Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon in 1 Day (An Epic Sunrise, Hoodoos, and Hiking)

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the “Mighty Five” National Parks in Utah. The first time I visited Bryce Canyon was back in 2019 on a short trip through Utah. I visited in January when most of the park was covered in snow, so exploring the park was limited, which made me even more excited to come back this time and get to see more of the park.

This time, Teddy and I visited the park on our 12 Day Southwest Road Trip. We had just come from the Capitol Reef area and stayed in Escalante overnight before heading to Bryce Canyon in the early morning. We spent about a just under a day in the park before heading to our next destination. Our suggestions on how to spend your time in the area are below!

Watch the Sunrise

The sunrise at Bryce Canyon is one of those things I that I would love for everyone to experience once in life. The coloring of the sky with the yellows and oranges is incredible. The light coming up through the hoodoos, the purple mountains in the distance, and just the peace that comes from watching the sunrise here is so amazing.

I would recommend getting to the park about an hour before sunrise. If you park at the Sunrise Point parking lot, it’s a very short walk out toward Sunrise Point. From there, follow the Rim Trail to the left. This helps you avoid all the crowds at Sunrise and Sunset point.

If you’re visiting in the winter, dress warmly and wear hiking boots. The trails can get pretty icy or may be covered in snow. Also pack hand warmers depending on how long you plan to be out there. The temperatures in Jan/Feb drop to the teens and twenties overnight so it can be quite cold and windy in the morning.

Go Hiking

  • Rim Trail – This trail is not a loop but goes along the rim of the canyon. Since it’s near many different parking lots, you can hike it for as long or as short as you’d like. If you go the entire way, it’s just under 11 miles. Parts of it are flatter, but if you do it the entire way, it’s about 1500 feet of elevation gain. We only took it about 2 or so miles when we were there.
  • Queens Garden to Navajo Loop – This is the most popular hike in the park. We took this loop by starting at Sunset Point and going down the switchbacks into the canyon. We are so glad we started this way, as coming up this way at the end would have been rough. After getting down into the canyon, the trail has some ups and downs, but not an incline like the beginning until you are coming back out of the canyon at the end of the trail. Overall the trail is about 3 miles and 646 feet of elevation gain.
  • Fairlyland Loop Trail – This is one we didn’t have time for this round, but would love to do during our next visit. It’s about 7.8 miles and 1500 feet of elevation gain. This loop takes you on the more northern part of the canyon while the Queens Garden to Navajo Loop is slightly more southern.
  • Peekaboo Loop Trail – This is another one we didn’t have time for but would love to do during a return visit. It’s about 5 miles and 1500 feet elevation gain. This one is even further south of the Navajo and Queens Garden Loop. If you want, you can start out on the Navajo Trail, and then connect into this trail and return back up the Navajo Trail. If you do it that way, it’s close to about 5 miles and is considered a “hard” trail.

Tips:

  • The park is open 24 hours a day for the entire year. The most popular time to visit is from May through September.
  • Pets are only allowed on the paved part of the trails here which are less than a mile. While we love to bring out pets with us, this isn’t the most pet friendly park (similar to most National Parks).
  • The elevation here is about 9,000 ft. so be prepared especially if you’re driving into the park from a lower elevation.
  • Bring plenty of water as there aren’t many spots for shade.
  • This park, being at a higher elevation is heavily affected by winter weather. If you are visiting in the the winter or even spring months, bring microspikes or crampons if you plan to do any hiking.

Teddy has been to 21 National Parks at the time I’m writing this blog and I’ve been to 38. Teddy and I both put this park within our top 10 National Parks. In terms of hiking though, we both loved the Navajo to Queens Garden Loop more than any other hike we did on our entire 12 day trip. It’s also in the top 5 hikes that either of us have done ever. It had incredible views, unique features like the switchbacks and holes in the rocks to walk through, beautiful views in the canyon, and was just overall such an awesome hike and we can’t recommend it enough.

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