I decided to write a few blog posts about how to enjoy several different National Parks if you only have one day there. I hope you find my suggestions for Bryce Canyon National Park helpful.
I have only been to Bryce Canyon twice so far, which is not enough. I’m certainly no expert on the park, but I think I’ve seen enough to recommend what to do if you’re only there for a short time.
Bryce is a very small park by National Park standards. It is just under 36,000 acres in size, which makes it the smallest of Utah’s five National Parks by quite a bit. Despite that it is my favorite of the southwest parks.
Due to the park’s small size you can experience a lot of it in a small amount of time. Due to the fact that there are so many places to see in the southwest, most people don’t spend much time in Bryce. I would bet that most visitors are only there for one day, maybe less. I would say that two days would probably make for an ideal visit, but you can squeeze it into a day without too much difficulty.
Here is how you should spend your time if you have only one day in Bryce Canyon National Park:
1. Start your trip to Bryce with a pit stop at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. They have a nice 20-minute film about the park. There are also exhibits, a book store, and some very helpful park rangers.
2. Next, head down the park road and then turn left toward the General Store. Drive past it to reach a parking lot near Sunrise Point. Enjoy the views from Sunrise Point and wander along the rim of the amphitheater for a bit if it’s crowded.
3. Then it’s time to enjoy the best part of Bryce. Descend into the mesmerizing amphitheater and hike among the hoodoos. To do this you’re going to want to follow the Queen’s Garden Trail from Sunrise Point. You will walk among the hoodoos in an otherworldly landscape. I’m telling you, hiking there is unlike any other place I’ve hiked. After around a mile and a half you should link up with the Navajo Loop. From there you can choose between two options to ascend back to the rim. As long as it isn’t closed for the season make sure you take the Wall Street option. The trail goes through a narrow slot canyon that has a few tall trees rising up to the top of the canyon. Then you’ll follow several switchbacks to return to the rim at Sunset Point. From there it is an easy stroll along the rim trail to return to your starting point at Sunrise Point. The park bills this route as “The world’s best three-mile hike.” It’s hard to disagree with that statement.
4. Next up, it’s time to hit the road. Head to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point for two of the best viewpoints in the park.
5. Then stay in your car and head south on the park’s scenic drive. It is only fourteen miles from the intersection near Inspiration Point to Rainbow Point at the end of the road. There are eight or nine scenic vistas you can stop at along the way to Rainbow Point. I would definitely recommend viewing Natural Bridge. I also went on the short Bristlecone Pine Loop Trail, which is located at Rainbow Point. The easy mile-long trail passes by some Bristlecone Pines as old as 1,800 years.
That’s all I’ve got for my guide to spending a day in Bryce Canyon National Park. The biggest thing is to check out the view of the amphitheater from some of the best scenic vistas on the rim, go on the scenic drive, and (most importantly) hike among the park’s mysterious hoodoos. Do those three things and you’ll come away impressed with Bryce (and you’ll probably wish you had a little more time there).