Thor’s Hammer, monstrous hoodoos and a Sinking Ship. Bryce Canyon’s red-orange-pink amphitheaters stage a Norse myth 70 million years in the making.
Wind, water and time have eroded Bryce Canyon National Park's sandstone cliffs into otherworldly characters plucked from the unconscious of a mad Viking. Rows of humanoid pillars crosshatched by rock strata look almost intentional but perfectly surreal. So silent, eerie and beautiful. So improbable it has to be true. Read more...
Planning Your Trip to Bryce Canyon
(What’s the Pantone number for “Leif Erikson’s Beard”?) The canyon’s epic comes alive as you move through the 37-mile circuit — especially as the sun rises and sets.
You can learn a lot about yourself looking into Bryce Amphitheater. Do you see a purgatorial cavern crawling with demons? …beatific angels lining the stadium of heaven? …the Claron Formation’s variously dense, variously iron-rich layers of mud-, silt- and limestone, cut up by water and frost in an 800-foot cross section of the Paunsaugunt Plateau that lays bare the geologic record since the last dinosaurs bought the farm? See what you want and interpret accordingly. (It’s a shame Sigmund Freud never hiked the Fairyland Loop.)
Speaking of frost, don’t pack for Zion when you’re going to Bryce, which is a full 18˚F cooler. The rim reaches 9,100 feet above sea level, so July peaks around 80˚F and winter snow sticks around until April. (Yeah, snow. Lots of it. Brian Head Ski Resort is just up the road. Enjoy the desert paradox.) It’s a year-round national park: comfortable all summer and snowy hoodoos make for gorgeous cross-country skiing winter to spring.
Bike it, hike it, snowshoe or ride a horse. If you don’t want to park, hop on the shuttle and people-watch between viewpoints. Take a cameraful of pictures no one will understand and let the giant yellow-pink monsters haunt your dreams.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah, not far from Zion National Park – just a scenic hour-and-a-half drive away. Below are directions to Bryce Canyon from some notable nearby destinations.
From Zion National Park (72 miles)
Take Hwy 9 east toward Mt. Carmel Junction. Take Hwy 89 north for 43 miles, then turn right and head east on Hwy 12. Follow the signs to Bryce Canyon National Park.
From Salt Lake City, UT (268 miles)
Take I-15 S toward Las Vegas, NV for 213 miles. Take exit 95 and head southeast on Hwy 20 to Hwy 89 south, then Hwy 12 east. Follow the signs to Bryce Canyon National Park.
From Las Vegas, NV (260 miles)
Take I-15 N toward Salt Lake City. Take exit 95 and head southeast on Hwy 20 to Hwy 89 south, then Hwy 12 east. Follow the signs to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Photos of Bryce Canyon
Done hiking and looking to rest your weary head? You’ve got options. The park itself is a one-stop vacation shop. Besides camping, there’s a quaint, rustic lodge at the center of the park built in the 1920s featuring cozy cabins, suites, and motel rooms, plus a dining room and gift shop. If you want to take things off-site, there are plenty of accommodation options in Bryce Canyon City (just outside the park) or in nearby Tropic or Cannonville.
Lodging near Bryce Canyon
Some great lodging options include:
- RV sites (some reservable): $30/night
- Tent sites: $20/night
- RV sites (reservable): $30/night
- Tent sites (reservable): $20/night
- Group Site (by reservation only): $55–100 depending on group size
View a list of nearby hotels and campgrounds.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah near the city of Bryce (convenient, eh?), and is accessible by air or car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, St. George and even neighboring Zion National Park. Here's how long it takes to drive to Bryce from nearby airports.
- FROM ZION NATIONAL PARK (72 miles): An hour and twenty minutes from Bryce.
- FROM ST. GEORGE REGIONAL AIRPORT (143 miles): Small regional airport with limited commercial flights. Two hours and forty minutes from the park.
- FROM SALT LAKE INTERNATIONAL (273 miles): Major airport with direct flights from many foreign and domestic destinations. Four-hour drive.
- FROM MCCARRAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (270 miles): Another major airport with direct flights from many destinations. Four-hour drive.
**To reduce parking congestion, please use the Bryce Canyon Shuttle. Please visit the official Bryce Canyon National Park website for more information.
Bryce Canyon National Park Hours
The park is open all year (24 hours a day), giving you both winter wonderland and summer spectaculars. The road is plowed and sanded after each storm, but if it’s a bad one you might have to wait a tick for clearance.
The visitor center is open year-round and is located 1.5 miles inside the park. Visitor center hours vary by season:
- Summer (May – September): 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Fall (October): 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Winter (November – March): 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Spring (April): 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Visitor Center Phone Number: 435-834-5322
**The fee booth may be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas - please check the official Bryce Canyon National Park website.
The following passes allow access to Bryce Canyon for seven consecutive days:
- Private vehicle: $35
- Motorcycle: $30
- Person entering by foot or bicycle: $20 (under 15 is free of charge)
These passes admit the pass owner and accompanying passengers to all U.S. national parks (including Bryce Canyon) and federal recreational lands:
- Annual Pass: $80
- 4th Grade Annual Pass: free
- Military Annual Pass: free
- Lifetime Senior Pass (62 and older): $80
- Annual Senior Pass (62 and older): $20
- Lifetime Access Pass (available for those with a permanent disability): free
- Bryce Canyon Annual Pass (Bryce Canyon only): $40
- Bryce Canyon Digital Entrance Pass: $35 - Buy your pass in advance! Visit www.Recreation.gov and search for Bryce Canyon National Park Site Pass
Backcountry permits are issued from 9 am- 6 pm at the Visitor Center 48 hours in advance.
Articles & Itineraries
Your first view of the park is a dramatic unveiling. Wind through stands of pine trees until they break at the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park, revealing a panorama of goblins, towers and fins of a color you can’t quite name.
- Navajo Loop: It’s easy to see why this trail is one of the most popular in the park. It starts with a horizon-sweeping view at Sunset Point, then makes its way past the Silent City — a rock metropolis of hoodoos and spires — to Wall Street, where the trail heads into a narrow slot canyon surrounded by sweeping sandstone walls.
- Fairyland Loop: Nine out 10 fairies agree: This windswept, mind-boggling vista is the place to be. Stand on the edge and keep it casual or lace up your boots and descend into intricate hoodoo architectures on a strenuous 8-mile trail that will have even the biggest skeptics believing in magic.
- Sunset Point: Want to gawk without a big walk? Head over to Sunset Point, where you can take in the most awe-inspiring sections of the park without moving a muscle. The vista looks over the Silent City and gives you a 20/20 view of Thor’s Hammer — an imposing and isolated hoodoo — and provides hours of bird-watching fun. If you want to stretch your legs, take the Navajo Loop Trail that departs from the parking lot.
- Bristlecone Loop
- Mossy Cave
- View all hikes at Bryce Canyon.
Getting Around Bryce Canyon
Once you get to the park, you can ditch your wheels and ride in style on the park’s free shuttle service (when in it's operation). This trusty metal steed takes visitors to all the must-see viewpoints and trails. It’s not required but it conserves gas, money and time — so why not?
Other Things to Do at Bryce Canyon National Park
*Overnight backpacking in Bryce Canyon requires a permit.
Weather-wise, Bryce Canyon makes the mercury mercurial, with big temp shifts from season to season and even day to day. This is due to Bryce’s dizzying elevation — a cool 8,000–9,000 feet — and makes it a much cooler park than nearby Zion. Below are some quick tips to maximize fun and minimize frostbite.
- Spring: Bryce’s spring is closer to winter and temps don’t really start warming until May. Be prepared for snowstorms in March and April.
- Summer: Summer is beautiful in Bryce Canyon. The temps hover in the low 70s in June and hit the 80s in July and August, making hiking a much less sweaty affair than in other parts of southern Utah. It’s a perfect time to beat the city heat and head out into the fresh, thin air. Exercise caution, however: Summer rains start in late July and August and can leave you drenched and exposed to lightning. So be smart. When the thunder starts, stop hiking.
- Fall: Winter can come quickly in Bryce, but September temperatures are ideal, usually staying in the 70s during the day. October is a weather checkerboard, with storms some days and perfect blue skies the next. As always, check the weather forecast and bring one layer warmer than you think you’ll need.
- Winter: Snow-capped hoodoos might be dazzling, but they come at a cost: Winter temps in Bryce almost always dip below freezing and the days can be brisk. Snow can start in October and can last until April, but the coldest months are December through February. So layer up, pack warm and check the weather. It might be nippy but it’s worth it.
Where to Eat Near Bryce Canyon National Park
Have you gobbled all your snack packs, granola, and other trail treats? Not to worry. With an array of food options — from affordable comfort food to fine dining — Bryce is a great place to get your grub on. Below are some of our favorite options that will please foodies and coupon-cutters alike.
- Ebenezer’s Bar and Grill
- Bryce Canyon Pines
- The Pizza Place
- Stone Hearth Grille
- Bryce Canyon Lodge
- Bryce Canyon Coffee Company
- Valhalla Pizza
View a list of nearby restaurants.
Only a half-mile section of the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points is wheelchair accessible. The one-mile Bristlecone Loop at Rainbow Point has a hard surface and could be used with assistance, but several grades do not meet standards.
Camping / Lodging
Camp sites 223 and 224 in Loop A of Sunset Campground are reserved for those with mobility impairments. The Sunrise Unit of Bryce Canyon Lodge has rooms designed for handicapped access.
Dogs at Bryce Canyon
Dogs are allowed (on leash):
- At campgrounds
- In parking lots
- On paved roads
- On paved viewpoint areas
- On the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point
- On the paved shared-use path between the park entrance and Inspiration Point
Dogs are not allowed:
- On any unpaved trails or viewpoints
- In public buildings
- On public transportation vehicles
Service animals are permitted anywhere in the park.
Done with your bucket list? Well here’s another bucket. There’s more to the Bryce Canyon area than the park and you can cross all of them off your list without breaking your bank or your gas tank.
It’s not often that a road makes a must-see list, but Highway 12 is not like most roads. Winding between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, the 124-mile road takes you on a whiplash tour of some of the most remote and diverse landscapes on earth, from sagebrush plains to rugged red buttes and alpine forests. Plus, the road is a gateway to a bevy of state parks, national monuments, and old-time ranching communities, offering dozens of chances to stretch your legs and blow your mind.
This local gem of a park was named after Kodak’s brilliant color film and it’s easy to see why. With varied hues of pink, red and white set against an azure sky, it’s full of living color. Visitors come to gawk at the park’s collection of cylindrical chimneys (known as sand pipes) and to wander the trails, box canyons and vistas that dot the landscape.
This 1.9-million-acre stretch of land is some of the remotest in the lower 48 and it’s packed with geological impossibilities and surprises. The Grand Staircase is just that — a giant-sized series of geological steps descending from the Kaiparowits Plateau to the Grand Canyon. The plateaus are riddled with canyons, wildlife and Native American artifacts and the canyons of the Escalante house snaking streams and rivers that flow through canyons and amphitheaters on their way to the Colorado River.
Articles & Itineraries
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