“ Country: USA / World Region: North America „
Bryce Canyon was one of my favourite of the national parks we visited on our road trip. Grand Canyon is obviously the most famous and it is indeed spectacular, but there is something quite magical about Bryce Canyon because it just looks so unreal - a bit like something you'd find at Disney Land in fact. The park itself is easy to explore and very much worth a visit.
We stayed just outside the park at the entrance where there is a little village with two hotels, a restaurant, a couple of shops and some other useful amenities such as a petrol station and post office. There is also a hotel inside the park (Bryce Canyon Lodge) as well as lots of campsites so there is plenty of choice. We actually were slightly out of season when we visited in late October and although most things were open, there were clear signs of the place shutting down for the winter. Don't be mistaken, the park is open all year round, as are the two hotels outside of the entrance, but many things close at the end of September and the public services are drastically reduced. This didn't impede our visit at all though - I guess you can't miss what you didn't have - and we thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the park in general was much quieter, especially at the various viewpoints.
There is a driving loop through the park that has various viewpoints along the way to enjoy the rock formations that are almost unique to this park. During the peak season (May to September), a shuttle bus operates this route, stopping at all the key points along the route. The shuttle bus is included in the park entrance fee, which is $25 per car and is valid for a week. The bus wasn't operating when we were there, but we found that it was easy enough to drive the loop because it was well signposted and quiet enough to park at each point. I would imagine that it makes much more sense to use the bus when it operates because the car parks are quite small and will fill up very quickly when it is busy. The main part of the loop is a few miles long and then there is a fairly hefty 15 mile drive out to the final Rainbow Point. If you want to see this one you'll have to drive because the bus doesn't go out there. We decided not to go that far because we wanted to spend the time really enjoying the earlier points.
The rock formations in the canyon are huge techni-colour hoodoos that really do look spectacular and it is impossible to take a bad picture of them. They are huge thin sticks of rock that are really nobbly and look like giant orange twiglets. The colours are quite something and when the sun is shining on them, they almost look like they are lit up from the inside by giant torches. I'm not claiming to be a geologist or meteorologist, but the vast changes in weather from day to night and have probably had an impact on the formations - it can get up to almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day but can fall as low as minus thirty in winter. In fact when we were there in October it was lovely and warm during the day, but when we woke up in the morning there was a thick layer of frost on the ground.
At each of the points there are various walks and hikes that you can do and details can be found in the little newspaper that you get when you pay the entry fee. The newspaper is actually very handy indeed because it gives you lots of information and advice as well as maps and background information about the park.
The first point we visited was sunrise point, which was pretty cool although it was nothing compared to the others because there aren't as many hoodoos visible at this point and they don't seem to have the bright orange colour that the others further on do. Without a doubt my favourite was sunset point where we actually did a bit of a walk into the hoodoos. The loop here is just over a kilometre, but it is quite steep in parts because it takes you right down to the base of the hoodoos which is absolutely breath taking. Looking down on them from above is something, but being at the bottom of them really shows you just how big and spectacular they are. I really felt like Indiana Jones walking around the base of them because it does feel like you are exploring another planet. If you can manage the walk, I really can't recommend it enough and I am so pleased that we did it.
The other point that we really enjoyed was Bryce point, which is the highest of them all and offers really amazing views across the whole amphitheatre area. For this point you actually need to stop and park at inspiration point and walk up to it. The path is steep as you would imagine, but it is smooth underfoot and there are benches on the way up so almost anyone can have a go at getting up to the highest point where there is a lookout point that reaches out over the canyon so you are literally looking right down into it.
The final point we visited was the fairytale point which is very aptly named and it was here that really made me think of the Big Thunder Mountain ride at Disney Land. It is really is very pretty and feels magical - I almost imagined that there were little creatures living amongst the little castle like spires that make up the canyon here. This is actually the first point inside the park and we left it to last because we knew it was going to be one of the best.
I can't recommend Bryce Canyon enough because I really is like nothing else I've ever seen, it isn't as vast as the Grand Canyon, but it is easily as awe inspiring as it's big brother. We were there for just one afternoon and managed to explore a fair amount of the park, but if you are there for longer, you could easily find more than enough to fill your time - but just remember to take a big memory card for all the pictures!
I spent 2 nights at Bryce Canyon in August of last year as part of a fly-drive holiday that also included Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, and Zion National Park. Of all the National Parks in the USA, Bryce Canyon has to be the strangest and most intriguing landscape I have come across so far. The vivid reds, oranges, and pinks, so distinctive of much of Arizona and southern Utah, are at their most vibrant here, no matter what time of the day or month of the year you visit. The unique, intricate rock formations make you feel as though you are on another planet, and the high elevation and wide-open spaces allow for some breathtaking views.
~~ What is it? ~~
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in the South West of Utah. Rather than being an actual canyon, it is in fact a series of amphitheatres, in a horseshoe shape, carved by freeze-thaw erosion into the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. It is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon pioneer who settled there around 1875, and it became a national park in 1928.
The rich green colour of the Ponderosa Pines, set against the contrasting pinks and oranges of the limestone, adds vibrancy to the landscape, while the numerous oddly shaped structures known as 'hoodoos' provide intrigue.
Apart from its stunning landscape, Bryce Canyon is also known for its clear, dark sky at night. Set away from major sources of light pollution, the Bryce sky has a limiting magnitude rating of 7.4, providing one of the best locations for stargazing.
~~ When to go ~~
The park is open all year round, although the visitor centre is closed at Christmas and Thanksgiving. The busiest times are between June and September, and we were there around the middle of August. As it is one of the smaller National Parks, and due to its remote location, it actually receives far fewer visitors than many of the others, and I found this to be immediately apparent. Although I had read that parking spaces fill up quickly at the overlooks within the park, I never had any problems, and actually found that there were plenty of empty spaces (and there aren't really that many provided). We didn't see any crowds or queues anywhere, although at the time of our visit they were resurfacing the road, which led to long waits as they stopped the traffic for 20 minutes at a time.
I personally prefer to travel during the hottest months, wherever I go, but many people say that Bryce Canyon is at its prettiest when covered in snow.
~~ Getting there ~~
The closest international airport is in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the next closest is Salt Lake City, Utah.
Many people visit Bryce canyon as part of a trip around several of the National Parks, as both Zion and the Grand Canyon are relatively close. We drove from Monument Valley, through a town called Page (near Lake Powell) and took the US 89 North West. We then took Scenic Byway 12 towards Bryce Canyon Park. This is a very scenic drive which passes through Red Canyon, and through two tunnels in the rock which are quite famous and feature on many postcards in the area. They're a little too perfectly rounded and man-made looking for my liking though.
Entrance to the park costs $25 per car, and this buys you a 7-day pass. Included in this price is unlimited use of the shuttle buses which operate daily, every 12-15 mins, from the end of May until the beginning of September.
~~ Accommodation ~~
We stayed at the Best Western Ruby's Inn, which is just outside the entrance to the park, and it also has an RV park and campground next to it. Within the park, the only lodging option is Bryce Canyon Lodge, which is open from April until the end of October, and there are 2 large campsites within the park.
Ruby's Inn provides motel-style rooms and has two restaurants and a diner, as well as a general store for self-catering. We chose to eat at the diner one night, and as we had a microwave in our room, we chose self-catering on the second night (simply to cut costs, and save what little money we had left for our return trip to Vegas). The diner was like any other fast food establishment, no better, no worse, and the food in the general store was pretty poor, although there was quite a large selection to choose from. The general store also supplies camping equipment, a limited selection of clothing/footwear, and all the usual souvenirs.
~~ By road ~~
The recommended way of traveling within the park is by shuttle bus. As I have said, these are included in the cost of entry, and are very regular, and this is the environmentally friendly option. The only reason we drove ourselves was because of the unpredictable weather at the time.
There are 14 viewpoints on the 18 mile scenic drive within the park. We chose to drive to the furthest point, Rainbow Point, and work backwards, which actually works nicely because all of the viewpoints are then on your right. Rainbow Point, which is the southernmost point, is at an elevation of 9115 feet, and offers spectacular views back across the whole park and over the Grand Staircase.
Although there were roadworks happening while we were there, we managed to see all of the viewpoints within around 3 hours. My favourite sights along the way were probably Natural Bridge, Sunrise Point and Farview Point.
~~ Hiking ~~
There are 8 maintained hiking trails of varying difficulty within the park, and some are interconnected providing the option of varying your route to suit you.
Overnight hiking can be done on two of the trails; Riggs Spring Loop and the Under-the-Rim trail. A backcountry permit is needed for any overnight hiking, which can be purchased from the visitor centre for around $5 to $15, and backcountry camping is only allowed at the designated sites.
Due to a lack of preparation, unsuitable footwear, and persistent thunderstorms, we didn't hike any of the trails in their entirety. We did, however, take a leisurely stroll out into Bryce Amphitheatre from Sunrise Point, until the clap of thunder forced us to turn back. What struck me the most about being out in the amphitheatre was how peaceful and unspoiled these beautiful surroundings were, but also how much of a huge, open space it really was, thus reinforcing our decision to head for the car at the first rattle of thunder!
Another short trail I can recommend is Mossy Cave Trail. We came across it by accident as we were leaving the park, as it is situated to the North, away from the main park road, off Highway 12. It is the shortest trail, being less than 1 mile round trip, and involves a very pleasant walk along a crystal clear stream up to a small waterfall and a mossy overhang. Being tucked away in a small canyon, this trail doesn't involve the same kind of spectacular views provided by the overlooks along the main scenic drive, but it's very pretty nonetheless.
~~ Other activities ~~
A number of educational, ranger-led activities are available at various times throughout the day, and information about these can be found at the visitor centre just inside the park.
2-hour and 4-hour horse and mule rides are available. I had doubts about doing this, due to the unpredictable weather, but the extortionate prices quoted at Ruby's Inn were what ultimately made me decide against it.
A small, western saloon-style row of gift shops, known as Old Bryce Town, can be found just outside the main entrance opposite Ruby's Inn. These offer all the usual touristy trinkets, but also some more unique items such as wood carvings, pretty rocks and petrified wood segments.
A rodeo, hosted by Ruby's Inn, takes place 4 nights a week (Wednesday - Saturday) to the left of Old Bryce Town. Again, this is something we looked forward to but sadly missed due to the storms.
Skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are some of the activities that can be enjoyed during winter months.
~~ Health and Safety ~~
If you are going to venture out onto any of the trails, hiking boots or shoes with good tread are a must. The ground is very loose and gritty, as well as being quite steep in places. There are loads of great photo opportunities, and many can involve an awkward short climb or descent if you want someone to take a picture of you in front of a particularly odd looking 'hoodoo'.
Make sure you carry water, as the trails can be long and strenuous. Bear in mind that you are at elevations of 8000-9000 feet, and so will tire more easily. Bottles of drinking water can be purchased within the park, but as far as I can remember, I didn't see any of the free 'top-up' stations that I did in Zion park.
Thunderstorms are very common during summer. They are most likely during July and August, usually in the afternoons. These are spectacular to watch due to the amazing views, but obviously very dangerous too.
I would recommend taking a lightweight, waterproof jacket. Stupidly, I didn't pack anything with long sleeves whatsoever, as I only had the words 'August', 'Vegas' and 'Arizona' in mind at the time of packing, and I ended up having to buy a ridiculously over-priced fleece at the gift shop.
~~ Conclusion ~~
If you love the great outdoors, and enjoy spectacular scenic views, I would say Bryce Canyon should be very close to the top of your list of places to see in the USA. Of all the national parks I have visited so far, I would have to say Bryce was the cleanest and the friendliest. Visitors seem to hold more respect for the natural beauty here than at other parks I have been to, and there is less of a touristy feel to the place. My only regret is that I didn't get up earlier in the mornings to experience more of the park during the first half of the day. I'm glad I got to see Bryce Canyon during such impressive thunderstorms, however, as this made the atmosphere of the place so much more dramatic. I will definitely be returning to Bryce to see as much as possible of those bits I missed.
We visted Bryce Canyon in May last year as part of our week long trip to the West Coast. It was a place that my husband had seen in a nature encyclopedia when he was young and had always wanted to visit.
We had completed a three week trip to the west Coast 15 years ago and whilst we had managed to fit in places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite we didn't manage to get to Bryce Canyon.
So eventually last year we got there. There are plenty of car parks marked and maps available so it is easy to navigate around. The visitors centre at the entrance of the park does not have any catering facilities and even further into the park there are very limited places to eat - a small restaurant in the hotel and then a supermarket which does take away coffee and doughnuts.
The first views we had were a little disappointing - and I thought we had come long way for a few pillars of rock - but I was so wrong. We started at Sunrise point and you have no idea of the scale of the erosion. If you are fit enough take to walk from Sunrise to Sunset point as you can go right down to the bottom of the basin and get a real feel for the scale of the monoliths and also see the named ones eg Queen victoria which really has worn away to look like her!!
The main part of the Canyon is absolutly breath taking - I'm even getting goose pimples just remembering it - no picture can ever do it justice - the colours are so rich - the shape of the pillars reminds me on indonesian temples at times - if the turrets had been sculptured you would be amazed - but the fact that it is all natural is absolutely mind blowing - I would rate this more highly than the grand Canyon!!
Bryce Canyon defies words, it is truly the most spectacular natural wonder I have ever seen. That includes the Grand Canyon, which although vast and spectacular is not nearly as beautiful and visually stunning as Bryce. You can either use your own car or use the shuttles which cover most of the major sites. There are lots of trails in the park ranging from moderate to very strenuous. Make sure you look at the information given to you on entering the park as these give you a good idea of which ones you want to tackle. Having already spent the previous few days walking round both the Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon, we wanted to take things a little easier here. We chose to walk part of the Rim Trail which runs along the edge of the canyon and affords spectacular views from almost every point and is not too strenuous. We started our walk at Sunset Point. Sunset is high above the main Bryce Amphitheatre, the views here are breathtakingly spectacular. It is one of those places where you just have to stand and stare. You dare not blink in case the magic goes away. The Amphitheatre is made up of what they call hoodoos. These are the rock formations which were created millions of years ago when water flowed through, carving spectacular shapes from the sandstone rock. The colours are amazing ranging from the deepest red to white. The heart of the Amphitheatre is completely made up of hoodoos of all sizes making a fantastic landscape. As you make your way along the Rim Trail towards Inspiration Point and onto Bryce Point you just have to look to your left to see the landscape unfolding before your eyes. Each view is more spectacular than the one before. You cannot fail to be stunned at what you see it is amazing. After walking the Rim Trail, which looks over the canyon, we decided to walk a trail which took us in amongst the hoodoos on the ground. We chose the trail from Sunrise Point which then turns into the Queen?s Garden. Here you can wal
k amongst the hoodoos and see them close up. The trail is quite hard, especially in the heat, but it is worth the effort. I feel as though I am rambling, but believe me if you have been here, you know what I am saying. If you haven?t been here you really should. They say that you should see the Grand Canyon before you die, but I would say if you are at the Grand Canyon, take a detour and visit Bryce, I promise you will not be disappointed.
On a family holiday to South West USA earlier this year we had planned to see Las Vegas and Grand Canyon because those are the big attractions in Arizona/Nevada for anyone from UK. When I started doing some reseach on other places we could tour in the South West I came across Bryce Canyon. It certainly looked beautiful in the pictures so we penciled it in our itinery. The day we where due to push on to Bryce we heard that eighteen inches of snow had fallen there the night before. Thinking about how snow brings this country to a standstill we thought about giving Bryce a miss and heading south to the warmer weather in Arizona. On the advice of some local people who said the snow would only make the scenery more beautiful we set off North to Bryce. Thank goodness we did! We arrived late afternoon and checked into the Ruby's Inn, which is the nearest hotel to Bryce Canyon. Once we had got the bags into the room and sorted ourselves out a bit I suggested that we drive the two miles up to the Canyon and take a look before it got too dark. The kids were'nt to bothered but I made them come anyway. We drove into Bryce Canyon National Park, $20 pass per vehicle which is good for one week, and parked in the first outlook car park. I will never forget the sight that met us as we walked along the path to the rim. Absolutely stunning, undescribable, awsome scenery. I had seen photo's but nothing could do it justice. The colours of red rocks, green shrubbery and white snow sprinkled like icing sugar on top was breathtaking. I couldn't speak, a big lump was hurting my throat. What I couldn't get over was how big it was, and how high up we where looking down on this spectacular sight. Of course, it's nothing like the size of the Grand Canyon, but you're prepared for the Grand Canyon to be big, thats why its Grand! But Bryce Canyon has a unique beauty all of it's own. The shape of each rock is long and cigar shaped, they're ca
lled hoodoo's, and they're all standing upright forming a sort of amphitheatre effect. If you follow one of the trails down into the Canyon you get a whole different viewpoint but unfortunately the snow and ice made it too slippy for us to attempt this. Next time I'll book our holiday a little later in the year and see a whole different Bryce Canyon when the snow is gone and the sun is blazing, because this is one place I feel I must come back to one day
I have travelled across a lot of America; the west coast, new england, midwest, florida and more besides, but I think Bryce Canyon park was one of the best places I visited. It is like the Grand Canyon made better, only smaller. These canyons, mainly Bryce Canyon, have distinctive spikes of dusty red rock rising up throughout the valleys. There are some totally corking trails to be walked that take you right were the action is. Down the canyons is an odd sensation. It is very, very quiet. Unlike a lot of places lie this, it is not baron and lifeless. There are trees jutting up all over the place, and deer are commonly sited galloping around like they own the place, which they clearly do. There is snow in the crevices of the rocks all year round. It can be tiring and some of the trails are quite long, but I'd walk it with two broken legs because its worth it, and I dont even like walking! I think it is better than the Grand Canyon because the GC's enjoyment is in its size, and the novelty of this wears off relatively quickly because it is so inaccessable. Bryce, however is so interactive because you can troop around it and experience it to the fullest of its possibilities. Anyone who goes anywhere near it (and it s not far from the Gand Canyon) and doesnt go there deserves intense pain because you'd be missing out the experience of a lifetime!
Utah's great National Park - Bryce Canyon is better than the Grand Canyon. Who says that? Well most visitors do. Though not as deep as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon is exponentially more beautiful. Depending on the angle of the sun, the red or orange or pink or tan hued rocks show the visitor the miracles of nature. Each rock outcrop reaching for the sky seems to tell a different story of history. Some stand short and lonely while others are taller and in "families" of several groups. If you have the legs to hike around the Navajo Loop then visitors are rewarded with a down-low view of the formations, complete with a dirt path, small animals, and massive trees. While the hike could take upwards of an hour and is physically quite difficult - especially on a hot day - it is worth your time if you are able to do it. The walk brings you one-on-one with the canyon - no helicopters or mules like you'll find at the Grand Canyon! If your travels bring you to Southern Utah or Northern Arizona, find time to see Bryce Canyon. It's not too far from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon - you'll be able to see for yourself why this National Park is regarded as infinitely better, by the many visitors.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a national park located in southwestern Utah in the United States. Contained within the park is Bryce Canyon. Despite its name, this is not actually a canyon, but rather a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to its unique geological structures, called hoodoos, formed from wind, water, and ice erosion of the river and lakebed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views. The canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1875. The area around Bryce Canyon became a United States national monument in 1924 and was designated as a national park in 1928. The park covers 56 mi² (145 km²). The park receives relatively few visitors compared to Zion Canyon and the Grand Canyon, largely due to its remote location. The town of Kanab, Utah is situated at a central point between these three parks.