Guide To Bryce Canyon
So, you're headed to Bryce Canyon (or thinking about it, anyway).Good choice! Bryce Canyon has long been a family favorite of ours for the breathtaking scenery, family friendly hikes and great accommodations. We put together this guide to help with your adventure!
As any adventure should begin, do your research on weather, current closures/ restrictions etc before you go! The NPS site is chalk-full of up-to-date info on any National Park you plan to visit, so we always recommend checking that first!
Some awareness notes (more detail below):
-Weather can change quickly!
-Bryce has several filtered water stations at the various lookouts
-Trail/lookout closures can and do happen
-Amenities may be limited depending on the season you visit
-Always practice Leave No Trace and work to leave it better
When planning a trip to Bryce, it's important to know where to stay! Here's some helpful suggestions:
Camping: If going the "rough" route, there are plenty of options from official campgrounds to dispersed/primitive. If looking for something less primitive, the Ruby's Inn campground offers a massive camping area (first come, first served) or reservable small cabins and tepees. Ruby's Inn Campgrounds have potable water, showers and flushing toilets for a family-friendly camping experience.
The Park itself has some camping available with a mix of reservable and first come, first serve. Check this link for options and regulations for the various Bryce Canyon camping options.
Hotels: Bryce Canyon City has two large Best Western Hotels if you're not wanting a camping experience. Vacancy fills quick in the summer months, so you can also look at nearby Panguitch or Tropic for additional accommodations.
Be Advised: Bryce Canyon City and the nearby towns essentially shut down in the winter months and have minimum amenities like rooms, restaurants etc. If going in winter (which is amazing) be prepared with ample food.
Bryce Canyon sits at a fairly high elevation around 9000 feet. While temps in the summer can be warm, nights are cool and the weather is generally tolerable in the summer as opposed to places like Arches. Weather, especially in the summer, can change quickly. Late July-September is the Monsoon season with massive thunderstorms coming in quickly with rain, hail and lightning. Winter months including late fall and early spring can be bitterly cold. Temps into the -20 are not uncommon. Knowing the season you go will help you to be prepared with adequate clothing for a great outdoor experience.
What To See:
Now on to the fun stuff! While Bryce has been described as "a hell of a place to lose a cow," it's so much more! If it is your first time to the park, we recommend stopping at the visitor center to watch their brief film and chat with the rangers and pick up a park map. Bryce is known for the incredible view points, and we recommend checking out each on on the in and out drive. Be sure to check out Inspiration and Bryce Point - two of our absolute favorites!
Once you've become accustomed to the lay of the land, here are some great hikes we love:
The Navajo/Queens Garden Loop - this is a must-do and will give you the full Bryce experience of being down in the hoodoos, looking up on massive pines and incredible stone spires. a 2.9 mile loop trail, we recommend starting at the Sunset Overlook and then you can take the Rim Trail back. Be advised that this trail can close at any time due to weather, and may be closed as early as October due to snow and ice causing un-safe conditions.
The Bristlcone Loop Trail is a 1 mile loop trail taking you through dense forest before you come to an incredible overlook with an 1800-year-old Bristlecone pine at the end
For the more adventurous, the Fairyland Loop Trail is 8 miles and considered more strenuous due to its sun exposure and length. CARRY PLENTY OF WATER as there is little to no shade on this trail.
Things To Do:
Beyond hikes and sight-seeing, Bryce offers some incredible Ranger-led programs including educational lectures, hikes and star-gazing gatherings. In the summer months, Bryce Canyon City and nearby towns offer several rodeos and other Western-themed activities. Let's be honest though, you go to Bryce for the hikes and scenery :).
Feel like exploring more of the Desert Southwest? Bryce is a great "home base" to explore other wonders like Escalante National Monument and Kodachrome Basin State park. Each of these deserve their own entry, but are worth a visit if you have time!
We're sure that you'll fall in love with Bryce as much as we have and hope this brief guide offers some pointers and help for your adventure! As always, have adventure awareness, know and follow the rules, leave it better and help others along the way - it's all part of how to Adventure Responsibly!
Be sure to get a sticker to commemorate your visit!