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Often overshadowed by nearby Zion, Bryce Canyon National Park is a hidden gem in Utah’s red rock country. One of the best parts? Due to its small size, you only need one day in Bryce Canyon National Park to have an unforgettable adventure among the hoodoos that make up this park!
I had the fortune to spend one day in Bryce Canyon recently and had an absolute blast. To help you have an amazing trip, I’ve put together all the tips and tricks you need to know to make the best of Bryce in one day.
Plus, find a complete Bryce Canyon one day itinerary below, with recommended stops, must sees, tips, and jaw dropping hikes you’ll love.
- Location: Southern Utah, 4 hours northeast of Las Vegas
- Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle, valid for 7 days
One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park: Itinerary
I’m not exaggerating when I say that you can see the best of Bryce Canyon in one day. The main attraction in the park are the orange and white hoodoos that light up as the sun rises, and look stunning with a dusting of snow.
What is a hoodoo? The colorful tall rock spires that you see in photos of Bryce Canyon are called “hoodoos” and have been formed over millions of years. Bryce Canyon is famous for having the largest collection of hoodoos in the world!
Below you’ll find more information on where to see and photograph the famous hoodoos. Plus, this one day Bryce Canyon itinerary has you doing an amazing hike that lets you see the hoodoos from up close, giving you an entirely new perspective and appreciation for them!
Start Your Day: Catch the Sunrise at Sunrise Point
If you’re hoping to catch the hoodoos in their best light, you’ll want to set an alarm to catch the sunrise at Sunrise Point.
As its name suggests, you can watch the sun start to bathe the hoodoos in soft light as it rises above the horizon at Sunrise Point.
There’s a fairly large parking lot, but you’ll have to do a short walk to get the views.
The hoodoos here stand surrounded by greenery and the view is one of the best in the park. What more could you ask to kick off your Bryce Canyon one day itinerary?
Tip: If you’re going for sunrise, bundle up! Due to its high elevation, Bryce Canyon can be freezing cold in the morning. This super cozy sweater is a must bring!
Walk the Rim Trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points
If you’re looking to warm up to get your day started, consider walking a portion of the Rim Trail, starting at Sunrise Point and ending at Sunset Point (or vice versa).
This walk is paved, and is a short 0.5 mile one way. For a little bit of work, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the hoodoos along the way.
Depending on the time of year, you may be able to take the shuttle back to your starting point to cut the distance in half. However, it’s such a short little walk with such great views, I recommend just doing the whole mile on foot.
Budget between 30 minutes to an hour for the walk, depending on how many times you stop to take photos and admire the scenery.
Do the Scenic Drive
Perhaps the easiest way to get different views of the hoods in the Bryce amphitheater is by doing the scenic drive.
If you’re wondering where to start and what to do at Bryce Canyon in one day, the Scenic Drive is the answer!
This 18 mile one way drive takes you from the park entrance all the way down to Rainbow and Yuvimpa Points, which put you at the highest elevation in the park at over 9,000 feet!
There’s one main road in and out of Bryce Canyon, so getting lost here shouldn’t be a concern. As you do the drive, you’ll see mile markers along the way, with signs pointing to different pullouts and views on the left side of the road for you to stop at.
The best way to do the drive is to go all the way to the end of the road, at the parking lot for Rainbow/Yuvimpa Points and then make your stops on the drive back.
Tip: there’s only one parking lot for Rainbow and Yuvimpa Points. The two are almost right next to each other, but it’s easy to miss the distinction between the two!
By doing this, you’ll avoid making left turns, and will have plenty to look forward to as you drive back towards the park entrance!
While all of the viewpoints have something to offer, below are what I found to be the best ones!
You’re standing at an elevation of 9,115 feet at Rainbow Point, and the views match!
While the hoodoos aren’t as prominent at this point as they are in the main Bryce amphitheater, you will get views of dusty orange hoodoos surrounded by a vast expense of greenery.
Seeing the vast stretch of forest before you is a nice change of pace from the majority of Utah’s red rock scenery. Because of this, I recommend stopping here, admiring the view, and breathing in the fresh air.
If you have more time: consider hiking the Bristlecone Loop, an easy, one mile round-trip hike that begins here. This is a good addition to this Bryce Canyon 1 day itinerary!
One of the coolest viewpoints along the drive, at the Natural Bridge viewpoint you’ll be able to see a gorgeous “bridge” which isn’t a bridge at all, but an arch!
I’m a huge fan of arches, so seeing one at Bryce Canyon was pretty cool, especially since the colors contrast beautifully with the rich green of the trees beyond it.
Like most arches, this one formed due to water seeping into the rock, freezing solid, breaking the rock, and finally gravity doing its thing.
Natural Bridge won’t be around forever. Arches are constantly changing and breaking due to natural causes, so get to seeing this before it’s gone for good!
Farview Point + Piracy Point
If there’s one thing I’ll say about whoever named the viewpoints at Bryce Canyon, it’s that they were definitely naming them as they saw them.
The view at Farview Point lets you see far into the distance, with views of deep green forests flanked by pink and white rock formations, stretching out as far as the eye can see.
From Farview, you can do a short walk to Piracy Point where you’ll find two large rock formations that are said to resemble pirate ships.
While the views at Farview and Piracy Points are pretty by their own right, the main reason we stopped here was for HOT DOGS!
While not guaranteed to always be there, when we visited we found a food truck serving up yummy hotdogs and other treats – definitely worth the stop!
One of the more famous viewpoints at Bryce Canyon, Bryce Point gives you a gorgeous view of the hoodoos in their full splendor.
The thick greenery of the forest stands in sharp contrast to the warm orange hues that color the hoodoos, and give you unforgettable views.
Bryce Point is a good place to watch the sunrise, as the early morning light dances up illuminating the hoodoos and making them incredibly photogenic.
Admire the View at Inspiration Point
One of my favorite views in Bryce Canyon National Park can be found at Inspiration Point.
The hoodoos seem to stand at the ready, so close you could touch them if you slid along the gentle sloping walls of the cliffs.
Whether you’re doing a Bryce Canyon solo trip, or visiting with other people, Inspiration Point is a place that’ll leave you in awe of the sheer beauty that stands in front of you at Bryce.
This is one of those Bryce Canyon must see spots that you’ll regret missing, so don’t skip it!
Hike the Queen-Navajo Loop
- Length: 2.9 miles round trip
- Elevation change: 600 feet
- Difficulty: moderate
- Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
While we did some incredible hikes in our Utah Mighty 5 road trip, the Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop trail was one of the most fun ones!
This popular hike takes you down below the rim and directly into the hoodoos themselves, how cool is that?
To start the hike, we found parking at the lot for Sunset Point, then did a short half a mile walk from there to Sunrise Point.
At Sunrise Point we took the Queen’s Garden trail down into the hoodoos. You’ll be losing a lot of elevation right off the bat (which you’ll eventually regain on the way back up!)
We passed through a couple of doorways cut into the rock on the way along the trail, eventually ending at a hoodoo that looks like Queen Victoria.
Tip: Look for the park signs pointing out which hoodoo is the right one, it took us a while to look in the right direction!
From here on follow the signs to continue up to the Navajo Loop trail. Here the real work of the hike begins, as you have to climb back up a series of switchbacks.
You’ll still be rewarded with stunning views, making this hike absolutely worth all the effort!
Tip: You can come back up via Wall Street or Two Bridges. Wall Street is definitely the more scenic, popular and slightly longer route!
Catch the Sunset at Sunset Point
If you’ve done the Queen’s/Navajo Loop hike you will have gotten to see the hoodoos that make Sunset Point famous, but seeing them from the viewpoint is something else.
The views from Sunset Point are breathtaking, and are absolutely worth the stop. Here, you’ll be able to see Thor’s Hammer, a cool, standalone hoodoo.
As the sun goes down, you’ll get good light to photograph the expanse of hoodoos before you, a fitting end to a day exploring Bryce Canyon.
Do Some Stargazing
As you stopped at the various viewpoints in Bryce Canyon throughout the day, you might have picked up on the fact that the air quality here is incredible.
Due to this, and the lack of light pollution in this isolated park, the night skies at Bryce Canyon are full of stars and beauty.
You can see the stars and the Milky Way at any of the viewpoints at Bryce Canyon, just pick your favorite.
Bryce has a ton of programs for experiencing the park at night, including an astronomy festival, and full moon hikes. Make sure you check out the Bryce website for more info on their dark skies as you plan your trip!
If you have more time in the park, check out some of the following hikes to make your trip even more incredible!
- Mossy Cave: a short, 0.8 mile round trip hike that takes you to a mossy grotto. Trailhead is located outside of the park entrance.
- Fairyland Loop: this is a strenuous, 8 mile hike with over 1,700 feet in elevation change. This is a more quiet experience than the Queen’s/Navajo Loop and will give you great views of the hoodoos.
- Figure 8 Combination: this is a 6.4 mile, strenuous combination of the Queen’s/Navajo Loop and the Peekabo Loop with over 1,600 feet in elevation gain. This is perfect if you’d like to do the Queen’s/Najao Loop but are looking some something longer below the rim.
Things to Know when Visiting Bryce Canyon – Tips!
There’s a couple of things that I wish I’d known before visiting Bryce Canyon. You can figure these out when you get there, but why not come prepared ahead of time?
No Bryce Canyon guide is complete without the following info, so read on!
The Park is Open 24/7
You can drive right on in, even if the visitor centers are closed, just make sure to pay the fee on your way out.
If you get here after hours, download the map and park brochure off the park’s website so you know where to go.
Did you know that Bryce Canyon has a free shuttle system that runs throughout the park? The shuttle can definitely make your life easier when visiting the park, so get familiar with it before you arrive!
A couple of things to know:
- The shuttle runs from April through October, and is free with admission to the park;
- Shuttles arrive every 10-15 minutes, and runs from 8am to 6pm most months, and up to 8pm during the summer months;
- You can get picked up at your campground, or even your hotel (if staying in Bryce Canyon City)
- The shuttle runs through the Bryce amphitheater, and is a great way to shave some time off your hikes if you plan them correctly.
If you’d like to stay inside Bryce Canyon without camping, you can stay at the Bryce Lodge!
The Lodge sits near the Bryce Amphitheater, and is a good base for exploring Bryce Canyon. Reservations can be hard to come by, so planning in advance is best.
Showers, Laundry, and General Store
After spending several days on the road as part of my Utah road trip, few things felt as luxurious as having access to a shower and a spot to do my laundry inside Bryce Canyon itself!
- Showers: available Spring through Fall at the General Store, from 9am to 5pm. Showers run on tokens, which you can buy at the store. If showers are closed, head over to Ruby’s Inn.
- Laundry: open from 9am-5pm usually. The laundry room is fairly small, and you’ll want to get quarters to do a load.
- General Store: find firewood, emergency camping supplies, food, drinks and more at the General Store! The store is open most of the year, from Spring-Fall.
Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in One Day
While it can be tempting to visit both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in one day, I recommend against it.
Even though the parks are only about an hour and a half away from each other, I don’t think you’d be doing justice to either park by rushing through them, you just won’t get the best experience.
I recommend you spend at least two full days in Zion National Park, but if you really wanted to see both of these parks on a long weekend trip, you could.
How to Get to Bryce Canyon
You’ll need a car to get to Bryce Canyon, as the closest airports are still pretty far away and the park is far removed from any major cities.
If you’re flying, your main options are Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, both are about 4 hours away by car from the park.
Planning to visit Zion National Park? Bryce is only about an hour an half away, through the scenic highway 89.
We drove to Bryce Canyon from Capitol Reef as part of a larger Utah Mighty 5 road trip. We took the scenic route 12, and it took us about 2.5 hours to get there.
Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon
Due to its high elevation, the weather in Bryce Canyon is beautiful most of the year! Unlike most of southern Utah, which gets scorching hot during the summer months, Bryce’s weather is pretty cool, even in the summer.
From June to September you can expect summer highs to hover no higher than around 80 degrees fahrenheit. The fall can get colder, with temperatures at night falling below freezing.
Summer and spring often bring snow, and some of the trails will close due to ice and snow.
We were lucky to be visiting Bryce Canyon in October, and got gorgeous weather, with temperatures in the day hovering around the 60’s (F). Due to this, I highly recommend visiting Bryce Canyon in the fall months if you’re able to!
Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon
You have several options for where to stay near Bryce Canyon. The park is more developed than some of the other national parks in Utah, with the Bryce Canyon Lodge providing accommodations in the park itself.
Camping is also an option, with two campgrounds in the park: South Campground and Sunset campground.
Sunset Campground offers reservations in advance, while South Campground is first-come, first-served. We camped at Sunset and the sites were nestled amongst the trees, it actually reminded us of camping at Acadia National Park!
If you don’t want to rough it, you can stay in the town of Bryce, which is literally right outside the park. The hotels here are nothing fancy, with the Best Western being the nicest bet.
For more space, you’ll want to consider an Airbnb. This one is close to the park and is a fairly affordable luxury, with a fireplace, patio and frill.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, this apartment in the nearby town of Tropic is a good, cozy alternative!
What to Pack for Bryce Canyon
If you’re only planning to spend one day in Bryce Canyon, you don’t need a ton of stuff with you, but there are some things that you won’t want to forget!
- Hiking boots: I don’t visit a national park nowadays unless I have my hiking boots with me. These are the ones I hiked the Queen’s/Navajo Loop with, and these are another great option.
- Hiking socks: super underrated, but absolute worth the investment. These are my favorite, they got me through a whole ten days of Utah hiking!
- Sweater: Once the sun goes down, the weather gets super cold. This super cute sweater is so cozy and affordable, you might bring several!
- Sunscreen: yeah it’s boring, but you need it, and if you’re like me, you need the reminder! I love this brand, it smells like coconuts and is super lightweight.
- Reusable water bottle: you’ll want to drink plenty of water while you’re here, especially if you’re hiking. This is my go to water bottle, and you can refill it at certain places in the park!
- Hiking hat: another thing I don’t leave my campground without! There’s not a ton of shade in Utah, so create your own. Get a cute, affordable hat. You won’t regret it.
- Lip balm: I learned just how much the Utah sun can mess up your lips the hard way, and bought lip balm in Utah first chance I got. Get some with SPF while you’re at it to protect your lips.
- Flip flops: if you plan to shower at Bryce Canyon, don’t do it barefoot. These inexpensive flip flops won’t take up too much space in your luggage!
Other Posts You’ll Love
- Want to visit all of Utah’s National Parks in one epic road trip? Check out this Mighty 5 itinerary to make your planning a breeze!
- Don’t forget to visit nearby Zion National Park for an amazing adventure you won’t forget!
- Want a change of scenery? Check out some of California’s amazing national parks, including little known Channel Islands, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree!