Things You Can’t Miss on Your First Visit to Bryce Canyon

Words truly do not describe the views you will encounter in Bryce Canyon National Park. Overlook this land of “hoodoos”, or pillars of rock, that fill the canyon and ignite your imagination. Stop at the many viewpoints to get the best shot, or go on a hike to experience the magnitude of this amazing place.What You Need to Know

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in Utah’s high desert, making the temperatures a little colder at night and during the shoulder seasons than you may have been expecting. Days can still get very hot, so be sure to hike with plenty of water.

This Park is relatively small, but it has some incredible trails and viewpoints. During the summer, there is one parking spot for every four cars that enter the park, often making the popular spots hard to get into with your car. Consider taking the free park shuttle to minimize crowding and congestion, and to ensure that you will be able to stop and see everything on your list of things to do.

Getting Here

From Salt Lake City, travel south on I-15 for about 200 miles to UT-20 E, exit 95. Drive east on UT-20 for about 20 miles until you reach US-89 and take a right to travel south. Drive south on US-89 for 10 miles until you reach Panguitch. From Panguitch, take a left onto UT-12 heading east for 13 miles to reach the turnoff for the main entrance to Bryce Canyon, or UT-63.



Inspiration Point has the “iconic” view of Bryce Canyon that you are looking for. From this viewpoint, you are perched high above the many levels of hoodoos that fill the canyon to the brim. Gawk at the layers of red and white rock that have been eroded away, and have fun finding unique shapes and characters among the formations.

What You Need to Know

Inspiration Point actually consists of three viewpoints, each one gaining elevation and providing a more spectacular view. You do not need to do all three if you are not able to or feeling up to it….a great photo op awaits you at any of the three areas. I recommend hiking all the way to the top if you can.

Getting Here

From the Visitor Center, drive approximately 1.5 miles to the turn off for Inspiration Point. Take a left, and then another left soon after to reach the viewpoint.

Queens Garden Trail


Descend into the canyon to reach a hoodoo that has a striking resemblance to Queen Victoria. Hiking among the rock formations provides an added appreciation to your experience of Bryce Caynon. 

What You Need to Know

The Queen’s Garden Trail is a great trail to start with, as it is the easiest way to descend into the canyon. Don’t be deceived by the word “easy” though because you will still encounter some drastic changes in elevation. Some areas of the trail have a steep drop-off as well, so be sure to keep a close eye on your kids during those sections.

This trail is 1.8 miles round trip, but I suggest connecting it with the Navajo Loop as detailed below.

Getting Here

The Queen’s Garden Trail begins at Sunrise Point, which is located about 0.5 miles from the Visitor Center. Take a left toward the viewpoint and follow the road as it curves. You will need to park and walk a short distance to reach Sunrise Point and the beginning of the trail.

Bryce Point


One thing that I love about Bryce Canyon is how the landscape will provide you a drastically different view from each viewpoint. Bryce Point is about 200 feet higher in elevation than Inspiration Point which gives you a more birds-eye view of the hoodoos.

What You Need to Know

A short hike is required to get to the viewpoint from the parking area.

Getting Here

From the Visitor Center, drive about 1.5 miles to the turn-off for Bryce Point/Inspiration Point. From the turn-off, follow the road for 2 miles, keeping left as it veers toward the canyon rim. At the end of this road is the Bryce Point view area.

 Mossy Cave Trail

     

This trail is a hidden gem and provides a different view of what Bryce Canyon has to offer. Follow along a sparkling river to reach a cave of dripping water. Continue a little further along the trail to find a gorgeous waterfall. 

What You Need to Know

The Mossy Cave is cool, but the waterfall stole the show. This trail is very family friendly and a beautiful addition to your trip to Bryce. Be aware that the waterfall does not flow all year, only from May-October.

This trail is 0.8 miles round trip.

Getting Here

Instead of turning onto the main road of Bryce Canyon National Park, stay on Highway 12 heading toward the town of Tropic for 4 miles. A small parking area for the Mossy Cave Trail will be on your right.

Sunset Point

Although this viewpoint is called Sunset Point, it is beautiful any time of day! Stop here to see the slopes of the gorgeous multi-colored canyon with the hoodoos sticking out like they don’t belong.

What You Need to Know

See if you can spot Thor’s Hammer, a favorite formation in Bryce Canyon.

Getting Here

Just over a mile from the Visitor Center, take a left at the turn-off toward Sunset Point and follow to the parking area.

Night Hike / Full Moon Hike


If you want a completely different experience in Bryce, try a night hike or hike by the full moon. The night sky is truly phenomenal, especially paired with the mystical feeling of the hoodoos.

What You Need to Know

Ranger-guided night hikes are provided. If you are wanting to hike without a guide, be sure to pick a trail that you are familiar with, bring a headlamp or flashlight, wear sturdy shoes, and take a map just in case! I also suggest carrying an emergency blanket, a basic first aid kit, and plenty of food and water in case something should happen.

7. Sunrise Point

Sunrise Point has always been a favorite of mine because of its varying landscape. The hoodoos are beautiful, and I like the “sand dunes” surrounding them and the greenery growing in the crevices. Every view is different, but this viewpoint will allow you to single out some of your  hoodoos and enjoy them on a more individual basis.

Getting Here

From the Visitor Center, drive about 0.5 miles from the Visitor Center. Take a left toward the viewpoint and follow the road as it curves. You will need to park and walk a short distance to reach Sunrise Point.

Rim Trail


 The Rim Trail connects many of the viewpoints and hiking trailheads throughout the main section of Bryce, so chances are you are traveling on it without realizing it. From Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, this trail provides outstanding views of the canyon and provides an amazing photo op everywhere you turn.

What You Need to Know

The Rim Trail is 11 miles long and can be hiked the whole way, but I suggest picking a few points to travel between using this trail to enjoy some gorgeous canyon views. A popular part of the trail is from Sunrise to Sunset Points, which is approximately 1 mile round trip. This section of the trail is fairly flat and paved. Depending on how far you want to go, choose your spot and just start walking. Great views are guaranteed!

Getting Here

Entry points vary, but this trail can be accessed from many of the major viewpoints along the rim.

Fairyland Point

 

This area along the rim of Bryce Canyon is unique and less-traveled. A river runs through the red rock and down to the canyon floor below. Not many hoodoos dot the landscape from here, so this area provides a different look of the canyon and the surrounding area.

What You Need to Know

Fairyland Point is located outside of the fee area of Bryce National Park and is also a starting point for the Rim Trail.

Getting Here

From Highway 12, turn south onto Highway 63 toward Bryce Canyon. Drive for 3 miles, passing the park entrance sign and then taking a left onto the Fairyland Point road. Stay on this road for 1 mile until reaching the parking area.

Navajo Loop Trail


The Navajo Loop is one the favorite hikes in Bryce Canyon and is thevtop recommendation for a hike to do on your first trip….or second…or third. Walk through the slot canyon called Wall Street and enjoy the rock cliffs that surround you. Travel among the hoodoos and enjoy sweeping views of the canyon. This trail just may be the highlight of your trip!

What You Need to Know

Although the trail guide suggests hiking this trail clockwise, You can actually go counter-clockwise and hitting Wall Street at the beginning of the hike. Hikers have found that by going this way, it seem to avoid hiking with the crowds (which is always a plus). The descent into the canyon can be steep making your ascent fairly strenuous. Take your time and drink plenty of water as you are hiking up out of the canyon.

This trail is 1.3 miles round trip. I suggest taking the Navajo/Queen’s Garden Loop to cover some ground while you are down among the hoodoos. To do this, start at Sunset Point and take the trail heading right to descend into Wall Street. Follow the trail around and toward the Queen’s Garden, exiting at Sunrise Point and then walking the Rim Trail back to the Sunset Point parking area. If hiking this loop, the trail is 2.9 miles round trip.

Getting Here

Just over a mile from the Visitor Center, take a left at the turn-off toward Sunset Point and follow to the parking area.

Enjoy!!

Yourvacationguru