Best Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park
Everywhere you turn in Bryce Canyon National Park, a gorgeous and fascinating view awaits. Depending on how much time you have and how much physical activity you're up for, you can explore deep into hoodoo-filled areas or gaze at them from above. Many natural formations are whimsically named, and it's fun to see what places like Fairyland Canyon and the Silent City look like. Wherever you go, don't forget your camera as there are so many beautiful views.
Updated June 18, 2019
- #1View all Photos#1 in Bryce Canyon National ParkRecreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
For diverse perspectives of the main amphitheater, head to Inspiration Point, which is home to three levels of viewpoints. From here, visitors can look toward the Silent City (near Sunset Point) with rows of hoodoos set against the backdrop of Boat Mesa. Recent visitors called the view breathtaking and noted that this is a great way for people with mobility issues to see "one of the most incredible views in the USA."
There are no trails that lead into the canyon, and the park says that the cliffs of Inspiration Point are quite dangerous, with crumbly rock, slippery slopes and sheer drop-offs. Visitors should remain behind the railing at all times. However, you can walk to Sunset Point from here along an easy path that extends for less than a mile. Inspiration Point is the No. 4 stop on the park's free shuttle. Check out the NPS website to find out more about Inspiration Point's geology.
- #2View all PhotosfreeBryce Point#2 in Bryce Canyon National ParkHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
One of the most popular viewpoints in the park, Bryce Point offers stunning sunrises for those willing to get up early. As the sun rises, it looks like the tops of the hoodoos are on fire, and then they rapidly and almost magically change colors. One former visitor who made the early morning trip called it breathtaking, but others said it is just as stunning at all hours of the day.
There are two trails that start at Bryce Point, including the strenuous 5 ½-mile Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail, which steeply drops to the canyon floor. From here, travelers can also tackle the 23-mile Under-the-Rim trail, which descends from Bryce Point toward Rainbow Point. If you're up for the challenge, keep in mind that overnight hikes through Bryce Canyon's backcountry require a permit.
- #3View all PhotosfreeSunrise Point#3 in Bryce Canyon National ParkHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This scenic point offers not only amazing views but some of the more fancifully named formations in the park. Visitors have views of the Boat Mesa and the Sinking Ship, which are set against the Pink Cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau. Boat Mesa is topped by the resistant rock called "The Conglomerate at Boat Mesa" and rises above the hoodoos of Fairyland Canyon to 8,073 feet. Don't worry; these names make sense when you see the formations.
Sunrise Point is the trailhead for the easy 1.8-mile Queens Garden Trail that descends into a section of hoodoos, which are naturally ruled by the Queen Victoria hoodoo (hence the name). Sunrise is also the end point of the Navajo Loop and Queen Victoria combination, one of the most popular hikes in the park. Past visitors said this is a superb lookout with spectacular sunrises. However, if you can't make it for sunrise, rest assured the beauty and colors are incredible at all hours of the day, according to recent travelers.
- #4View all PhotosfreeScenic Drive#4 in Bryce Canyon National ParkSightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The park's 38-mile (round-trip) scenic drive features 13 viewpoints along the route. The northern overlooks have the most hoodoos, but the southern overlooks offer the most expansive views. If you've got time, you'll find plenty of hiking trails, ranger programs and picnic areas to take advantage of along the way.
Previous visitors used words like "awesome" and "fantastic" to describe the route, recommending future travelers set aside several hours for the drive to allow for frequent stops. Keep in mind: Park rangers estimate that the drive takes a minimum of three hours.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Bryce Canyon National ParkHiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDHiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Located at the southern end of the park, Rainbow Point offers expansive views of the entire park back to the north. Yovimpa Point, which is also located here, is where you can look at the sequence of rock layers called the Grand Staircase. Each layer is a different color and named as such. The top (where visitors stand) is known as the Pink Cliffs. Just below are the Grey Cliffs, then in the distance are the White Cliffs, the Vermilion Cliffs and hidden from sight, the Chocolate Cliffs. Visitors call the views "spectacular" and well worth the drive to this part of the park.
If you're planning to take the Scenic Drive, the park recommends you drive all the way to Rainbow Point to start your journey, which is less than 20 miles south of the visitor center. Once at Rainbow Point, you'll have access to restrooms and several trails, including the 1-mile-long Bristlecone Loop trail, which leads through a forest with bristlecone pines that are up to 1,800 years old. Keep in mind: Since this is the highest region of the park, elevations can reach more than 9,100 feet, meaning you'll want to pack layers to deal with the variations in climate.
- #6View all PhotosfreeFairyland Canyon#6 in Bryce Canyon National ParkHiking, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDHiking, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
This scenic overlook, which sits 1 mile north of the park entrance station, is a great place to see hoodoos up close. The trailhead for the strenuous 8-mile Fairyland Loop is located at this viewpoint and descends into the Fairyland, takes you around Boat Mesa and eventually ascends to meet the Rim Trail at Sunrise Point. You can follow the Rim Trail back north to the Fairyland Canyon overlook.
Recent visitors who made the trek called it "absolutely stunning" and a great option if you're looking for a day-long hike in the park. Since you'll likely be making frequent stops for photo ops, you'll want to allot several hours to complete the trek. According to reviewers, the hike can take more than four hours.
- #7View all PhotosfreeVisitor Center#7 in Bryce Canyon National ParkTours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDTours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
According to recent travelers, starting your Bryce Canyon experience at the visitor center is a must. Here, you'll find a ranger help desk, exhibits on the area, interactive consoles and a prairie dog maze. There is also a 22-minute award-winning film, which plays on the hour and half-hour, plus publications, maps and souvenirs. You'll also want to check the ranger program board for current locations and times of hikes and tours, which range from geology talks to full moon walks.
Along with the friendly staff, recent visitors also appreciated the center's large maps, which many said made it easy to plan their hikes. Others praised the restrooms and large parking lot.
- View all PhotosfreeSunset PointNatural Wonders, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Sunset Point is home to some of Bryce Canyon's most famous hoodoos, including the Silent City, a maze of hoodoos and fins concentrated in a tight formation, and Thor's Hammer, located just below the overlook on the northern edge. Because Thor's Hammer stands alone, it's easy to spot. The colors of the rock at Sunset Point are quite striking, with iron oxide minerals making the bright reds, oranges and yellows stand out.
According to past visitors, Sunset Point is a must-see, especially for those "looking for great views without a strenuous hike." Reviewers also recommended catching a ranger tour to learn more about the geology of the hoodoos. Half-hour geology talks are offered year-round at Sunset Point (or in the visitor center auditorium during winter), while 1-mile rim walks are offered daily in the spring, summer and fall. The NPS website provides detailed information for various ranger programs.
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