Bryce Canyon in a Day

There's a good view at every turn in Bryce Canyon National Park. Fun fact: despite its name, its not actually a canyon.

Bryce Canyon receives a lot less visitors than the neighboring Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, but it is not to be missed. You'll find sandstone formations called hoodoos in just about every shape. Native Americans believe hoodoos were once people turned to stone by Coyote. While the park does have back country trails, you can see all of the main attractions in just one day.

Start the day here at sunrise. There are two places to do this: Sunrise Point, which would seem the obvious place, and Sunset Point, right next to it. Most people will go to Sunrise Point because of its name, but the viewing area is much smaller than at Sunset Point, which has just as nice views (if not better) and much more room to post up with your tripod. 

Sunrise at Sunset Point.

Next, take an easy walk down the Navajo Loop Trail which drops into the amphitheater. You'll get an up-close view of the hoodoos and their unique formations, like Wall Street, Silent City, and Thor's Hammer. Don't miss the Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail to see the Wall of Windows.

Wall of Windows.

From Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail.

Hook up with the Queen's Garden Trail to see more hoodoos, like one shaped like a statue of Queen Victoria. The trail will bring you back up to the rim at Sunrise Point. In total, it's an easy loop that should take you just a couple of hours. 

From the Queen's Garden Trail.

Next, drive (or ride!) down to the far end of the park and stop at Rainbow Point for a different perspective of the amphitheater. Make your way back slowly and stop at the various viewpoints, like Natural Bridge and Fairview Point. Keep in mind that you'll be at an even higher elevation than at Sunrise/Sunset Point, so the temperature will get cooler.

Natural Bridge. 


From Fairview Point.

As stated, Bryce Canyon really doesn't get that many visitors, but if you find yourself there on a busy weekend, make your way out to the Mossy Cave, located along Highway 12. This is an easy hike (read: kid friendly!) that is out of the way. A picturesque bridge, waterfall, hoodoos, and windows can all be found here. 

View from the bridge along the Mossy Cave Trail.

End the day back at Sunset Point and wait for, well, sunset. Stay awhile afterwards too; Bryce Canyon is considered one of the best places in the United States for stargazing. Check with the visitor center to see if there are any night sky programs. There's even an Astronomy Festival every summer. Find more info here.

And lastly, about that fun fact. Bryce Canyon is actually an amphitheater because it was created by erosion at the origin of a stream channel, rather than by a flowing river carving a path through rock (as in a canyon). The more you know!

Published: June 10, 2017

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Joanne Howard

Berkeley

Leave only footprints, take only photos. I left my heart in Yosemite.