Bryce Canyon National Park is unlike any other National Park we have been to. The hoodoos, the sunrise glow, the insane geology, and the views all packed into such a small area. When we first started planning our trip to Bryce Canyon National Park we had so many questions like Where is the best view point? What hikes should we do? Where do we stay? We will be covering everything that you need to know on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park. The video above documents our first day in Bryce Canyon and lists all the areas that we will discuss below.
One Day Itinerary for Bryce Canyon National Park
The first question that we had was How much time do we need to spend in Bryce Canyon National Park? Most people add this on to a road trip to see the Utah Might Five National Parks or just Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park. We were there from 5am-10am and thought that in 5 hours we had seen the highlights in the park. We stopped a lot to take pictures and take in the beautiful views along the way. Bryce Canyon National Park boasts the biggest collection of Hoodoos in the entire world and they did not disappoint in the slightest!
Best Sunrise Spot in Bryce Canyon National Park
Sunrise is the best time to see the Hoodoos Glow in Bryce Canyon National Park. We researched and researched where the best spot to view the sunrise is and the answer is anywhere along the rim trail. Inspiration point was our favorite viewpoint for sunrise because of the location along the rim in Bryce Canyon National Park. The sunrise can be enjoyed anywhere along the rim trail though because it gives a beautiful view of the hoodoos. We found the viewpoints that were named had gates blocking the cliffs and more people so we recommend going slightly to the right or left of every viewpoint.
Hike the Rim Trail
After taking in the view from Inspiration Point, start walking the .7 miles along the Rim Trail to Sunset Point. We loved the view along every corner of the Rim Trail. Be careful on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park when walking next to any cliffs. The rocks hear crumble very easily and we love standing on cliffs but would not dare get close to these ones. Pro Tip: Hike the Rim Trail from Inspiration Point to Sunset Point during sunrise.
Take in the View at Sunset Point
We loved hiking the Rim Trail from Inspiration Point to Sunset Point because it was the perfect start to the Navajo Loop Trail. Sunset Point offers a completely different view as you can see below. Inspiration Point looks to the North to view the hoodoos as Sunset Point looks more to the South to view the Hoodoos from a different direction. We still loved the view from the Sunset Point especially during the early hours of the morning. Pro Tip: The Geology Talks take place here Sunset Point. Find the times available at the Park Ranger Station.
Hike the Navajo Loop Trail
What Hikes should I do in Bryce Canyon National Park? The one MUST DO hike on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park is the Navajo Loop Trail. It is a photographers paradise as well as the best way to take in the hoodoos. This trail is for beginners as well as advanced hikers. Pro Tip: Hike this trail clockwise starting from sunset point leaving the viewpoint and going down the trail to the left
The Navajo Loop Trail goes down down down and then up up up! We loved the switch backs especially going down they were very fun. Coming back up was a little bit of a different story. Pro Tip: Take the switchbacks to the left of sunset point first because they are in the sun and steeper. The other side has more shade and are easier going up.
One of the first things you will see on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park in the Navajo Loop Trail is Wall Street. This area made us feel extremely small and was crazy to view the hoodoos from so close. Pro Tip: Do this hike in the morning to have a beautiful orange glow in all the hoodoos.
This is the biggest hoodoo we saw in the park that was freestanding. Who knows how much longer it will be there with the changes in weather so make sure to see it soon! The Hoodoo is right along the Navajo Loop Trail and hard to miss. This is the last big Hoodoo you will see before descending down the switchbacks of the Navajo Loop Trail.
Pro Tips for your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park
Get there EARLY
It is very important to get there early on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park for three reasons. There are less crowds in the morning, cooler temperatures, and better photography opportunities if you start early. During the summer it can get very hot here so it is always important to get an early start.
Where to stay near Bryce Canyon National Park
There are so many places that are near Bryce Canyon National Park to stay ranging from camping in a tent to a luxurious resort. For some budget campgrounds make sure to look here and if you are looking for proper hotels and accommodations look here. Pro Tip: There is also free camping if you are willing to not have bathrooms or fire rings. Check out free campsites near Bryce Canyon National Park here.
Gear to Bring
The photography options in Bryce Canyon National Park are endless. Regarding photography equipment I would bring a wide angle lens like a 16-35mm as well as a 70-200mm for some close ups of the beautiful hoodoos. For a full list of our Photography Gear Guide click here.
Sunrise is a Photographers Best Friend
Bryce Canyon National Park has opportunities for every type of photography. We had a lot of fun trying to capture the beauty of the hoodoos because some looked like middle fingers, some looked like cartoon characters, and others just looked like popsicles. Sunrise is the best time for photography on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park. The sunrises there are when all the hoodoos glow the most. Arrive to your location around 30 minutes before the sunrise and stay for about an hour after sunrise for the best lighting conditions.
Where is the Best Sunset Spot in Bryce Canyon National Park
Sunset in Bryce Canyon is not the best time for photography. The National Park is facing the east so most of the hoodoos do not catch light towards the end of the day. I do not recommend staying the whole day at Bryce Canyon National Park to take photography because there are so many other opportunities in the surround area. Get there early for sunrise and stay for the first few hours of beautiful light. One book that I found very helpful was Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martrès. The most important thing to remember is to not go just for ONE SHOT but to be creative and have fun capturing the beautiful landscape.
When to visit Bryce Canyon National Park
There are a few things to think about when it comes to the questions When is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park? Crowds, weather, Park Rangers, and what you want to see are all factors that play into this decision. We decided to go for Labor Day weekend because that is when it worked best for our schedule. We experienced very low crowds, perfect weather, and got to do all the hikes that we wanted to do!
This is the busy season for the National Park. I would recommend for your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park that you plan your trip in early May or late September when the weather is more fair. There will be more crowds but since you will go for sunrise and the early morning hours, there will be far less crowds compared to going later in the day. There are more rangers present to help with questions and all areas of the park are very easily accessible.
The winter months in Bryce Canyon National Park are definitely less crowded and A LOT more cold. When it snows here it can be a photographers dream because of the contrast between the red color of the hoodoos and the white in the snow. We definitely have it on our bucket list to return during the winter but it is not for everyone. Temperatures do not go above freezing as well as most trails are hazardous and there are less park rangers to help!
These are our 10 essentials that we think everyone should bring on their First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park. We like the saying “Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail” and it is especially true in constantly changing climates like Bryce Canyon. For the full list of packing clothes and gear we bring on each adventure click here.
What should I bring on a Day Hike?
- Light Jacket – the weather in Bryce can change drastically from walking on the Rim Trail to going down into the shade on the Navajo Loop Trail.
- Water – it gets VERY HOT here in the summer months. Be sure to pack at least 2 liters of water per person on every day hike or photography mission when exploring in Bryce Canyon.
- Sunscreen – there is not a lot of shade while hiking around the area besides the switch backs on the Navajo Loop Trail.
- Camera – bring your phone or camera to capture the beauty of Bryce Canyon.
- Hat – this is one thing you do not think of at first but is SO HELPFUL especially when trying to stay cool in the summer months. Pro Tip: we like to do is soak our hat in water right before a hike to help keep us cool.
- Day Pack – bring a light day bag to keep your hands free so you can capture photos with your camera and have all your gear in one area.
- Head Lamp – this is something that we bring on every adventure because you never know when you will need it. We especially used it for our sunrise missions.
- First Aid Kit – There are falling rocks especially when hiking next to the hoodoos because of the windy conditions and how fragile the National Park Landscape is so make sure to bring First Aid and be prepared for any situation.
- National Park Pass – There is a fee to get into the park so we always recommend getting a National Park Annual Pass especially if you think you will be visiting multiple National Parks
- Photo Pills or Night Sky App – These apps are AWESOME especially for finding stars and constellations at night.
What is near Bryce Canyon National Park?
Bryce Canyon National Park is near so many other National Parks which is awesome! We hit this on our Utah Road Trip (Full Road Trip Itinerary Coming Soon!) and only got to spend a half day here. We will definitely be returning but it is hard to spend more then a day here because there is so much to explore nearby! Here are some of our favorite areas to explore on nearby on your First Adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park
- Duck Creek (About an hour away)
- Grand Staircase Escalante (30 minutes away and home to one of our favorite slot canyons)
- Zion National Park (about an hour and a half away) See our blog HERE
- Grand Canyon National Park (about 2 hours away) Blog Coming Soon!
- Horse Shoe Bend (about an hour and a half away near Page Arizona)
- Antelope Canyon (famous slot canyon is about an hour and a half away
- Capitol Reef National Park (about an hour and a half away) Blog Coming Soon!
- Buckskin Gulch (About an hour and a half away) Longest Slot Canyon in the World!