There is no better place to spend one day immersed in nature in southern Utah than Bryce Canyon National Park. Not the largest national park in the state, the region works perfectly for both short and extended trips. But if you have only one day to visit famous rock formations in Bryce Canyon National Park, be sure to add to your itinerary these 11 overlooks, trails, and other places you must see and explore.
One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary: Top 11 Things to Do and Places to Visit
World-famous for its pointed hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park has been a crown jewel of Southern Utah since February 1928. Yet even long before it become a national park, the area had stirred up interest with its unique rock formations. Lined up along a cliff edge and inside a large canyon that if often referred to as the Bryce Amphitheater, these peculiar pillars remind of an army guarding the colorful abyss from any possible enemies.
While somewhat similar irregular columns of rocks exist in different parts of the world, Bryce Canyon National Park has taken on the responsibility and pleasure of housing the largest concentration of the hoodoos on earth.
Nestled at 8,000 feet above sea level, the odd rock formations are a sight to behold. Needless to say, they are present in every activity you engage in while spending one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Yet although dominating the show, the hoodoos allow enough space for many other “supporting actors” to shine. Approximately 60 miles of winding trails, evergreen trees, and almost perpetual snow fill your day with different sites Bryce Canyon National Park has to offer.
Ready to see them? Then let’s make a perfect itinerary for one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Is One Day Enough for Bryce Canyon National Park?
Before we move forward, though, let’s touch on one more topic. Is one day enough time to see the imposing landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park?
Yes. Unlike the other national parks in Utah, the alluring hoodoos in Bryce Canyon are best to admire from the ample overlooks scattered around the plateau rim. Towering over the canyon, the cliff edge ensures a full picture of the area. Detailed, zoomed-in images sneak into your one-day Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary along several trails running deep into the canyon and coming close to the fir trees and rock formations.
If hiking downhill and then uphill doesn’t inspire you, stick to the rim. With nearly dozen observation points, you still have enough things and sights to fill your entire day in Bryce Canyon National Park.
This itinerary also works for those who have just a few hours to explore the famous rock formations. Normally, it takes 3-5 hours to admire the hoodoos and other landmarks from the viewpoints sitting along scenic Bryce Canyon drive.
Hikers should not fear either. Even with just one day to explore Bryce Canyon National Park, you can hit some of the favorite and lesser known trails and get to see the hoodoos up-close.
Now that we’ve clarified this, it’s time to visit the best places and dive into the favorite activities – everything that makes your day adventures in Bryce Canyon National Park unforgettable.
11 THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK IN ONE DAY
1. Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
Stretching for 18 miles, the main road of the park has gathered all the popular and easy to reach overlooks. The route starts at the park’s entrance and ends at its highest elevation at Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. Along the way, it festoons your trip with the impeccable, hoodoos-filled views of the canyon.
The favorite stops here include Sunrise, Sunset, Bryce, and Inspiration Points. Yet rest assured the scenic drive houses ample other epic overlooks – enough for the full-day Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary.
2. Fairyland Point
Fairyland Point sits outside of the fee area. You can drive up and admire the stunning views of the canyon, including Sinking Ship, the day before venturing deeper into Bryce Canyon National Park.
The hikers choose Fairyland Point for yet another reason. A starting point for the 5.5-mile Rim Trail that runs from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, it opens a door to the magical kingdom of the hoodoos and other rock formations.
3. Sunrise Point
One of the most popular overlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park, Sunrise Point fills your day itinerary with the epic views of Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship. The Pink Cliffs and Aquarius Plateau are also eager to showcase their unique sites from this spot.
No wonder, the majority of the day visitors start their Bryce Canyon adventures at Sunrise Point. Even the name of the overlook suggests that you should rise early and arrive at the park before or during sunrise. Yet some locals insists that the sun performs its best acts during the sunset, not sunrise here.
4. Sunset Point
These experts further suggest that you should start your day in Bryce Canyon at Sunset Point. Located just 0.5 mile from Sunrise Point, along the Sunset-Sunrise Trail, the overlook presents the hoodoos on the opposite side of the canyon in the best light during the sunrise.
Yet regardless of the time of the day, both of these viewpoints ensure an unforgettable visit and some of the best views in entire Bryce Canyon.
5. Navajo Loop Trail
After admiring the peculiar formations from the designated overlooks, not much time is left for hiking. But a few trails have to make in into your One Day in Bryce Canyon itinerary. Start with the Navajo Loop Trail.
The zigzagging 1.4-mile path begins at Sunset Point and leads you into the amphitheater. Meandering through the slot canyon, known as Wall Street, the hike allows for a closer look at the imposing hoodoos and rock cliffs.
The Navajo Loop Trail can suit most day visitors of Bryce Canyon National Park. Running downhill in a switchback-like manner, the path is a piece of cake at this point. The pressure, however, builds up when you need to get back to the rim. The steep incline can tire even some of the fittest hikers, let alone those that have difficulty walking uphill.
TIP: So take as much time as you need to get back to the trailhead, drink a lot of water, and make frequent stops along the way. Normally, you need 1-2 hours to complete the Navajo Loop hike.
Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop. For those who walk faster and can pack a few more canyon adventures in their day itinerary, combine this hike with other popular trails in Bryce Canyon. Trek along the Navajo Loop Trail toward Two Bridges. (This route is preferable when Wall Street is closed. Usually, it happens during the winter-spring season.) The path slowly merges with the Queen’s Garden Trail. Together they form the 2.9-mile Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop.
6. Queen’s Garden Trail
If your day activities are too many, choose just one trail to hike along in Bryce Canyon National Park. Similar to the Navajo Loop Trail, the Queen’s Garden Trail dives into the canyon. Spanning 1.8 miles out and back, it takes the hikers to a hoodoo that resembles Queen Victoria.
To jump on the trail, head to Sunrise Point. The path descends 320 feet into the canyon. Again, while it’s easy to march downhill, hiking uphill can be difficult.
7. Inspiration Point
Now that you’ve had some hikes under your belt, carry on your day actives with a few more scenic overlooks showcasing the wonders of Bryce Canyon from different vantage points. Set at 8,100 feet, Inspiration Point provides an interesting perspective of the canyon and the rocky structures in and along it.
The overlook peers mostly into the Silent City, nestled near Sunset Point. Consider starting your day at this spot if you look for the best places to watch the sun rising above Bryce Canyon National Park.
8. Bryce Point
Bryce Point belong to the group of the overlooks with the most dramatic vistas in the area. A short, 0.2-mile trail leads to the vantage point that also serves as a great place to watch park’s wildlife.
9. Natural Bridge
As your day in Bryce Canyon National Park slowly comes to an end, make sure to save some time for Natural Bridge. This overlook is an easy pull-off and looks into the Bryce canyon area. Yet a large 85-foot limestone arch that reminds of a bridge often steals the show here.
10. Rainbow and Yovimpa Points
Rainbow Point is the highest point and for some visitors the last overlook of the day to gaze into the Bryce Canyon’s chasm. The views are significantly different from here. The famous hoodoos look distant, almost the same, lacking any individual features altogether.
Even more contrasting vistas open up from Yovimpa Point, located just one-minute walk from Rainbow Point. If you feel like stretching your legs, hike from one overlook to another along the 1-mile Bristlecone Loop.
11. Mossy Cave Trail
Finish your day in Bryce Canyon National Park with a visit to Mossy Cave. The 0.8-mile, round-trip trail is located off Highway 12 in the northern corner of the park. The only easy trail that runs at the hoodoos’ foot level, it takes its guests to a cave with icicles.
Steer to the right at a trail junction you come across after walking across the footbridge and visit Bryce Canyon’s waterfall. The falls is a lovely sight from May through October. During the other times, it just a trickle. Yet the surrounding area is beautiful and the hike is easy to add this site to your day visit to Bryce Canyon as well.
The Best Time to Visit and Spend One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park
The park is open year-round. With the prevailing evergreen trees surrounding the hoodoos in the canyon and growing abundantly on the rim, the area looks quite similar during the warmer months. The winter season that at the elevation of more than 8,000 feet lasts from mid-October well into April, adds white hues to the reddish-greenish idyll.
Consequently, some trails and sections of the park are closed during this time. On the other hand, the hordes of visitors are gone. Visiting and spending a day in Bryce Canyon National Park is a sheer delight for those who long for solitude. Bundle up, though. The gusty winds strive to get rid of the intruders as quickly as possible.
Things to Know before Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter
Seasonal Closure. Some trails and roads in and near the park close for the winter season, making your visit to Bryce Canyon slightly inconvenient. Make sure to check the road conditions in advance to avoid any detours.
Tire Chains. The snowy mountain roads require the tire chains.
Winter Campground. With the arrival of the winter season, the popular Sunset Campground ceases its operations. No camping is available here from November through April. Those who look forward to camping while visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in winter should consider staying at the North Campground. The latter is open all year round.
Winter Lodging. Similarly, many other facilities and services close for the winter season. The winter lodging is available only at the Sunset Motel. Alternately, you can look for the places to call home for a day outside Bryce Canyon National Park if you plan to visit the area during the winter season.
Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park
- The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. Located a short walk from Sunset Point, one of the iconic historic structures in the America West, the lodge is also the most popular place to stay in the park. The place works best for the spring, summer, and fall visits to Bryce Canyon. It ceases its operations from November through April.
- Sunset Motel. The Sunset Motel is the only place in Bryce Canyon National Park to accommodate the outdoor enthusiasts visiting the area during the winter season.
- Bryce UpTop Lodge. This budget accommodation serves just fine for the 24-hour visit to Bryce Canyon.
- Panguitch Lake Resort. Located about 20 minutes from the city of Panguitch, the resort enriches your day visit to Bryce Canyon with different sites in south-central Utah.
Where to Eat in Bryce Canyon National Park
- The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. From spring through mid-fall, the lodge pampers the day visitors of Bryce Canyon with a full menu.
- The General Store. Those to rely on quick “grab-and-go”, should stop at the General Store to get hot and cold foods, snacks, and beverages. The place sits near Sunrise Point and the North Campground.
- Valhalla. For a coffee and a quick bite, swing by Valhalla. Their pizza and basic menu should suffice for a day trip during the spring-fall season.
Tips for Day Visit to Bryce Canyon National Park
No Off-Trail Walking
If you hike, do it responsibly. No wandering off the designated paved paths and dirt trails is allowed.
Visiting Park with Pets
Let your pets enjoy the wonders of Bryce Canyon, but make sure they are leashed all day long. The dogs are allowed only in the paved areas, at the park’s viewpoints, the Shared-Use Path, the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points, and the campgrounds. And don’t forget clean up after your four-legged friends.
Spending a Day Bicycling in Bryce Canyon
The bicycles are permitted only on the paved surface, around the campgrounds, and the Shared-Use Path. If you want to venture deeper into the canyon, make sure to leave your bike, including e-bike, behind.
No Gathering Firewood
If you like to camp by a fire (allowed only in the designated areas), get the firewood at the General Store or Ruby’s Inn General Store. You must not collect the woods in the park.
If the sound of thunder stops you in your tracks, know that a storm is raging only 10 miles away and quickly approaching the area. Cut your day visit to Bryce Canyon short and return to your vehicle or any buildings nearby.
The plateau rim is the worst place to be at this moment. Also, avoid lingering near the trees, hoodoos, or any other towering objects. In the past, the lightning took lives of four people. A few others were injured.
Don’t Put Wildlife at Risk
Speeding is the number one cause of killing and injuring the wildlife. You might want to see as much as possible while spending one day in Bryce Canyon, but it’s clearly not a reason to drive recklessly.
Furthermore, feeding the animals is not allowed. First, it interferes with their normal eating habits. Second, it may put both the humans and the animals in danger.
Head over to the Visitor Center if you need to use the Internet. The place has the only public WiFi connection in the park.
You must not fly the drones while visiting the national parks, including Bryce Canyon National Park.
It’s recommended to drink at least one liter of water every two hours. You may forget about it during the day trip to Bryce Canyon when all you do is driving from one viewpoint to another. But be sure to grab a large bottle of water when heading into the canyon.
If you plan a day visit to Bryce Canyon National Park during the summer season, make sure to arrive early. Although the area has several rather big parking lots, they fill up quickly.
Alternately, you can use Bryce Amphitheater Shuttle that runs between the major landmarks from April through October. The shuttle is free with park admission. Normally, it operates from 8 a.m until 6 p.m. In summer, the shuttle transports the visitors until 8 p.m.
Day pass to Bryce Canyon National Park costs $35 per car. You can use the same ticket to visit the area for seven consecutive days.
For those who plan to visit Zion National Park and the other members of Utah’s Mighty 5 after admiring the pointed hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, consider purchasing America the Beautiful Pass. The latter costs $80 and allows access to all national parks and monuments in the USA.
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