If you have ever visited a Utah National Park – or any of the other 62 parks in the US for that matter – then you’ll understand how remarkable 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!
Tips to Know Before Going to Bryce Canyon
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. Therefore, I wanted to highlight a few tips that I thought were important in making your experience more enjoyable.
Busy Season at Bryce Canyon National Park
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 can visit from November to May, you can enjoy cooler temperatures, fewer people, fall colors, and even snow-covered hoodoos.
Bryce Canyon National Park reaches over 9,100 feet high, which can cause issues for visitors. Altitude sickness is common when exposed to high elevation too quickly, generally causing flu-like symptoms. A few things to keep in mind to help battle these symptoms:
Bringing Pets to the Park
Pets are only permitted on paved surfaces in the park, including campgrounds, parking lots, paved roads, and 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 it unattended and pick up after them. Any pet owners not adhering to these rules will be cited a fine.
Things to Do at Bryce Canyon NP
Enjoy a Morning Hike
Bryce Canyon offers numerous trails to explore – varying in difficulty from easy and moderate to strenuous. Remember to consider your physical capabilities, along with the high elevation. Here are just a couple to choose from for your morning hike.
The Sunset to Sunrise Trail 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 must always stay on a leash.
The Sunset Trailhead is one of the busier trailheads in the park, so if you are going during the 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 is one of the more popular hikes, combining two trails and providing some of the most diverse scenery in the park. You will 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 in one direction
Plus, national park services think 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 Bryce Canyon National Park’s Scenic Drive
Once you are done with your morning hike, relax your legs by taking a scenic drive. The main road in Bryce Canyon NP is 18 miles long, gradually climbing to its highest elevation and ending at Rainbow Point.
You can spend up to four hours on this drive, stopping at all the different viewpoints along the way (there are 9 scenic overlooks). Some of our favorite stops were:
Rainbow Point 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 Aqua Canyon viewpoint, 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 in Bryce Canyon National Park. You will notice the big contrast in color when you stand looking down – Natural Bridge is reddish-orange but is surrounded by the deep green Ponderosa forest down in the canyon.
Watch the Sunset at Inspiration Point
Although Inspiration Point is a fantastic viewpoint during any time of the day, we chose to visit at sunset. It is recommended to arrive 1.5 hours before sunset for the 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, but of course we recommend at least one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.
If you can stay an extra day, look into some of the longer hikes like Fairyland Loop or Peekaboo Loop. You will not be disappointed!
Check out our Google Web Story – 5 Things to Do in Bryce Canyon You Won’t Soon Forget