Best Trails in Bryce Canyon: Ultimate 1-3 Day Itinerary

Bryce Canyon National Park will have you feeling like you’ve landed on Mars. Another Utah wonder filled with rock candy… that’s often overlooked. If you’re going to be in Southwestern Utah visiting Zion or the other national parks, do not sleep on Bryce Canyon! You can experience all the park’s magic in just a couple days. Bryce Canyon is nature at its finest! Whether you like to hike or prefer to take scenic drives, this guide give the low down on the best trails in Bryce Canyon plus all the info you need to plan a perfect trip!

Bryce Canyon is famous for its hoodoos: tall, spindly rock structures formed from millions of years of erosion called “ice wedging.” The hoodoos get their bewildering shapes because temperatures in Bryce Canyon can go from warm and sunny to sub-freezing in a day, letting the rocks absorb so much water that pieces fall off during freeze-thaw cycles. The hoodoos majestically standing tall in a terrain so different from the city scape, suburbs and farm fields that so many of us are used to.

Quick Facts

  • Location: Utah, USA
  • Time zone: Mountain Standard Time (GMT-7)
  • Annual visitors: 2.6 million
  • Entrance fee: : $35/vehicle for 7 days; $20/person for 7 days; $80 annual NPS pass
  • Bryce Canyon became a national park in 1928
  • Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon, rather a bunch of natural amphitheaters
  • Hoodoos are up to 200 ft. tall
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Best Time to Visit

Bryce Canyon National Park gets pretty warm in the summer (average 80◦F high) and pretty cold in the winter (average 36◦F low). May through September are the park’s busiest months, but also the best months to visit. From October through May, snow can cause roads, campgrounds, trails and other visitor facilities to close.

During a visit in November, a huge snowstorm had most of the canyon frozen solid and blocked off. A park ranger at the Visitor Center said the temperature can be as low as -10◦F down at the bottom of the canyon, and it was only November!

Summer weather is the best at Bryce Canyon, but the other seasons offer their own charm!

  • Spring – days start to get longer and warmer, snowstorms can occur through April
  • Summer – warm sunny days, summer thunderstorms in July & August
  • Fall – cooler conditions, snow possible as early as October
  • Winter – lots of snow December to February

Must-Do Bryce Canyon Activities

Take the Scenic Drive

One of the best things about Bryce Canyon National Park is how drivable it is! The Scenic Drive runs along the top of the amphitheaters with a ton of scenic viewpoints along the way. There is park shuttle bus that will take you from the Visitor Center to Bryce Point, but personal vehicles are allowed in the park to drive the full 18 miles to see the Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, and Rainbow point. There is parking available at each of the points!

Horseback Riding

Experience Bryce Canyon on horseback, riding through wild landscape with stunning scenery. Here’s a recommended ride.

Winter Activities

If you choose to go to Bryce Canyon during the cold snowy months, you can take up cross-country skiing and snowshoe hikes!

Stargazing

Bryce Canyon has some of the darkest night skies in the US! If it’s a clear night, head up to the Natural Bridge Overlook or Inspiration, Sunrise, or Sunset Point and check out the star-filled sky!

Best Trails in Bryce Canyon

Peekaboo Loop Trail – moderate – 5.2 miles

Beginning at Bryce Point, Peekaboo Loop is one of the most supernatural and exciting trails in Bryce Canyon! This trail is considered moderate but can be quite challenging with lots of elevation change. Bring plenty of water in the summer and ice spikes and poles in the winter!

Navajo Loop Trail and Queen’s Garden Trail – moderate – 2.9 miles

Navajo Loop to Queens Garden Trail is one of the most popular trails in Bryce Canyon! Start counterclockwise at Sunset Point for the Navajo Loop and take Wall Street, a narrow switchback slot canyon. You will pick up Queen’s Garden up to Sunrise Point and back along the Rim Trail back to Sunset Point.

Navajo Loop Trail – moderate – 1.5 miles

If you prefer a shorter loop, cut out Queen’s Garden and stay on the Navajo Loop back to Sunset Point.

Fairyland Loop Trail – moderate – 7.8 miles

Fairyland Loop is one of the longest trails at Bryce Canyon, but the views make it worth your while. This hike will start at Fairyland Point, take you along the rim into the canyon, up to Sunrise Point and then back along the Rim Trail to Fairyland Point to finish. Bring snacks and lots of water in the summer!

Tower Bridge Trail – moderate – 3.4 miles

The Tower Bridge Trail is part of the Fairyland Loop but a shorter option that ends at the Tower Bridge. This is still an awesome hike with lots of variation in landscape! This is a less popular trail than Navajo Loop and Queens garden, which can be a nice choice during busy summer months.

Mossy Cave Trail – easy – 1.0 mile

Mossy Cave Trail is an easy walk along (or in!) a little creek that brings you to a small cave (more like an overhang) and waterfall. This trail is outside of the main amphitheater on the Northeast side of the park.

Rim Trail – difficulty and distance vary between points

Most Instagrammable Spots in Bryce Canyon

  • Inspiration Point
  • Bryce Point
  • Sunrise Point (ironically, best for sunset photos)
  • Sunset Point (best for sunrise photos)
  • Wall Street (Navajo Loop)
  • Peekaboo Loop
  • Natural Bridge
  • Fairyland Point

Suggested Itineraries

1 Day

  • Catch at sunrise at Sunset Point
  • Hike the Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Trail
  • Drive to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon horseback ride
  • Watch sunset at Sunrise Point

2 Days

DAY 1

  • Catch at sunrise at Sunset Point
  • Hike the Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Trail
  • Drive to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon horseback ride
  • Watch sunset at Sunrise Point

DAY 2

  • Hike the Peek-a-boo Loop
  • Lunch
  • Walk the Mossy Cave trail
  • Stargaze at the Natural Bridge Overlook, InspirationPoint, Sunrise Point, or Sunset Point

3 Days

DAY 1

  • Catch at sunrise at Sunset Point
  • Hike the Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Trail
  • Drive to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon horseback ride
  • Watch sunset at Sunrise Point

DAY 2

  • Hike the Peek-a-boo Loop
  • Lunch
  • Walk the Mossy Cave trail
  • Stargaze at the Natural Bridge Overlook, InspirationPoint, Sunrise Point, or Sunset Point

DAY 3

  • Hike the Tower Bridge trail (or the full Fairyland Loop if you’re feeling up to it)!
  • Lunch
  • Take the full Scenic Drive to see the Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, and Rainbow point

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon

Places to stay in the park are limited but there are good options in Bryce Canyon City and Tropic, UT, both a short drive from the park. Panguitch is a bigger town a little further from the park if you want to expand your search. Below is a list of places nearby to get you started!

How to Get to Bryce Canyon

For most people, getting to Bryce National Park involves a flight and a rental car, unless you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance. Bryce Canyon is about 1.5 hours from Zion National Park if you want to hit them both!

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center location: UT-63, Bryce Canyon City, UT 84764

Get directions on Google maps.

Nearby Airports:

  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is about 4-hour drive from Bryce. SLC is a good option if there are other stops in Utah you’d like to see before you head down to Bryce.
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) is the preferred and typically most affordable option. The drive from Vegas to Bryce is also around 4 hours.

For my Epic 10 Day Utah to Arizona Road Trip, we flew into SLC and flew home from LAS.

Getting Around Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon does offer a shuttle bus that will take you from the Visitor Center to several of the lookout points: Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point.

There is parking for personal vehicles at each of these points but lots tend to fill up fast. If you plan to spend the day hiking, you can help reduce parking congestion by taking the shuttle – it’s free! You can hop on in Bryce Canyon City or the Visitor Center.

Other points along the Scenic Drive not listed above are reachable by personal vehicle.

What to Pack

Before packing for Bryce Canyon National Park, make sure to check the weather forecast! What you pack will depend on the time of year you plan to go. Summer gets warm while spring, fall, and especially winter can be very chilly so be prepared with weather-appropriate clothing and layers! Here’s a list you can start with.

Clothing/Shoes to Bring

Cold Weather Gear to Bring

Other Items to Bring

National Park Etiquette

Leave No Trace is a national program that aims to protect the outdoors and promote responsible exploration.

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces (stay on trails and campsites)
  • Dispose of waste properly (do not leave food waste, wrappers, or human waste)
  • Leave what you find (do not take plants, rocks, or other natural objects)
  • Minimize campfire impact (campfires are restricted to established campfired grates at Bryce Canyon)
  • Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or approach animals)
  • Be considerate of other visitors (be courteous on trails and waiting in shuttle lines)

Other Places Near Bryce Canyon to Explore

North

  • Salt Lake City
  • Bonneville Salt Flats
  • Meadow Hot Springs

East

  • The Wave
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
  • Vermillion Cliffs
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Horseshoe Bend
  • Lake Powell

South

  • Grand Canyon National Park

West

  • Zion National Park
  • Valley of Fire State Park

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