Our top things to do in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah and is one of our favorite National Parks in the world. Bryce Canyon is famous for its rock pillars, known as hoodoos, which are columnar and spire-shaped rock formations. You will never see anything quite like it anywhere else in the world!
Bryce Canyon Country is home to some of the most beautiful terrain on earth. Bryce Canyon National Park has hiking and bike trails perfect for all endurance levels all visitors can enjoy the spectacular grandeur of the canyon via the park roads. There is no shortage of roadside grandeur to take in.
The are many lodging sites within the park so consider camping in the open air as one of the top things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park. Luxury hotels are also available for those who prefer a more comfortable stay. Some of the other things to do in Bryce Canyon National park include bird watching, golfing, ATVing, night walking under the moonlight and stargazing.
Tours of all kinds are available for booking. Among them are cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, as well as jeep and aerial tours year-round.
We found Bryce Canyon to be one of the most underrated National parks in the American West and with the incomparable landscape, we recommend a visit to the park on everyone’s bucket list.
Enjoy high plateaus, a wide variety of wildlife and freaky natural formations that are not found anywhere else in the world.
The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It has overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are around sunup and sundown.
Pull up safely at the side of the park loops and enjoy looking out for beautiful wildlife.
The park regularly sees snow in the winter and summer can be seriously hot. Be sure to pack appropriately during any visit, take hiking shoes and lots of snacks and water.
If you’re wondering who Bryce Canyon is named after, the answer is shipbuilder Ebenezer Bryce. Bryce settled in the valley just below the canyon in 1870 and helped with the construction of essential community buildings over the new land. Because of his contribution to the area, Bryce Canyon was named in his honor.
Entrance to Bryce Canon National Park is $30 per vehicle, to save money, take advantage of the US Annual National Park pass.
Click here for a full map of Bryce Canyon National Park.
See the Natural Bridge
Though vistors cannot and are not encouraged to walk near the Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon, the popular attraction is one of several natural arches that can be seen from a purposely built viewpoint. The red rock that forms the Natural Bridge is of the Claron Formation (rich in iron oxide minerals). The red arch acts as a picturesque frame to the green of the Ponderosa forest that peeks through from the canyon below.
The Natural Bridge has been formed through rock erosion from streams and rivers that ran through over time. Like the Natural Bridge, Bryce Canyon’s similar natural features such as the hoodoo rocks are at risk of destruction as the forces of erosion continue to wear them them down. Enjoy the Natural Bridge before the natural elements claim it!
Admire the view at Farview Point
Farview Point is an appropriate named stop off in the park. The viewpoint has incredible views of famous landmarks that make up the Grand Staircase.
From north to south visitors can view: the Aquarius Plateau (Pink Cliffs), the Kaiparowits Plateau (Grey Cliffs), Molly’s Nipple (White Cliffs), and even glimpses of the Kaibab Plateau on which lies the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
On a clear day, visitors can see as far as the Black Mesas in Arizona — which is 160 miles away.
Go ‘Hunter’ and ‘Rabbit’ spotting at Agua Canyon
At the Agua Canyon viewpoint, visitors are able to see two prominent hoodoos that make the stop off one of the best in the park. On the left, the taller of the two towers is the “The Hunter.”
To the right, visitors can see the “Rabbit” which is sometimes referred to the “Backpacker”, it depends how you see it.
Image Credit: photowanderers.com
Though a lot of the rock formations and hoodoos have been given characteristics by visitors over the years, many have eroded or lost part of their features so let your imagination run wild.
Agua Canyon offers an incredible view of the Navajo Mountain on the distant horizon. The mountain is geologically known as a ‘batholithic’ which is a volcano that never quite happened. The Navajo Mountain never erupted or shown signs of bursting resulting in an enormously swollen mountain that still exists today.
Agua Canyon offers an incredible view of the Grand Staircase which consists of three layers of colourful mountain cliff edges.
Image Credit: Bryce Canyon Country
Keep your eyes peeled for a rare California condor. It would be hard to miss the 9 ft. wingspan of the great bird and the possibility of seeing one has increased dramatically over the last few years due to a captive breeding program.
Admire Trees and Cliffs at Ponderosa Point
Ponderosa Canyon is named after the Ponderosa Pine trees on the canyon floor in the area. Some of the Ponderosa trees measure more than 150 ft high and it is hard to tell when looking on at the viewpoint. By standing at Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, visitors can be visually educated on how the type of rock that makes up the 3 steps of the Grand Staircase and how they determines what kinds of plants can grow. Visitors can see densities of vegetation on rocks that are dependent on how erosion has shaped the land.
The Grand Staircase consists of White Cliffs, made from slick rock sandstone and the Grey Cliffs which are made from a cocktail of sand, shale and clay. See how thin or nonexistent plants cannot easily take hold on the White Cliffs and how roots of trees and plants manage to burrow and thrive in the soil and rock beneath the Grey Cliffs.
Notice here, at Ponderosa Point, how canyons through the Grey Cliffs are wider and are not as deep as the White Cliffs due to flash flooding. The White Cliffs are more durable than the Grey Cliffs but they erode at a faster rate. Ask to speak to a Park Ranger to find out more.
Create your own Hoodoo at Black Birch Canyon
The overlook at Black Birch Canyon offers beautiful views of southern Utah, including back to the park’s Rainbow Point, and as far as 90 miles away to Arizona.
Black Birch Canyon is a great spot to see multicolored hoodoos rising from a dense forest of spruce and fir trees.
It is here at Black Birch where we became most creative when looking out onto the shapely hoodoos. We saw a Santa Claus holding a gift sack and and the head of a young king as well as a few faces and a one armed man! Spend some time looking out onto the dense collection of the alien rock formations and see what you come up with!
Enjoy a creative rest at the Black Birch view point offering a great view of the hoodoos at an elevation of 8750ft.
Rainbow Point is located right at the Southern end of Bryce Canyon National Park. From Rainbow Point, visitors can walk to the southern overlook of Yovimpa Point.
This is one of the best views of the park of the Grand Staircase.
At Rainbow Point, visitors will be standing on the top step of the Grand Staircase known as the Pink Cliffs. Directly below you are the Molly’s Nipple can be seen below on the White Cliffs as well as distant canyons on the horizon
From Rainbow Point many of the park’s hoodoos can be seen sculpted into the Pink Cliffs.
Rainbow and Yovimpa Points offer the highest elevation of the park at 9100 ft. You will see the forest below which is dominated by Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir and White Fir which is home to grouse, woodpeckers, owls, and a variety of squirrels and chipmunks.
One of themost popular hikes of the park, the 0.8 mile Bristlecone Loop, passes through the forest filled with Bristlecone Pines that are up to 1,800-years-old.
Camping in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon has only two campsites, we stayed in the North Campground and it turned out to be one of our favorites during our epic USA Road Trip.
Camping in Bryce Canyon really was a dream come true, the North Campground is located in a pine forest with plenty of space for 83 tents and 13 RVs.
As with most US National Park camp sites, we were provided with a food storage cupboard (to deter wildlife), a picnic table, shared restrooms, drinking water, a fire pit and a flattened area to pitch up as well as a parking spot.
A deer came right up to us as we prepared dinner, and we heard a few branches cracking throughout the night which is all part of experiencing the Utah wilderness.
Sunset Point is what it says it is. The view point offers a breathtaking view of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos as well as the Silent City. The sun set offers a spectacular view of the Silent City, which is a maze of hoodoos and fins tightly packed together.
Thor’s Hammer stands alone at Sunset Point, it’s a distinctive feature isolated from the other hoodoos and the rock is a favorite among visitors.
The best view of Bryce Canyon’s colorful rocks can be seen at Sunset Point. The natural phenomena is known as the Claron Formation, where unique limestone rock formed in historic Lake Claron.
The minerals of oxide Iron supply vibrant red, oranges, and yellows to the lower half of the cliffs that geologists call the Pink Member which combines with orange to white Upper Members offering a spectacular natural art gallery.
The park sometimes off sunset trips and night walks around Sunset Point, be sure the visit the park website for details.
One of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon is Bryce Point. The popular viewpoint offers one of the greatest views of the scenic amphitheater, particularly at sunrise.
During sunrise, the tops of hoodoos set alight as if by fire from the first rays of the rising sun. The reflected orange light spreads across the whole amphitheater in a spectacular natural phenomena.
Bryce Point is a popular spot to see Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels and Uinta Chipmunks, mostly due to the tourists who feed them. Wild animals should not be given food as it ultimately puts them in a vulnerable position when they have no humans around. It is against park regulation to feed them and is potentially endangering their lives.
Take your epic photographs at Bryce Point against the most famous backdrop of the park.
The hoodoo formations at Bryce Canyon resemble man made cities, see if you can spot cathedrals and spires in the dense amphitheater.
At 8300ft above sea level, there’s a lot to see at Bryce Point.
See if you can spot hikers as they take on the trails below.
Some of the best trails in Bryce Canyon start at Bryce Point. The 23-mile Under-the-Rim trail heads south toward Rainbow Point through the less traveled backcountry of Bryce Canyon. Backcountry camping in Bryce Canyon requires a permit that can only be obtained at the Visitor Center.
The Peek-a-boo Loop Trail is a spectacular and ore moderate hike past the Wall of Windows and the Three Wise Men.
Peek-a-Boo Loop trail
The Peekaboo Loop Trail is one of the most popular in the park. The trail head is at Bryce Point, which is one of the best vistas in the park.
The Peekaboo loop starts with a zigzag path that leads right down into the floor of the canyon.
The loop begins at ground level and it also meets with the Navajo Loop Trail. The path descends 1,000 feet below Bryce Point at the far end of the loop.
The hike is relatively flat taking hikers in and out of the sandstone cliffs and walls of hoodoos.
Walking at the base of Bryce Canyon really is a spectacular experience that hikers may not have the privilege of enjoying anywhere else in the world.
The Peekaboo trail takes it’s hikers relatively close to a rock formation known as ‘The Alligator’. The collection of of hoodoos that makes up the Alligator can only be seen from above, it’s great to say you’ve walk right by it though.
Hikers will encounter horse/mule riders on the Peekaoo loop, be sure to give them right-of-way.
The Peekaboo Loop trail is a 4.8 miles long with a steep descent to get there and the park recommends the best months are between April and November.
There are restroom facilities near the bottom of the hike that are shared with the trail riders.
Clockwise or anti-clockwise, you’ll find an incredible perspective on the topographical changes of a very colourful area of the park.
Combine the Peekaboo Trail with the Queen’s Garden trail or the nearby Navajo Loop.
Bryce Canyon was one of our favorite American National Parks, the scenery is incomparable to any other and the structure of the park makes is accessible to all. They even have a Bryce Canyon Shuttle Bus for visitors who do not wish to drive.
Pack well, check the weather conditions, speak with the park rangers and enjoy every minute working through the list of things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park.
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