Utah truly is home to some of the best destinations in the United States. This is a guide on how to spend one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.
It includes what to do, the main attractions, a suggested Bryce Canyon itinerary… and more!
One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park Pre-Planning
This next section tells you exactly why you should visit Bryce Canyon National Park and some of the general questions you may ask before planning your trip.
Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park
The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is definitely the beginning of May until the end of September when the weather is warm (66F to 83F). During that time of the year, the park offers a much wider range of activities.
Alternatively, for some other travelers, late fall and winter are also a great time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park.
From October to April, there are not too many visitors to the park. In the fall, Bryce Canyon is transformed into a colorful paradise. The temperature (63F to 56F) is dropping, but still comfortable to partake in many activities.
During winter in Bryce Canyon National Park, is possible to snowshoe, cross-country ski, and engage in other winter activities. The temperature is, on average, about 39F to 42F.
Please note that the weather in Bryce National Park is unpredictable in Fall, Winter, and Spring so make sure you check the current status from National Weather Service.
How Many Days Do You Need in Bryce Canyon National Park?
Ideally, to get the most out of your visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, three days and two nights in the park are enough. If you are limited on time, then one day in Bryce Canyon National Park will be enough to see and to do the essential things in the park.
This Bryce Canyon 1 day itinerary will show you exactly how to maximize a short stay at the Utah national park!
How to Get to Bryce Canyon National Park
Located in Utah’s southwest corner, Bryce Canyon National Park is actually not that far from Zion National Park. The drive is only around an hour and a half and the road is full of amazing views and stopping points!
Below are some options on how to get to Bryce Canyon National Park from different locations.
If you are coming from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon, then you need to take I-15 South and drive approximately 213 miles. After taking Exit 95, drive southeast on Highway 20 to Highway 89 South, and in the end, Highway 12 East. The drive is about 260 miles.
If you are coming from Salt Lake City to Bryce Canyon, then you need to take I-15 S. After taking Exit 95, drive southeast on Highway 20 to Highway 89 South and in the end, Highway 12 East. This is about 268 miles in distance.
If you are driving from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park, then you need to drive on Highway 9 from East Mt. Carmel Junction, then Highway 89 North approximately 43 miles after take right and drive east on Hwy 12 after you will see the signs for the park.
Bryce Canyon National Park Entrance Fee
There is one entrance to Bryce Canyon. The address is Highway 63, Bryce Canyon National Park (Bryce, UT).
It is $35 per car to enter Bryce Canyon National Park and the pass is good for 7 days. Alternatively, you can purchase an annual pass for Bryce Canyon National Park for $40.
Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center
There is one Visitor Center for Bryce Canyon. You can get driving and hiking directions, backcountry permits, weather forecasts, talk to the rangers, and visit the park museum and bookstore there.
Make sure to stop by the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to learn more about the park and the activities it has to offer. Here you will find a park museum, a short film about the park playing every half an hour, souvenirs, a bookstore, and maps and information from the park rangers.
One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park – Things to Do
The main attraction in Bryce Canyon National Park are the amazing hiking opportunities- there are plenty of trails and spectacular lookout points to visit, making this a fantastic place to visit in America.
The star feature of Bryce Canyon is its red rock column formations, called hoodoos. The largest concentration of this type of geological feature is found right here at Bryce Canyon and will leave you mesmerized on your visit.
There is an 18-mile main road starting from the park entrance in the north. This road follows the rim to the highest point in the south of the park. There are several famous lookout points along this scenic drive.
Below are some of the things to do and the main landmarks in Bryce Canyon National Park. We will then give a brief section about how to plan this for the perfect one day in Bryce Canyon itinerary!
This viewpoint has three levels, all with incredible views of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon below. There are no trails down into the canyon as it is rocky and dangerous, but you can walk further along the rim to Sunset Point.
The most popular lookout point in the national park, Bryce Point looks over the red hoodoos in the Bryce Amphitheater. Sunrise is a great time to go to this lookout point, as the angle of the sun gives the hoodoos a fiery red glow.
While sunrise is an extra special time to see the canyon, any time of the day gives you breathtaking views. If you are up for a steep hike, there is a 5.5-mile Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail that takes you down to the canyon floor and up close to the hoodoos.
Mossy Cave Trail
This beautiful, short (less than one mile) trail follows a river to a dripping cave, which leads further on to a magnificent waterfall. The dark green vegetation around the river contrasts beautifully with the red rocks. This is a refreshing, easy hike to do.
Sunset Point is beautiful at any time of the day and gives great views overlooking the beautiful multi-colored canyon.
From there, you can spot Thor’s Hammer, a famous hoodoo. You can also listen to a ranger-led half-hour talk on the geology of the area at Sunset Point. From there, you can start the Navajo Loop Trail hike.
Navajo Loop Trail / Queen’s Garden
This fantastic, three-mile hike is one of the best in the park. If you only have time for one hike, do this one! The trail starts at Sunset Point and drops 900 feet to the canyon floor.
You then will move through Wall Street, which is a fascinating slot canyon, further on to Queen’s Garden, then back up to the rim coming out at Sunrise Point. You can then follow the Rim Trail back to Sunset Point.
You can do this trail in both directions, either starting from Sunset or Sunrise Point. This is a great trail because it takes you onto the valley floor, through the pine trees, up close to the hoodoos, and through a slot canyon.
Since this is a very popular trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, it may be crowded, so starting early is the best chance for a less-crowded hike.
Horseback Riding in Bryce Canyon
A great way to see the canyon from a different perspective is to go on horseback! You can choose between a two or three-hour trail ride, where guides lead you through the heart of the canyon while giving you interesting information about the geology and history of Bryce Canyon.
On horseback, you will be able to see much more of the area than you could just on your own two feet. Click here to check out a recommended horseriding tour from Dixie National Forest to the Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon.
Take a Covered Wagon Tour
If you aren’t big on hiking, a great way to be outdoors and see the views, without having to walk far, is to take a covered wagon tour. You can marvel at the vistas as you ride in a horse-drawn wagon along the rim of the canyon.
In the wintertime, weather permitting, you can take a sleigh ride. Click here for more information about sleigh rides at Bryce Canyon in winter.
The Rim Trail is an easy 4.7-mile, one-way hike. This trail gives amazing views of canyon and hoodoos. You can start from either Fairyland Point in the north or Bryce Point in the south.
Starting from Fairyland Point, you will then hit Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and finally Bryce Point. There are loop trails starting from several of these points if you want to add in a trail leading into the canyon.
If you are walking from one point to another and not walking back to your starting point, make sure you arrange for a pick-up or shuttle ride at the end of your hike.
Bryce Canyon Stargazing and Night Hikes
Bryce Canyon isn’t just beautiful in the daytime; after the sun sets on the fiery red rocks, the shadows, moonlight, and sparkling stars give the canyon a completely different atmosphere.
Low light pollution makes for very dark skies, allowing for thousands of stars to be visible on a clear night. You can drive to one of the lookout points (Bryce Point is a good one as it is on a kind of a peninsula, so you get almost all-around views of the canyon) to enjoy the sunset, and then stay as it gets dark for some stargazing.
You can also join the rangers and volunteer astronomers for various astronomy programs throughout the year. The park also offers a very special ranger-led night hike during the full moon.
Old Bryce Town
This little collection of Old West-style stores is just outside Bryce Canyon National Park. It is rather touristy, but if you want to browse for any Bryce Canyon souvenirs, rocks, get some ice cream, or need to go to a general store, this is the place to go.
Restaurants in Bryce Canyon National Park (and Nearby)
Below are some places to grab lunch, dinner, or food in and near Bryce Canyon National Park. It will help you plan your one day in Bryce Canyon so that you don’t waste your day driving around hunting down food!
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
The restaurant is located in the 100-year-old lodge inside Bryce Canyon National Park and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a rustic dining room with a large stone fireplace.
The restaurant is committed to using local, sustainable, and organic ingredients as much as possible, and offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free items as well. Enjoy a diverse range of offerings such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, fish, elk chili, and noodle bowls.
Valhalla Pizzeria and Coffee Shop
Also located at the Lodge, this casual cafe offers pizzas, salads, pastries, and coffee for the lunch and dinner hours. You can build your own pizza from a variety of toppings or order one of their specials.
Bryce Canyon General Store
This store is located right by Sunrise Point. It is a convenient place to buy a picnic lunch to take on your hike. The store offers a selection of groceries as well as freshly prepared grab-and-go hot and cold food items.
Bryce Canyon Coffee Co.
The cozy cafe is the perfect stop for coffee lovers and a great place to go on your way in or out of Bryce Canyon. With a full menu of coffee and tea drinks, it also has baked goods, smoothies, and some fun merch like stickers, coffee mugs, and t-shirts.
You can find Bryce Canyon Coffee Co. at 21 North Main St. in Tropic, Utah.
Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Activities
Are you planning to visit Bryce Canyon in winter? The park may not be the warmest one then (temperatures hover around 32F), but it is still possible and you will definitely not find the summer crowds then!
One of the main reasons to visit Bryce Canyon National Park in winter is that a layer of snow generally covers the park – and it is remarkable! The Bryce Amphitheater is especially jaw-dropping under a layer of snow.
One of the best activities during winter in Bryce Canyon is snowshoeing! Many snowshoers walk the Rim Trail, Fairyland Road, Paria Road, and Bristlecone Loop. You can also join a snowshoe Ranger Program at Bryce Canyon. Snowshoes and poles are free when you do this.
Some other fun winter activities in Bryce Canyon are cross-country skiing, winter backpacking, stargazing, and more!
Don’t write off Bryce Canyon in winter – there is plenty to do if you want to keep occupied for a day in Bryce Canyon NP.
Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary Suggestions + Map
Bryce Canyon is not a park with a variety of things to do; the Utah park is more about the natural attractions and hikes within it. Below is a rough, suggested itinerary for Bryce Canyon National Park if you have merely one day to spend there.
This Bryce Canyon 1 day itinerary is recommended for spring, summer, and fall and not particularly for winter as the hikes may not be recommended then due to weather.
- Stop by the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center and grab anything you may need for the day.
- Go hiking! The two recommended trails are Navajo Loop / Queen’s Garden or Mossy Cave. It is recommended to start your hike early before the warmer, afternoon temperatures set in.
- Have lunch. You can have a picnic in the park if you packed your lunch or you can stop by The Lodge at Bryce Canyon and try their menu.
- Afternoon Option 1: Spend the afternoon driving through the park to flee the heat. Make stops along the way at the different viewpoints and overlooks.
- Afternoon Option 2: Go horseback riding (you can do this and the scenic drive if you move at a decent pace).
- Have dinner in the park. You can, again, eat at the Lodge or try out Valhalla Pizzeria inside of the same place. Alternatively, you can pick up some quick eats at the general store or eat once you leave the park if you’re not sticking around for stargazing.
- Go stargazing. Bryce Canyon is renowned for its clear, evening skies.
Again this suggested Bryce Canyon itinerary will change depending on the season but is a solid start for first-time visitors planning to spend an entire day in Bryce Canyon National Park.
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Things to Do Near Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is situated in a part of Utah that has an insane number of things to do. Many travelers will combine their trip to Bryce Canyon with another national park, such as Zion National Park.
Some other natural attractions in the region are Black Butte Mountain, Canaan Peak, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Dixie National Forest, Black Mountain, Panguitch Lake Resort, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and more.
The two closest towns to Bryce Canyon National Park are Tropic and Panguitch. These are ideal places to stay or get some food and things that might be needed for your trip.
Useful Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park
There are many things you should know before taking a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. Here are a few quick practical tips for visiting Bryce Canyon on a day trip:
- Download any offline maps beforehand to ensure you are covered even without cell phone service.
- There are limited amenities inside Bryce Canyon National Park. Bring water and snacks for the day.
- Rangers suggest arriving early and consider Bryce Canyon a ‘morning park’. The sunrises are epic in the park. Getting there early also helps avoid crowds.
- Sunset Point is the busiest place in the park so arrive early and expect to struggle to find parking if you arrive mid-day.
- Skiing is the best in January and February.
- Leave no trace!
Where to Stay
If you’re traveling to Bryce Canyon National Park during the high season, you will definitely need to sort your accommodation in advance as properties do book up quickly.
The following cities and towns are the best places to stay near Bryce Canyon National Park:
- Bryce (1 mile from BCNP)
- Tropic (10 miles from BCNP)
- Cannonville (15 miles from BCNP)
- Hatch (24 miles from BCNP)
If you want to stay in the park but not in a tent or an RV, you can opt to stay at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, which we noted above for its restaurant and dining facilities.
This Lodge also has accommodation and was built in 1924. It has 70 cozy rooms, 40 cabins, and 3 suites. Click here for more information or to book your stay.
Camping in Bryce Canyon National Park
There are a couple of options for camping in Bryce Canyon National Park.
You can go car camping or head to one of the two campgrounds inside of the park: Sunset Campground (100 sites) and North Campground (99 sites). These Bryce Canyon campsites are located close to the visitor center and Bryce Amphitheater.
However, please note that Sunset Campground closes from mid-October until mid-April and the only North Campground remains open throughout the entire year.
Since there are a limited number of sites at these campgrounds, only a few sites can be reserved… the rest are first-come, first-serve! Prepare accordingly!
Alternatively, you can go backcountry camping in Bryce Canyon National Park.
You will need a permit that needs to be obtained up to 48 hours in advance for $5. You can pick it up at the visitor center.
The two trails that offer access to backcountry camping are the Under-the-Rim Trail (22.7 miles with 8 campsites) and Riggs Spring Loop (8.9 miles with 4 campsites). You can not wild camp on the trail and must only do it at the designated sites.
Lodging near Bryce Canyon National Park
There are many fantastic places to stay near Bryce Canyon that will offer you anonymity and a chance to stay somewhere unique and more private. Here are some top picks in the area:
- Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn (in Bryce Canyon, UT
- Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel (in Bryce Canyon, UT
- Bryce Canyon Pines
- Luxe Bryce Canyon Home with Fireplace, Patio and Grill (in Bryce Canyon, UT)
- Bryce View Lodge Part of the Ruby’s Inn Resort
Should You Plan a Bryce Canyon National Park Trip?
Bryce Canyon may be one of the most popular national parks in the United States, but it is absolutely worth your visit, regardless of whether you visit as a day trip from Las Vegas or as a trip solely to visit the Utah wonder.
We hope that this guide to one day in Bryce Canyon encourages you to visit and put some of these places on your Bryce Canyon itinerary. Please drop your suggestions in the comments!
Additional Utah Travel Guides
- Bryce Canyon in winter
- Bonneville Salt Flats
- 1 day in Salt Lake City
- Arches National Park in winter
- Zion National Park in winter
- Utah campsites
- Things to do in Capitol Reef National Park
- Best Torrey, Utah Airbnbs
- Salt Lake City day trips
- Best Moab Airbnbs (Arches National Park)
- Things to do in Moab
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