Bryce Canyon National Park

The famous hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are akin to castle spires crowning this desert canyon. Bryce Canyon National Park is a scientist's laboratory and a child's playground. Because Bryce transcends 2000 feet (650 m) of elevation, the park exists in three distinct climatic zones: spruce/fir forest, Ponderosa Pine forest, and Pinyon Pine/juniper forest.

Bryce Canyon, well-known for its unique geology, consists of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. It is the uniqueness of the rocks that caused Bryce Canyon to be designated as a national park. These famous spires, called "hoodoos," are formed when ice and rainwater wear away the weak limestone that makes up the Claron Formation.

Over 1 million visitors come to Bryce each year. We encourage you to join in and make Bryce Canyon National Park a part of your Grand Canyon vacation. Just under 4 hours from the Grand Canyon North Rim to Bryce Canyon National Park, the opportunity to see at least two National Parks in one to two days is one that's not to be missed.

We've made it easy to plan a side-trip from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.  We've gathered driving directions, maps, popular hiking and activities and camping & lodging information for Bryce Canyon National Park all in one place.


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Driving Directions to and from Grand Canyon National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park:

To & From the North Rim:

Directions from Bryce Canyon National Park to Grand Canyon North Rim:
Take Highway 63 north to Highway 12. Take Highway 12 west to Highway 89. Take Highway 89 through Kanab, UT and Page, AZ continuing south to Highway 67. Take Highway 67 south directly to the North Rim. (Total 167 miles (269 km) - 3 hours, 53 minutes)

Directions from Grand Canyon North Rim to Bryce Canyon National Park:
Take Highway 67 north out of the North Rim.  Take Highway 89 north through Page, AZ and Kanab, UT.  Continue on Highway 89 north to Highway 12. Take Highway 12 east to Highway 63. Take Highway 63 south into Bryce Canyon National Park. (Total: 167 miles (269 km) - 3 hours, 53 minutes)

To & From the South Rim:

Directions from Bryce Canyon National Park to Grand Canyon South Rim:
Take Highway 63 north to Highway 12. Take Highway 12 west to Highway 89. Take Highway 89 through Kanab, UT and Page, AZ continuing south to Highway 64. Take Highway 64 west to the east entrance of the South Rim, known as Desert View. (Total: 287 miles (462 km) - 5 hours, 34 minutes)

Directions from Grand Canyon South Rim to Bryce Canyon National Park:
Take Highway 64 east out of the east entrance of the South Rim, known as Desert View.  Take Highway 89 north through Page, AZ and Kanab, UT.  Continue on Highway 89 north to Highway 12. Take Highway 12 east to Highway 63. Take Highway 63 south into Bryce Canyon National Park. (Total: 251 miles (404 km) - 4 hours, 54 minutes)

When you think of staying overnight at Bryce Canyon National Park, you probably instantly think of staying at the Bryce Canyon Lodge. Reservations for this historic lodge's rustic cabins can be made through the Xanterra Parks & Resorts website online. Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates the Bryce Canyon Lodge, with 114 rooms including lodge suites, motel rooms and cabins. The season begins April 1 and runs through October 31. Accommodations at Bryce Canyon Lodge are limited, so make your reservations as close to 12 months in advance as possible.

More options are available outside Zion National Park. In the towns of Springdale and Rockville, just outside the south entrance of Zion National Park, you'll find motels, cabins, bed & breakfasts and other lodging. Other nearby cities like St. George, Mt. Carmel Junction, Kanab, Cedar City and Hurricane are great options within an hour or so drive.

In the towns of Bryce and Panguitch (north on Hwy 89), just outside the north entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park, you'll find hotels like the ever-popular Ruby's Inn as well as other motels, cabins, bed & breakfasts and other lodging. Within 30 - 90 minutes, more cabins and accommodations are available in the Village of Duck Creek (south on Hwy 89 then west on Hwy 14) and hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts abound in Cedar City (continue past Duck Creek on Hwy 14 to the other side of the mountain ridge.)

Would you rather sleep under a blanket of stars than hotel comforter? Bryce Canyon National Park has two campgrounds located in close proximity to the visitor center, Bryce Canyon Lodge and the geologic wonder that is the Bryce Amphitheater. The campgrounds are named North Campground and Sunset Campground.  Both have restrooms with flush toilets, and drinking water. During the summer months token-operated laundry and shower facilities are available at the general store nearby. A fee-for-use dump station is available for RV users at the south end of North Campground.  No hook-ups are available at either campground. Reservations for North Campground only are available for a limited number of sites; the rest of the campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis. Call (877) 444-6777 or visit http://recreation.gov to make reservations. Reservations for Sunset Campground are not accepted.

Both campgrounds are located in Ponderosa Pine forest habitat with equal amounts of shade and sun, giving them a similar appearance. Neither campground has hook-ups, but a fee-for-use sanitary dump station is available seasonally near North Campground. All sites are limited to 10 people {with no more than 6 adults (adults are age15 and up)}, 3 tents and 2 vehicles and cost $10 per night.

Backcountry Camping is also available at limited sites in the park. Information is available on the National Park's website under Backcountry Camping.

There are several ways to explore this Utah National Park; driving, hiking, horseback and mules rides and pleasant strolls along the rim while gazing out across the impressive amphitheater of hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitors Center
Definitely make a stop at the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitors Center near the north entrance to the park.  Open daily year-round from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (reduced hours in the winter) a highlight of the Visitors Center is a 20-minute award-winning film entitled "Shadows of Time." The Visitors Center also offers exhibits, books, maps & hiking directions. Rangers are available to answer questions and issue backcountry permits.

Self-Guided Driving Tour:
Beginning at the Visitors Center, be sure to check out Rainbow & Yovimpa, Ponderosa Canyon, Agua Canyon, Natural Bridge, Farview, Swamp Canyon, Paria View, Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Fairyland Canyon and Mossy Cave. See the National Park website for more information on each of these scenic viewpoints and areas of interest.

Ranger-led Talks & Family Programs:

Ranger programs are a great way to expand your exploration of Bryce Canyon. They're free of charge and range from a few minutes to a few hours. Have all your questions answered or take an in-depth look at Bryce Canyon geology, sunsets or the starry night sky above.

Horseback Riding:

Guided horseback rides are available from April through October from Canyon Trail Rides. Trail ride reservations are strongly encouraged - (435) 679-8665. Tours depart from and can be purchased at the Bryce Canyon Lodge trail rides desk.

Most Popular Hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park

Some of Bryce Canyon's hiking trails are also shared by horses/mules; hikers must yield to horses/mules. Hiking clockwise reduces your chances of encountering horses/mules.

Grand Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park MapThere are several easy-to-moderate, paved and unguided day hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. For good "leg-stretcher" walks or hikes, try the following:

  • Rim Trail: (Length: 0 - 11 mi/0 - 17.7 km round trip) Outstanding views of hoodoos from above. Trail is paved and fairly level between Sunset and Sunrise Points.
  • Bristlecone Loop: (Length: 1.0 mi/1.6 km round trip) Hike through spruce-fir forests to cliffs with bristlecone pines and expansive vistas.
  • Queens Garden: (Length1.8 mi/2.9 km round trip) This is the least difficult trail into the canyon. Using your imagination you may even see Queen Victoria at the end of a short spur trail.
  • Mossy Cave: (Length: 0.8 mi/1.3k round trip) Streamside walk up to a mossy overhang and small waterfall. (Waterfall flows May to October)

Here, three of our favorite more-strenuous day hikes that are highly recommended for intermediate to advanced hikers. Moderate Hikes have steep grades with "down and back" elevation changes. Strenuous Hikes are those consisting of steep grades with multiple elevation changes. These hikes are not recommended for the faint of heart.

  • Navajo Trail: (Length: 1.3 mi/2.2 km round trip - Moderate) Navajo Loop is completely open, by ascending over the top of the latest rock slide. Please use caution traversing this trail. Thor's Hammer and Two Bridges side of trail is open all the way to canyon floor.
  • Fairyland Loop: (Length: 8 mi/12.9 km round trip - Strenuous) See the China Wall, Tower Bridge and tall hoodoos on this less-crowded trail.
  • Peek-A-Boo Loop: (Length: 5.5 mi/8.8 km round trip - Strenuous) Steep but spectacular hike through the heart of Bryce Amphitheater. See the Wall of Windows. (This trail is shared by the trail ride concession).
 

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A Day At The Canyon from John Burcham Photography. John Burcham is a commercial, editorial photographer based out of Flagstaff, AZ. You can see more of his work at www.johnburcham.com