Bryce Canyon National Park is our last of Utah’s Mighty Five. We were silly enough to skip it last year because of weather so we made sure to see as much as we could this year. Now that we were able to explore a little, we ask ourselves, “why did we skip it just because of weather?” This national park would be beautiful, rain, shine or snow.
Bryce is very easy to get around and has a shuttle service which makes this park busy, but gives you the ability to see a lot in a small amount of time! People seemed to really take advantage of this because we were able to find parking at all the lots we stopped at.
Name: Bryce Canyon National Park ♦ Size: 35,835 acres ♦ Established: February 25, 1928 ♦ Yearly Visitors: ~2.5 million ♦ Fact: President Warren G. Harding declared it a National Monument first in 1923 ♦ Fun Fact: Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon.
The best time to explore was before 9:30 a.m., otherwise it was jam packed with people. There is a lot of lodging in the area, which is another reason that this area is easy to explore and bring the family. There are campgrounds in the national park, a lodge, campgrounds just outside the national park in Bryce Canyon City, along with motels, tepees and boondocking in Dixie National Forest. There is no shortage.
I used to think that Bryce Canyon National Park was just about the one shot of the hoodoos at Sunset view point. It usually was the only picture I saw of it, along with a couple from Navajo Trail. I was definitely wrong, this park has a lot to offer and its highlights, hiking and unique views like no other place in the world.
Hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park
This national park has a lot of hikes for all abilities. With a lot of short hikes right at the parking lots it’s easy to get to and we saw people of all ages and physical abilities on these trails. The only major factors are that Bryce sits at 8,000′ in elevation. At only 75% of your normal oxygen intake you are going to feel it. Plus during the summer it can get very hot in the area.
So here are multiple hikes to choose from in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Easy Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
Queen’s Garden – This is a 1.8 mile loop trail that is considered easy with beautiful views and connected to other moderate trails (navajo loop and fairyland loop trails).
This was Hike 31/52 in our challenge and it was beautiful walking through the hoodoos.
Rim Trail – Even though it’s 11 miles long, it is considered easy because of the low elevation change and groomed path. Part of it is the paved path from Sunrise to Sunset view points.
Moderate Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
Navajo Trail – This is a 1.8 mile loop that is descending and then ascending into the canyon with switchbacks and Douglas Fir trees. It starts at Sunset View Point.
Tower Bridge Trail – While only 3 miles round trip, it’s considered moderate because of the drop in elevation. There are multiple landmarks on this trail; China Wall, Tower Bridge and Bristlecone pines.
Strenuous Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
While we did not do any strenuous hikes, there are three in the park. Fairyland Loop, Peek-a-Boo Loop and Riggs Spring Loop. I am definitely interested in Fairyland Loop the next time that we are in the park!
Dog Friendly Hike in Bryce Canyon National Park
The only dog friendly walking areas are the paved paths. The best is from Sunrise to Sunset view points (Rim Trail). It’s a one mile slightly uphill walk along the rim.
For more information and a complete list of easy, moderate and strenuous hikes, check out their website: Bryce Canyon National Park Hikes
There is one spot where you do not need to enter the park to have access to. Mossy Cave is along Highway 12 (coordinates: 37.665967, -112.110185). This is a very easy hike that is good for any ability. It’s a 1 mile round trip hike to see the hoodoos and a waterfall.
Backcountry in Bryce Canyon National Park
We did not do any of the backcountry options. If we didn’t have the dogs we would have loved to explore more of this park. If you have the time, here is their information on getting permits, camping and trail information: Backcountry Information
View Points in Bryce Canyon National Park
There are many and all along the main road for easy access. The busiest and most popular are Sunrise, Sunset and Inspiration (the shuttles go there). The tour buses go to Sunrise and Sunset, and the lodge inside the park is very close, so even a little more than Inspiration.
We still stopped at all three and they all are very beautiful and unique.
Sunrise View Point
Sunset View Point
Farther down the main road towards Rainbow Point is Natural Bridge. With a small parking lot.
Other View Points
This is where the road through Bryce stops.
Shuttle Service In Bryce Canyon
If you want to take advantage of the shuttle, there are multiple stops in Bryce Canyon. Park inside the park if you want, step outside the lodge or campground inside the park or park at the headquarters just outside the park. If you want to spend the entire day there without having to use your vehicle this is a great option.
Bryce Canyon Parking (near shuttle): 37.670779, -112.156504 The parking lot was very big, it had about 30 spots for RVs and plenty of car parking. It is a perfect option for someone with an RV because it would be difficult to drive through the park and try and stop at any of the parking lots. Vans were about as big as you could get to find parking. There were maybe one or two random gravel lots but better to just leave it. If you have a commuter, then drop your rig and take that.
Other Outdoor Activities in Bryce Canyon National Park
There are strict rules about biking and ATVing in the national park. You can bike along the paved path and there are some roads that ATVers use, but other than that it’s exploring the park by foot. Mountain biking is prohibited in the park.
While we were there I was training for a half marathon so the paved path from Red Canyon National Park to and through Bryce Canyon National Park was awesome. If you need elevation or elevation change training this is a great path. It starts at 7,000′ at the west end of Red Canyon and ends around 8,100′ at Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. If you are coming from Red Canyon, heading into Bryce, it looks like the trail ends across the street from the rodeo. Continue on through town, cross the road and it picks back up by the shuttle parking for Bryce.
Red Canyon Parking: 37.743777, -112.329712
Bryce Canyon Parking (near shuttle): 37.670779, -112.156504 This is where I would park to just run through the national park. It was a beautiful run.
Inspiration Point Parking: 37.615637, -112.170817
Boondocking close to Bryce Canyon National Park
As with the other national parks in Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park has some beautiful boondocking spots. Quite a few actually, there is free camping all around.
We stayed on Toms Springs Rd and it had great spots and it was close to Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest. This was our home base for all of our trips in this area. It was also across the street from the pave bike path that started at Red Canyon and went to Inspiration Point in Bryce. The spots off this road were good for any size rig, but I would suggest scouting if you have anything over 35′. Most were pretty level and you could choose shade or spots for solar. We checked out most of the roads for boondocking closer to Red Canyon and closer to Bryce Canyon. Most were down difficult gravel roads, small spots, small spots against the road or not level at all.
There are multiple RV parks in the area for potable water and dumping. We found getting potable water (red handle) at the Sinclair in Bryce Canyon City was the easiest. It also had a dump and unpotable water. The dump was really strange, so I would highly suggest figuring it out at one of the many RV parks. Address: 105 S Main St, Bryce Canyon, UT 84764
There was propane at the Phillips 66 gas station in Panguitch for a very reasonable price.
Phillips 66 address: 195 N Main St, Panguitch, UT 84759
Love to PIN, use this one!