Whether you’re on a road trip to see the Big 5 National Parks in southern Utah, or you only have one day to see the park; Bryce Canyon can be done in a day. And as much as I advocate for spending more time in a place to really appreciate it, I understand that we may not have that luxury. So if given the opportunity, go spend the day here and you’ll witness one of the most beautiful places on earth, all within a short walk from your car.
The entrance to the park is about 4hrs from both, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, making it a manageable drive do do in a morning. Bryce Canyon is infamous for its giant, natural amphitheaters filled with colorful orange, red, and white hoodoos. These hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and erosion, can stand up to 200 feet high. A view that my words can never do the place justice, but I hope my pictures can be a good enough start.
The scenic drive, from entrance to the end of the road, is only 18 miles. And most viewpoints are only a few steps away from the road, allowing you to view most of the park without ever needing to go on a long hike. And most people spend a majority of the time near the entrance of the park at Sunset point. This is where most people get their first view of the great amphitheater that is truly unlike anything else found in the world, or that you’ve likely ever seen before. Hike down below the hoodoos and explore the maze, but no need to spend hours down there, because there is plenty more to see.
Hop back in the car and head to the next view point, which is the view of Swamp Canyon. Don’t let it’s name fool you, because the butte’s below are spectacular. Then go check out Piracy and Fairview Points. Both will leave you breathless. And if you couldn’t tell the pattern by now, these view points all have parking lots right next to the rim’s edge, so you don’t have to spend much time at each one.
For a view of something a little more, close-up, head to Natural Bridge for an epic view of, as it’s name suggests, a natural bridge or arch. And then you can keep driving towards the end to check out Agua, Pondersoa, and Black Birch Canyon. Each one is similar, yet completely different than the next. And as the miles tick away on the scenic road, you feel like your moving further and further away from reality. Nothing about this place looks like it’s on this planet, yet it feels even more incredible that it is right here in our National Parks.
At mile 18 on the road, you reach the end, Rainbow Point. From here, there is plenty of hiking to do, and also a short hike around Bristlecone Loop Trail to see a panoramic view of the southern tip of the park. And best part, if you’ve started early enough, Rainbow point is a perfect place to eat lunch.
Even though you’ve reached the end of the park, I’ve saved the best for last. Head back towards the entrance of the park, near the amphitheater, onto the road for Inspiration point. As it’s name suggest, the view from here is arguably the most stunning, epic view in the world. Sure, the will be loads of other people, but you can hike further up the hill to get away from the crowds that huddle near the parking lot. But no matter the crowds, or if you have to take a bus through the entire park during the peak season, this place is worth it.
And for those who have more time than just a day to visit, there is plenty more to see and do. Like the shorter Rim Trail between Fairyland Point to Bryce Point. Or the longer Under-the-Rim-Trail which takes you from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point. So however you would like to spend your time in the upper elevations of Bryce Canyon National Park, you cannot go wrong. Just get there and make your own adventure!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.