Bryce Canyon National Park boasts thousands of hoodoos formed by numerous freezing and thawing cycles over the years. The colors of these hoodoos are simply beautiful & light up like fire during sunrise and sunset.
Bryce Canyon is one of the smallest National Parks in the U.S., but it deserves to be visited, even if just for a day.
The cool, crisp air at nearly 8,000-feet elevation may have you struggling to catch your breath, especially if you live just above sea level like me.
This park offers over 65 miles of hiking trails and, on a clear day, you can see 200 miles into the distance.
If you’re wondering what to do at Bryce Canyon in one day, this post has you covered!
In this post, I will tell you how you can make the most of Bryce Canyon in a day. My one-day itinerary will have you stopping at over 13 viewpoints and hiking among the hoodoos!
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In October of 2018, I took a 2-week road trip through Utah to visit “The Mighty Five” National Parks (plus some extra stops such as Monument Valley).
I was super excited to see Bryce and allotted 3 days to explore this park.
Unfortunately, the rental car broke down coming down from Rainbow Point (the highest point in the park), and we were hotel bound until Enterprise could tow us another car from 250+ miles away.
It all turned out fine though because we got to have a much-needed rest day.
Looking back, most of what we did could’ve been done in one day. So I decided to create this post for those of you who want to visit Bryce, but only have one day to do so. Enjoy 🙂
Before we dive into how to spend a day in Bryce Canyon, let’s cover some basic FAQ’s that will help you plan your trip.
Bryce Canyon FAQs:
Where is Bryce Canyon?
Bryce Canyon is located in southwestern Utah.
Can you drive through Bryce Canyon?
Yes! Bryce Canyon consists of one main road, with occasional spur roads.
This is a 38-mile round-trip drive that contains 13 viewpoints.
It usually takes about 2-3 hours to stop and see all the viewpoints. (All viewpoints are on the east side of the road.)
Consider taking the shuttle during the summer months when Bryce is the most crowded. The shuttles run mid-April through mid-October. See this website for more details: https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/shuttle.htm
Bryce Canyon Entrance Fee
- $20/bicycle or pedestrian
All passes are good for 7 days.
What is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon?
October through March is when Bryce is the least crowded. Keep in mind some of the roads & trails may be closed after a snowstorm.
Is Bryce Canyon open year-round?
Yes, it is always open!
How far is Bryce Canyon from Zion National Park?
It’s about 75 miles (1.5 hours) from Zion to Bryce.
How to Get to Bryce Canyon
Closest cities to Bryce:
- Tropic (14 mi./ 20 min)
- Escalante (53 mi./ 1 hr)
- Panguitch (27 mi./ 35 min)
- Kanab (80 mi./ 1.5hr)
The closest major airports to Bryce are McCarran (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada and Salt Lake City (SLC) in Utah. Both of these airports are about 270 miles (~4.5 hrs) away from Bryce.
Where to stay when visiting Bryce
Inside the Park
- The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
- Sunset Campground
- North Campground
Just Outside the Park
- Ruby’s Inn RV Park & Campground
- Bryce View Lodge
- Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn
- Bryce Canyon Resort
Bryce Canyon Shuttle
The Bryce Canyon shuttles run from mid-spring to mid-fall & is a great way to view the park during peak summer months.
It is a free shuttle system (once you pay your entrance fee, of course). Shuttles stop about every 15 minutes.
See this website for more details: https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/shuttle.htm
One Day in Bryce Canyon: The Itinerary
Start the day off at Sunset Point.
Contrary to its name, Sunset Point is a great place to view sunrise, since the hoodoos face east. Sunset point offers restrooms, picnic tables, drinking water, and it is also the starting point for the Navajo Loop Trail.
Hike the Navajo/Queens Garden Trail (moderate, 2.9 miles round-trip, 2-3 hours).
Know that hiking downhill into the hoodoos can be hard on your knees. If you have bad knees, you may want to get some trekking poles to help absorb the shock. I have a whole post dedicated to the best budget trekking poles you can find on Amazon if you want to check it out!
This combo trail is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon. The trail lets you walk among the hoodoos and the tall pines on the canyon floor.
The Navajo Loop part of the trail will give you an up-close view of Thor’s Hammer (a Bryce Canyon “must-see”).
After your hike, drive all the way to the end of the main road. On the drive back down, stop at viewpoints along the right side of the road.
Visiting Zion along with Bryce? Check out my 10 Best Things to Do in Zion National Park post!
Bryce Canyon Viewpoints:
1. Rainbow Point
This is the highest point in the park, topping out at 9115 feet.
After your morning hike, enjoy a snack or lunch at one of the picnic tables located at Rainbow Point.
2. Yovimpa Point
Yovimpa Point was closed when I visited, but this point gives you southwest views of the park and I’ve heard it’s quite windy there!
3. Black Birch Canyon
4. Ponderosa Point
If you’re feeling adventurous, descend the Agua Canyon Connecting Trail into this small amphitheater of hoodoos and giant ponderosa pines.
5. Agua Canyon
From this lookout, you will notice some hoodoos that look like they could topple at any second.
6. Natural Bridge
When you see this bridge, it reminds you of something you’d see in Arches National Park. In Bryce, you can see hoodoos for miles but this natural bridge was a nice change in scenery!
7. Farview Point
On a clear day, you can see all the way to Arizona from this viewpoint!
8. Piracy Point
9. Swamp Canyon
10. Paria View
Paria View makes a great place to view sunset since the hoodoos in this amphitheater face west.
11. Bryce Point
12. Bryce Amphitheater
Look down 1000 feet into the Bryce Amphitheater, which has the most hoodoos in the park.
13. Inspiration Point
End the day walking part of the Rim Trail & catching the sunset at Inspiration Point or Paria View. The part of the Rim Trail between Sunrise & Sunset Points is paved & wheelchair accessible.
Around this area, you will find a tree with its roots exposed called Limber Pine.
If you have more time, stop at Ruby’s Inn on your way out of the park to shop for souvenirs or snacks. They have just about everything!
For dinner, stop at Bryce Canyon Restaurant for a home-cooked meal.
Other Places to Eat Near Bryce Canyon:
Bryce Canyon Pines (4.4 stars, home-cooked food)
Stone Hearth Grille (4.5 stars, American bar & grill)
Cowboy Ranch House at Bryce Canyon Resort (4.0-star steakhouse that also has Mexican food & craft beer)
Bryce Canyon Fun Facts
- The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon experiences over 200 freeze/thaw cycles each year
- Bryce Canyon is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon pioneer.
- Bryce was originally a National Monument in 1923 & in 1928 became a National Park.
I hope this post helps you plan one awesome day in Bryce Canyon!