Bryce Canyon National Park, an otherworldly desert destination in southern Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah and is famous for its rust-colored hoodoos (column shaped rock.) Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration of Hoodoo's on planet earth! many of which can be found at the bottom of massive "bowls," called amphitheaters located in the park.
Trails circle the rim of Bryce Amphitheater, the largest in the park, and afford hikers stunning views down below. The 4 main overlooks into the canyon are Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. If you aren't into hiking I believe all of these viewpoints are accessible by car.
Imagine yourself trekking through some unknown planet?
If I had to describe Bryce Canyon in one word it would be OTHERWORLDLY. Do you dream of exploring far reaching planets? Bryce Canyon National Park is the answer! You'll find it here on planet earth, but will think you landed somewhere quite different! I love love love Bryce! and I think you will too! Prior to this trip, I wasn't even aware that there were landscapes like this in the United States, or even on this planet for that matter! I kind of felt as if I had arrived on Pluto or Jupiter, it is simply stunning. For complete information on visiting Bryce Canyon National Park see their official website.
My favorite of two National Parks in Utah, here's why:
On this trip we visited two National parks in Utah, Bryce Canyon and Zion. It is easy to visit both since they are only about two hours apart by car. I do recommend checking them both out but if I had to choose Bryce was by far my favorite of the two parks.
Due to the higher altitude, temperatures in Bryce were much cooler than Zion. Shade is scarce in Bryce, but even so as someone who normally avoids heat and direct sun, I found it to be quite tolerable in September.
Zion was pretty (the Narrows the experience of a lifetime!) but Bryce is simply stunning.
Bryce seemed less crowded to me, which was a huge bonus.
Hiking Bryce Canyon
There are around 15 different day hikes/combination hikes in the park. The parks website goes on to explain: "Because many of these are interconnected, our most popular hikes are combinations of two or more of these basic trails. Most day hikes and their trailheads are found in the Bryce Amphitheater area." -NPS/Bryce, Check the Bryce Canyon official website for a comprehensive list of day hikes in the park.
Here is the route that we took on the day that we hiked Bryce Canyon.
Photos: are displayed here in chronological order (except for the Bryce Canyon sign.)
From the North campground we entered the Rim Trail, and headed to the Fairyland Loop Trail. We hiked to Tower Bridge and then returned to the Rim Trail. This was an approximately 3.3-mile hike including the time spent on Rim Trail.
After returning to the Rim Trail, we headed south toward Sunrise Point. When you arrive at Queen's Garden Trail keep to the left. Queen's Garden Trail is the least difficult trail that descends into the canyon.
When you come to Navajo Loop trail stay to the left. This will take you to Wall Street, a series of switchback that will take you straight up and out of the canyon.
After you climb up out of the canyon the trail ends at Sunset Point. Here you can catch the shuttle or walk to the lodge. If you're hungry there are a couple of options for a meal in this area of the park. Section 2 combo of trails totals about 3 miles. It was challenging but fun, well worth the effort.
Here is a map that may make things a little clearer. Our route is highlighted in yellow (Wall Street is highlighted in purple.)
total miles hiked for the day: 6.3
Other hikes in the area:
Two words...HIKING POLES
There were lots of inclines and downhill sections on these hikes. Hiking poles are immensely helpful both on uphill and downhill areas.
If hiking isn't your thing:
Maybe you would prefer to see the park on horseback. They offer guided trail rides in the park!
Information on the handy free shuttle in Bryce National Park can be found on the official website. Although driving in the park is permitted, unless you plan to overnight in the park you are strongly encouraged to leave your vehicle at the park entrance and use the shuttle.
Camping in Bryce National Park
There is a lodge in the park, but we opted to camp. There are two campgrounds, North or Sunset campground. $20 per night for tents, $30 for RV's (prices always subject to change.) North Campground is first come first serve but reservations may be made at the Sunset campground during high season. We showed up early and snagged a great campsite under the pine trees and near the bathrooms, which turned out not to be the best idea. There were a lot of noises coming from the bathroom all through the night. The bathrooms are nice and clean, have flushing toilets but no showers. I know from experience that it is possible to get sufficiently clean with baby wipes. Also, they allow campfires in the park!
My sister-in-law and I camped alone in the park. As part of a duo of female travelers, never once did I feel unsafe. I slept like a baby on my blowup mattress!
Altitude in Bryce Canyon can reach over 9,000 feet above sea level. I flew from Kansas (around 1,000 altitude) to Phoenix and drove in a day to Zion (3,500-5,000 altitude) and had no issues with the altitude, possibly because I worked my way there over 2-3 days?
"Pets are only allowed on paved trails and viewpoints, roads, campsites, and picnic areas. The 0.5 mi (0.8 km) section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points and the Shared-Use Bike Path are the only paved trails within this park. Pets must be leashed at all times, and you are required to clean up after your pet. Dog owners looking for hoodoos and dog-friendly trails should consider visiting nearby Red Canyon, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service." NPS/Bryce
As stated earlier I didn't think the crowds were that bad but since it is a national park it's a good idea to follow general crowd beating tips: go early/late, avoid holidays/weekends, go in the offseason.
German pastries? YES PLEASE!
On our way from Zion to Bryce we stopped at Forscher German Restaurant and Bakery in Oderville Utah for some delicious German pastries! (Full discloser...we stopped twice....hey it was darn good!)
This trip was part of a mini vacation we spent in Arizona and Utah. You can read about our full trip at Road Trip'ing Arizona & Utah: Zion & Bryce National Parks, Camping, Hiking, and Stops Along the Way
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