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A guide to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

A guide to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

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Bryce Canyon National Park was one of many National Parks we were lucky enough to visit during our road trip around the USA in Elvis the Van. It was also one of my favourites. Each National Park turned out to be so different and special in their own right, but Bryce Canyon, Utah was like nothing that I’d ever seen before. It also helped that it wasn’t that busy when we visited either! If you’re planning a trip to Utah and want to visit some Utah National Parks then make sure you check out this guide to Bryce Canyon and the top things to do in Bryce Canyon below.

About Bryce Canyon National Park

Plan your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah and see the unusual rock formations with this guide of things to do in Bryce Canyon. Includes the best Bryce Canyon hikes, the best Bryce Canyon National Park Photography spots, winter tips, and lodging and camping in Bryce Canyon National Park. #brycecanyon #nationalparks #utahtravel #usaroadtrip

Bryce Canyon National Park is situated on a high plateau at the top of the Grand Staircase monument. Bryce Canyon elevation is mostly quite high, there are incredibly dark skies (some of the best we saw!) and impressive hoodoo rock formations. In fact, it’s these rock formations that the park is famous for.

Contrary to what the name suggests, Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon. Rather it’s a series of natural amphitheatres or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. The most famous of these is the Bryce Amphitheatre which is full of rock towers called hoodoos.

There are four main viewpoints from which to see this area: Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point.

Where is Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in south-west Utah and makes up part of Utah’s Mighty 5 Parks. The 5 National Parks in Utah are; Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon.

See this Utah map to the left to get your bearings. It’s mostly a map of southern Utah but you get the idea!

Utah Mighty 5 Map

Map of Bryce Canyon National Park

Take a look at the Bryce Canyon map below. The red road is serviced by a shuttle in busier months or you can drive it yourself. You can see the full Bryce Canyon National Park map here.

Bryce Canyon National Park map

Permits Passes and fees for Bryce Canyon National Park

bryce canyon national park

Entrance fees

The entrance fee to Bryce Canyon National Park is $35 per vehicle. If entering by foot or bicycle it’s $20 per person. Motorcycle entrance costs $30 per motorcycle.

This admission lasts for 7 days and includes unlimited rides on the Bryce Canyon shuttle bus.

If you’re planning on visiting multiple American National Parks or are doing a USA road trip, it’s better to get an America is Beautiful National Parks Pass for just $80. This lasts a year and will save you so much money on a road trip!

You can also get a Southeast Utah Parks Annual Pass if you’re planning on visiting lots of National Parks in Southeast Utah for $55.

Backcountry permits for Bryce Canyon

If you’re planning to hike the Under-the-Rim trail at Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll need a backcountry permit. This costs $5 and must be bought in person at the Bryce Canyon visitor centre.

Commercial Activities permits

Any commercial activities will need a permit. Check this page for more details on Bryce permits.

Bryce Canyon National Park camping fees

If you’re planning to go camping at Bryce Canyon you should reserve. There is a fee for camping and there’s a number of campsites that can be reserved from early May to late September up to 6 months in advance. Reservations fill up fast so get in there early. There are some spots held back for first-come-first-served campers too.

Note: sites are first-come-first-served

There are two Bryce Canyon campgrounds, North Campground and Sunset Campground.  North Campground is closest to the park entrance, visitor centre and Bryce Amphitheatre and Sunset Campground is a little further but still with views of Bryce Amphitheatre.

Both cost $30 per site per night for RVs and $20 for tents.

Top 5 things to do in Bryce Canyon Park

bryce canyon national park

For a longer list of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon, take a look at this list of top things to do in Bryce  Canyon National Park.

  1. Visit the four main viewpoints by driving the Bryce Canyon scenic drive. See Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints
  2. Drive out to Rainbow Point, the furthest part of the park, and gaze at the incredible views!
  3. Take a hike! See below for the top 5 hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park.
  4. Experience the night skies at Bryce Canyon
  5. Walk under the natural bridge in the Bryce Amphitheatre

Top 5 hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon has some great hiking trails that range in difficulty and take you through some out-of-this-world scenery. Here are 5 of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon.

  1. Navajo Loop Trail (this is one of the Bryce Canyon hikes we did)
  2. Rim Trail (the whole thing or just Sunset to Sunrise point)
  3. Under-the-Rim Trail
  4. Fairyland Loop Trail
  5. Peek-a-boo loop trail

What’s nearby Bryce Canyon?

bryce canyon national park

There’s so much to explore in the areas surrounding Bryce Canyon National Park. Here are a few other things to do.

  • Visit some of the other Utah Mighty 5 (Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion)
  • Explore more of the Grand Staircase Escalante
  • Check out Cascade Falls near Duck Creek Village

Where to stay near Bryce Canyon National Park

There aren’t a lot of choices when it comes to lodging inside Bryce Canyon National Park. If you are set on staying within the park boundaries then you can book a room at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. This Bryce Canyon Lodge offers some cabins, motel rooms and guest suites & studios to book. For other places to stay near Bryce Canyon take a look at the top picks below.

Hotels near Bryce Canyon National Park

Take a look at these highly recommended Bryce Canyon hotels in the towns near Bryce Canyon.

Camping near Bryce Canyon

If you are travelling in RV, campervan or just want to tent camp near Bryce Canyon National Park then Ruby’s Inn RV Park & Campground is your best bet and it’s super close to the park entrance. There aren’t a lot of choices when it comes to campgrounds near Bryce Canyon. However, if you’re self-sufficient you may want to check out this post on camping for free in the US & Canada. We stayed in the National Forest just outside the park and it was perfect!

Getting to Bryce Canyon and away

bryce canyon national park

Navigating around southwest Utah (and the US in general) is pretty easy. Here are some times and rough directions from other popular Utah attractions to and from Bryce Canyon National Park.

Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon Canyon

A lot of people visit Zion and Bryce in the same trip. This is easily done since they’re so close to each other. To get from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park you simply take the US89 southbound and then the UT 9 West. It takes about 2 hours to get between the two.

Bryce Canyon to Canyonlands National Park and Arches

Going to Arches and Canyonlands is a bit further. It’ll take you about 4.5 hours to get between the two. But, once you’re at Canyonlands you’re super close to Arches National Park and the cool town of Moab too.

If you’re heading north to Canyonlands after visiting Bryce Canyon National Park Utah, then you’ll want to take the US 89 northbound and then the I 70 east.

Other things to know about Bryce Canyon

  • Bryce Canyon is open 24 hours a day with the visitor centre open between 8am-8pm in summer, 8am-6pm in October & April, and 8am-4pm in winter.
  • Between April and October, there’s a park shuttle service which reduces congestion. It’s not mandatory unless you have a vehicle over 20ft or longer, but it’s recommended. The price of using it is included in the park entrance fees.
  • The highest elevation in Bryce National Park is 2,743m. It varies from between 2,400m to 2,743m in elevation! This means that Bryce Canyon weather is often colder than you’d think.
  • Leave no trace: Do not enter, alter, damage, or deface archaeological sites. Do not collect artefacts.
  • Pets are allowed at Bryce Canyon with some restrictions such as always being leashed and on paved surfaces. Check this page before visiting Bryce Canyon with pets. 
  • Stay on trails and roads.
  • Always carry a topographic map, adequate clothing, and a flashlight. AKA your 10 essentials
  • Be careful near cliff edges, especially when rock surfaces are wet or icy

Want to know more about Bryce Canyon and things to do in Utah?