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Have you been dreaming of hoodoos and sandstone? Then Bryce Canyon National Park is calling your name. Few places in the United States are like Bryce Canyon when you consider the amazing rock formations and colors. While Bryce Canyon might not have the size of other national parks, there are plenty of splendors to see and entertainment to be had. Both recreational and avid hikers will find Bryce Canyon to be an amazing day trip.

Looking for the best sights and things to do at Bryce Canyon? Look no farther. We have a line up of trails, drives, and other excursions to make your time at Bryce Canyon National Park worthwhile.

What to Know About Bryce Canyon Before You Go

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah isn’t as large as Yellowstone, so you don’t need to have a full week booked at the campsite to see everything. In fact, most people visit for a day and see exactly what they want within that time frame. By researching the park and seeing how long some of the hikes take, you can map out a complete excursion and have more than enough flexibility for anything else you would like to add.

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What makes Bryce Canyon popular? The hoodoos, or spindly spires of rock that rise from drainage basins in arid climates. Hoodoos happen when softer stone begins to weather and erode, forming the outlandish formations you see today. Hoodoos have formed all over the globe, but they are particularly abundant around Bryce Canyon. For that reason, Bryce Canyon is a popular destination.

Since the Bryce Canyon rim reaches as high as 9100 feet above sea level in some places, you should be prepared for unpredictable weather during hiking. This is especially important in the summer. Lightning is frequent, so read up on some safety tips before you head out.

One last thing: Drones are not allowed at Bryce Canyon National Park. While it’s tempting to use them to see the park from a higher altitude, don’t give into temptation. Leave the trinkets at home.

12Things to do at Bryce Canyon

Have you looked at a map of Bryce Canyon National Park already? You may have felt a bit overwhelmed by all the vistas and formations there are to see. Don’t worry. If you plan ahead and know about the best things to do in Bryce Canyon, you can make the most out of your time here.

1. Go on a Bryce Canyon Trail Ride

If you want to maximize your time at Bryce Canyon, you should hop on a horse and do trails that way. You can hire a trail guide from Bryce Canyon Trail Rides, found in Bryce Canyon Lodge, and some horses for a half-day or full-day of riding. Full-day rides are only available if everyone in your group is 10 years or older.

Once you’re on horseback, your knowledgeable guide will lead you along the trails, pointing out interesting rock formations and other sites of interest. The guides also know a lot about the history of Bryce Canyon, so most of the time your ears are just as occupied as your eyes.

Some sections of the riding trails can be narrow and a bit scary, as you venture down into the canyon. The horses walk very close to the edge. If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the best excursion for you.

At the bottom of the canyon, there is a professional photographer waiting. They take shots of every member on horseback, and you can purchase those as a souvenir.

1.5 Other Tours of Bryce Canyon Are Available

You aren’t limited only to horses. If you are a thrill seeker or love speed, you might want to join in on an ATV tour. In order to take out ATVs, everyone driving must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Children older than 7 can sit with an older adult. Get your adrenaline fix and see a lot of the national park at the same time.

The ATV tour lasts one hour.

Another option is a covered wagon tour, where you can feel like an explorer or pioneer. The covered wagon is a relaxing option, letting you sit back and enjoy the sway of a horse-drawn carriage. You travel along a path through the forest then up to the Rim of Bryce Canyon. Along the way, the guide tells you the history of the park, as well as cowboy stories and tales of the Wild West.

2. Take a Scenic Drive around Bryce Canyon

The best way to start an adventure off at Bryce Canyon—if you are skipping the tour—is to go on a scenic drive. Along the road, you will find multiple places to stop off (13 viewpoints in total) and gaze out upon the rock formations. Literally, the entirety of the park is right outside the car window.

person holding steering wheel

The Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive is about 38 miles long and takes less than one hour to complete. However, you will be stopping to take pictures and look at the landscape, so you can expect it to take longer than that. Naturally, you should also be prepared for pulling off into parking lots to do shorter hikes, especially if you are are cramped for time.

3. Hike Fairyland Canyon

Sure, you could view the Fairyland Canyon from the road while doing your scenic drive, but it’s always 100% better to see the hoodoos up close. The trails around Fairyland Canyon are aptly named, because the scenery looks like something out of a fairy tale.

To get to Fairyland Canyon, you will need to hike the 8 mile long Fairyland Canyon loop. The trail takes about 4.5 hours to complete if you keep moving, and it is rated as strenuous. Along the way, keep your eyes open for Utah wildlife. You never know when you will come across prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, pronghorns, and other native creatures.

The Fairyland Canyon Loop begins in the northern section of the park at Fairyland Lookout and includes some incredible signs, such as the Tower Bridge and Sunset Point. The elevation change is around 523 feet in total. Looking for the best time to complete this trail? That would be between June to October. Do it in the morning or early afternoon, before the weather gets too hot.

Note: If you want to hike to the Tower Bridge and back, it’s about 3.4 miles in total, shaving off a lot of time. Since the hike to Tower Bridge isn’t as frequently traveled as other hikes, you could potentially do this one to maximize your time in the park.

4. Travel the Queens Garden Trail

Do you know why it is called the Queens Garden Trail? Because one of the hoodoos looks like Queen Victoria. The Queens Garden Trail is an excellent hike for both beginner and advanced hikers, since the trail itself isn’t strenuous but has a lot to see. Truly, this trail will have you believing that you were transported to an alien planet.

Again, the hike is relatively simple. You descend into the canyon then begin your walk. Don’t be fooled by the easy rating, though. There are some dramatic elevation changes that you need to be prepared for. Don’t forget the comfortable hiking boots at home. Some sections also have some steep cliffs, so you’re going to want to pay attention to your children and pets around those areas.

Overall, the Queens Garden Trail is about 1.8 miles long and takes about an hour or so to complete. However, that isn’t factoring in the time it takes to get out of the canyon, which requires a bit more uphill walking.

If you want to extend the hike and make it a bit more challenging, consider adding this section into the Navajo Loop Trail.

The trailhead for Queens Garden Trail is located off a turnoff for Sunrise Point. Follow the signs leading you to the junction between Sunrise Point and the General Store. From there, follow the directions to the parking lot.

5. Check out Inspiration Point

One of the most famous views in the whole park is Inspiration Point, also known as the Silent City. You will be astounded by the rows upon rows of multi-colored hoodoos here. The way the rocks have eroded throughout the years gives Inspiration Point a unique appearance that is unlike anywhere else in the park.

You can choose to drive to Inspiration Point and make due with the viewpoint closest to the parking lot. However, if you want to go a little farther for better views, there are two other viewpoints along the hiking path. Get to the top of the hike in under 5 minutes, and you will have an incredible view looking down. Another trail leads to Sunset Point.

To get to Inspiration Point, you can either hop aboard a shuttle from the visitor center, or you can drive 1.5 miles southbound. Follow the signs.

6. Visit Bryce Point

There are numerous viewpoints in Bryce Canyon National Park that you can see during your drive, but the most popular one by far is Bryce Point. The awe-inspiring view is unhindered by any rock formations, trees, or buildings, so you can see the hoodoos all around the area and take in the stunning colors.

Since Bryce Point is located right along the road, you won’t have to hike far. The viewpoint does attract a number of tourists, so you should head there early enough to miss the crowds. During the morning, the hoodoos gain a different hue than they do during midday. If you get there in the morning, you can see them painted red by the morning rays.

If you want to do a hike, Bryce Point is an excellent starting point. For example, the trailhead for Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail starts here.

7. Hike the Mossy Cave Trail

There are things to do in Bryce Canyon that are truly remarkable and memorable. The Mossy Cave Trail is one of those experiences that you don’t want to miss. Since the trail is just beyond the reaches of the park, it can be a bit difficult to find, but the payoff is worth every second.

The Mossy Cave Trail is also ideal if you don’t have much time to explore the whole of Bryce Canyon. You can get a lot done in the 0.8 miles it takes to get to the destination and back. The trail is best accessed between April and October.

The trail is short but you get to see many of the red rock formations that make Bryce Canyon so special. The stream you see as you enter the area isn’t natural but man-made. When settlers came into this area, they diverted water from the nearby Sevier River to feed their crops.

You follow the path through the Water Canyon towards an impressive series of spiraling rocks. Then you reach stream crossings. You have to hop a couple of them, so make sure your shoes aren’t going to get slippery in the water. After that, you have a series of natural arches, cliffs, and window walls to keep you in awe.

After you make another crossing, you go uphill towards an intersection. Go right, and you will reach a 10-foot tall waterfall. Go left, you can reach the Mossy Cave. In the winter, water seeps into the garden, forming a stunning garden of icicles that results in spectacular moss growth later on.

8. Venture the Navajo Loop Trail

If there is something considered a must see in Bryce Canyon, it would be the Navajo Loop Trail. This stellar hike is short and can be done in 1 to 2 hours. While considered moderate difficulty, you get to see some of the favorite rock formations in the park, including Thor’s Hammer, Wall Street, and the Twin Bridges.

You begin the trail at Sunset Point, following the descending pathway lined with guard railings. About 100 feet down, the railing stops and the path diverges. The first trail goes to the right, southward, while the other shoots left, eastward. If you choose the leftmost path, you are taking the eastern part of the Navajo Loop. Go right, and you will find an upper and lower trail.


The upper level trail is a short walk that takes you to a place where you can look through a hoodoo and down into the western edge of Bryce Canyon. The lower path is where the Navajo Loop truly begins.

You can take this path, which is a swift descent using switchbacks all the way to the floor of the canyon. When you reach the bottom, the trail goes straight for Wall Street. You can see the gigantic Douglas Fir trees that have been growing in the stone, creating a rift more than 750 years old.

From there you keep going, ascending a path that is lined with hoodoos of varying sizes and color. Another formation, known as the Twin Bridges, will be on the right about a mile in. Past the Twin Bridges, you will spot another series of switchbacks taking you to the rim. There, you will see Thor’s Hammer standing proud at the end of the trail.

If you want to make the hike a little longer, consider combining the Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop into one. It’s consistently rated one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon.

9. See Rainbow and Yovimpa Points

At the conclusion of the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, you will come across both Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. These viewpoints give you breathtaking sights of the canyon, but the angles are different, switching up the perspective slightly.

The first you will see is Rainbow Point. Take a short walk from the parking lot. You will immediately see mesas and plateaus and hoodoos stretching out across the landscape. The view is breathtaking, and you’ll want to capture a few photographs to show your friends later.

On the other side of the same parking lot is a trail leading to Yovimpa Point. The hike is very short, so you don’t need to worry about strapping on your gear. The view from Yovimpa Point is spectacular—forested slopes of deep green and brown. If you look out far enough, you can even see some of Arizona.

10. Walk The Peek-a-Boo Loop

Many hikers will tell you that one of their favorite things to do at Bryce Canyon is the Peek-a-Boo Loop trail. The hike begins at Bryce Point and is about 5 miles long roundtrip. You travel 1 mile down then do a 3 mile loop along the canyon floor. From there, you do another climb back up.

Because the elevation changes rapidly, this is considered a strenuous hike and might not be the best for those who aren’t properly conditioned. That said, if you take your time, you should be able to make it to the bottom and top again. Do keep an eye out on the weather conditions. Rain can make the ground slippery and muddy, adding an extra level of challenge to the hike.

Peek-a-Boo Loop trail is an exhilarating hike that takes you through some amazing formations, including a natural stone arch.

11. Do the Rim Trail

Looking for an easy hike that anyone could do but has an amazing payoff? You have been looking for the Rim Trail. No other trail is going to give you gorgeous scenery like the Rim Trail, since it takes you along the Bryce Canyon’s edges. You’re a bit exposed to the weather, but you also get a chance to see everything.

The Rim Trail is ideal because it is simple and doesn’t have much of an elevation change. In fact, the path is only a mile long, stretching between Sunrise and Sunset Points. This is just a snippet of the entire Rim Trail, however. The full clip will get you 11 miles in one direction and is much harder.

Pets are also allowed on this paved trail, and you can get the trailhead at either Sunrise Point or Sunset Point via shuttle. Since you’re walking between these two points, the hike won’t take you very long, but you’ll see breathtaking sights and have plenty more time in your day to hike other trails.

Glowing Bryce Canyon at sunrise

12. Under The Rim Trail

So you want to challenge yourself? Be prepared for the premier hiking trail through Bryce Canyon National Park—the Under the Rim Trail. This is the longest trail in the entire park at a whopping 23 miles in one direction. Since this is going to take more than one day to see all the sights, you are going to need an overnight permit to stay.

Instead of attempting to walk the entire length in one short, the Under the Rim Trail is best when separated into shorter sections, all connected to the highway. By following the separate routes, you can customize the Under the Rim Trail to your preferences.

Here are the different segments:

  • Rainbow Point: The trailhead is found at Rainbow Point, which is also where you find the trailheads for the Bristlecone Pine Loop Trail and Riggs Springs Trail. Optionally, you can begin at Bryce Point.
  • Yellow Creek: If you are starting at Bryce Point, you descend into the amphitheater and continue on towards the canyons below. You will pass a formation of hoodoos known as the Hat Shop, which have white hats created by differential erosion. From there, the trail bends towards Yellow Creek. There are a couple of campgrounds around here where you can set up for the night. You can also purify water from the creek to drink and take a break in the shade.
  • Right Fork at Swamp Canyon: Another campground is located at Right Fork, off the Swamp Canyon Connecting Trail. At the bottom of this area, you will see vast marshlands. The vegetation is thick, and you will see plenty of water runoff.
  • Campground at Natural Bridge: If you continue along the trail, you will eventually come to the beautiful Natural Bridge formation. The Under the Rim Trail runs along the side of it, and below the trail is a campground where you can rest for a time. The trek in either direction from here is long, so it’s recommended that you use the campground to catch your breath.
  • Bryce Point: This is the upper end of the Under the Rim Trail or the lower part of the Rim Trail, depending on where you are coming from. The trail here winds through formations like the Alligator, the Cathedral, and the Wall of Windows.

Now You’re Ready for Bryce Canyon!

Bryce Canyon might not require days or weeks to travel, but it is an amazing park full of magical natural sights. If you were wondering what things to do at Bryce Canyon, you now know there are several hikes—easy and hard—to go on. You can take a scenic drive while passing through, or you can set up camp. As long as you come prepared, Bryce Canyon is a beautiful destination to see throughout the year.

FAQs

1. How many hours do you need at Bryce Canyon?

Ideally, you should spend a day at Bryce Canyon to see all the sights. If you plan on doing the Scenic Drive, you can complete it within an hour. However, that would be a disservice to the splendors of the park. If you take your time within 8-10 hours, you can do several hikes, have a picnic, and see all the majestic scenery the park has to offer. That said, you are certainly going to want to come back for more!

2. What is cool at Bryce Canyon?

There are many cool things to do at Bryce Canyon. For starters, viewing the spectacular rock formations known as hoodoos will set your visit off right. From there, you can opt to see the Mossy Cave, climb to the top of the Rim, go on a horseback or ATV tour, or simply go on a scenic drive. You will find that the coolest thing is the views, which are never-ending.