National Park Guide:

Bryce Canyon National Park

National Park Guide:

Bryce Canyon National Park

Destination: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Length of Stay: 6 Nights (September 2018)

Lodging: Bryce Zion Campground ($35/night)

National Park Service Fee:  7 day pass - $35 per vehicle | Annual NPS pass $80

Bryce Canyon National Park was our favorite park out of the three we have seen so far in southern Utah. To be completely honest, this one took us by surprise because we really hadn't anticipated how cool it really was going to be. We thought Zion was going to be our favorite (because the name sounds cooler than Bryce Canyon), but I guess that just proves the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover." This park is well known for it's 'hoo-doos' which we also saw at the Fiery Furnace viewpoint in Arches National Park. According to wikipedia, a hoo-doo is "is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland."[1] They form are formed by erosion caused by frost or rain and typically are made up softer rock on the bottom and harder rock on the top.

The name Bryce Canyon is a bit misleading as the park is made up of several canyons, or amphitheaters, but the largest in the park is known as Bryce Amphitheater. Bryce really only has one access road (similar to Arches National Park, which you can drive yourself. However, they also offer a free shuttle service (similar to Zion National Park) that drops off guests at each of the stops along the 18 mile Scenic Drive. This made it a pretty neat blend of the two parks, especially since it offered more stops to see than Zion.

Destination: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Length of Stay: 6 Nights (September 2018)

Lodging: Bryce Zion Campground ($35/night)

National Park Service Fee:  7 day pass - $35 per vehicle | Annual NPS pass $80

Bryce Canyon National Park was our favorite park out of the three we have seen so far in southern Utah. To be completely honest, this one took us by surprise because we really hadn't anticipated how cool it really was going to be. We thought Zion was going to be our favorite (because the name sounds cooler than Bryce Canyon), but I guess that just proves the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover." This park is well known for it's 'hoo-doos' which we also saw at the Fiery Furnace viewpoint in Arches National Park. According to wikipedia, a hoo-doo is "is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland."[1] They form are formed by erosion caused by frost or rain and typically are made up softer rock on the bottom and harder rock on the top.

The name Bryce Canyon is a bit misleading as the park is made up of several canyons, or amphitheaters, but the largest in the park is known as Bryce Amphitheater. Bryce really only has one access road (similar to Arches National Park, which you can drive yourself. However, they also offer a free shuttle service (similar to Zion National Park) that drops off guests at each of the stops along the 18 mile Scenic Drive. This made it a pretty neat blend of the two parks, especially since it offered more stops to see than Zion.

Respect the Paths!

While we were hiking the Navajo Loop (pictured below), we saw plenty of the 'Area Closed For Restoration - Do Not Enter' signs along the trail. This wasn't the first time we saw signs like that in a national park because they are meant to protect areas vulnerable to erosion and/or preserve the species that reside there. However, while we were doing this hike we saw a couple blatantly walk past the signs. We let them know that there are signs stating the area is closed and they shouldn't be up there. Responding in perfect english (so we knew they could read the signs) they said "Oh no it's okay, it's just for a picture." Uh, Rude.

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We feel strongly that regardless if signs are present or not, one should always stick to the hiking path. The path is there for us to enjoy the beauty of surrounding nature, so it is everyone's duty to leave it exactly as they found it. If you want to take a photo, make sure you're doing so in a way that respects and preserves the delicate life around you. How we treat others (humans, animals, plants, etc) is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. We are guests in this environment and it is our (humans) responsibility to respect mother nature because in reality we are nothing more than an invasive species.

Respect the Paths!

While we were hiking the Navajo Loop (pictured below), we saw plenty of the 'Area Closed For Restoration - Do Not Enter' signs along the trail. This wasn't the first time we saw signs like that in a national park because they are meant to protect areas vulnerable to erosion and/or preserve the species that reside there. However, while we were doing this hike we saw a couple blatantly walk past the signs. We let them know that there are signs stating the area is closed and they shouldn't be up there. Responding in perfect english (so we knew they could read the signs) they said "Oh no it's okay, it's just for a picture." Uh, Rude.

GOPR1406 - 720 4x5
GOPR1388 - 720 4x5

We feel strongly that regardless if signs are present or not, one should always stick to the hiking path. The path is there for us to enjoy the beauty of surrounding nature, so it is everyone's duty to leave it exactly as they found it. If you want to take a photo, make sure you're doing so in a way that respects and preserves the delicate life around you. How we treat others (humans, animals, plants, etc) is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. We are guests in this environment and it is our (humans) responsibility to respect mother nature because in reality we are nothing more than an invasive species.

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

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Sunset Point

Located just before mile 2 on the scenic drive, is the Sunset to Sunrise Point trail. This 1.1 mile out and back path can either be done on its own or as part of the Navajo Queens Garden loop. We actually finished out the Navajo loop hike with this one since it was on the way back to the parking lot, and was only about a half mile extra. Both the Sunrise and Sunset viewpoints provide another perspective of the massive Bryce Amphitheater.

This hike was the highlight of our day in Bryce Canyon. We had intended to do just the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trail which is roughly 2.6 miles. However, just as we were approaching the trailhead, a ranger recommended us to start at the top of the 3.3 mile Wall Street loop to Queen's Garden. We are so glad we took his recommendation because the walk down Wall Street was amazing. Not only did we descend into a canyon of hoo-doos, but almost all of the people we passed walking up were exhausted. Walking down the switchbacks made the hike much more enjoyable and it provided such a cool view. From this point we were able to combine both of the loops, which turned out to be under 5 miles total. Walking through the hoo-doos provided a really neat perspective and gave us an appreciation for just how tall these things are. The trail is well marked with signs, but make sure to stay on the path to avoid disrupting the fragile plant life!

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Bryce Point

Bryce Point is at mile 3 on the scenic drive but it was actually our last stop, and we are so glad that we saved it for the grand finale. The quarter mile walk gives a sweeping panoramic view of Bryce Amphitheater, the named feature of the national park. This viewpoint displays hoo-doos as far as the eye can see and even features a few arch like features that can be seen throughout Arches National Park.

Inspiration Point

Located near Bryce Point, this viewpoint provides another look into the Bryce Amphitheater. Combined with both Sunset/Sunrise point, and Bryce point, these three views give you the full panoramic perspective of the massive Bryce Canyon. Perhaps this is the point that inspired the name Bryce 😉

Bryce Canyon Lodge

Shortly after we arrived into the park the skies turned to rain. Luckily, we were at the beginning of the scenic drive and made our way to Bryce Canyon Lodge for lunch. The lodge is accessible from the main road by car, or by foot from the Sunset/Sunrise point trailheads.

Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge is just after mile 12 on the scenic drive. This wonderful work of nature is one of many arches in Bryce. Some can be seen from Bryce Point, however, this pull-off provides the easiest and closest viewpoint of one. The bridge is formed by ice freezing/thawing, and water dissolution eroding away the rocks over many years but eventually these processes collapse the arches.

natural bridge 3 - 720 4x5

Ponderosa Point

Right before mile 15 is Ponderosa Point, which provides a view of Ponderosa Canyon. This place gets its name from the large Ponderosa Pine trees in the canyon. Some of these trees measure over 150ft tall and diameters of 5ft! The beautiful color of the pine trees and red rocks give a stark contrast to each other.

Ponderosa Point 3 - 720 4x5

Rainbow Point

At the end of 18 mile scenic drive sits Rainbow Point. Much like Ponderosa point, the contrast of the rock and pine trees are a site to behold. At just over 9100 ft, this is the highest point in the park where the landscape seems to stretch endlessly. Just a short walk from Rainbow Point is Yovimpa Point, which provides a view of the Grand Staircase monument. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument actually connects to Bryce Canyon National Park. The name of this monument comes from the layers of sedimentary erosion of the rocks, which can be seen all throughout Bryce.

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

Sunset Point

Located just before mile 2 on the scenic drive, is the Sunset to Sunrise Point trail. This 1.1 mile out and back path can either be done on its own or as part of the Navajo Queens Garden loop. We actually finished out the Navajo loop hike with this one since it was on the way back to the parking lot, and was only about a half mile extra. Both the Sunrise and Sunset viewpoints provide another perspective of the massive Bryce Amphitheater.

This hike was the highlight of our day in Bryce Canyon. We had intended to do just the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trail which is roughly 2.6 miles. However, just as we were approaching the trailhead, a ranger recommended us to start at the top of the 3.3 mile Wall Street loop to Queen's Garden. We are so glad we took his recommendation because the walk down Wall Street was amazing. Not only did we descend into a canyon of hoo-doos, but almost all of the people we passed walking up were exhausted. Walking down the switchbacks made the hike much more enjoyable and it provided such a cool view. From this point we were able to combine both of the loops, which turned out to be under 5 miles total. Walking through the hoo-doos provided a really neat perspective and gave us an appreciation for just how tall these things are. The trail is well marked with signs, but make sure to stay on the path to avoid disrupting the fragile plant life!

Bryce Point

Bryce Point is at mile 3 on the scenic drive but it was actually our last stop, and we are so glad that we saved it for the grand finale. The quarter mile walk gives a sweeping panoramic view of Bryce Amphitheater, the named feature of the national park. This viewpoint displays hoo-doos as far as the eye can see and even features a few arch like features that can be seen throughout Arches National Park.

Inspiration Point

Located near Bryce Point, this viewpoint provides another look into the Bryce Amphitheater. Combined with both Sunset/Sunrise point, and Bryce point, these three views give you the full panoramic perspective of the massive Bryce Canyon. Perhaps this is the point that inspired the name Bryce 😉

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Bryce Canyon Lodge

Shortly after we arrived into the park the skies turned to rain. Luckily, we were at the beginning of the scenic drive and made our way to Bryce Canyon Lodge for lunch. The lodge is accessible from the main road by car, or by foot from the Sunset/Sunrise point trailheads.

IMG_8761 - 720 4x5

Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge is just after mile 12 on the scenic drive. This wonderful work of nature is one of many arches in Bryce. Some can be seen from Bryce Point, however, this pull-off provides the easiest and closest viewpoint of one. The bridge is formed by ice freezing/thawing, and water dissolution eroding away the rocks over many years but eventually these processes collapse the arches.

natural bridge 3 - 720 4x5

Ponderosa Point

Right before mile 15 is Ponderosa Point, which provides a view of Ponderosa Canyon. This place gets its name from the large Ponderosa Pine trees in the canyon. Some of these trees measure over 150ft tall and diameters of 5ft! The beautiful color of the pine trees and red rocks give a stark contrast to each other.

Ponderosa Point 3 - 720 4x5

Rainbow Point

At the end of 18 mile scenic drive sits Rainbow Point. Much like Ponderosa point, the contrast of the rock and pine trees are a site to behold. At just over 9100 ft, this is the highest point in the park where the landscape seems to stretch endlessly. Just a short walk from Rainbow Point is Yovimpa Point, which provides a view of the Grand Staircase monument. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument actually connects to Bryce Canyon National Park. The name of this monument comes from the layers of sedimentary erosion of the rocks, which can be seen all throughout Bryce.

See how this fits into the best road trips in America

Bryce Zion Campground

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We originally had only planned to stay at Bryce Zion Campground for 5 nights, but ended up staying an extra because we enjoyed it so much. It was roughly equidistant from both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park so that is how we split our stay between the two parks. It had a friendly staff and you could even feed the horses they have! I loved feeding them carrots and celery. Our only concern was that when we left the campground we noticed ticks all over the truck and camper. Thankfully, we did a thorough inspection and didn't find any on us or our belongings so always be sure to do a tick check when camping! Especially around friendly farm animals.

This campground was also about a 30 minute drive to the picturesque Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park that has rolling dunes open to sand boarders and dune buggy enthusiasts. It makes the perfect day trip in between seeing the two parks.

Bryce Zion Campground

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We originally had only planned to stay at Bryce Zion Campground for 5 nights, but ended up staying an extra because we enjoyed it so much. It was roughly equidistant from both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park so that is how we split our stay between the two parks.

It had a friendly staff and you could even feed the horses they have! I loved feeding them carrots and celery. Our only concern was that when we left the campground we noticed ticks all over the truck and camper. Thankfully, we did a thorough inspection and didn't find any on us or our belongings so always be sure to do a tick check when camping! Especially around friendly farm animals 😉 This campground was also about a 30 minute drive to the picturesque Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park that has rolling dunes open to sand boarders and dune buggy enthusiasts. It makes the perfect day trip in between seeing the two parks.

See more of Southern Utah & Arizona

If you take the southern route between Zion and Arches through Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend is along the way. This unique 270° turn in the Colorado River is an iconic site that is worth the visit. Read more about it here...

Monument Valley is an incredible region that spans both Arizona and Utah. However, the Utah side is home to famous scene in Forrest Gump where he stops running. Read more about it here...

If you take the southern route between Zion and Arches through Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend is along the way. This unique 270° turn in the Colorado River is an iconic site that is worth the visit. Read more about it here...

See more of Southern Utah & Arizona

Pink Coral Sand Dunes is located less than an hour from Zion. It's a great place to visit on an off day between both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Read more about it here...

Monument Valley is an incredible region that spans both Arizona and Utah. However, the Utah side is home to famous scene in Forrest Gump where he stops running. Read more about it here...

If you take the southern route between Zion and Arches through Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend is along the way. This unique 270° turn in the Colorado River is an iconic site that is worth the visit.  Read more about it here...

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