Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park


Bryce Canyon has been accurately described as one of the world's geologic masterpieces. Pinnacles, spires and eroded stone stand in galleries of bizarre statuary that never appear quite the same way twice.

The park is open daily throughout the year and the visitor center is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Because the altitude at Bryce is more than 8,000 feet, days are pleasant and nights are cool from May to October. Spring, summer and fall are ideal times for hiking, horseback riding, and camping. Wildlife can be seen throughout the year. July through September, thunderstorms and lightning strikes are common, especially in open areas and along the rim. The lightning can be beautiful but is safer when enjoyed from the shelter of your car.

Free ranger-led activities are offered, including nature walks, geology talks and evening programs and Astronomy Shows. Check for current listings at the visitor center.

Snow is possible from November through May, especially at higher elevations. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter sports at Bryce. The main park road is open all year, but some spurs are closed in winter to permit cross-country ski access. The bright, crisp days of winter offer some of the most striking views of the year. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available nearby at Ruby's Inn.

Late Spring through Summer is a good time for wildflower viewing, but color isn't found only in the flowers. The rocks themselves are a palette of flaunted color that only Mother Nature could create: yellows and reds from iron oxides and purples and lavenders from manganese oxides. 

Photographers of all abilities are attracted to Bryce Canyon's colorful landscape and sweeping vistas. White snow, red rock and blue skies make winter one of the most dazzling times for photography. Early morning and late afternoon hours are the best times to capture the rich red and orange hoodoos as shadows define their intricate forms. Sunrise and sunset times are posted daily at the visitor center. Because everything at Bryce faces east, Bryce Canyon's sunrises are far better than its sunsets.

Another visual delicacy is the nighttime sky. The park's clean air, altitude and distance from city lights make Bryce one of the best places on Earth for stargazing. "Star talks," offered regularly except near full moons, include an indoor multimedia presentation followed by telescope viewing of the heavens. During full moons, when hoodoos take on a spooky personality, 1-2 mile-long moonlit hikes are offered (sign up at the visitor center). 

Camping: North Campground is open all year. Sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis from October 1—May 14. The fee is $10 per night per site (half-price for holders of Golden Age/Access Passports). Reservations may be made for North Campground up to 240 days in advance for May 15—September 30. Some first-come, first-served sites are also available. Call (877) 444-6777 or visit online at

Sunset Campground is open from late spring to early fall and sites are first-come, first-served. The fee is $10 per night per site (half-price for holders of Golden Age/Access Passports). One group campsite is available May to October by reservation only. Call (877) 444-6777 or visit us online at Campground facilities include water, restrooms, picnic tables and fire grates. No hookups are available, but a fee-for-use dump station is available seasonally near North Campground.

Campgrounds and full-service RV parks are located outside the park. For information call Garfield County at (800) 444-6689 or visit

Walking and Hiking

In just a couple of hours on a trail, you can experience Bryce Canyon's spectacular scenery. But a word of caution: Many trails that descend to the bottom are steep, which may make the return part of the hike the hardest. Bryce's high elevation requires extra exertion, so know your limits and be especially careful if you have heart or respiratory problems.

Wear a hat, sunscreen, long sleeves, footwear with lugsoles and ankle support, and carry plenty of water. The day hikes listed have the best views of the hoodoos. In addition, the Under-the-Rim and Riggs Spring Loop trails offer opportunities for more remote backcountry travel. Trail information and backcountry camping permits are available from the visitor center. 

The times listed below are averages for round-trip hikes for hikers in good physical condition.

Rim Trail is a moderate hike along the plateau rim that features several access points between Bryce and Fairyland points. There is an easy section between Sunset and Sunrise points. It is not a loop trail. In the summer you can hike as much of it as you want and then catch a shuttle back to your car. (Up to 11 miles, five-to-six hours)

Queen's Garden Trail is a moderate hike into a maze of colorful hoodoos. The trail begins at Sunrise Point and descends 320 feet. It is not a loop, but it is possible to connect with the Navajo Loop Trail to make it one. (1.8 miles, 1.5 hours)

Bristlecone Loop Trail is a moderately easy hike along the top of the 9,000-foot plateau that begins at Rainbow Point and winds through a forest of Douglas and White Fir. Dramatic views and gnarled bristlecone pines greet you midway. (1.0 mile, 1 hour)

Navajo Loop Trail is a moderately strenuous hike that diverges from Sunset Point into two neighboring slots canyons only to rejoin at the bottom. The wall street slot canyon was closed by a rockfall in 2006 but may reopen late 2007. The descent and return is steep at 520 feet both ways. (1.3 miles, 1.5 hours)

Fairyland Loop Trail is a strenuous hike with lots of up and down for total elevation changes of 2300 feet. It begins at Fairyland Point and winds through red rock spires past Tower Bridge and the Chinese Wall. This trail joins the Rim Trail to make a loop. (8.0 miles, 4 to 5 hours)

Peekaboo Loop Trail is a strenuous hike that winds past the Wall of Windows. Hikers share the trail with horses. It can be accessed from either Sunset Point (4.8-mile hike) or Bryce Point (5.5-mile hike with greater elevation change). (Three-to-four hours)