Want to know the best way to spend one day in Bryce Canyon? When I first started planning my trip, I was confused on which viewpoints were worth seeing, which hikes to do, where to stay and so many other questions.
Visiting Bryce Canyon should not be difficult to plan, and thanks to this guide, it won’t be! This is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about the largest collection of hoodoos in the world.
What the heck are hoodoos you might be thinking?! They are tall, thin, spire-shaped rocks and what make Bryce Canyon so unique! The texture of this canyon will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen, that’s why I want to give you a well-rounded experience by showing you the best viewpoints and also the best hikes to take you down into the canyon. But first, lets go over all the basics like the location, where to stay, what to pack, things you should know, etc…
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This photo is from the Navajo Loop Trail hike!
Where is Bryce Canyon?
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah, close to many other national parks. The nearest airport is in Las Vegas and from there, you will need to drive 4 hours to the city of Bryce, Utah. It is extremely popular to rent a car in Las Vegas and do a road trip to all the famous sites like Zion, Arches, Grand Canyon, Page (home to Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend), Capital Reef, Death Valley,or Kanab!
I have been to all of the sites listed, and I can truly say Bryce Canyon was my all-time favorite! I even liked it better than the more popular, Grand Canyon! If you only have time to see one of these sites on your trip, I would recommend spending one day in Bryce Canyon over anything else.
If you don’t want to rent a car but still want to see Bryce Canyon, there are many tours that will take you from Las Vegas! Click here for a tour that includes Bryce Canyon & Zion National Park!
Where to stay near Bryce Canyon?
There is surprisingly a large number of accommodations near Bryce Canyon! In the small town of Bryce, you can find several hotels / motels, cabins, lodges and camping grounds throughout the park. I will break it down by budget, average and luxury:
Budget: Camping will obviously be your most budget-friendly option and only costs $10 for a tent site or $20 for a RV site. There are a few camping grounds in the park, but the least expensive is North Campground. You can read more about camping here!
Average: Best Western Plus at Ruby’s Inn is a nice option that is located in the center of town and is connected to the general store + restaurant. It’s less expensive than the Best Western Plus across the street (which is very confusing), and very similar quality. I would say the main difference is it is not as modern as the one across the street, but the rooms still look clean! Click here for rates.
“Luxury” – I put quotations around luxury because there are not really luxury options, ha! The nicest hotel in the area is Best Western Plus, which was very nice in comparison to the other hotels / motels in the area. It was a large hotel with an outdoor pool & hot tub, free breakfast, gym, and a fireplace with a lounge area. This hotel was also in a prime spot in town, across the street from the general store and only 10 minutes from the park entrance. Click here for rates!
What to pack for Bryce Canyon?
As always, I never want to bore you with a long packing list of what to bring, but I always recommend my top 3-5 things that I feel are MUST-HAVES for this specific trip. Here we go…
1. WINE lol
There are no bars in Bryce… like, not even a hotel bar. The only wine in this town is at the general store and I am not exaggerating when I say there were like 4 selections. Literally FOUR!? Being from Las Vegas, I don’t know how people live like that, ha!
2. Good Camera
Do you ever look back at old I-phone photos and just cringe at how blurry they were!? When you take all your pictures of Bryce Canyon on your phone, you’re going to look back in a few years and hate yourself! A good camera will make your pictures last a lifetime. My camera is perfect for travel because it is inexpensive, small and lightweight.. Click here to see what’s in my camera bag!
3. Light Jacket
When you are hiking during the day, you will be hot and wanting to wear hiking clothes, but as soon as the sun begins to set it will be very cold! Bryce canyon has drastic changes in weather between day time and nighttime, so you will want to make sure you are prepared. Click here for an inexpensive and cute jacket!
4. Travel Blanket
Bryce Canyon has red dirt that stains the HECK out of your clothes. If you want to stop, take a break and have a picnic lunch on your hike, I would recommend bringing a small blanket for you to sit on. I bring this blanket on almost all of my trips, you can shop it here!
Best time of year to go to Bryce Canyon?
I traveled to Bryce Canyon in the fall, mid-October to be exact, and it was beautiful! The weather was 60-70’s during the day and 30-40’s at night. I’ve only been to Bryce Canyon one time, but I felt the crowds were not too bad during this season. There were a lot of tour buses, but the canyon is so large that you can easily find an area to enjoy for yourself.
I’ve read online that summer is the best time to travel to Bryce Canyon, but I feel it would be too hot to enjoy all the beautiful hiking trails!
Even though that winter looks beautiful in pictures, the road conditions are not reliable and you can not enjoy any of the hiking trails. I would only recommend traveling to Bryce Canyon in the winter if you are going to nearby mountains for skiing / snowboarding.
Things to know:
Here are some random things I wish I knew before my trip to Bryce Canyon and/or was really hard to find online!
Bryce Canyon Opening Hours
Even though Bryce Canyon gets loads of snow, it is open year-round! Most of the hiking trails will be closed, but seeing this canyon dusted with a layer of snow would be so magical!
It is open year-round, 24 hours a day. 24 Hours a day sounds surprising, but there are hotels, camp grounds and cabins throughout the park. If you need to buy a pass or visit the visitor center, it opens at 8am and closes depending on the season:
- May – September: Closes at 8pm
- October: Closes at 6pm
- November – March: Closes at 4:30pm
- April: Closes at 6pm
Bryce Canyon National Park Fee
The cost to enter Bryce Canyon National Park is $35.00 per car (as of 2019), which is good for 7 days. I know this seems a little expensive, but they do an excellent job with road conditions (especially in the winter), trail maintenance and they also offer a FREE shuttle service throughout the park.
When you enter the park, you can pay with credit card or cash. They will give you a receipt with a park map and you just have to show the receipt every time you enter the park.
Did you know that Bryce Canyon offers a free shuttle service? They will pick you up from your hotel in Bryce and drop you off at all the major view points. The reason is to have less pollution in the park, not crowd the parking areas and encourage people to walk the rim trail without needing to find transportation back.
The shuttle runs from 8am to 6-8pm (depending on the season), on an every 50 minute cycle. The shuttle stops at most of the sites in Bryce town and the major viewpoints, click here to read all the viewpoints that it stops at!
I love how they offer this because if you are driving from a far distance like Las Vegas, you don’t want to spend your short time visiting Bryce Canyon doing MORE driving! This will give you a much-needed break to just enjoy the scenery.
Rim trail connects most viewpoints
The Rim Trail is a scenic walking trail along the rim of the canyon (very creative name, right!?). This trail connects most of the major viewpoints like Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point and more! If you plan to see most of the major view points, I encourage you to utilize the shuttle service by walking part of the rim trail and shuttling back to your car.
How far is Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park?
Even though these popular parks look close on the map, they are fairly far away from each other – around 2 hours apart! You can definitely see them both in one day, but I don’t think you would have enough time to really see them because you would be too rushed. I definitely recommend spending a full day in Bryce Canyon and a full day exploring Zion! Click here to read my One Day Zion Itinerary! 🙂
One Day in Bryce Canyon Itinerary
If you’re anything like me and love squeezing as much into your vacation, seeing Bryce canyon in one day is definitely doable! I’ve compiled a list of activities & view points to give you all the angles of this amazing canyon. If you are traveling for 2 days, you could easily split these activities up and just enjoy more time at each location.
There are too many view points and hikes to name, but I feel these are the most popular and give you a well-rounded experience of Bryce Canyon. Okay, let’s get started!
Start your day bright and early at Sunrise Point. This is one of the first view points after you enter the park and there will be a large parking area with plenty of parking. You will need to walk a little bit from the car to the viewpoint, but it’s an extremely easy and flat walk.
If you get there for sunrise, there will be a handful of photographers there, but for the most part you will have the area to yourself!
I unfortunately did not make it out for sunrise, but sunset point is directly next to it and I did get to watch the sunset there. These two points look almost identical, the only difference is the sun rises and falls on the two sides of the canyon (hence the names).
Scenic Loop Drive
Next up, time to drive the scenic loop to see some of the major view points. There is only one road in Bryce National Park, so it is pretty hard to get lost (unless you’re me and could get lost in your own house lol).
What made me love Bryce Canyon over the other national parks I’ve seen is the fact that there is forest surrounding the canyon! When you travel to Grand Canyon for example, it is ugly desert surrounding it. The entire drive to the Grand Canyon is not scenic until you are standing at the canyon rim. Bryce Canyon is scenic the entire drive because it is surrounded by forests and mountains!
1. Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge is the farthest point you will see, about 20 minutes from the park entrance. You will see many signs that count down the miles until you reach this viewpoint and there will be a small parking lot to park when you arrive. The bridge is directly in front of the parking lot, so you do not need to hike or walk to the viewpoint like you do with Sunrise Point.
Want to know how this was formed? Moisture get’s into the rock, freezes and breaks off. They predict that this bridge will eventually collapse, so make sure you see it before it no longer exists!
Like how I edited this photo!? It was edited using my one-click presets, click here to check them out 🙂
2. Bryce Point
Bryce Point is the most popular lookout point in the park and for good reason! This will give you an epic view of the entire Bryce Canyon amphitheater from a cliff-side viewing area. When you park your car, you will need to walk about a quarter mile along the rim trail to the viewing area. There will be fencing along the cliff to stop you from getting too close to the edge, but it is still a palm-sweating viewpoint to say the least!
To get a picture without ugly fencing, walk past the viewpoint along the rim trail for even better views of the amphitheater + NO fences!
If you have the time, I would recommend walking the rim trail between Bryce Point and Inspiration Point. These two viewpoints are very close to each other and the entire (easy) walk, you will get jaw-dropping views. The walk between these two points is roughly 1.5 miles in length, but I guarantee it won’t even feel that long with views like this!
3. Inspiration Point
Bryce point and inspiration point will be very similar, but the one thing I noticed was Inspiration point felt closer to the hoodoos. I felt I could see more detail because it is situated slightly lower in the canyon.
If you decided to walk the rim trail from Bryce Point to Inspiration point, you can either walk back or take the shuttle back to your car. Bryce Canyon offers a free shuttle to all the major viewpoints, making it easy to walk the rim trail in one direction and shuttle back to your car. Click here for all the information you need about the free shuttle!
Navajo Loop Trail
The Navajo Loop trail is easily the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon. I would assume at high times of the day, this trail would be absolutely packed. Even though it’s a busier trail, I definitely think it’s worth it because this hike is gorgeous and SO unique!
Only 1.3 miles in length, you start at Sunset Point and hike down into the canyon and then back up. After you pass sunset point, you will be greeted with a fork in the road making you decide which way you would rather take up or down. The two options are Wall Street (the steep switchbacks in between canyon walls that is highly photographed) or Two Bridges.
The first half of the hike will be descending into the canyon, but just remember… what goes down must come up! The hike up will be steep and feel endless, but it is easily doable for someone who is in moderate shape.
I did this hike about 1.5 hours before sunset (took be 1 hour to complete with many photo stops and taking breaks on the way up). Around this time, the number of people on the hike were minimal and when I completed the hike, it was time to enjoy sunset at sunset point!
BONUS: If you are interested in hiking the best hike in Bryce Canyon, don’t miss my full guide on the Navajo Loop Trail!
Sunset point is where you start and stop the Navajo Loop trail. You will see a large viewing area with TONS of crowds waiting to watch the sun set over this amazing canyon. There will be benches along the rim trail for you to relax after your hike and enjoy the views.
TIP: Don’t forget to bring a light jacket because it gets really cold after the sun sets!
To end your time visiting Bryce Canyon, drive out to one of the viewpoint parking lots and gaze up at the amazing stars! Bryce Canyon is an excellent place for star gazing because it is far from most light pollution. Rangers and volunteers host astronomy festivals, full moon hikes, and educational programs. If you want more information on Star Gazing, I found this guide extremely useful!
Okay, that’s a wrap! With this itinerary, you will be utilizing every minute of your one day in Bryce Canyon! Like I mentioned before, I have been to many of the famous national parks in this area and this was by far my favorite. The vibrant color and unique textures made me absolutely fall in love with this place.
If you want more guides on the Utah or Arizona area, I encourage you to check these out!
- Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon
- One Day in Zion National Park – PERFECT For First Timers!
- ULTIMATE List of Things to do in Page, AZ
- One Day in Arches National Park!
- Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend
- Salt Lake City Road Trip
- 15 Best Day Trips From Las Vegas
- One day in Death Valley National Park
BONUS: Combine Bryce Canyon with some of the following parks!
- Duck Creek – 1 hour away
- Grand Staircase Escalante – 30 minutes away
- Zion National Park – 1.5 hours away
- Grand Canyon – 3 hours away
- Page Arizona (Horseshoe bend & Antelope Canyon) – 2.5 hours away
- Havasu Falls – 7 hours away
- Capital Reef – 2.5 hours away
Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂
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