If you have ever visited other National Parks in Utah – or any of the other 62 for that matter, then you’ll understand how special Bryce Canyon is when you begin exploring.
The colorful hoodoos are what make this area so unique.
What is a hoodoo you ask? They are pillar-like geological structures that erode over time, beginning as plateaus, turning into thin walls, eventually opening up as windows or arches, and finally becoming a hoodoo.
Bryce Canyon just so happens to have the largest collection of hoodoos in the world.
Let’s look at all the ways you can admire these natural wonders with just one day in Bryce Canyon National Park!
Know Before You Go
Being prepared before traveling is always crucial.
Although day trips might be a subcategory to your big picture adventure, it’s essential to have a plan in place for each stop.
I wanted to highlight a few topics that I thought were important in making your experience more enjoyable.
June through October is considered the busy season, as 60% of visitors come during that time.
High congestion times typically are from 10 am to 2 pm.
If you’re able to visit during November to May, you can enjoy cooler temperatures, less people, fall colors, and even snow covered hoodoos.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds very appealing to us!
Plan on being in the area longer? Spend One Day in Capitol Reef National Park too!
Bryce Canyon reaches 9,100 feet high, which can cause issues for visitors.
Altitude sickness is a common occurrence when exposed to high elevation too quickly, generally causing flu-like symptoms.
A few things to keep in mind to help battle these symptoms:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Eat carbs to fuel your body
- Slowly climb in elevation – we know this isn’t always an option
- Take it easy – don’t try to push it if you are beginning to feel weak and nauseous
- If you don’t start feeling better, you need to go down in elevation
Bringing Pets to the Park
Pets are only permitted on paved surfaces in the park which include: campgrounds, parking lots, paved roads, viewpoints – except Piracy Point and the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point.
Make sure your pet is leashed at all times, that you don’t leave your pet unattended and you pick up after them.
Any pet owners not adhering to these rules will be cited a fine.
Thing To Do In Bryce Canyon
Enjoy a Morning Hike
Bryce Canyon offers numerous trails to explore – varying in difficulty from easy and moderate to strenuous.
Remember to take into account your physical capabilities, along with the high elevation.
Here are just a couple to choose from for your morning hike:
Sunset to Sunrise Trail
This is a paved portion of the Rim Trail, offering views of Bryce Amphitheater.
Since this is paved, it is the only trail in the park that allows pets, but remember – pets need to stay on a leash at all times.
The Sunset Trailhead is one of the busier trailheads in the park, so if you are going during busy season, it might be worth looking into the free shuttle system to avoid dealing with parking.
Otherwise, arriving early in the morning gives you a better opportunity to find a parking spot.
Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop Trail
One of the more popular hikes, this combines two trails together providing some of the most diverse scenery in the park.
You will get to see the vast amounts of hoodoos, travel through narrow sections of tall red rock walls, meander along the switchbacks and even overlook the Bryce Amphitheater.
It’s recommended to hike this trail clockwise – starting at Sunrise Point and ending at Sunset. Since this is a busier trail, it helps make things feel less congested if everyone goes one direction.
Plus, national park services feel it’s the safer route since Queen’s Garden is less steep than Navajo Loop, making the descent safer. According to them, most injuries happen on the way down.
During the winter months, make sure to use Two Bridges, as the Wall Street side is closed due to being icy and unsafe.
Take a Scenic Drive
Once you are done with your morning hike, relax your legs and take in the views from the comfort of your vehicle
How long is the scenic drive in Bryce Canyon?
The drive through Bryce Canyon National Park is 18 miles long via the main road. It climbs gradually to its highest elevation (9100 ft) and ending at Rainbow Point. You can spend four hours on this drive, stopping at all the different viewpoints along the way.
Some of our favorite stops were…
This is one of my favorite viewpoints because you see such a varied landscape – hoodoos, numerous cliffs, tree covered hills, and a mountain range off in the distance.
From here you will see two of the named hoodoos, the Hunter and the Rabbit.
In earlier years, Bryce Canyon National Park named all their well known hoodoos, but as they deteriorated or fell, they no longer looked like their given name.
Because of this, no more hoodoos are being named, but they are still around for the viewing!
Technically an arch, Natural Bridge is quite different from most of what you will see at the other viewpoints.
You will notice the big contrast in color when you stand looking down – Natural Bridge is reddish-orange in color, but is surrounded by the deep green Ponderosa Pines.
Enjoy the Sunset at Inspiration Point
Although you can see this viewpoint during any time of the day, we chose to visit at sunset.
It is recommended to arrive 1.5 hours before sunset for best lighting.
We arrived a little past the suggested time, so we only saw the tips of the hoodoos glowing – but it was still an amazing sight to see!
Wrapping It Up…
Bryce Canyon is a national park that you don’t want to skip.
Even if your time only allows for a half day trip, you can still take the scenic drive and experience the hoodoo magic.
If you are able to stay an extra day, look into some of the longer hikes like Fairyland Loop or Peekaboo Loop.
You will not be disappointed!