Bryce Canyon might seem small in comparison to other National Parks around the country, but sandstone paradise is loaded with hoodoo formations and stunning rock formations that give many United States national parks a run for their money!
A perfect day trip and a quick scenic drive from Springdale, UT, Bryce Canyon is an 84 mile (1 hour 45 minute) drive. If you’ve already purchased a Zion National Park pass or if your’e cooler than me and have a National Park annual pass, you can drive directly from Springdale, through Zion, west to Bryce Canyon. I think it’s impossible to tire of Zion’s beautiful landscape, so the drive actually passes by effortlessly. Keep in mind, however, that traffic in Zion can be pretty brutal during the busy season, so remember to be patient, don’t rush and enjoy the journey. Also, check out my 10 Tips for Hiking The Narrows, Zion National Park.
The summer in Bryce canyon is dry, hot and dusty! Thank goodness we barely noticed the 100+ degree temperatures because, well, we were completely distracted by the perfectly clear blue sky and bright orange-colored landscape. There are endless beautiful photo opportunities worthy of even the top Instagram pages, so have your camera ready! Watch your step selfie junkies, don’t be THAT person tumbling over the edge! The cliffs abundant, steep and a mile down into the canyon.
For a 2-4 hour experience (this includes a LOT of photos and selfies, naturally), park and walk to Sunrise Point, then work your way down into the canyon. Click here to view the park map to help plan the experience that fits your group best. Queen’s Garden Trail starts at Sunrise Point and works its way into the canyon to Queen Victoria (a rock formation that looks like the beloved Queen), less than a mile walk. Don’t be deceived though, the change in elevation is fairly drastic (about 660+ ft) and of course you’ve got to hike back out. To hike about .9 miles in and out took us approximately 1.5 hrs round trip.
You can also connect at the end of the Queens Garden Trail to the Navajo Loop Trail and then hike back up to the top of the canyon to Sunset Point. From here you can follow the rim back to the parking area (approx. a 3 mile loop).
There is virtually no shade inside the canyon so, as always, be prepared with some simple items:
- Hat – this was key. It was very sunny and bright inside the canyon
- Sunscreen & Lip Protection – we had some burned lips amongst us.
- Water – at least 1 liter of water.
- Wet wipes & Extra Pair of Clean Shoes– we were filthy after the hike because it was so dry and dusty. Remember this dust is orange and gets everywhere. It’s a good idea to toss a clean pair of shoes in the car and have some wipes to get off some of the dust.
If you have the time and energy after Queen’s Garden Trail, you can hike over to Inspiration Point (past Sunset Point) along the rim of the canyon. This is a fairly easy hike along the rim of the canyon. This is also best for those that can’t brave the 662 foot change in elevation.
If you are into horseback riding, there are several horse trails throughout the canyon and could be a fun way to experience the terrain. Go on a tour of BYOHOM (Bring Your Own Horse or Mule). I assume most tourist traveling to Utah forgot to pack their private mule, so feel free to sign up for a tour that includes an animal to ride!
Andrea, taking a picture of me, take a picture of Sean, taking a picture…
Planning to explore more of southern Utah? Check out my 10 Tips for Hiking The Narrows, Zion National Park to make your journey seamless and more enjoyable. Plan on visiting Arches National Park check out my One Day Summer Visit to Arches National Park and Glamping Under the Stars and Under Canvas. Moab.