Written by: Leah Roberts
As we know, Utah is known for it’s beautiful national and state parks! People travel all over the world to see these landmarks. And why wouldn’t they!
Among the most popular of these, with it’s beautiful ochre rocks and hoodoo spires, is Bryce Canyon National Park. Arguably the second most popular national park in Utah, trailing Zion National Park’s coat-tails to the #1 spot.
Though Zion saw a considerably larger amount of traffic, reaching a record of 4.5 millions visitors in 2017, a 5% increase since 2016. Whereas Bryce Canyon has seen it’s own record of 2.6 million visitors over the course of 2017; that being a 9% increase since the previous year.
Don’t let the traffic fill you with panic- we promise the beauty is remarkable, and very much worth the hassle. You just need to have knowledge and a plan before deciding on a trip to visit the towering, orange-colored beauty. And we’re here to help you!
Let’s have a quick chat about all things Bryce Canyon! Making your travel plans- where to stay and why, the best and also worse times to visit Bryce Canyon, as well as all the activities and trails that can be found here. Let’s dive right in shall we?
Make a Plan!
If you are traveling from elsewhere, and you plan on spending some time in Southern Utah, exploring our parks and landmarks, make sure you have a plan. Knowing where you are going to stay during your visit is vital. Otherwise, my friends, you may be frustrated with your outcome! Decide first, are you planning to: camp, stay in a motel, or do you have an RV or trailer to stay in?
The best thing you can do for your lodging plans around Bryce Canyon, is to book a spot for your tent, or your RV/trailer, at a safe distance away from the national park. And ahead of time- especially in the peak season, you can’t expect to simply pull up to a motel or park and hope they have an empty place for you!
Unless of course you decide to lodge with a place that is a considerable distance from Bryce Canyon or Zion. Given that you’ll be navigating traffic and crowds during the peak seasons, motels and parks nearby or within Bryce and Zion, are typically booked out and don’t have any space without a reservation WAY in advance. Your best bet is to stay 1-2 hours outside of the park areas, for a more peaceful experience, without wrangling with crowds.
There are many incredible parks and sites to choose from in Southern Utah. But of course, we would love for you to stay with us! Unlike most campsites or RV Parks, we also offer a motel too. Whether you are planning a long trip, or even a shorter one, Leeds RV Park has so much to offer you! In addition to a beautiful and tidy park, we also offer spotless modern bathrooms, showers ( necessity when camping outdoors for long periods of time), laundry units (also a necessity, my smelly, nature-loving friends), and a clubhouse with so many exciting options inside!
When should I visit Bryce Canyon?
The next big question- if the park is so dang busy, when should I go? Well, that really depends on what you are looking for. Obviously, peak seasons are going to be more crowded, such as Summer, and early Autumn. But this is the most beloved time to visit for most, if you are looking for the ideal hiking weather. A catch 22 really!
It is essential to remember that this is Southern Utah- weather here can be a bit unreliable. The elevation of Bryce Canyon can and will play some tenacious games with you in these parts! Peak season is a brief window of time to visit, giving you only 4 months out of the 12 months of the year with ideal weather. Spring time can be a bit chilly at Bryce Canyon, and doesn’t typically begin to warm until late May or so, which by that point- it’s summer already isn’t it?
Then of course, you come to a halt at late Fall. Temperatures will begin to plummet around late September, and at that time of year, the weather will choose it’s own path. Though, in the plus column of it all, the crowds and traffic of people will have lessened during this time. At times during this precarious season, it will bring clear blue skies and streams of warm light into the canyon, and chilly storms at other times. But that keeps it interesting right?
That of course, leads us into the Winter months, where the breathtaking beauty of snow capped spires can drop your jaw. But with extraordinary beauty, comes extraordinary pain- as in your little nose is turning red and your lashes may freeze up! Temperatures are almost always near, or below, freezing in the winter months in Bryce Canyon– so if you are up for the wintery battle, unfathomable beauty, and little to no crowds, this may be an optimal time for you to visit!
Take advantage of this time to enjoy the Winter activities- Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating, Sleigh Rides, or Riding a Snowmobile on some trails! Not many people have taken the opportunity to see the snow tipped towers and their devastating beauty! So pack warm, and bring your A-game, because it’s worth it!
What are my options?
Well, within the town of Bryce itself, your options are nearly limitless! At only 2 miles away from the Canyon, the touristy town boats many options are delicious cuisines, trinketries and momentos, and activities for you and the kids!
From local coffee shop lattes, to comfort-eating diners, or even fine dining, there are options for everyone here. Replenish your protein after a great day of hiking at a local steak house, or take the load off with a healthy vegetarian meal! The quaint town of Bryce offers everything from American cuisine, to Italian; from pizza to barbecue, you can’t go wrong here.
If you’re not up to hiking and navigating the canyons of Bryce, maybe take the load off, riding Horseback around the town and canyon. There are even options for mountain bikers, ATV and off-roading enthusiasts, and Guided tours of the canyon. Find your options and enjoy your vacation!
Bryce Canyon Hiking Trails
Whether you are up for the hiking trails, or ready to take your chance off roading or biking, Bryce Canyon has got your back. Let’s talk about some trails that may tickle your fancy:
Mossy Cave Trailhead
One of the more simplex, but stunning trails that Bryce Canyon has to offer. At only a mile long, this light trail gives hikers a promising view of Bryce Canyon’s towering spires and hoodoos. Following a quaint elegant stream that leads to a natural sheltered cave, covered with beautiful green moss in the warm months. Pack up the kids and check out this easy trail!
Navajo Loop Trail
Photo by: Firefall Photography
This moderately difficult, 1 mile long trail, is easily the most popular trail Bryce Canyon has to offer- we suggest visiting this trail at either sunrise, or sunset. This trail’s main attraction is the beginning and ending of the trail, which boasts a breath-taking view of the horizon. The ability to watch the sun rise or set, over the amber-colored sandstone spires and rolling vista, is always a crowd pleaser.
Fairyland Loop Trail
Photo by: Climb Utah
This trail is said to be one of the more difficult trails Bryce Canyon has to offer. At about an 8 mile round trip, this gorgeous trail is often referred to as ‘magical’, conveniently starting at Fairyland Point (get it, fairies are magical?). It then travels downward into the bottom of the valley, into a labyrinth of ochre spires and hoodoos. But the trail doesn’t end there- you then wind through several other points the canyon has to offer. This trail is all for those daring individuals with stamina and a love for exploration.
If biking is your poison of choice, Bryce Canyon offers one heck of a trail for you! This 17 mile paved road, winds it’s way through forestry and lush meadows, and finally reaches Rainbow Point.
Unfortunately, this is the only trail within Bryce Canyon itself for biking. However, there are plenty of nearby trails to check out, such as the simplicity of Dave’s Hollow hike. This 12 mile trail starts out at Bryce Canyon, and follows the Great Western Trail through pine forests and flowing meadows. This trail is a can’t miss! You also have the option of the moderate difficulty of Casto Canyon’s 17 mile bike trail, or the magnificent beauty, and 15 mile trek of the Thunder Mountain bike trail!
In addition, there are trails for ATV adventurers here at Bryce Canyon. However, ATV’s are not allowed on official hiking trails, but instead, have their own specialized trails in other areas of Bryce Canyon. There are over 76 miles total for ATV & 4-wheel drive vehicles to navigate here. Included in this, is the multitude of different trails in the Pansaugunt ATV Trailhead, the 50 mile Fremont ATV Trail that heads to the Tropic Reservoir, and the gorgeous Pine Lake OHV Trail.
The options with guided tours at Bryce Canyon are endless. Between horseback riding tours, historic tours, ATV and Side-by-Side tours, and backpacking tours!
Take a step in the right direction with a Horseback Trail tour- choose between 4 different riding options. Dare to ride through the Red Canyon, on a guided historical journey. The Red Canyon tour also offers a guided ride to any of 10 different mountain lakes around- fishing on horseback is a must-have experience.
Among other horseback options includes the Ruby’s Guided Tours, Rockin’ R Ranch Guides, and Red Dirt Excursions. A trail to one of the most beautiful parks Southern Utah has to offer, on horseback no less, will definitely be one to remember.
What more of a thrilling experience than that of an ATV tour? Ruby’s Tours is open only from March 24th to October 31st of every year (but you can say “so long” to your ATV ride if the weather doesn’t permit it!). Take your pick from a half an hour ride, a full hour, or a special ride at sunset! Ruby’s Tours also offers Winter activities, such as Cross-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating, or Horse-driven sleigh rides!
Are you ready to visit Bryce Canyon?
It is so amazing to think that one simple, remarkable place would offer so much? If you haven’t visited Bryce Canyon, it is one place meant to be on everyone’s bucket list. You now know all the ins and outs of what Bryce Canyon has to offer! If your curious now, about what Zion National Park has to offer, or you want the down-low on Leeds, Utah, check out these other articles we’ve made just for you!
We’ll see you soon friends!