Home to the highest concentration of strange-looking rock columns known as hoodoos, Bryce Canyon might be the smallest of Utah’s national parks, but it’s certainly a site that every desert-lover should see with their own eyes. So let’s discover the top things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park.
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Check out additional Bryce Canyon resources and combine your visit with other members of Utah’s “Mighty Five” using in-depth Southern Utah travel guides.
10. Kiss the Flag at Ebenezer’s Country Music Show
If you’re spending the night in and around Bryce Canyon, head to Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill for a BBQ dinner and country music show. At the dinner table, you’ll meet like-minded road trippers from across America while enjoying generous portions of your favorite southwest dishes. The main event is the country music show, where things get very nostalgic and patriotic. God bless the USA!
9. Get a Bird’s Eye View of Bryce Canyon at Rainbow Point
Rainbow Point marks the end of the scenic Bryce Canyon Road. It’s the highest viewpoint in Bryce Canyon National Park at an elevation of 9115 feet (2778 m). From this picturesque spot, the entire national park is beneath your feet, and you can see much further beyond the park boundary on a clear day. Next door at Yovimpa Point, step back in time and witness the colorful layers of sediment that formed this spot millions of years ago, peeled from the limestone in what’s known as “staircases”.
8. See the Natural Bridge
The best concentration of natural arches is 250 miles east at Arches National Park, but Bryce Canyon has few arches of its own. The most famous and accessible is the Natural Bridge. This beautiful 85-foot arch is composed of some of the reddest rock in the park. It also forms one of the finest vistas along the scenic drive, even in the absence of hoodoos.
7. Watch the Sunrise, Sunset, and the Stars
The Bryce Amphitheater is not only unique because of the thousands of spikey hoodoos but also due to the variety of colors that appear to form symmetrical layers in the limestone. On a clear morning or early evening, the sun paints the amphitheater in fiery colors. Head to Sunrise Point and Sunset Point accordingly. At night, head to any viewpoint around the Bryce Amphitheater to watch the night sky. Bryce Canyon is an International Dark Sky Park, so the park’s night skies quality is exceptional.
6. Ditch the Crowds at Fairyland Canyon
Bryce Canyon is much smaller than the rest of Utah’s “Mighty Five”. With much of the action taking place at the Bryce Amphitheater, it can feel quite crowded during peak tourist season. If you want to connect with nature without the crowds, head to Fairyland Canyon, just one mile north of the visitor center. From Fairyland Point, enjoy panoramic views of this much more wooded amphitheater, and hike the Fairyland Loop Trail to see younger hoodoos and possibly wildlife.
5. Admire Bryce Amphitheater from Scenic Viewpoints
Not as its name suggests, Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon by geological standards. The “canyon” is a series of amphitheater-like depressions where the forces of erosion peeled colorful layers of sediment and sculpted the resulting pinnacles into hoodoos. The Bryce Amphitheater is the most impressive section of the park, best admired from spectacular viewpoints atop its rim. Begin at Sunrise Point and head to Bryce Point while stopping on the way at Sunset Point and Inspiration Point.
4. Find Solitude on the Rim Trail
You can use the park’s free shuttle bus to get from one scenic lookout to the next in the Bryce Amphitheater, but a more scenic experience is to walk the entire length or sections of the Bryce Canyon Rim Trail. Stretching from Sunrise Point to Bryce Point, the rim trail is a relatively easy way to get some hiking done while having more time to admire the views rather than rushing from one point to the next. The busiest stretch of the trail is between Sunrise and Sunset Point, but beyond this section, the crowds are much fewer.
3. Stroll Through the Queen’s Garden
Down on the Bryce Amphitheater floor, the Queen’s Garden Trail is one of the park’s most popular hikes. This easy trail weaves around clusters of hoodoos and even passes right through them via openings blasted through the limestone. As for the name, there is or was a hoodoo with a striking similarity to a famous statue of the queen in London, but it’s pretty hard to locate nowadays, and it may have already lost its resemblance due to erosion.
2. Visit Wall Street on the Navajo Loop Trail
Together with the Queen’s Garden Trail, the Navajo Loop Trail is another easy hiking option in Bryce Canyon. Beginning at Sunset Point, hikers descend to the amphitheater floor via a series of short switchbacks that disappear at Wall Street, a towering cluster of hoodoos with a narrow crack at its center. The trail’s other celebrity is Thor’s Hammer, undoubtedly the park’s alpha hoodoo. If you can’t choose between these two hikes, combine the two to get the best of both worlds.
1. Hike the Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail
As you may have guessed from the last two spots on this list of the top things to do in Bryce Canyon, there’s no better way to experience Bryce’s magic than by hiking on the canyon floor. The Peekaboo Loop Trail is the finest hike in the national park. Due to its length and few steep sections, this hike is not as easy as the previous ones, but it is far more rewarding thanks to the fewer hikers on the trail and the stunning panoramic lookouts.
This wraps up my list of the top things to do in Bryce National Park, the most compact of Utah’s national gems. Now it’s time to begin planning your adventure. First, check out additional Bryce Canyon resources, including in-depth sample itineraries and essential planning advice. If you’re visiting additional parks in Utah, more travel guides are available.
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