in most of the other parks in southern Utah, Bryce Canyon
activity doesn't come to a halt during the summer months.
Most of the attractions are at or above 8,000 feet, and
temperatures are moderate if not slightly chilly.
prime season for visits to this amazing hoodoo repository
is from late April to mid-October. This isn't to say that
the park is closed in winter. Far from it! Winter brings
cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even overnight
camping, so depending on your preferences, a visit is
worthwhile any time of year.
Canyon's rangers have just about the simplest and best
description of hoodoos that I've heard: "A hoodoo is a
pinnacle or odd-shaped rock left standing by the forces
of erosion." You'll know what a hoodoo is when you step
inside the park. Although this is just one of the many
scenic sections of Utah's Canyonlands, there is no finer
display of pinnacles and castellated cliff tops anywhere.
The canyon is situated in a series of twelve bowls that
dip nearly 1,000 feet into the earth, revealing myriad
layers of colored sandstone.
park is situated in a region that includes several other
national parks and monuments, including Cedar Breaks
National Monument (to the west), Capitol Reef National
Park (northeast), and the Glen Canyon National Recreation
Area (along the Colorado River, to the southeast).
Canyonlands, Arches, and Zion National Parks are a
half-day's drive from Bryce Canyon. All in all, there are
10 other units of the national parks system within a
five-hour drive. A vacation in this area should include
several of these superb preserves.
get there from the west, drive on U.S. 89 7 miles south
of the town of Panguitch. Turn east at the junction and
drive along Utah Highway 12 for 14 miles. Turn right on
Utah Highway 63 and head 3 miles south to the park
entrance. This road leads 18 miles through the park, and
four major sideroads run to 13 overlooks. The visitor
center is located just inside the park entrance.
Canyon is a hiker's paradise, attracting people from
around the world. There are 23 marked hiking trails and
all are self-guided. It's also a special place for
drivers, who can travel the rim of the canyon for almost
the entire length of the park, finding almost everything
there is to see along the route. The canyon itself can be
explored by foot or by horseback.
overnight accommodations inside the park. The lodge
features motel-style rooms and western cabins, and there
is a a dining room (435-586-7686). The complex is closed
during the winter period. Ruby's Inn, a motel complex
with a restaurant and store, is just outside the park and
is open year-round.
to See & Do
extension of Highway 12, the road runs 18 miles to the
south end of the preserve. The most popular places to
stop for gazing at the canyon and pinnacles are
Fairyland, Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce
viewpoints. In addition, Rainbow and Yovimpa viewpoints
(at the south end of the road) provide fine panoramic
views of the plateau and adjacent canyons. Trailers are
not permitted on the park road south of the Sunset
Campground (near the north end and the visitor center). A
parking lot is available for trailer parking, for those
who are not unhooking at the campground. You can explore
the park on horseback. Morning and afternoon trips are
organized by wranglers from the concession based at the
corral near the lodge, (435) 679-8665.
park is popular with cross-country skiers who come to ski
on the Paria and Fairyland sideroads that are closed to
car traffic during winter months and also to ski the Rim
Trail. Snowshoes are available at the visitor center when
there is enough snow to use them. The visitor center
provides a trail brochure as well. Cross-country ski
rentals are available outside the park, as are groomed
trails. The Dixie National Forest, next to the park, is
accessed by Highway 12 and also by Highway 143.
backcountry trails are open during summer months.
Under the Rim Trail leads from several points
along the rim, providing a walk of up to 22 miles along
the canyon. The Riggs Spring Loop departs from
Rainbow Point, is 7.7 miles in length and takes between 1
and 2 days.
trails are considered strenuous. The majority of the
trails in the park are suitable for day hikes and most,
including the following are considered
Trail -- Traverses the rim and is accessible at
several points. The total round-trip distance is 11
miles, taking 4 to 5 hours.
Loop -- Begins at Rainbow Point and leads 1 mile,
climbing only 100 feet; an easy, short walk of about 1
Garden -- Trailhead at Sunrise Point; a 1.8-mile
(one-way) walk, climbing 320 feet. The round trip
takes about 2 hours.
Garden/Navajo Loop -- A combined trail beginning
at Sunrise Point or Sunset Point, 1.3 miles climbing
521 feet and taking between 1 and 2 hours to
following hikes are considered strenuous:
Loop -- Access at Bryce, Sunrise, or Sunset
Points; length between 4.8 and 6.8 miles with a climb
between 500 and 800 feet. This walk takes between
three and four hours.
Bridge Trail -- Access north of Sunrise Point,
with a length of 3 miles and a climb of 800 feet. The
walk takes about 2.5 hours.
Loop -- Begins at Sunrise Point, climbing 900 feet
in 8 miles. The trail takes 5 hours to
to the Hat Shop -- This linear trail begins at
Bryce Point and leads for 3.8 miles, climbing 900
feet; 4 hours.
The resort is open year-round for RV and trailer camping,
with 26 full-service sites plus a dump station, laundry
,and showers. Ruby's Inn Campground and Trailer Park
(435-834-5301) has 200 sites (100 hookups for trailers
and 100 tent sites); it is open from early April until
Canyon Lodge and Cabins,
P.O. Box 400, Cedar City UT 84721
What a wonderful setting for a lodge and cabins, on the
rim of the spectacular canyon, at 8,000 feet! The lodge
is now a National Historic Landmark and was completely
renovated in 1989. There are 4 suites available in the
lodge, 106 double rooms in the motel and 40
cabins&emdash;all with gas fireplace and private bath.
Facilities also include a restaurant, bar, gift shop, and
general store. There are many activities available here,
including bus tours, horseback riding, and hiking the
many trails that descend into the canyon. Open late April
to mid-October ($$ to $$$+).
Western Ruby's Inn
Bryce Canyon UT 84764
(435) 834-5341 or 800-528-1234
Ruby's is a huge complex with 216 rooms and lots of
amenities. Among them are an indoor swimming pool and
spa, a dining room with a seasonal buffet and deli, a gas
station and an enormous general store that alone can
provide hours of entertainment: it's loaded with
minerals, jewelry and books, among other things such as
groceries. There are other activities available as well:
in summer there are trail rides, helicopter flights and
chuckwagon dinner rides; in winter there is snowmobiling
and cross-country skiing. And best of all, it's located
just minutes away from the amazing Bryce Canyon National
Park ($ to $$).
Scenic Route 12, Box 43, Bryce UT 84764,
Also located minutes away from the national park, this
motel has 50 units, some with fire places, plus an indoor
heated pool, restaurant, cocktails, coffee shop, and
are two campgrounds in the park, and all of the 215 sites
are available on a first come, first served basis. North
Campground is just inside the park gate. Loop A of this
campground is open year-round, providing winter camping
possibilities. There is a dump station near the
campground. Sunset Campground is located south of the
visitor center. Campers should be aware of the crush to
get into the campgrounds between mid-May and
mid-September, when the two campgrounds are generally
full every night.
is best to arrive at the park early in the day to secure
a site. A store, laundry, and showers are located near
Sunrise Point (between the campgrounds). These are open
between mid-April and mid-October. There are stores,
motels, and cafes located on Highway 12, outside the