Visiting Bryce Canyon? Planning to spend one day at Bryce Canyon? Our one day in Bryce Canyon itinerary is here to help you plan a perfect adventure-packed one-day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. From how to reach, where to park, where to stay, where to eat, what to pack to the best time to visit, best hikes, best viewpoints, one- day itinerary, and practical tips – this detailed guide about Bryce Canyon National Park leaves no stone unturned.
We visited Bryce Canyon as a part of our American Southwest road trip along with Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sunset Crater. We also explored Death Valley National Park.
Travelers love to explore Bryce Canyon National Park as a part of Utah’s Mighty 5 road trip. Utah’s Mighty 5 refers to all the five national parks in Utah viz. Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park.
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Before moving on to the suggested itinerary for one day in Bryce Canyon National Park, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of planning a trip to Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park at a Glance
One of the best national parks in the USA, Bryce Canyon is technically not a canyon but a series of natural amphitheaters, structures eroded into the eastern slope of Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce Amphitheater is the largest and beautiful of all. It offers a panoramic view of the most famous and unique structures called hoodoos.
What are hoodoos? They are stunningly gorgeous red, orange, pink, and coral rock formations chiseled by wind and water for millions of years. Wikipedia defines a hoodoo as a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland.
Bryce’s unique landscape attracts over two million visitors every year. Visitors flock here to see the most stunning views in the world!
Where is Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah close to the city of Bryce. Hoodoos are found all around the world but Bryce Canyon National Park has the largest concentration in the world.
Why Visit Bryce Canyon
Because it’s here you can witness the unique hoodoos!
It’s a delight to see thousands of hoodoos changing colors with sunrise and sunset. You can observe vivid color by day and twinkling starlight by night. Bryce Canyon National Park is a certified International Dark Sky Park that makes it one of the best places in the USA to go stargazing.
You can observe the hoodoos from various viewpoints or take a hike below to witness them up close.
Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon
Though summer is the most popular time to visit Bryce Canyon it’s not the ideal time in my opinion. Tourist traffic is high and the weather isn’t favorable to enjoy the beautiful hiking trails.
We visited during the fall (mid-September to early October) and completely loved it. The viewpoints and trails were peaceful with a handful of tourists and the weather was pleasant. Spring is also a good time to visit the canyon.
Winter brings loads of snow to Bryce Canyon. The snow-dusted red rock hoodoos against a wintry backdrop look otherworldly. Winter also brings in a lot of winter activities like Skiing. Please note that the restaurant and the lodge remain closed during the winter season.
If hiking is your thing, winter isn’t a good time to go as most of the hiking trails aren’t accessible during winter. For hiking, late spring and early fall are the best times to visit.
The Rim of Bryce Canyon sits at about 9100 feet above sea level meaning unpredictable weather. You should be prepared for any kind of weather regardless of the season.
To conclude, each season offers its own charms!
How to Reach Bryce Canyon
Bryce is easily accessible by car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and St. George.
You can rent a car and drive to the canyon from Las Vegas ( 4 hours), Salt Lake City (4 hours 10 minutes), or St. George (2 hours 30 minutes). Driving the Utah Scenic Byway 12 is utterly beautiful.
Related Read: Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
A few miles before the entrance to Bryce Canyon, you must stop at the scenic Red Canyon.
If you’ve more than a day to dedicate, you can explore Zion National Park along with Bryce Canyon as Zion is just about 72 miles ( 1 hour 20 minutes) away from Bryce Canyon.
If you don’t want to rent a car, there are so many amazing guided day tours available from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Some of the recommended Bryce Canyon tours are:
Zion and Bryce Canyons Small-Group Tour from Las Vegas
Zion Park and Bryce Canyon Tour from Las Vegas
Bryce Canyon and Zion Park Combo Tour from Las Vegas
Private Bryce Canyon National Park Tour from Las Vegas
Private Bryce Canyon National Park Tour from Salt Lake City
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Parking at Bryce Canyon
There are parking lots available at the visitor center, Bryce lodge, and different viewpoints. Try to get early to find a parking spot as they start to fill up by 10 am especially during the height of the summer.
How to Get Around Bryce Canyon
You can drive your own car within Bryce.
Also, Bryce Canyon offers a free shuttle service. Riding the shuttle is a convenient and sustainable way to enjoy the park’s most popular area.
The park shuttle runs from April through mid-October every 15 minutes from 8 am to 8 pm or 8 am to 6 pm depending upon the season. It begins its journey at the Shuttle Station in the town of Bryce but can be boarded at any stop by showing the admission ticket.
The shuttle stops at a Visitor Center, Bryce Lodge, Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, and the campgrounds.
As the standard shuttle doesn’t cover Rainbow Point, the park operates Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour (3.5-hour roundtrip) twice daily ( 9 am and 1:30 pm). It runs 18 miles (28.9 km) south from the visitor center to Rainbow Point. You can book the tour at Ruby’s Inn, Ruby’s Campground, the Shuttle Parking, and the Boarding Area, or by calling the park service. The shuttle can be boarded at Ruby’s Inn, Ruby’s Campground, Shuttle Parking and Boarding Area, Bryce Canyon Lodge, North Campground, and Sunset Campground.
Click here to know more about the park shuttle.
Note: You can also explore the canyon from the back of the horse. The park offers 2-hour ($75 per person) and 3-hour ($100 per person) Canyon Trail Rides into the Bryce Amphitheater along a dedicated horse trail and the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail. The rides run from April through October and can be booked at the lodge or at the visitor center.
The entrance fee to Bryce Canyon is $35 per car, $30 per motorcycle, and $20 per pedestrian. The pass is valid for 7 days.
If you plan to visit a number of American national parks in a year, we recommend you buy America the Beautiful – Annual Pass. You can visit as many national parks as you want in a given year for just $80.
Bryce is open 24/7 all year round.
The visitor center is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm in summer (May to September). It’s open until 6 pm in spring (April) and fall (October). It closes at 4:30 pm in winter (November to March). The visitor center remains closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
Where to Stay in or around Bryce Canyon
From motels, hotels, and cabins to lodges and campgrounds, there’s no dearth of accommodation options in and around the national park.
Camping in Bryce Canyon National Park
North Campground is open all year. It has 99 sites. All North Campground sites are first-come, first-served.
Sunset Campground is closed in winter. It has 100 sites. All Sunset Campground sites are reservable. The reservation must be made 6 months in advance.
It costs $20 per tent site and $30 per RV site for both the campgrounds.
Camping near Bryce Canyon National Park
Located at the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park (just 1/2 a mile) Ruby Inn’s RV Park and Campground is another beautiful option. Nestled in pines, the campsite looks beautiful and is close to the park. It provides 150 sites including tent sites, RV sites, and cabins. You can book online or over the phone.
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
Dating back to 1924, the Lodge at Bryce Canyon offers a historic experience. Its proximity to Sunrise Point and Sunset Point makes it highly desirable.
The lodge has 114 rooms including lodge suites, motel rooms, and cabins. It’s highly recommended to book well in advance.
There are several hotels to choose from in the town of Bryce.
Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn
Located close to Bryce Canyon (1 mile), Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn offers all the required amenities needed for a comfortable stay.
Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
If you crave luxury amid nature, Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel is the best bet! The hotel offers exceptional amenities including a delicious breakfast and easy access to the park and other nearby attractions.
Luxe Bryce Canyon Home with Fireplace, Patio and Grill
About 6 km from Sunrise Point, Luxe Bryce Canyon Home with Fireplace, Patio and Grill is a perfect accommodation for families. This holiday home offers 3 bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, free WiFi, and on site private parking.
Bryce Canyon Inn
Located in Tropic, about 10 miles away from the park, Bryce Canyon Inn offers clean, cozy, and budget-friendly cabins. There’s a gourmet coffee shop and a Pizza Restaurant attached to it.
Where to Eat in and around Bryce Canyon National Park
There are a variety of dining options in and around Bryce Canyon National Park.
- The Lodge at Bryce Canyon Restaurant
- Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill
- Rubys Inn
- Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
- Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee
- Cowboy’s Smokehouse Cafe
- Bryce Canyon Pines
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Bryce Canyon Viewpoints
The northernmost point along the rim, Fairyland Point offers great views over Fairyland Canyon.
The closest viewpoint to the park’s entrance, Sunrise Point offers incredible views over the canyon. You can witness the hoodoo formations like Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship here.
Sunset Point offers gorgeous vistas of some of the most famous and beautiful hoodoos of Bryce Canyon viz. Silent City and Thor’s Hammer. Thor’s Hammer remains an all-time favorite among visitors. It has to be one of the best Bryce Canyon attractions
The Inspiration Point comprises three viewpoints. You gain elevation as you hike from first to second to the third viewpoint. The view from the top (Upper Inspiration Point) is stunning!
One of the few points in Bryce Canyon National Park where the rock formations face west to catch the last rays of the evening sun, Paria View is a perfect place to catch and photograph a stunning sunset! If you’re lucky, you might see Peregrine Falcons gracing the sky.
Swamp Canyon Overlook
Swamp Canyon affords views of Mud and Noon Canyon Buttes, the geologic forerunners to hoodoos.
Swamp Canyon Loop Trail starts here.
Bryce Point gives you a scenic view of the entire amphitheater with all its hoodoo formations that makes it one of the best points to drink in the spectacular overall view of the canyon.
Bryce Point is famous for its breathtaking sunsets.
As the name suggests, Farview Point offers far-reaching gorgeous views of famous landmarks that form the Grand Staircase including the Kaibab Plateau on which the North Rim of the Grand Canyon lies.
Natural Bridge Viewpoint
Natural Bridge is one of the largest natural red-rock arches in Bryce. It’s one of the most stunning sights in Bryce Canyon National Park.
At an elevation of 8,800 feet, Agua Canyon is known for two famous hoodoo formations – The Hunter and Rabbit or Backpacker. The rocks have fallen over the years and changed shapes so they don’t look like the things they were named for. Whatever the shape, the views of massive hoodoos encircled by the pink cliffs are breathtaking.
If you stare out into the vast expanse, you might spot Navajo Mountain rising in the distance. You can see a majestic California condor in the sky if you get lucky!
Named after the giant Ponderosa Pines on the canyon floor, Ponderosa Canyon offers far-reaching views of the steps of the Grand Staircase and the different trees and plants that grow on each layer.
It also serves as a trailhead for Agua Canyon Connecting Trail that descends 1.6 miles (2.6km) into a vibrant amphitheater of hoodoos before joining the Under-the-Rim Trail.
Black Birch Canyon Overlook
Sitting at 8750 feet, Black Birch Canyon is one of the many beautiful viewpoints along the Southern Scenic Drive.
Rainbow Point (9,115 ft) is the highest viewpoint in the park.
From Rainbow Point, you can witness the entire national park stretching out before you to the north. The view includes all five colorful layers (pink, gray, white, vermilion, and chocolate) of the Grand Staircase formation. The pink cliffs form Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos.
You can view as far as 100 miles on a clear day!
The spur trail to Yovimpa Point gives on to the more expansive views.
Yovimpa Point, at 9100 ft, beautifully showcases the Grand Staircase with its diverse layers of rock. The view extends all the way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on a clear day.
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Bryce Canyon Hikes
The Rim Trail is 11-mile (17.7 km) round trip or 5.5-mile (9.16 km) one way. The trail extends from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point and lets you witness the Main Amphitheater from above.
The most beautiful section (offers spectacular views of the scenic Bryce Amphitheater) of the Rim Trail runs from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. This 1-mile (1.6 km) section is paved and thus, wheelchair accessible. It’s the only trail open to pets.
The Queens Garden (1.8 miles/3 km) starts at Sunrise Point. It’s the easiest and the shortest trail into the canyon.
The series of hoodoos at the end of the trail refer to the Queen’s Garden. They say if you use your imagination you’d picture Queen Victoria overseeing the garden before her.
Navajo Loop Trail
The Navajo Loop Trail starts and ends at Sunset Point. This 1.3 miles (2.2 km) loop of moderate-intensity lets you get close to the park’s beloved hoodoo formations – Thor’s Hammer. The switchbacks take you down between narrow and colorful limestone walls to the Bryce Canyon Floor with stunning views of Douglas fir trees and the Thor’s Hammer.
There are two sides of the loop – the Two Bridges and the Wall Street. The Two Brides side is open year-round but the Wall Street side is not. When both sides are open, you can start at Wall Street and end at Two Bridges or vice-versa. When Wall Street is closed, you can hike into the canyon and out of the canyon from Two Bridges side.
Queen’s Navajo Combination Loop
The Navajo Loop can be combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail to form a Queen’s Navajo Combination Loop (2.9 miles or 4.6 km). This remains the most popular trail in Bryce Canyon National Park!
Descend down into the canyon from Sunset Point by taking the Navajo Loop Trail. At the end of one side (Wall Street or Tower Bridge) of the Navajo Loop Trail, follow the signs to the Queen’s Garden Trail to ascend back up to Sunrise Point.
This can be done the other way around too – start at Sunrise Point and end at Sunset Point.
If you choose to combine the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden, you’ll not be able to witness the other side of the Navajo Loop Trail.
Navajo Peekaboo Combination Loop
The Navajo Loop Trail in combination with a Peekaboo Loop Trail forms Navajo Peekaboo Combination Loop (4.9 miles or 7.8 km). The hike can be started at Sunset Point by following a Navajo Loop Trail and extended further by taking a Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail to end at Bryce Point.
You can do it the other way around too – start at Bryce Point and end at Sunset Point.
Fairyland Loop Trail
This 8 miles (12.9 km) trail offers stunning scenery along the rim (includes a portion of the Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Fairyland Point) and into the canyon (Boat Mesa and China Wall).
A slight detour (about 0.2 miles) lets you see Tower Bridge.
Mossy Cave Trail
Mossy Cave Trail (0.8 miles or 1.3 km), unlike other day hikes in the park, begins with a climb and ends with a descent. The trail forks towards the Water Canyon in one direction and Mossy Cave in the other.
The longest trail in the park (23 miles or 37 km one way), Under the Rim Trail, takes its visitors to the quiet forested backcountry of Bryce Canyon. The trail starts at Rainbow Point and ends at Bryce Point or vice-versa.
You can stay at one of the backcountry campgrounds on the way (Yellow Creek, Right Fork of Swamp Canyon, or Natural Bridge) with a backcountry camping permit.
The entire length of the trail is divided into small segments, each connected to the highway by short access trails so hikers can cut short the trail as per their wish.
Rigg Springs Loop
Beginning at Yovimpa Point and ending at Rainbow Point or vice versa, this 8.8 miles (14.2 km) trail takes you through spruce, fir, and bristlecone forests and unique verticle red cliffs.
This 1-mile trail starts at Rainbow Point at the end of the scenic loop and takes you through a pine forest (with 1,800-year-old trees) to the edge of the canyon and offers gorgeous vistas.
Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail
This 5.5 miles (8.9 km) trail starts and ends at Bryce Point. The hike is one of the most difficult hikes in the park because of rapid elevation change and switchbacks. There are many short, steep climbs and descents. The main feature of the Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail is the Wall of Windows, a series of sandstone arches and hoodoos in the Bryce Amphitheater.
Be informed that the trail is also used by horse or mule riders.
Sheep Creek and Swamp Canyon Loop
This 4.2-mile loop runs mostly through the thickly wooded basins and valleys with views of distant red and pink cliffs. It travels down two short canyons – Sheep Creek and Swamp Canyon and includes a one-mile section of the Under-the-Rim Trail to form a loop.
The trail begins at Sunrise Point and continues northeast along the Fairyland Loop Trail. After reaching the Tower Bridge, you can turn around and retrace your steps back to Sunrise Point or hike further following the Fairyland Loop Trail.
The Figure 8 Combination
This 6.4 miles (10.2 km) hike begins at Sunrise Point and Ends at Sunset Point or vice-versa. It combines Queen’s Garden, Peekaboo Loop, and Navajo Loop Trails.
Hat Shop Trail
Starting and ending at Bryce Point, Hat Shop is a 4-mile (6.4 km) trail that takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete. The hike steeply descends following the first 2 miles (3.2 km) of 23-mile Under-the-Rim Trail where hikers can see the cluster of balanced-rock hoodoos along the edge of the trail and then turn around to climb the 2 miles (3.2 km) back.
The narrow, orange peaks seem like wearing hats of large grey boulders, thus the name.
Bryce Amphitheater Traverse
This 4.7 miles (7.5 km) trail lets you hike across Bryce Amphitheater. It descends from Bryce Point, turns clockwise (left) on Peekaboo Loop towrads the Wall of Windows, connect to Queen’s Garden, and ascend to Sunrise Point.
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Bryce Canyon Itinerary: Best Things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park in a Day
Bryce Canyon is one of the smallest national parks in the USA. Its compact nature makes it easy to explore in a day. With one day in hand, you can cover the highlights of the park.
Stop by at Bryce Canyon Visitor Center
You must stop by at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center before you start exploring the national park, A museum and interactive displays give you a sneak peek into the geology, history, flora, and fauna of Bryce Canyon.
Plus, you can get more information about the ranger-led programs here. Don’t forget to pick a map of the park.
You might want to watch a 20-minute award-winning film (Shadows of Time) about Bryce Canyon. The movie is played every 30 minutes throughout the day.
Witness Sunrise over the canyon
Watching the sunrise over Bryce Amphitheater is, undoubtedly one of the best things to do at Bryce Canyon. The way morning sunlight casts a radiant glow on the hoodoos, it’s an otherworldly experience that you can’t afford to miss.
Sunrise Point (because of the name and its proximity to the visitor center) is where most of the visitors head to see the sunrise. So, you’ll find a lot of people here waiting for the sun to rise.
With lesser crowds and far-reaching views of the hoodoos, cliffs, and the horizon, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point are also great spots to watch the sunrise.
All said and done, the sunrise at Bryce Canyon is awe-inspiring no matter from whichever viewpoint you watch.
Take in the Views from Above | Walk the Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point
The Rim Trail runs 11 miles along the rim (from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point), however, a mile of it (from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point) is the most stunning part.
Walk a mile of the Rim Trail to drink in some of the best views of the amphitheater below.
Take in the Views from Below | Hike the Queen’s Navajo Combination Loop Trail
Now that you’ve enjoyed the views from the rim, It’s time to hike below the canyon. You can hike down into the valley from Sunset Point via Navajo Loop Trail and combine it with Queen’s Garden Trail to ascend back up to the rim at Sunrise Point.
The Queen’s Navajo Combination Loop Trail combines the beauty of the two of the visitor’s favorite trails at Bryce Canyon. You’d not only see the unique hoodoo formations of Queen’s Garden Trail but also observe the tall and narrow redrock limestone walls and switchbacks of the Navajo Loop Trail.
Drive the Scenic Loop
The 18-mile scenic drive in Bryce Canyon National Park runs along the rim from the north (entrance) to the south. It starts just past the Bryce Amphitheater along UT-63. The scenic drive includes about 15 stunning viewpoints.
We recommend you drive all the way from Sunrise Point to Rainbow Point (north to south) and then wind back up towards Sunrise Point (south to north) while stopping at various viewpoints on the way. This will make parking easy at each pullout as all the main pullouts are along the eastern side of the road.
PS: If you don’t want to drive or save the hassle of pulling out, you can leave your car at the visitor center or the lodge and join the Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour.
Join a Ranger Program
No visit to Bryce Canyon is complete without joining one of the many awesome Ranger programs offered by the park. Join a park ranger to discover the unique stories of Bryce Canyon. From Hoodoo Geology Talks, Rim Walks, Constellation Tours to Full Moon Hikes, Snowshoe Hikes, and Kids Programs – there’s something for everyone year-round.
Witness Sunset Over the Canyon
It’s time to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring sunset! Sunsets at Bryce Canyon are as magnificent as sunrises.
Sunset Point (of course, the name) and Paria View are the best spots to catch a sunset in Bryce Canyon.
Sleep Under the Stars | Go Stargazing
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best stargazing locations across the world! They say visitors can see up to 7,500 stars on a moonless night.
While at Bryce Canyon, join one of the tours offered by Astronomy Rangers for an amazing astronomy experience.
Bryce offers 4-day Astronomy Festival every summer. Various daytime and evening programs and stargazing opportunities take place during the festival.
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Tips to Visit Bryce Canyon
- Get here as early as possible to avoid crowds. You can have all the viewpoints and trails to yourself. Plus, you can’t miss the sight of glowing hoodoos under the morning sunlight. Bryce Canyon is at its best in the morning.
- Sunrise is the best time to capture photographs here.
- Spend at least one night in or around the park to get the most out of your visit.
- Don’t forget to pack sun protection gear especially if you are visiting during the peak summer season.
- Pack a raingear if you’re visiting around July and August as there are higher chances of thunderstorms.
- Pack a reusable water bottle that you can fill up at the visitor center and various trailheads and viewpoints. It’s vital to remain hydrated.
- Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots to explore the park.
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