The Very Best Of One Day in Bryce Canyon (Itinerary + Where To Stay)
Is one day in Bryce Canyon enough?! It absolutely is! With only one day in Bryce Canyon, you’ll be able to see loads of things in the park. From scenic viewpoints and overlooks to hiking trails, where to stay, and things not to miss, we have a full travel guide to one day in Bryce Canyon National Park just below!
Let’s face it, any visit to Bryce Canyon is a must, even if you have a few hours, one day, or are looking to spend a few days camping in the park. The great thing about visiting Bryce Canyon with limited time is the park is relatively small and compact, making it easy to navigate and get to all the things you want to do in Bryce Canyon. A win, win if you ask us!
Becoming a National Park in 1928, Bryce defined its ranking among the best National Parks in the united states with one word, hoodoos. The icon geological feature that makes this National Park so special is without a doubt the hoodoos! Oh, and don’t you worry, you’ll be seeing plenty of them during your visit.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Planning Your Visit For One Day In Bryce Canyon
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Where is Bryce Canyon & How To Get There
Let’s get our barring first, shall we? With five National Parks within Utah, where exactly can you find Bryce Canyon National Park? Located in southern Utah, Bryce Canyon is close to other amazing National Parks, National Forest, and outdoor activities. Making Bryce and its proximity for exploring more, unbeatable. Let’s get to the specifics (just below!) so you can plan your arrival at the park.
If you are not already in Utah on a road trip, you’ll need to get to Utah then, won’t you? The closest airport to Bryce Canyon is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV, or Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, UT. Both are right around 4 hours from the National Park.
If you are flying into Utah, you’ll need to plan to rent a car upon your arrival to take you the rest of the way to Bryce Canyon or book a tour from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon.
Driving to Bryce
If you’re already in Utah, Bryce Canyon is located a few hours from popular Southwest destinations, such as below, making one day in Bryce Canyon very doable.
- Las Vegas: 260 miles | 4 hours
- Salt Lake City: 270 miles | 4 hours
- Zion National Park: 72 miles | 1.5 hours
- Grand Canyon National Park: 145 miles | 2 hours 45 minutes
- Capitol Reef National Park: 112 miles | 2 hours
- Moab (Arches & Canyonlands NP): 248 miles | 4 hours 15 minutes
- Page (Horseshoe Bend/Antelope Canyon): 150 miles | 2 hours 45 minutes
Check out our complete Utah Road Trip Guide right here! And don’t forget about our Moab Itinerary and guide to spending one day in Arches National Park!
So, What is a Hoodoo?
The formation that makes Bryce Canyon so iconic is the Hoodoo. But, what is a hoodoo exactly? In short, a Hoodoo is a tall, thin rock pinnacle or spire. Hoodoos range in size and as you peer out into Bryce Canyon, you’ll see the valley of different size hoodoos scattered about.
It’s the hoodoos that make Bryce so special, mesmerizing, and vastly different from any other National Park in the United States.
When to Visit Bryce Canyon
First, understand that you visit Bryce Canyon National Park all year. From winter to summer and the seasons in between, Bryce Canyon is a year-round destination.
The best time of the year to visit Bryce National Park is May through September. Not only do these months offer the warmest weather, ranger programs, park facilities, and trails are all accessible and open. However, the warm weather brings crowds and traffic.
If you are looking for fewer crowds, shoot for October through November or March through April. And if you really want serenity, the winter is fantastic! In the winter, park visitors can go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
NOTE: Bryce Canyon is open 365 days, 24 hours a day, but from October through May, some roads, park campgrounds, and other facilities are either closed or operate on reduced hours.
Places To Stay Near Bryce Canyon (+ Campgrounds!)
When looking for hotels or places to stay near Bryce Canyon, understand you have two options Option 1, staying within the National Park. Option 2, staying outside the National Park.
Staying In The Park
When looking to stay in Bryce Canyon, you only have one hotel option, The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. Outside of The Lodge, there are no other hotels inside the park. The only other option to stay within Bryce Canyon is to camp.
There are two campgrounds located within Bryce Canyon National Park:
1. North Campground
From January 1 – May 26, reservations cannot be made. The campgrounds are first-come, first-serve. Starting on May 27th – October 1st, campground reservations can be made at Recreation.gov. Then, the campground reverts back to first-come, first-serve on October 2 through December 31.
2. Sunset Campground
Reservations are not taken at this park. From April 15 – October 31, Sunset Campground is first-come, first-serve only, and this campground is closed during the winter.
Staying Outside The Park
If staying within Bryce Canyon isn’t an option, the two closest towns that lay outside the park entrance are 1) Bryce Canyon City and 2) Tropic. Bryce Canyon City is about a 7-10 minute drive from the park whereas Tropic is a 20-minute drive. Both towns are convenient choices when looking to stay near Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon City: Under Canvas Bryce Canyon | Luxe Bryce Canyon | Bryce Canyon Pines
Tropic: Bryce Vistas | Bryce Country Cabins | Bryce Trails B&B | Bullberry Inn B&B
**For more accommodation options, pricing and availability check out the latest options here.
Things To Know Before You Visit Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon Reservations: You do NOT need to make reservations or purchase an advance ticket to enter Bryce Canyon. You are however required to pay an entry fee upon your arrival to access the park.
- Bryce Canyon Shuttle: Yes, there is a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes! You must show proof of admission to the driver in order to ride the shuttle. The park shuttle takes part visitors around Bryce Canyon from April through mid-October.
- Where To Eat In The Park: There is a restaurant at Bryce Canyon Lodge as well as a Pizzeria & Coffee Shop in the park. If you’re just looking for snacks and beverages, the General Store in the park is great.
- WIFI/Reception: While exploring Bryce, you can find trouble connecting to reception. For anything, you may be needing (maps, music, podcasts, tours, etc.) download them prior to entering the park.
- Get There Early: If you want to explore the park with fewer visitors, get there early! Like around 8 am if not earlier! You’ll be near “people-free” and have access to viewpoints and trails. As mid-morning and afternoon hits, the park fills up.
- Hours of Operation: Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Gas Stations: There are no gas stations in the park, so be sure to fill up in Bryce Canyon City or Tropic before you arrive.
- Entrance Fee: $35 for a car, $30 for a motorcycle, and $20 for cyclists. All entrance fees are valid for 7 consecutive days.
TIP: If you are visiting more National Parks, definitely consider getting a National Park Pass! It’ll save you on National Park entrance fees for a year!
One Day in Bryce Canyon Itinerary & Things To Do
Morning Bryce Canyon Itinerary
Stop 1: Sunrise Point
Start your morning off early and head to Sunrise Point to either watch sunrise or catch the early morning light over Bryce Canyon. Conveniently, Sunrise Point is the first viewpoint after you enter the park. Making it easy to either 1) leave your car in the parking lot and use the shuttle service to get around the park 2) Hike the Rim Trail to get to your next activity/overlook, or 3) Just use the parking spot for simply that, to park your car.
NOTE: The Rim Trail is a trail that runs along the rim of the canyon connecting hikers to other must-see viewpoints and trailheads in Bryce. People use this trail as a way to explore the park vs hopping on the shuttle or using their own vehicle to drive the park road.
Sunrise Point is not only a beautiful way to start your day but logistically a great viewpoint to use as your jumping-off point to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Stop 2: Start The Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
Once you leave Sunrise Point, you have started your journey on the scenic park road of Bryce Canyon. The park road is a two-lane, paved road, that takes visitors throughout the National Park. From the start (Visitor Center) to the finish (Rainbow Point), the park road is 17 miles, about a 30-minute drive.
However you choose to get from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point (Park Shuttle, drive your own vehicle, or walk), your next destination is either a 6-minute drive on the park road or a 10-15 minute walk on the rim trail.
NOTE: If you want to hike the Queens Garden Trail (out-and-back trail), the trailhead is located at Sunrise Point. During the hike, you can either connect to the Navajo Loop Trail (which will end you at Sunset Point) or complete the out-and-back trail (putting you back at Sunrise Point) where you can walk the Rim Trail or drive to Sunset Point.
Stop 3: From Sunset Point Hike Navajo Loop (Option To Add Queens Garden Trail!)
Whether you want to just hike the Navajo Loop or add the Queen’s Garden Trail to it, your starting and finishing point will be Sunset Point.
Navajo Loop Trail
Navajo Loop is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon. A true loop that begins and ends and Sunset Point, Navajo Loop Trail is a 1.4-mile hike that takes an average 1-2 hours. You can expect to travel up and down switchbacks, past colorful Hoodoo, tall Douglass Fir trees, and past one of the park’s most famous hoodoos, Thor’s Hammers. It’s really a fantastic hike!
The Navajo Loop Trail is rated as moderate and depending on the time of year you visit, only one side of the loop may be open to hiking. Side 1, the Two Bridges, and side 2, the Wall Street. The Two Bridges side is open year-round, however, the Wall Street side is closed in winter months due to freezing precipitation concerns. If the Wall Street side is closed during your visit, you can either add the Queens Garden Loop to your hike or backtrack the way you came and head back up to Sunset Point.
Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Trail
If you are looking to add the Queens Garden Trail to your Navajo Loop Trail hike, understand that you won’t be doing the full Navajo Loop. Halfway through the loop, you’ll see the trail connector signs for Queens Garden Trail. Take it.
From there, you’ll be taken on a 0.8-mile hike passed more amazing Hoodoo, arches, and amazing rock formations until you eventually are climbing up and out of the Canyon to Sunrise Point. Once at the rim of the Canyon/Sunrise Point, you’ll walk the Rim Trail back to Sunset Point completing the Navajo and Queen Garden Trail Loop.
In total, combining both hikes is around 3 miles long, rated as moderate, and takes 2-3 hours to complete.
NOTE: If you’re looking to just hike the Queens Garden Trail (1.8 miles out and back trail), that trailhead technically starts at Sunrise Point. Instead of leaving Sunrise Point after a few photos, hop on the Queens Garden Trailhead and take the hike into the Canyon. Then after you complete the hike, make your way to Sunset Point to take in the views or tackle the Navajo Loop Trail.
Other Hiking Trails in Bryce Canyon
If you are looking to tackle more than just the Navajo Loop and the Queen’s Garden Trail, below are some other top-rated Bryce Canyon hiking trails for you to check out!
- Sunrise Point to Sunset Point: 0.5 miles (one way) | difficulty level rated as easy
- Fairyland Loop: 7.8-mile loop trail | difficulty level rated as moderate
- Tower Bridge: 3.5-mile out-and-back trail | difficulty level rated as moderate
- Mossy Cave: 0.9-mile out-and-back trail | difficulty level rated as easy
- Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail: 5.2-mile loop | difficulty level rated as moderate
- Bristlecone Pines Hike: 1-mile loop | difficulty level rated as easy
- Sheep Creek and Swamp Canyon: 4.5-mile loop | difficulty level rated as moderate
- Rim Trail: A scenic walking trail along the rim of the canyon that connects visitors to popular viewpoints like Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. If you plan to see most of the viewpoints by way of walking the Rim Trail, we encourage you to utilize the park shuttle service by shuttling back to your car at Sunrise Point once you are done walking the trail.
Afternoon Bryce Canyon Itinerary
Stop 4: Stop For Lunch
After an early morning full of taking photos and hiking, we bet you worked up an appetite. If you’ve packed lunch or an assortment of snacks, find a picnic area in the park or just pull over and set up shop for a nice picnic lunch in Bryce.
Looking to go somewhere to grab a bite to eat within Bryce Canyon? You can eat at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon or Valhalla Pizzeria & Coffee Shop. If neither of those places is an option, you’ll need to leave the park and grab lunch in Bryce Canyon City.
TIP: If you are getting lunch at a restaurant inside the park or leaving to grab a bite, stop by the Visitor Center on your way out to grab any Bryce Canyon merch or souvenirs.
Stop 5: Continue On The Scenic Park Road Drive To The Viewpoints
After lunch, the rest of the afternoon can be spent at a leisurely pace driving the park road or hiking the Rim Trail to several Bryce Canyon scenic overlooks. There are a total of 13 scenic overlooks within Bryce, two of which you would have already seen (Sunrise Point and Sunset Point).
ALT Option: You can look into a horseback riding trip to see different views of the canyon by horseback instead of driving the full scenic drive.
After Sunset Point, the order of the viewpoints go as such:
- Inspiration Point
- Bryce Point
- Paria View
- Swamp Canyon Overlook
- Piracy Point
- Farview Point
- Natural Bridge
- Agua Canyon Overlook
- Ponderosa Canyon
- Black Birch Canyon
- Rainbow Point
- Yovimpa Point
Of the list above, the viewpoints that are must-sees (in our opinion) are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Natural Bridge, and Rainbow/Yovimpa Point.
Yes, yes! We only listed 12 viewpoints above. Fairyland Point is missing from the list as it lies outside the park. This viewpoint is before the park entrance gate. If you would like to check out this viewpoint, plan to stop on our way into or on your way out of the Park.
NOTE: All of the above points are plotted for you on an interactive map that is just below in the post!
Evening Bryce Canyon Itinerary
Stop 6: Catch The Sunset
After several hours of enjoying viewpoints or taking a horseback riding trip, the sun should be getting ready to set. If you want to catch the last rays of light hitting Bryce Canyon, swing my Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Bryce Point, or Inspiration Point to catch some of the best sunset views in the canyon.
TIP: Don’t forget to pack a light jacket. Once the sun sets, the temperatures start to drop.
Stop 7: Grab Dinner
After sunset, plan to grab dinner in the park either at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon or Valhalla Pizzeria. Or, feel free to head into town or back home to your accommodation to enjoy a meal and rest up after an amazing one day in Bryce Canyon!
Stop 8: Enjoy a Little Stargazing (Optional!)
If you have the time and energy, and if the weather is cooperating, plan to head back into the park at night to check out a sky full of stars! On a moonless, clear night, you will see thousands of stars and the milky way. We’re told it’s quite the scene to see!
Bryce Canyon Attractions Map
Click on any of the points on the map and zoom in and out to get a sense of where things are located within Bryce Canyon National Park.
What To Pack For Bryce Canyon
With only one day in Bryce Canyon, we want you to come prepared so your one day in the park is the best it can be!
- Day Pack: You’ll be out exploring all day. Make sure you have a comfortable pack to carry all your items in for the day.
- Jacket: Bryce Canyon National Park is located at a relatively high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, meaning that it is much cooler than Utah’s other national parks. Be sure to bring warm clothes, like a jacket or fleece. Once the sunsets, the temperatures drop.
- Sunscreen: The sun is more intense at high altitudes so make sure you have some sunscreen applied and ready for re-applies.
- Reusable Water Bottle: Avoid single-use plastics and go the reusable water bottle route.
- Portable Charger or Car USB: To help keep your camera gear and phones charged, opt for a portable charger or bring along your phone/camera charger for the car.
- First Aid Kit: Hey, blisters, and cuts happen. Come prepared so you don’t have to spend time finding any treatment.
- Snacks / Cooler: Plan to pack some snacks to get you through the day. Also, having a cooler in the car to keep drinks, dips, or sandwiches cold is never a bad idea either!
- Misc. Items: Don’t forget your sunglass, camera, Chapstick, tissues, and any daily medications you may need.
Is Bryce Canyon Dog Friendly?
National Parks are not always the most dog-friendly places. However, if you plan on taking your dog to Bryce, totally fine! Great even. There are definitely loads of areas of the park that dogs are allowed to be in. For instance, dogs are only allowed on paved surfaces, but the good thing for you is that Bryce has a lot of paved surfaces!
Your dog can go to:
- All viewpoints (except Piracy Point)
- Walk on the 1/2 mile section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points!
All other hiking trails in the park are off-limits to your dog as the trails are unpaved. Last but not least, your dog must be on a leash at all times (no longer than 6ft) and please, please, please pick up after your pet and do not leave them unattended.
WANT MORE INFORMATION?!
The Ultimate Utah Road Trip Planning Guide
The Perfect Itinerary For Your Visit To Moab
Complete Guide to Arches National Park
One Day in Grand Canyon National Park
Beginner Guides To Antelope Canyon
The Ultimate Southern Colorado Road Trip
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)