter what you do, if you are just popping by the park you could stop here for a quick view and photo-op.
Bryce Canyon Lodge
Opened in 1925, the Bryce Canyon lodge is a beautiful historic hotel in the heart of Bryce Canyon National Park. The lodge offers 114 rooms (including lodge suites, motel rooms, and cabins) as well as a gift shop and restaurant.
There is something magical about these old national park hotels that were built at a time when visitation to these parks were minimal. It’s a perfect spot to take a rest as well as grab a meal when you are in the park. Even just admiring the architecture and style is worth the stop.
Bryce Canyon Visitor Center
Definitely the first stop for any visitor to any national Park. The Visitor center not only has some great information on the park, where you can find out conditions, and ranger led tours. You can also check out an interesting set of exhibits on the park and hoodoos. It’s a useful way to learn how these structures form and what makes them unique in this place. You can also catch a movie about Bryce Canyon as well and the history of how it was introduced to the greater world.
The tower bridge is one of the most famous landmarks within the park. It’s a beautiful set of hoodoos/arches that makes a pretty impressive looking stone bridge. The bridge is well known through the park and worth a visit if you can make the hike out there. There are two ways to do this, you can do it as just an out and back hike to the bridge. Or if you are willing for a bit more adventure you can do it as a longer loop on the fairyland loop.
The rim trail stretches from Fairyland loop in the north south 5.5 miles to Bryce Point. The rim trail is one of the best ways to see the changing views of the hoodoos and canyons. The trail is moderate with the most ascent/descent between Fairyland point and sunrise point and sunset and inspiration. Other areas are flatter and well paved as well.
You can do this hike as either point to point (5.5 miles) or round trip (11 miles). For those who want to do it, portions are best or to use the shuttle to cut out some of the return.
Note there is no shuttle stop at fairyland point.
Red Canyon [Dixie National Forest]
Located just outside of Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and Dixie National Park give you some beautiful views of red rocks and expansive nature. You’ll see some beautiful rock formations including quite a few hoodoos in the area. You’ll even drive through a red stone arch along the road through the forest as well.
There’s quite a few trails to explore, including bike trails and we saw lots of folks riding along areas as we made our way through the forest.
If you are looking for what adventures to start with be sure to stop at the national forest visitor center for info on what to do. The visitor center is seasonal though so be sure to check info if you want to go.
Bryce Canyon is known as one of the best places to view the night sky in the world. With the lack of light pollution nearby and the elevation it makes it a great place for those interested in gazing at the stars.
The park also regularly has night sky programs throughout the high season in the park. You should if you can try to plan your stay for a moonless night if you can. On those days thousands of stars are visible to the naked eye.
Be sure to check out the ranger program page for events.
For those who are really adventuring, you should head out to Rainbow Point at the end of the road in Bryce Canyon. This overlook gives you a view back on the canyon from one of the further points.
To me it was best to start here for the overlooks and make my way back towards the entrance. This meant I didn’t have to go as far if there were any I missed and wanted to catch on my next day in the park. You can also start the Riggs Spring, Bristlecone, and Under the rim trail from near this point.
The most southern viewpoint you can reach by road in the entire park. Yovimpa gives you some views of both the grand staircase as well as the expanse of area beyond the canyon. It’s even possible to get some views far into the distance if you are here on a clear day.
The point is also the start of a few trails including the Riggs Spring Trail and Bristlecone Loop. I would recommend doing the bristlecone loop if you have 20 mins or so to spare as its a pretty breezy ⅘ of a mile hike.
The 5.5 mile peekaboo trail takes you in a loop through some incredible hoodoo formations south of some of the other main trails. This trail has quite a few hoodoos you’ll wind through as you walk this trail and be sure to look for some of the famous ones like hindu temples, alligator, and more. Some require some more imagination than others.
You’ll descend to this trail from Bryce Point and be sure to check out the wall of windows early on in the trail too. You can even connect this trail with the Navajo Trail to head to Sunset Point and Wall Street if you haven’t visited those areas.
Many hoodoos start as natural bridges and then the middle part erodes/collapses before forming two hoodoos. There are several natural bridges within Bryce Canyon National Park but most of those actually require some decent hiking to visit and view. This one however is a really easy roadside overlook stop for any folks traveling throughout the park. It’s one of my favorite overlooks because it’s different from most others (which generally just give you a different perspective of the Bryce amphitheater).
Wall Street takes you through a narrow canyon area of Bryce Canyon which really puts you within the hoodoos and the rocks of the area. Wall Street is probably the most famous portion of the hikes within Bryce Canyon and if it’s open one that is worth visiting.
The hike early or late in the day can see fewer visitors which makes it a better bet to explore. The trail is located as an offshoot of the Navajo Loop which is worth doing as part of the larger Queens Garden and Navajo Loop or even on its own for those who want to drop down from sunset point.
Note: Currently Wall Street is closed due to rockslides and trail damage. As of this writing there was not a listed date of reopening.
The aptly named farview gives you some well far views of the bryce canyon and hoodoos. You’ll get some great views of the grand staircase and various cliffs. This spot at 8819 feet is worth it to get one of the better different views of the area. It’s even possible to see as far as the Kaibab Plateau (part of what makes up the north rim of the grand canyon) and even Navajo Mountain (on the Arizona/Utah border). Wow.
Be sure to also take a short walk over to piracy point which has some cool little buttes (it’s called piracy point as it looks like naval ships).
Bristlecone Pine Trail
Located at the far end of Bryce Canyon near Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. The trail takes you along a mild 1 mile loop to see some great cliff views and bristlecone pines. I was only able to positively identify one tree along the trail however, although I’ve heard you can spy some clinging to the rock cliff as well. Regardless it’s an easy 1 mile that does give you some good views and fewer crowds so worth a quick walk if you can.
Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon National Park
One of the things I noticed about Bryce Canyon is that while there are things nearby it’s pretty empty in terms of places compared to some other parks. We want to help you though in planning your visit on where to stay.
- Bryce Canyon Lodge: If you can manage, the best place to stay is in the park. And the lodge is the best (and only) choice.
- Best Western Ruby’s Inn: Located in Bryce Canyon City, it’s one of the best situated hotels right outside of the park main entrance.
- Best Western Grand Hotel: The shockingly other best western in a similar location. I think it’s better than the above one.
- Bryce Pioneer Village: Average but cheaper hotel rooms. Also with a decent on-site restaurant. Located further out in Tropic (although I preferred it as a town).
- North Campground: 100 sites; mix of tent and RV sites. Reservations Required Peak-Season
- Sunset Campground: 100 sites: 50 tent; 50 RVs; First Come First Serve
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