How to See Bryce Canyon in One Day [Hike Among the Hoodoos & See 13+ Viewpoints]

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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!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through a link, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read full disclosure here.

text reading How to See Bryce Canyon in One Day

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:

Bryce Canyon Entrance Fee

  • $35/vehicle
  • $30/motorcycle
  • $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.  

bryce canyon: orange hoodoos in a canyon

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:

looking up through orange hoodoos at the blue sky
Looking up while walking among the hoodoos on the Navajo/Queens Garden Loop

Related: 10+ Photos That Will Inspire You to Visit Bryce Canyon

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).

Make sure you have good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water! It’s easy to get dehydrated at this elevation! I carried my Osprey Sirrus 24L hiking backpack with my 3L hydration bladder.

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!

switchbacks on a trail leading down into the canyon through orange hoodoos
Switchbacks leading down the Navajo Loop Trail
different types of hoodoos in bryce canyon
Hiking among the hoodoos on the Navajo/Queens Garden Trail.

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”).

thors hammer: orange hoodoo in Bryce Canyon that looks like a hammer
Thors Hammer

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

overlooking a canyon filled with hoodoos and green pines
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.

chipmunk on stone ledge
A little friend we found while 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

brown wooden sign that reads Black Birch Canyon: elevation 8750

4. Ponderosa Point

looking down into bryce canyon onto the orange hoodoos and green pine forrest
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

3 orange hoodoos shoot up towards the blue sky
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!

orange natural bridge in bryce national park
Natural Bridge

7. Farview Point

canyon of pine trees
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

bryce point: overlooks canyon filled with hoodoos with pine & ponderosa trees
Bryce Point

12. Bryce Amphitheater

Look down 1000 feet into the Bryce Amphitheater, which has the most hoodoos in the park.

13. Inspiration Point

layers of hoodoos in bryce canyon national park utah
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.

hoodoos and pine trees, blue sky
Sunrise Point

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)

tree to the left, looking out over the canyon towards the mountains in the distance

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.
light orange/yellow dirt & hoodoos

I hope this post helps you plan one awesome day in Bryce Canyon!

melissa of dogwoods & driftwood travel blog

Want more adventure after visiting Bryce? Head to Zion and hike the Narrows!

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How to make the most of one day in Bryce Canyon National Park!

infographic on 1 day in bryce canyon
text reads How to Spend One Day in Bryce Canyon

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