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If you are planning to travel to Southwest Utah in the winter, I would highly recommend visiting Bryce Canyon in November. Although you can expect chilly weather and potential snow, less crowds and hoodoos covered in white powder make for a phenomenal trip!
In November 2021, just over 77,000 visitors came through Bryce Canyon National Park’s gates, making it the 4th least visited month of the year. With temperatures dipping below freezing each day, make sure to pack your warm clothes and my favorite, hand warmers.
That being said, let’s look at how to make your November trip to Bryce Canyon National Park one that you’ll never forget!
Tips for Your November Visit to Bryce Canyon National Park
Get Your National Parks Pass
Before you go, make sure to have your America the Beautiful Pass. If you purchase your pass via that link to REI, they will donate 10% of the proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation, and the US Endowment for Forestry & Community – at no extra cost.
If you are an Active Duty Military member or Veteran like I am, you can save yourself – and family members in the same vehicle – $80 and get in for free! Soon – sometime in late 2022 – you will even be able to get a free LIFETIME pass which will make visiting National Parks, National Monuments, Forests, and more that much easier.
For now, make sure to have your military id, Veteran status on a state-issued id, or America the Beautiful Military Pass ready to show at the gates.
Don’t have one of those passes? You can still visit Bryce Canyon if you pay at the gates, where the fee is $35 per vehicle and is valid for seven days.
Now that we have that technicality out of the way, it’s time to highlight some fantastic things to do in Bryce Canyon during your November visit.
The parking lots have been filling up faster these days, and although November is one of the least busy months, you still should plan on getting to Bryce Canyon National Park fairly early. The visitor’s center opens at 8 am MT, but if you plan on hiking, I would get to the park before that and just plan on stopping in the visitor’s center before you leave that day.
Plus, whether it is winter or any other time of year, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the park service’s current conditions page for Bryce Canyon. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Facility Closures
Here are a few Bryce Canyon National Park facility closures to keep in mind when visiting in the winter (November to April). You can also check the current conditions for more park information.
- The Lodge at Bryce Canyon and dining room, except for a few units (see below)
- The General Store at Sunrise Point
- Restrooms at Inspiration Point, the Peekaboo Loop, and the General Store close in winter (Restrooms remain available at Rainbow Point, Farview Point, Sunset Point, the Visitor Center and North Campground)
- The North Campground RV Dump Station
- Sunset Campground
- Private and guided horseback riding close at the end of October
Things to Do in Bryce Canyon in November
Enjoy Winter Stargazing
As a certified dark sky park, Bryce Canyon has long winter nights paired with cold, clear skies that create a perfect stargazing environment. During the winter, Bryce Canyon faces toward the dimmer outer arms of the Milky Way galaxy.
Since every evening gets below freezing, the park recommends Sunset and Inspiration Points as a stargazing area since the parking lots are nearby.
Bryce Canyon National Park offers Ranger-led Snowshoe Hikes and Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes when the snowpack depth exceeds 16 inches. Keep in mind that snowshoes and poles are provided, but you need to wear winter clothing since temperatures usually drop below freezing and waterproof boots because tennis shoes are not permitted.
Here is a little information about joining these two fun adventures – check the nps.gov website regularly for up-to-date information or call the visitor center at 435-834-5322.
Ranger-led Snowshoe Hikes – When snow is deep enough and the weather permits, sign-up for the hike is at the Visitor Center the day of the program beginning at 8 a.m. and continues until full. No advance sign-up or reservations are available.
Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes – Lotteries are held at 4 pm in the Visitor Center theater. You must arrive a few minutes before 4 pm (Mountain Time) to be included in the lottery. Each person in your group must be at the lottery with the hiking shoes/boots they plan to wear to pass inspection.
Hike the Rim Trail
The Rim Trail is an out-and-back hike that lets you walk along the rim of the picturesque Bryce Amphitheater and view the hoodoos below. The trail typically travels from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, but during the winter months, the section between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point is closed.
This closure makes the hike 4 miles one way and includes a few steep elevation gains.
A portion of the Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is paved, making it wheelchair accessible, the only trail open to leashed pets, and the section with the least amount of elevation changes.
We highly recommend wearing a pair of spikes or crampons for extra grip if there is any snow/ice on the trail or if any weather is expected. Plus, using hiking poles helps add stability along the way. If there has been heavy snow recently, the park requires you to hike with snowshoes.
Explore Queen’s Garden Trail
Starting at Sunrise Point, Queen’s Garden Trail is considered the least difficult when descending into the canyon from the rim. During the 1.8 mile hike (one-way), you’ll descend 320 feet while taking in views of hoodoos.
Eventually, you’ll make it ‘Queen Victoria’ by taking a spur trail, which is what is considered the end of Queen’s Garden Trail.
You can turn this hike into a loop by continuing towards the Navajo Trail and heading up Tower Bridge. In reality, this won’t add much extra length to your total distance, but the climb back to the rim via Tower Bridge is a bit steeper.
As I mentioned, don’t forget trekking poles (those are good on dry land and snow) and spikes during those steep descents and climbs!
Take a Scenic Drive
Bryce Canyon National Park’s main road is 18 miles long with 9 scenic overlooks to check out. Starting at the visitor center (7,894 feet), it is recommended to drive all the way to Rainbow Point (9,115 feet) before working your way back and stopping at the different viewpoints.
But, you’ll notice the elevation gain of over 1,200 feet, so keep that in mind for temperature changes and proper attire!
Since weather can vary greatly in November, if there is a snowstorm, the main road will close at mile 3 to allow workers to clear the road to make them safe for visitors. Plan for at least a 2 hour trip, but 3 hours is even better.
Warm Up at the Visitor Center
If you are looking for a way to escape the November frigid temperatures and/or weather in Bryce Canyon and stay indoors, you can view the park’s award-winning film ‘Shadows of Time’ 20-minute film at the visitor center. They play it every hour and half hour throughout the day. You can also explore their museum exhibits, as well as their bookstore and souvenir shop.
Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon in November
If you want to stay IN Bryce Canyon National Park, you have two options, but you better plan ahead.
For the more rugged approach, North Campground in Bryce Canyon is open year-round, so if you want a winter camping experience, here’s your chance!
Of course, RVing is probably the more popular choice in November, but if you are considering tent camping, I would recommend contacting the campground ahead of time to make sure what loops are open.
When we went to Bryce Canyon in the winter months, at least two loops were closed, so we couldn’t find a spot to set up. The North Campground is close to the Visitor Center and Fairyland Loop/Rim Trail (the General Store is close as well but closed during the winter).
The Sunset Lodge Unit, the Guest Studio, and the Guest Suites at Bryce Canyon Lodge can be reserved from November 1st to the 28th. TVs and WIFI are unavailable in the rooms since they want to provide a peaceful experience, so if that is a high priority, you might want to look elsewhere.
A more traditional way to spend your stay in Bryce would be at the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel that is only a few minutes drive to the park’s entrance gate.
The Blueberry Inn is a bed and breakfast located in Tropic, Utah, which is about 12 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park’s visitor center. There is nothing like waking up to a warm, fresh breakfast each morning before you head out to explore the beautiful terrain.
Last but not least, check out the Stone Canyon Treehouse in Tropic, Utah, for a more unique place to stay. Tropic is a little over a 15-minute drive to the Bryce Canyon entrance.
If you are looking for views, look no further. You can sit on the deck above the trees and look out to Bryce Canyon. The Treehouse is our splurge option, but sometimes you have to go big or go home!
Wrapping It Up…
So, are you excited about visiting Bryce Canyon in November yet? I can guarantee that your national park trip will be a memorable experience as long as you dress appropriately for the winter temperatures and plan to see amazing views!