Bryce Canyon National Park

A Journey into Utah's Otherworldly Amphitheaters

by and - last updated on 5/9/2024

Bryce Canyon National Park is a sprawling reserve (35,835 acres) in southern Utah, and is known for crimson-colored hoodoos, which are spire-shaped rock formations. The park's main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It has overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point.

Bryce Canyon's distinctive features have been carved by the forces of nature over millions of years. The combination of freezing and thawing, along with erosion, has sculpted the park's striking rock pinnacles, arches, and spires. Sunrise and sunset cast a magical glow on these formations, creating a stunning visual display that is a photographer's dream.

The park offers a network of hiking trails, catering to all levels of hikers. Popular routes like the Queen's Garden and Navajo Loop provide opportunities to descend into the amphitheaters and get up close to the hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon's high elevation also makes it an excellent spot for stargazing, and it has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park. The pristine night skies offer a breathtaking celestial show for astronomy enthusiasts.

Interesting Bryce Canyon National Park Facts
  • When was Bryce Canyon National Park established? On June 7, 1924, Congress passed a bill to establish Utah National Park, when all land within the national monument would become the property of the United States. The land was acquired and the name was restored to Bryce Canyon. On February 25, 1928, Bryce Canyon officially became a national park.
  • What is the size of Bryce Canyon National Park? Legislation enlarged the park to its current size of 35,835 acres. Bryce is famous for its unique geology, consisting of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah.
  • What is the annual visitation to Bryce Canyon National Park? Over two million visitors come to experience the otherworldly magic of Bryce Canyon National Park each year.
  • The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874.
  • The area around Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928.
  • Bryce Canyon Park covers an area of 145 square kilometers (56 square miles) or 14,502 hectares (35,835 acres).
  • Rainbow Point is the highest part of the park at 2,775 meters (9,105 feet) and Yellow Creek is the lowest part of the park at 2,020 meters (6,620 feet).
  • The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which was not formed from erosion initiated from a central stream, meaning it technically is not a canyon.
  • The erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful limestone rock of the Claron Formation into bizarre shapes including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called “hoodoos.”
  • Bryce Canyon's rocks are among the youngest of those on the Colorado Plateau, dating back a mere 65 million years ago to the Cretaceous period.
  • 7-day entrance passes to Bryce Canyon National Park cost $35 for vehicles and $20 per person for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The fee includes unlimited use of the free shuttle bus that runs from late May through early October.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park is located at a relatively high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, meaning that it is much cooler than at Utah's other national parks such as Zion, Canyonlands, and Arches.
  • Entrance fees - and annual passes that are good bargains, can be found on the National Park Service website.
  • Bryce Canyon National park has officially gained International Dark Sky status.
  • Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon. Despite its name, Bryce Canyon is actually a series of 14 amphitheaters carved by erosion.
  • Bristlecone pines in Bryce Canyon National Park are some of the oldest living trees on Earth. Some of these trees are over 5,000 years old!
Travel Tile

 

Travel Tile

Youtube Video Link
Bryce Canyon National Park - Itinerary and Tips for First Time Visitors
Follow this Bryce Canyon itinerary. Get the tips you need for a successful stay and get a glimpse of the major sites to see including an up close look at the hoodoos! Take a hike in Bryce Canyon on the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop trail; one of the most scenic trails in the park.

Or click here to subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Where is Bryce Canyon National Park Located   Map

After departing Torrey, UT, we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park - or perhaps I should say we drove to Tropic, UT as that was where we stayed. We did not want to stay at one of the motels adjacent to the park, or in the park lodge, as they were very expensive. The motel in Tropic, UT ( Bryce Canyon Log Cabins) was comfortable and we had a cabin suite which suited our requirements nicely.

It was a 10 mile drive from our log cabin to the park, we never had much traffic as we started early each day.

Section Banner Image

As you can see in this National Park Map, Bryce Canyon is long and narrow - it is approximately 18 miles from the Visitor Center to Rainbow Point. The park shuttle buses do not provide service beyond Bryce Point, so if you want to see Rainbow Point you will have to drive there.

Bryce Canyon Log Cabins - Tropic, UT 

A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.

Staying in Tropic turned out to be a great decision - it was only 8 miles from the park, there is a great BBQ shop in town, there is a small grocery store, gas station - there was everything we needed. The icing on the cake was that the log cabin we stayed in was comfortable and had a small kitchen and a great view from the back porch of the cabin.

 More Info about Bryce Canyon Log Cabins 

Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park - Queen's/Navajo Combination Loop 

A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.

Our first morning's adventure was to drive over to the park and to trek the Queens Garden & Navajo Loop Trail. It is a 2.9 mile hike, easily the most popular hiking trail in the park. We started it from Sunrise Point, down the trail on an approximately 600 foot descent. The National Park Service describes that the Navajo Trail up to Sunset Point is not as steep as the Queen's Garden trail, but they achieve that through a series of switchbacks that reduce the steepness, but slightly increase the trail length. The last 3 images above were taken on the switchback portion of the Navajo Trail and it shows how steep it was for us.

After we hiked back up to Sunset Point, we caught one of the park shuttles back to Sunrise Point, as by then my butt was dragging ! The shuttle buses are great for allowing visitors to park at one location and then move about the park on their buses. The buses do not go all the way to the Rainbow Point however.

NOTE: This trail is steep going down and even steeper going back up to the rim. It is imperative that you are wearing good quality hiking boots or shoes or your feet are going to not be happy with you. Take a look here at the hiking shoes & boots offered by REI. You are also going to need to bring water with you.

A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.
A 16 day loop itinerary through the Southwest; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, the Utah Big Five, Durango, Telluride, and return.

On our last day there, we drove to Natural Bridge and Rainbow Point. This is as far as you can drive in the park, as the road ends at Rainbow Point. It is 22 miles from the Visitor's Center to Rainbow Point, so be sure you have the time to burn!

  • Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
  • Bryce Canyon Website
  • Google Search Results list for "restaurants in the Bryce Canyon area"
  • Google Search Results list for "accommodations in the Bryce Canyon area"
  • Google Search Results list for "things to do or see in Bryce Canyon National Park"
  • 15 Best Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park on the "US News & Travel" site
  • Amazon Search Results for "Bryce Canyon"
  • Youtube Search Results for "Bryce Canyon National Park"
  • Our Bryce Canyon National Park Image Gallery
  • Visit our Youtube Channel
  • Bryce Canyon National Park Site-seeing Tour from the "Get Your Guide" site
  • Bryce Canyon National Park on the "National Park Service" Website
  • Our Image Gallery for Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Wikipedia Article for Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Google Image Gallery for Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park Wikipedia Article
Expedia Advertisement
 
Trip Itinerary
Section Banner ImageClick above map to view a larger Google Map

As you can see by the this map, our trip covered 3 different states, approximately 1,600 road miles and allowed us to see some spectacular geography. You might think that a trip of this distance would be something that would result in a "tired of driving" mood - but our stops were so diverse with such incredible geography and fun things to do, that we found that we looked forward to each morning to where we could continue our adventures!

Click any link below to go directly to that page;

  1. Denver International Airport
  2. Glenwood Springs, CO
  3. Colorado National Monument, CO
  4. Arches National Park, UT
  5. Canyonlands National Park, UT
  6. Little Wild Horse Canyon, UT
  7. Capitol Reef National Park, UT
  1. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  2. Zion National Park, UT
  3. Lake Powell, AZ
  4. Mesa Verde National Park, CO
  5. Telluride, CO
  6. Royal Gorge, CO
 
 

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are Affiliate Links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, that we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. So we would appreciate any click throughs, if you are inclined.

Note: All images on this page are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.

Note: If you are interested, click here to view our European Travel Tips & Warnings. Or to take a look at our methods for planning, click here to view our Trip Planning Page..

 
 

To review any of our content, make suggestions and/or comments, please click the "Info" menu button at the top of this page. You will find our "Contact Us" link on that drop-down menu.

 
Matomo Link