Bryce Canyon National Park is known for Hoodoos – tall and thin spires of alien like rock formations protruding up from the ground. They are formed over millions of years of erosion of soft sandstone caused by the extreme conditions of heat, rain and snow that the area experiences throughout the year. They carry a very distinctive red, orange and white color that makes for beautiful and vivid pictures, especially with blue cloudy skies. The scenery is definitely very unique and you have to see in person to truly the appreciate it!
The entire park is full of viewpoints where you can see these amazing rock formations from the top of the canyon. You can also hike down the canyon in relatively moderate hikes to experience the Hoodoos up close.
The best part about visiting Bryce Canyon is that they have a very good shuttle system that takes you in the park to the various viewpoints and you can hop on and hop off the shuttle at your own pace. Parking can be limited at the viewpoints so it is recommended to take the shuttle and we found it rather convenient to do so. The only catch is that the shuttle system does not cover the entire park, just the most popular viewpoints of Bryce Point, Sunset Points, Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point and Visitor Center. Several other viewpoints are only accessible by car.
We spent 2 days in Bryce before heading out to our next stop, Zion National Park.
Here are some of our favorite must do’s in Bryce:
1. Bryce Amphitheater
Take the park shuttle all the way to Bryce Point (aka Bryce Amphitheater), and then hike your way back to Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point, and Sunset point on the Rim Trail. The view of Bryce Canyon as you walk along the Rim Trail is simply phenomenal and is definitely a must do for any visitor. Bryce Point is the highest point in the park, and the other points on the Rim Trail are downhill, so the walk along the Rim Trail is rather easy. Do expect a lot of crowds though as this is the most popular trail in the park. You can walk along Rim Trail all the way to the visitor center, but we took a detour on 3 additional trails along the way before merging back on Rim Trail that made the hike all the more interesting.
2. WALL STREET TRAIL
Wall Street trail starts from Sunset Point and takes you down the canyon for about a mile before intersecting with Navajo trail. The hike down is easy (obviously!) and offers up close views of the Hoodoos. The area is prone to rockfalls so you have to be careful down the hike but overall it’s a nice hike that gives you a different perspective of the canyon. At the bottom the trail intersects with Navajo trail, and we recommend taking the Navajo trail instead of hiking back up.
3. Navajo Trail
Take the Navajo Trail from Wall Street trail to experience walking amongst the Hoodoos at the bottom of the Bryce Canyon. A short hike leads to the intersection of Queens Garden trail, which we recommend taking to go back up the canyon to Sunrise Point.
4. Queens Garden Trail
Queens Garden trail intersects with Navajo Trail (which is where we got on it) and has fantastic views of Bryce Canyon from the bottom up that you normally don’t see in pictures. It’s a mostly flat hike, except when it starts ascending up to the rim of the canyon, heading to Sunrise Point, where it intersects with Rim Trail. The detour from Sunset Point to Wall Street Trail to Navajo Trail to Queens Garden to Sunrise Point is totally worth the extra time instead of walking straight from Sunset point to Sunrise Point (which is only 0.5 miles along the rim). This detour let’s you see more of the canyon in one single route and we highly recommend it!
5. BRYCE SCENIC DRIVE
There are many viewpoints in the park that are not covered by the shuttle system. The drive from Visitor Center to Rainbow Point on Highway 63 is 17 miles and is quite scenic. There are several viewpoints along the way that offer different views of the canyon – Ponderosa Point, Agua Canyon, Natural Bridge, Swamp Canyon etc.
6. Fairyland point
Fairyland Point is actually the first viewpoint when coming into the park from Bryce but strangely the shuttle does not stop here. (Perhaps because the viewpoint is another 1/2 mile further out from Highway 63 where the shuttle runs). Its worth it to drive here to enjoy the views and perhaps hike on the Rim Trail to Sunrise Point (2.7 miles), or if you’re feeling more adventurous you could hike on the Fairyland Trail to Sunrise Point (5.6 miles)