Bryce Canyon National Park is a magical place to visit. You feel like you are on another planet with the grand hoodoos, bright orange colors, and contrasting white snow. We most enjoyed exploring this park at sunrise and sunset when the rock formations appear to be on fire. The snow provided a beautiful contrast to the bright red rocks. Here are some of our favorite places we visited while in Bryce.
Contrary to popular belief, this is one of the best places to go for sunrise for two reasons. For starters, the majority of people will be lured to Sunrise Point thinking that the name matches the best viewpoint. Secondly, the view is stunning! So avoid the crowds, get a great view, and for a bonus point there is this wonderful tree hanging on by its roots. Since Bryce Canyon faces mostly east, this is a great place to camp out and watch the amazing colors pop. You can also hike down into Queens Garden easily from here and enjoy the early morning air walking into the canyon.
Go to Sunrise Point for a nice view of sunset (face-palm). There is a great view of the Amphitheater, Thor’s Hammer, and even Bryce Point in the distance as the sun hits just the tips of the hoodoos. For a different perspective you can easily switch between the two on the same day as they are only 1/2 mile apart. Either place is good for sunset and sunrise.
Sunrise Point is also a good launching point for an early morning hike to both Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. We did this and it was a fantastic hike. You walk right along the rim through the trees with great views. It is all uphill to Bryce Point, but you can enjoy the downhill on the way back.
This is quite a wonderful trail! If we had time we would have hiked the whole 8 mile loop but we only made it to Tower Bridge as we were already exhausted from earlier hikes. The rock formations never got old and there was something new to be seen around every corner. Hiking a portion of this trail was well worth it and had a nice resting spot at the end with the Tower Bridge.
Some others in our group continued on to complete the whole trail only to find they hiked it backwards. Apparently it is easier to go clockwise and they went with us counterclockwise. If you don’t do this, you are in for a very steep climb up to the highest point of the trail instead of going down from the highest point and getting back more gradually.
The trick is to hike north along the rim trail from around the North Campground lot. Once you get to the Fairyland Loop trail, you will hike down into a place that is completely out of this world. This hike is definitely one of the highlights of the park if you are okay with a more difficult hike.
We drove the 18 mile road through the park to see Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, and Rainbow Point. It was a nice break from all of the hiking as most of these are viewpoints are visible from the road. There are some hikes near some of these points, but we were just happy having an afternoon to make various stops and relax a little.
Natural Bridge was very pretty while snow covered. You leave your car, walk up to the edge and look down. It is definitely worth the stop. The other points have some similarities, but were worth checking out. I think we were just too tired to do much of anything at this point during out trip.
We would love to do the full Peekaboo hike. We did the start of it and saw one window but there is so much more. This covers the area below Sunrise Point through Bryce Point in the park. Most of the magic is down from the rim and we would have covered this if we had more time.
Of course, we would also do the full Fairyland Loop trail. The place is filled with what I call “rock candy,” as it is pure bliss around every corner. This is definitely a highlight of the park and not as overrun with people as the rim trail. You won’t find any strollers down there.
- Since you are at high altitude in a dry climate, make sure to carry extra water for any hiking here.
- For any strenuous hikes, make sure to get back before sunset. Keep some snacks on you to hold you over until you get back.
- Bring layers of clothing. On hikes, you may not need much on a sunny day in winter, but if you stop off the trail for a break you will get cold. Most of Bryce Canyon is at nearly 9,000 feet of elevation.
- Wear appropriate rugged shoes and not flippy floppies. If there is ice, make sure you have ice cleats. We didn’t need them, but brought them just in case. We did see some people wearing them to be safe, and there were some slippery spots where they would have been useful had we bothered to dig them out.
- Go for a drive down to the end of the park, especially if you are done hiking for the day. There are many viewpoints and access to other hikes which are truly unique.
- Stay nearby so you can spend more time in the park and less time driving.
Hiking in Bryce Canyon
Have you been to Bryce Canyon? What experience did you have? Let us know in the comments section.
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Photos by Aaron Shade
More of our Bryce stories on Brianna’s photography blog.
More of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set.