Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon Overview
Located less than an hour-and-a-half from Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Utah’s smallest national park (and one of the 10 smallest in the Nation, in fact), is without a doubt one of the most extraordinary places on Earth. Here, amidst the dazzling, multicolored limestone, you will find the largest concentration of hoodoos in the entire world. Hoodoos are vertically-shaped spires of rock that acquire their shape through a particular form of erosion involving rainwater’s ability to dissolve combined with something called frost wedging. This natural phenomenon has also created fins, windows, and slot canyons all across the area. Bryce is truthfully not a canyon, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s actually a collection of amphitheaters (as they’ve been named) that have been carved naturally into the limestone over countless years. These amphitheaters, along with the thousands upon thousands of hoodoos and other unique formations, create a maze-like landscape that really must be seen to be believed.
Inside Bryce Canyon, you’ll quickly discover that it is a confident destination location with spectacular lodging options, fantastic restaurants and bars, and a wholly unique ambiance. A lot goes on throughout the year in Bryce as it hosts millions of visitors every year, and it’s fully equipped to please every visitor that comes through its doors. If you’re coming to Bryce Canyon with high expectations, there is no need to fear. They’ll most certainly be met.
- Hotels & Lodging – There are three hotel names that you’re going to want to remember during your vacation planning: Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn, Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, and Bryce View Lodge, all of which are sister properties. These lodges are located approximately 1 mile away from the Park and are about as welcoming and memorable as you can possibly imagine. These three establishments are notorious for the amount of returning guests they get each year, as well as for the phenomenal food, we might add.
- Dining Services – Inside Ruby’s Inn, you’ll find three different dining options: Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room, Ebenezer’s Bar & Grill, and Canyon Diner. Between these three restaurants, you’ll have a wide range of food choices covering all three meals of the day including ribs, steak, seafood, chicken, omelettes, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, shakes, desserts, coffee, and much more. As previously mentioned, Bryce Canyon is highly regarded when it comes to food so come hungry because it’s delicious.
- Transportation – Getting to Bryce Canyon from Zion is extremely easy as you essentially take US-89 all the way there. Click here for directions. If you’re driving south on I-15, exit in Cedar City followed by taking UT-14 up to your final destination. Cedar also has an airport so you can take a connecting flight there if you wish. And finally, Bryce Canyon National Park offers shuttles that take visitors up to the Park from various locations. Once you’re inside the park, all the shuttles are free if you’ve paid the park entrance fee. They run every 15-20 minutes at various stopping points. Make sure that if you use the shuttle while already staying in the canyon that you park your vehicle in Ruby’s designated long-term parking lot.
- Shopping –Shopping in Bryce Canyon is exceptionally enjoyable. Shopping enthusiasts will find small-town boutiques and traditional gifts shops with just about everything you can imagine, as well as just as many things that you can’t! Between the Ruby’s Inn General Store and all the various shops and eateries located in the western-themed Old Bryce Town (across the street from Ruby’s), you will be a very satisfied customer and will certainly have access to anything you would need during your stay.
- Meeting & Event Space – There are many fantastic spaces where visitors can hold family reunions, corporate retreats, board meetings, concerts, benefits, performances, etc. The Bryce Canyon Convention Center, for example, is a 5,300 sq ft venue that can hold groups of up to 300 people. All-in-all, Bryce offers a total of 14,000 sq ft of event space and can provide catering, multiple break-out rooms, on-site entertainment, and state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment. Click here for a map that outlines clearly all the places where various events can be held.
Fairyland Point and Loop Trail
This is one of the longest hikes in Bryce Canyon, but also one of the most beautiful and enjoyable ones. Like many other hikes in the Park, this one begins on the rim and takes you down into the heart of Bryce. You’ll explore the labyrinth of colorful amphitheaters, canyons, spires, and hoodoos. This hike takes you directly through or alongside famous landmarks including Boat Mesa, Tower Bridge, China Wall, and the Bryce Canyon Lodge.
Bryce is located at a high elevation resulting in beautiful snowy landscapes every winter. Some of the most iconic Bryce Canyon photography was taken during the winter months when the amphitheaters, hoodoos, and the surrounding forest are all capped with snow. It’s a truly incredible sight. Snowshoe hikes (including ranger-led options) and cross-country skiing are also available options during this time of year. There are trails specifically groomed for these activities. Other activity options include photography, snowmobiling directly outside the Park (they aren’t allowed inside the Park proper), and the Bryce Winter Festival held in February. Click here for details on the festival.
Two Bridges/Navajo Loop Trail
This is the most popular hiking trail in Bryce Canyon. This path allows you to see arguably the best the Park has to offer, including famous sites such as Sunset Point, Queens Garden, Silent City, Wall Street, and Peekaboo Loop. This hike begins with an 800 feet descent and ends by walking up that same trail after having made a loop.
Highway 12 Scenic Byway
Taking this route will result in your seeing the following places without even leaving the vehicle: Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest (by way of Boulder Mountain), and finally ending at Capitol Reef National Park, not to mention 10 other geographic locations and landmarks that are significant enough to have received official names. It’s a beautiful drive at any time of day.
Watch the Sunrise/Sunset in the Park
Perhaps this seems too simple to make it onto a list like this, but the sunsets and sunrises at Bryce are something else. People travel from all over to experience specifically this. If you’re the type of person who enjoys waking up early and traveling to a particular location just to watch the sunrise, you’ll want to add Bryce Canyon to your list. Just trust us on this one. It’s spectacular.
Hiking, Mountain Biking, UTV/ATV, Horseback Riding, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing, Camping, Guided Tours/Rentals, Photography