Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

By | December 10, 2022

The Paiute word for Bryce Canyon is loosely translated; “Red rocks standing like men in a key-shaped canyon”. However, this somewhat awkward translation aptly describes the unique rock formations of this magnificent national park, which for the Paiute – who live here as indigenous people – was a place of their legends.

According to travelationary, Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon as it was formed by freeze-thaw cycles rather than a river. The canyon is more like a natural amphitheater where the interaction of wind, water and ice eroded the edge of the plateau and formed the unique geological structures of the columnar sea stacks. These so-called “hoodoos” are up to 60 m high and impress with the iron oxide colored red, yellow and brown shades of a mixture of basalt and sandstone. The manganese oxide, on the other hand, gives the region the lavender color.

The area was named after Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce, who grazed his cattle in the labyrinthine valleys of the riverbed. As a result, neighbors in his small, nearby community dubbed the canyon behind his property “Bryce’s Canyon.” In 1923, President Warren G. Harding declared the area Bryce Canyon National Monument, and in 1928 it was declared a national park . Today, well over a million visitors visit the park every year.

Location and Size
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwest Utah at an elevation of 8,000 to 8,000 feet. The park is thus much higher than the nearby Zion National Park or the Grand Canyon National Park.

by plane:

The nearest major airports are in Las Vegas (LAS), Nevada and Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah, each approximately 270 miles from the park. There are smaller airports in Cedar City (CDC), Utah (130 km) and St. George (SGU), Utah (200 km).

By car, motorcycle or bus:
From the North: Take I-15 south to UT-20 (Exit 95). Head east on UT-20 to US-89. Then continue south on US-89 to UT-12. Travel east on UT-12 to UT-63. Head south on UT-63 to Bryce Canyon National Park. The visitor center is located one mile inside the park boundary.

From the South through Zion National Park: Take I-15 North to UT-9 (Exit 16). Then travel east on UT-9 through Zion National Park to US-89. Continue north on US-89 to UT-12. Drive east on UT-12 to UT-63. Continue south on UT-63 to Bryce Canyon National Park. The visitor center is located one mile inside the park boundary.

Opening Hours and Seasons
Bryce Canyon National Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round. There may be temporary closures, especially during and shortly after winter, snow and storms. Road conditions may necessitate short closures of individual areas at other times as well.

Visitor Center Hours of Operation
Summer 8:00am – 8:00pm (May – September)
Fall (October) 8:00am – 6:00pm
Winter (November – March) 8:00am – 4:30pm
Spring ( April) from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

Admission Prices
Admission to Bryce Canyon National Park is valid for seven days and includes free use of the shuttle system. A refund due to bad weather is not possible!

The Bryce Canyon National Park fee per vehicle is $35.
Admission is for a single, private, non-commercial vehicle with all its passengers. Separate tariffs apply to organized groups (bus groups, etc.).

With a motorcycle, the entrance fee is USD 30 including a passenger. Young people up to the age of 15 have free admission.
Bryce Canyon National Park Individual Permit: USD 20 per person, this allows a single person to walk or bike in.

Free park shuttle!
Bryce Amphitheater Route: From early May to early October!
Use of the Bryce Canyon Shuttle is voluntary. Taking the shuttle bus reduces traffic, saves fuel, time and money, and also protects the environment. Park shuttle bus stops are at the Visitor Center, Sunset Campground, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon Lodge, Sunrise Point, and North Campground. Outside the park, it stops in Bryce Canyon City at the shuttle station, Ruby’s Inn, and Ruby’s Campground. Parking is available at the shuttle train station. Shuttle buses are barrier-free. Pets are not allowed. In addition, guided tours to the viewpoints in the south are offered twice a day during the summer months.

Climate and weather:
The temperature difference between the daily high and low can be up to 27° C! Lightning occurs year-round, but is most common during summer thunderstorms.

Average temperatures in Bryce Canyon in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 4 5 8 13 13 24 24 27 23 17 11 6
Min -13 -11 -8 -4 -4 3 8 7 3 -2 -7 -12

VUSA Tips:
Hiking & activities led by rangers.

Rim Walk (Summer)
Grandiose panoramas, fascinating information about flora and fauna, spiced up with some geology and cultural history. Discover the park on a ranger-guided tour of Bryce Amphitheater.
Length: 1 mile Duration: 1.5 hours

Events for Families with Kids
All Bryce Canyon Ranger events are family-friendly, but these are extra fun for kids and parents. The rangers offer a wide range of activities for almost every taste. Pre-registration is required for most children’s events. Inquire at the visitor center.
Duration: 1 hour

Canyon hike (summer)/snowshoe hike

(Winter) Hike with a ranger down into the heart of Bryce Amphitheater or snowshoe along the canyon rim in winter.
Enjoy the unique views and the captivating stories about their surroundings.
Length: 2.5 to 3.5 km Duration: 2 to 2.5 hours

Evening Events
The diversity of Bryce Canyon comes alive with ranger talks at Bryce Canyon Lodge or in the Visitor Center rooms. Occasionally the events also take place in the amphitheater of the northern campsite. All venues except the campsite are wheelchair accessible. Duration: 1 hour

Full Moon Hike (Summer)
Hike among moonlit hoodoos. The number of participants is limited to 30 people. Reservations can only be made in person at the visitor center for the same day. Not for children under 5 years old. Every month on two full moon nights. The hikes are usually fully booked by 8:15 a.m.
Length: 2.5 to 3.5 km Duration: 2 to 2.5 hours

Stargazing (Summer)
Bryce Canyon is known for its dark nights. Go on a voyage of discovery through the starry sky with the “Rangers of the Night” and take the chance to view planets, star clusters, galaxies and more through a telescope. At other times of the year there is a limited range of programmes. Visit the park’s website for current events and the date of the annual Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival.

There are two multi-day trails in Bryce Canyon: the 9-mile Riggs Spring Loop and the 23-mile Under-the-Rim Trail. Permission to camp in the park is available for a fee while supplies last. Permits are available at the Visitor Center from 8:00 a.m. to no later than one hour before closing time. There are 10 campsites for 6 people each and two more for groups of up to 15 people each. Campfires are not allowed. Camping stoves must be used to prepare meals. The drinking water quality in the park is not safe, so water must be filtered. Every hiker should carry at least 4 liters of water with them every day outdoors. The Under-the-Rim-Trail can be reached via 4 different entrances along Parkstrasse.Note : These trails and campgrounds are in the forest, not among the hoodoos. Before embarking on a multi-day hike into the park, speak to a ranger at the visitor center. The visitor center also provides maps and information about the trails, campsites and water points, as well as parking regulations. Black bears and cougars also live in this relatively untouched wilderness. So if you want to hike in Bryce Canyon, you need the right equipment and should know how to behave when encountering these animals.

Proper gear, warm clothing, and sound planning are essential to making a hike through Bryce Canyon safe and enjoyable. Good shoes and normal hiking clothing are sufficient for the Rim Walk.

VUSA tip 2:

Activities & Scheduling

Under 4 hours
Get informational material at the visitor center, check out the museum, an award-winning 22-minute orientation film, and the bookshop.

Driving to the Viewpoints

First, take the shuttle (summer only) or your own car to Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points. If there is still time, visit the viewpoints in the south of the park.

Short Hikes

Walk a short distance along the Rim Trail.

By car
There are 14 lookouts along the scenic route along Bryce Canyon (18 miles one way). If you stop at all of them, the tour takes about 3-4 hours. The most famous viewpoints, including Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce Point, are located in the Bryce Amphitheater. Southbound views offer sweeping panoramas over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. All viewpoints are on the left-hand side of the road as you travel towards Rainbow Point, so it’s a good idea to stop there on your return journey. After each stop, you can easily and safely turn right onto Parkstrasse.

Flora and fauna

There are over 400 native plant species in the park. Pinyon pine and juniper grow in the lower regions between the hoodoos. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) dominates the plateau itself, while fir, spruce and aspen thrive in the highest regions. Bristlecone pines, some over 1,600 years old, are found throughout the park.

Bryce Canyon offers various habitats and is home to a diverse range of wildlife. More than 200 species of birds, over 70 mammals, 13 species of reptiles and 4 amphibians have already been recorded here. The largest mammal population is made up of mule deer and pronghorn antelope, and a small moose population lives mostly hidden in the park. Predators such as cougars, black bears, coyotes, red foxes, gray foxes, badgers and long-tailed weasels are also occasionally sighted. The most common small mammals are the golden-mantled ground squirrel, the chipmunk, and the Utah prairie dog. For the protection of the animals and their own safety, feeding the wild animals is prohibited in the park. To protect the animals, you should always obey the speed limit and pay attention to the warning signs.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah