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visit bryce canyon in winter

Things to do in Bryce Canyon in Winter: The Perfect 1-Day Itinerary

Let me start with this- you have to visit Bryce Canyon in winter. It’s one of the most magical experiences to see the gorgeous red, limestone hoodoos covered in snow. Basically, imagine unique out-of-this-world views (like you’re standing on Mars) and then add snow. And this my friends, is what you get when you visit Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter.

Utah is home to not one, but FIVE national parks. All five parks are full of red rocks and all five parks are more beautiful and unique than the last. However, in my opinion, Bryce Canyon is the best national park in Utah to visit in the winter.

What is Bryce Canyon known for?

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its enormous limestone spires called hoodoos. The hoodoos are formed from ice and rainwater breaking down rock through different ‘freeze cycles’ over thousands of years. Within the park, you can see hoodoos from viewpoints going on for miles and miles within different basins in the park.

In the winter, you can hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, stargaze, and more all surrounded by these amazing red rock hoodoos. Below you’ll find how to spend the perfect one day in Bryce Canyon.

When is there snow at Bryce Canyon?

The best part about visiting Bryce Canyon in winter is timing it right to be able to see the red rocks covered in white snow. The park is located at a high elevation of almost 8,000 feet meaning it gets colder and can have more treacherous winter conditions than other Utah national parks.

Snow can fall as early as October, however, the most snowfall occurs December-February. We visited over Valentine’s day and were welcomed with a winter snowstorm and freshly snow-covered hoodoos. Plus this snowstorm means we were very thankful we were familiar with driving in snow (thanks to me being a Utah native ) and had great studded, winter tires on our car.

When is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon?

You may not initially think of visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter, however, in my opinion, winter is by far the best time to visit. You’ll find much smaller crowds, plenty of parking, and an amazing magical atmosphere. Nothing quite beats seeing the Bryce Canyon hoodoos covered in snow.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Related Post: 27 Amazing Things to do in Utah that Aren’t National Parks

*There are affiliate links in this post.  Read my privacy/disclosure policy to learn more.

Winter Bryce Canyon access map

Use this National Park Service map to familiarize yourself with the park. The red road is always open and cleared often, however, the blue dashed road may be closed after snowstorms as they work on clearing the road. When we visited in mid-February, the blue dotted road was closed. However, almost everything I recommend takes place on the red road.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon 1-Day Itinerary

  • 8 am : Sign up for ranger-guided snowshoeing tour at the Visitor’s Center
  • Morning: See Thor’s Hammer at Sunset Point Overlook
  • Walk the Rim Trail
  • Hike down among the hoodoos on Navajo Loop Trail (out-and-back trail in the winter)
  • Noon: Picnic lunch in your car to warm up before snowshoeing
  • 1pm: Ranger guided snowshoe tour to Paria Viewpoint
  • Afternoon : Drive to the remaining scenic overlooks in the park
  • If the road is open, see Natural Bridge
  • Evening: Stargaze bundled up with a warm drink (sunset is generally between 5 and 6 pm in the winter)
  • Either coming into town or leaving town, drive through the Red Canyon Arch Tunnel just 20 minutes outside of the park

How to experience Bryce Canyon in the winter:

In greater detail, here is how to experience Bryce Canyon in one day. If you are lucky enough to visit Bryce in winter and you have more than one day, you’ll find more additional wintery things to do at the end of the post.

1. Drive through the Red Canyon Arch

Woman on road under red rock tunnel while snowing

Unique experiences start before you even enter Bryce Canyon National Park! I recommend taking the Scenic Byway 12 (Highway 12) from Panguitch to Bryce (and vice-versa). You will get the unique experience of driving through Red Canyon Arch that is carved right out of the mountain!

2. See Thor’s Hammer at Sunset Point Overlook

Tall red-rock spire covered in snow with red rocks behind

Thor’s Hammer is the tallest hoodoo in Bryce Canyon National Park. All of the hoodoos range in height from the height of a human to stories tall. Thor’s Hammer is 150 feet (45 meters) tall- that’s around 15 stories tall! Also, the hoodoo resembles Thor’s Hammer (as the name suggests).

The best place to see Thor’s Hammer is from Sunset Point . There is a parking lot at Sunset Point. It’s only a 450-foot walk from the parking lot to Sunset Point.

Sunset Point offers some of the most famous and breathtaking views in all of Bryce Canyon National Park.

3. Walk the Rim Trail

You can also hop on the stroller/wheelchair-friendly Rim Trail from Sunset Point. The Rim Trail (as the name implies) follows the rim of the main amphitheater.

The Rim Trail is paved from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point (1 mile/ 1.6 km roundtrip). The official Bryce Canyon National Park website says it is stroller/wheelchair accessible even in severe winter weather.

visit bryce canyon in winter

The stroller we take on all of our adventures is the Baby Trend Expedition Jogger . I highly recommend it if you are looking for a great, inexpensive, and durable stroller/car seat combo . Ours has logged over 500 miles!

In the winter, you can access Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Bryce Point. The trail is about 3 miles one way and has several steep elevation changes along the way. However, you can walk and enjoy the view for as long as you want before turning back to the car.

PRO TIP: The section between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point is a pet-friendly section of the Rim Trail. This is great news! Pets are only allowed on paved sections of trail and this is an area with a beautiful paved section.

4. Hike among the Hoodoos on Navajo Trail

Hiking down into the hoodoos is a must when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. The view from above is amazing, but getting down in the canyon and looking up is a totally different experience. The best trail to do this on is the Navajo Loop Trail.

visit bryce canyon in winter

To get to this trail you will drive to and park at the Sunset Point parking lot . You will see the trailhead sign there. This is the same parking lot/point that I talked about above.

Woman with green snow coat and boots on snowy Navajo Loop Trail with red rocks in the background

Even though the trail name is Navajo Loop Trail, the trail is actually NOT a loop in the wintertime. This means you’ll hike down and hike back the same way you came. When this trail functions as a loop in summer, it is 1.3 miles (2.16 km) long. I think when we hiked in winter, we probably hiked around .5 miles down and .5 miles back (1-mile roundtrip). Even though the distance is not long, remember you will be hiking down and up switchbacks covered in snow making it a little more strenuous.

The Navajo Loop Trail takes you right down into the hoodoos! You’ll pass the famous Thor’s hammer (the tallest hoodoo in the park ), Two Bridges (two sandstone arches/bridges that cover the trail), and to the bottom of Wall Street (the park’s only slot canyon). The Wall Street slot canyon is closed in winter for safety reasons, so you can’t hike through but the trail takes you to it.

The trail can be very slippery from snow/ice and there are steep drop-offs. Because of this, you may want to stick to the Rim Trail if you are hiking with littles.

Unique red rock sculpture with holes covered in snow at Bryce Canyon

PRO TIP: Shoes with good traction are required if you want to hike down past the rim on the Navajo Loop Trail (or any trail past the rim). When it is especially icy, traction devices may be necessary.

You can buy traction devices at the visitor’s center. However, it would be wise to bring a pair with you in case the visitor’s center doesn’t have any available. You can buy the traction devices here!

Red rock cliff wall covered in snow with canyon behind covered in snow

When we hiked, I was wearing hiking boots and my husband was wearing winter boots with good tread. These were sufficient (with a little slipping) because of the recent snowfall.

However, once the snow turns icy, the traction devices would definitely be necessary to get back up the steep Navajo Loop Trail.

5. Participate in a free ranger-guided snowshoe tour

visit bryce canyon in winter

Taking a ranger-guided snowshoe tour at Bryce Canyon National park is one of my favorite things I have EVER done. And the greatest part is that the tour is free with snowshoes and poles included! The tours are usually 1.5-2 hours long and you’ll snowshoe around 1 mile (1.6 km). The tour included us and about 10 other people and the ranger.

Our tour took us through the woods and out to Paria Viewpoint. This is a unique experience because the Paria Viewpoint is inaccessible by car during the winter so the only way to get there is via snowshoe or cross-country skis!

Our ranger told us the history of the area and taught us all about the hoodoos. He also showed us a Bristlecone Pine which is one of the oldest living organisms in the world. Bryce Canyon National Park’s oldest Bristlecone Pine is 1,600 years old!

Man with yellow hat and blue coat snowshoeing with dead pine trees

How to participate in the snowshoe tour:

Reserve a spot (in person) for the tour because space is limited. Signups start at 8 am at the Visitor’s Center on the day of the tour and end once all the spots are full. Unfortunately, there is no way to sign up in advance. These tours also require a sufficient snow-depth and staff level to happen.

I was worried about enough snowfall for us to experience snowshoeing. We were in Bryce Canyon National Park in mid-February and there was a big snowstorm the day before we came. I called the visitor center early in the morning and asked if the tour would be happening. They said yes, so we headed right over to the visitor center to sign up!

There is no age requirement for the tour but you’ll want to think of your kids before reserving a spot. You’ll just want to make sure your kids are in the mood to snowshoe through sometimes deep snow and possibly be a little cold. Or, if they are young enough, that you’ll be able to carry them in a pack the whole way.

Snowshoeing ended up being our favorite thing we did in Bryce and I highly recommend participating if possible.

Two men look off snow covered cliff at red rocks and pine trees covered in snow and fog

PRO TIP :  You must bring and wear snow boots or waterproof hiking boots on the ranger-led tour. They will not let you participate if you are wearing tennis shoes or something similar. Your feet would also get pretty wet and cold if that is what you are wearing. If you have any questions about what is acceptable, you can give them a call .

You can also participate in a full-moon snowshoe hike and winter astronomy programs! We did not do these, but they sound like such a great experience! You can find more info here when you scroll towards the bottom of the page.

6. Drive to every viewpoint in the park

Red rock landscape with snow, fog and brown pine trees at Bryce Canyon

The driving-accessible area of Bryce Canyon National Park is quite manageable. This is great news when you only have one day in Bryce Canyon or a half-day to spend in the park. Here are all of the scenic viewpoints you can visit within the park via a car in the winter:

  • Sunrise Point
  • Sunset Point
  • Inspiration Point
  • Bryce Point

These viewpoints are on the section of road that may be closed or temporarily closed due to weather:

  • Piracy Point
  • Fairview Poin
  • Rainbow Point
  • Yovimpa Point

Red rock spires covered in snow and fog at Bryce Canyon National Park

The drive-time from the entrance to the furthest viewpoint (Yovimpa Point) is only 30 minutes, however, the road past the Bryce Amphitheater may be closed due to snow. You can see the Bryce Canyon map located at the top of this post for reference. That extended area was closed for us, but we were still able to see and experience so much from the road that was open.

We visited Sunset , Bryce , Paria (on snowshoes) and Inspiration Point . Sunset Point was by far my favorite and that is also where we started on the Navajo Loop Trail.

PRO TIP: Pets are allowed at these viewpoints as long as they stay on the paved areas.

7. See Natural Bridge (if road is open)

Natural Bridge is one of Bryce Canyon’s arch formations that you can see within the park. There are no trails down to the arch, but there is a great viewing area that can be reached via car. This area of the park may or may not be open depending on if there have been recent snowstorms.

visit bryce canyon in winter

8. Stargaze from Sunrise or Sunset Point

The longer winter nights at Bryce Canyon make for a perfect excuse to enjoy stargazing within the park. You can expect for the sun to set around 5-6 pm. Within the park, you can see the Milky Way spread out across the gorgeous starry sky. If visiting on a Saturday, you may even be able to participate in a stargazing experiencing with a ranger where they point out constellations with a laser pointer.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Because of the cold winter weather, you will want to make sure you bundle up with extra layers and stargaze from a viewpoint like Sunset Point where your car will be very close by for when you need to warm up. It is not recommended to travel far from your car to stargaze in the winter.

Additional Things to do in Bryce Canyon

If you are lucky enough to have more than one day when you visit Bryce Canyon in winter, here are some extra additional things to do that you’ll love.

  • Winter Festival at Bryce Canyon : Each February, Ruby’s Inn holds the annual Bryce Canyon Winter Festival including guided cross country ski and snowshoe tours, ice skating, art classes and more! Keep in mind Bryce Canyon will be busier during the winter festival than other times of the winter season, but it may be worth it to participate in the extra activities.
  • Hike Mossy Cave Trail : A short 1-mile trail to a small rock overhang that may have large icices hanging in the winter
  • Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride or trail ride to the rim of Bryce Canyon: Looking for a cozy and romantic (but also family-friendly) things to do in Bryce in winter? Book a magical 20-30 minute horse-drawn sleigh ride to look out over the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Any winter rides are by phone reservation only and must be reserved 48 hours in advance. Find more information on the Ruby’s Inn Horseback Riding site .
  • Rent snowshoes or cross-country skis from Ruby’s Inn : Just outside the park, you can rent snowshoe or cross country ski gear to use within Bryce Canyon or in other nearby areas. Use the designated areas for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing to Fairland Point or the Paria Ski Loop.
  • Participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count : For a unique activity in Bryce Canyon, participate in the annual bird count put on by the Audobon society
  • Participate in a ranger-guided full moon snowshoe hike : If you are lucky enough to be visiting Bryce in the winter AND during a full moon, be sure to take advantage of the special ranger-guided full moon snowshoe hike. Signups take place at the Visitor’s Center.

Related Post: 11 Best Utah State Parks You’ve Got to Visit

Tips for experiencing a bryce canyon winter.

visit bryce canyon in winter

  • Check weather conditions frequently . Download the UDOT traffic app to keep an eye on current weather and road conditions. Be sure to heed warnings to steer clear of certain roads/areas if needed. And if you are not comfortable with driving in the snow, take extra caution.
  • Rent a car with good winter tires and/or 4-wheel drive . We drove our sedan with studded winter tires and it did great during a snow storm. You may end up not needing it, but if you run into a storm, you will be so glad you have it.
  • Dress appropriately and be prepared for inclement weather. During the winter in Bryce Canyon National Park, temperatures can hover around freezing and dip below freezing in the early morning and evening. Be sure to bring layers and large coats, gloves, hats etc. to keep warm. We visited on a particularly chilly day in February. I was wearing a long sleeve, a sweater and a large coat along with a hat, gloves and warm socks.
  • Bring slip-on traction devices if you plan on hiking. Some Bryce Canyon winter hikes require traction devices . This is because the trails can be steep and when the snow gets packed, they become very slippery and almost impossible to climb back up and dangerously slipper on the way down. You may laugh at this, but it definitely can be necessary! If needed, the Visitor Center usually has these for sale.
  • Pack plenty of water. You may be tempted to not bring as much water as you would if you were visiting Bryce Canyon during another time of year. However, staying hydrated is just as important in the winter and dehydration tends to sneak up on you. Plus, hydration is crucial if you are not used to the high altitude of Bryce Canyon and it the water can help you adjust.
  • Bring in a picnic lunch or lots of snacks. Most if not all food options within the park are closed during the winter season. To make the most of your time within the park, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a warm lunch in your car inbetween activities, or if it’s not too cold, at one of the scenic overlooks.
  • Bring extra clothes in the car with you . Nothing feels better after getting wet and cold in the snow than being able to switch out to some warm, dry clothes. Socks and sweaters are specially easy to keep extra in the car in case you need a switch halfway through the day.
  • Be aware of the sunset time. In the winter you can expect the sun to set around 5-6 pm. Be sure to plan accordingly.
  • Pets are only allowed on paved surfaces within the park. This means campgrounds, parking lots, viewpoints (all except one unpaved viewpoint), and the paved section of the Rim Trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. Also, pets are not allowed to be left within your vehicle while you hike (plus, the weather is so cold you probalby wouldn’t want to do that anyway). If you’re looking for hikes among hoodoos where your dog is allowed, check out nearby Red Canyon which is enroute to Bryce Canyon National Park.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon

Another great thing about visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter is that accommodations are less expensive and often have plenty of availability. Most accommodations are located in Bryce Canyon City which is literally right outside the entrance of the park (an 8-minute drive to the Visitor Center).

  • Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel : We stayed at the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel and it is one of my favorite hotels we have ever stayed in.

The entrance looks like a big winter lodge and feels amazing with a big fireplace and cozy couches. Our room was super clean and had everything we needed. The best part was the amazing, complimentary breakfast buffet. The buffet had eggs, bacon, pancakes, and all sorts of yummy things. Honestly, we still talk about it to this day😅. The warm breakfast was a perfect way to start our day of adventuring out in the snow.

The best part is, when we stayed in February, we only paid around $75 per night! So yes, I highly recommend this hotel.

2. Ruby’s Inn : One of the most common hotels in Bryce Canyon you will hear about is Ruby’s Inn.

Two different hotels make up Ruby’s Inn: The Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn and the Bryce View Lodge at Ruby’s Inn . The Bryce View Lodge is not as nice and much older than the Best Western Plus.

We opted against staying at either of these since the above-mentioned Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel was newer and nicer and only slightly more expensive each night. However, both of these hotels look like great options. I’d recommend Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn over the Bryce View Lodge at Ruby’s Inn .

Ruby’s Inn holds a winter festival each February that looks like a lot of fun! However, you do not need to stay at Ruby’s Inn to participate in the winter festival.

3. Bryce Canyon Lodge : If you are looking for lodging options within Bryce Canyon, Bryce Canyon Lodge is perfect for you. Although Bryce Canyon Lodge is not open the entire winter, it is open until January meaning you could stay here for your Christmas trip to Bryce Canyon. During the winter, the area of Bryce Canyon Lodge which is open is the Sunset Lodge. These rooms are furnished with cozy oak and hickory furniture custom-designed for the lodge. Plus, to keep with the park’s tranquil setting, the rooms do not have TVs or WIFI.

4. Camping at North Campground Within Bryce Canyon : Although most of the campgrounds at Bryce Canyon close in the winter, North Campground is available year-round. This is perfect if you love winter camping and want to stay within the park. North Campground is home to the outdoor amphitheater where some ranger programs take place in the winter.

Bryce Canyon from Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is one of two airports you can fly into to visit Bryce Canyon. The drive from Salt Lake City to Bryce Canyon covers 260 miles and is about 4 hours as long as the weather and traffic are good. We drove to Bryce Canyon from Salt Lake City in the evening, spent the night, and explored Bryce Canyon the following day. A snowstorm hit the evening we arrived. Because of that, snow remained on the roads and we were happy we had studded snow tires.

The drive would have been quite difficult if we had not had such great winter tires. We actually saw a truck get stuck in the snow when they got off the road a little too far😬.

If you are renting a car you will want to inquire about winter tires/4 wheel drive options.

Bryce Canyon from Las Vegas

The drive from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon is almost identical in length as the drive from Salt Lake City covering 260 miles and taking about 4 hours. Again, if you are visiting in winter flying into Las Vegas, you will want to inquire about winter tires/4 wheel drive options on your rental car.

If driving in this way, you may want to look into taking a detour to the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park on the way to Bryce.

Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is 75 miles taking about 1.5 hours. Since it’s such a short drive, these two parks are great options to visit together on a Utah road trip. Zion is at a lower elevation than Bryce, so if you are visiting in the winter, you will want to check the weather at Bryce Canyon before you leave to make sure you won’t be getting stuck in a snowstorm.

Check out these other posts, I know you’ll love them:

  • 11 Best Utah State Parks You’ve Got to Visit
  • 27 Amazing Things to do in Utah that Aren’t National Parks
  • How to Spend One Perfect Day in Island in the Sky: Canyonlands National Park
  • Yellowstone with Kids: The Ultimate 2 Day Itinerary

Those are my top things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park in winter. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about Bryce Canyon and I’ll be sure to answer! I’m a real person who loves to talk travel 🙂

visit bryce canyon in winter

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visit bryce canyon in winter

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Visit Bryce Canyon in Winter: 5 Things to Do & Winter Travel Tips

Do you want to visit Bryce Canyon in winter? As a Utah local, I made this travel guide to help you plan the perfect trip to Bryce – one of America’s top national parks! Winter travel adds an extra challenge, but it’s totally worth it because Bryce Canyon in winter is a spectacular experience. Let’s get started!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclaimer here.  

view from Bryce Point in the winter

Bryce Canyon was the first national park that I visited when I moved to Utah about 9 years ago. I’ve since visited many times in different seasons and must say, winter is my favorite.

Why Visit Bryce Canyon in the Winter?

Bryce Canyon is a very popular national park. It’s also a relatively small national park, which means that in the peak season (spring through fall) the park and surrounding area can get really crowded.

In the winter, the crowds are nowhere to be found. Bryce Canyon in winter is much quieter , which I love. But visiting in the winter isn’t just to avoid the crowds – you also get to see the incredible contrast between the red rock hoodoos (the main geological feature Bryce Canyon is known for) and the white snow.

That alone is worth the visit. The fact that the park isn’t too crowded in the winter is honestly just a bonus!

Lastly, there are actually a lot of fun activities to do in the park in the winter months. We’ll go over the possibilities below!

view from Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon in winter

Typical Winter Weather – Does it snow in Bryce Canyon National Park?

Yes! If you visit Bryce Canyon in winter, expect to see some snow!

A common misconception about Utah travel in the desert is that it’s warm and sunny all the time. Bryce Canyon actually sits at a higher elevation (about 8,000 ft) and the winter weather is cold and snowy.

Bryce Canyon national park in winter

While the amount of snow that the park receives does vary from year to year, you need to be prepared for winter travel.

In Bryce, winter can arrive in the fall months. One year, I was driving home from Bryce in September and I got caught in an intense snowstorm! Always check the weather and current conditions before your trip.

Average Temperatures in the Winter Months:

As you can see in the chart above, the temperatures can get really cold, especially once the sun goes down!

view of from the rim trail in Bryce national park in utah

Average Snowfall in Bryce Canyon:

red rock and snow in Bryce Canyon national park

How do I get to Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon is about a 4-hour drive from Salt Lake City, Utah, and just over 4 hours from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Those are the two closest major airports. If you have to fly, you’ll also likely need to plan to rent a vehicle.

Winter Road Closures:

There are only two roads that are closed to vehicle traffic for the entire winter season –  the 1-mile road leading to Fairyland Point and the 0.3-mile road leading to Paria View, however, these roads remain accessible for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Following snowstorms, the main park road closes temporarily at mile marker 3  to allow snow plow crews to clear snow from the higher elevations of the park’s scenic southern drive.

Closures typically last a day or more, depending on snowstorm durations, but they can certainly last longer.

Luckily, the Bryce Amphitheater area is along the first 3 miles of the main road and is the first area to be plowed. It remains accessible even during temporary closures on the rest of the scenic drive.

The Bryce Amphitheater area includes popular viewpoints such as Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point.

Always check current conditions and alerts on the national park website.

Winter in Bryce Canyon Map

The map below can be used for reference through this post:

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon facilities in Winter

Visitors Center –  With the exception of major holidays, the Visitor Center remains open in the winter months, however, they do close at 4:30 pm.

Campgrounds –  The North Campground remains open year-round, but Sunset Campground closes each winter from November to April. Note: The North Campground RV Dump Station closes in winter.

General Store –  The General Store at Sunrise Point closes in winter.

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon –   This is the only lodge actually inside the park and it’s closed for the winter. See below for more information on lodging and on where to stay.

Restrooms –  You’ll find restrooms throughout the park, however, some are closed for the winter season. The following restrooms remain OPEN in the winter: Rainbow Point, Farview Point, Sunset Point, the Visitor Center, and North Campground.

snowy weather in Bryce Canyon national park in January

Where to Stay at Bryce Canyon in Winter

One of the benefits of visiting Bryce in the winter is that the surrounding town is much less busy and therefore lodging is a lot cheaper!

The only option actually inside the park in winter is the North Campground. While I love to camp, camping in the middle of the winter at 8,000 feet isn’t for me. Luckily, just outside of the park border in Bryce Canyon City, there are plenty of lodging options.

The name Bryce Canyon City is a little deceiving here because in no way is it a city. It’s basically just some hotels and gas.

There’s a very small selection of groceries and a gear shop at the Ruby Inn, but that’s about it. I wouldn’t count on buying much in town. Plan and pack all your provisions before you get there.

winter weather rolling through in Bryce Canyon

Lodges and Hotels Nearby

The two main options in Bryce Canyon City are the Ruby Inn and the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel (both operated by Best Western Plus).

There are plenty of other options as you drive further from the park or down the pass to the little town of Tropic, Utah.

We usually stay at the Ruby Inn and enjoy the pool and hot tub in the evening and the buffet breakfast in the morning!

view from Inspiration Point overlook in Bryce

Things to do in Bryce Canyon in winter

1. hiking & snowshoeing.

This is my favorite way to experience Bryce in the winter! There’s something so peaceful about hiking in the snow through the hoodoos, especially after fresh snowfall.

After a big snowfall, most of the parks day hiking trails will require snowshoes, but after a few days of use, the trails become so well-packed and icy that snowshoes are no longer useful and you’ll need a traction device such as microspikes for your hiking boots.

You’ll need to be prepared to adjust depending on the conditions. The trails can be very icy, and with steep sections and drop-offs along the hike, you need to make sure you’re not slipping all over the place!

Even paved areas and parking lots can be slippery, so make sure to be extra careful when you’re hiking. Traction devices can be purchased at the bookstore in the Visitors Center if you forget to pack them.

hiking the Mossy Cave trail in winter in utah

Seasonal Trail Closures:

There are only two trails that close for the entire winter season: the Wall Street side of the Navajo Loop Trail due to extreme rockfall danger and the Rim Trail between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point due to snow overhangs along the steep cliffs.

Ranger-led Snowshoe Program:

If you want to try snowshoeing, but you don’t have your own snowshoes, you can join a ranger-led snowshoe hike! No experience is required and snowshoes and poles are available for free for those who sign up. It’s a great way to try something new.

The snowshoe program usually lasts about 2 hours and is approximately 1 mile. You’ll need appropriate winter clothing and shoes. They also offer full-moon snowshoe hikes on rare occasions when the moon and weather are just right!

Registration is required and when snow depth and weather permit, sign-ups will be at the Visitors Center the day of the program beginning at 8 am. No advance sign-up or reservations are available. There is no fee for this activity.

red rock hoodoos and snow in the winter at Bryce Canyon

My 4 Favorite Winter Hiking Trails in Bryce Canyon

1) the rim trail:.

Walk the rim of the scenic Bryce Amphitheater! This is a great place to start if you want to see incredible views, but don’t want to go on a strenuous hike or stray too far from the car. The walk from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point and back is a great one.

2) Mossy Cave:

This is a short (less than a mile round trip) walk up to a mossy grotto that fills with icicles in winter! This is one of the most crowded trailheads in the park. I think that the waterfall is a little underwhelming in the winter, but the hike out to it is beautiful.

Fairyland Point overlook in Bryce Canyon National park in winter

3) The road out the Fairyland Point:

This road is closed to cars during the winter, but it makes a great place to snowshoe, hike, or cross-country ski. It’s only about 1 mile out to Fairyland Point and mostly flat. When I went, the road was graded so we didn’t need the snowshoes. We were the only ones at the viewpoint and it was beautiful! We even saw a circular rainbow! How incredible.

winter hiking in Bryce Canyon national park

4) Queens Garden to Two Bridges Loop:

This is by far the most popular winter trail in the park, but be warned – this is a strenuous hike with lots of elevation gain at the end! You can hike this trail in either direction however clockwise is recommended. The Queens Garden trail starts at Sunrise Point where you’ll descend into the hoodoo-filled canyon. You’ll come up the canyon on the Two Bridges trail to Sunset Point.

Make sure you leave time and energy for this accent because it will be challenging. Remember, the rim of Bryce Canyon sits around 8,000 ft, so not only are you dealing with hiking uphill, but you’re also dealing with hiking at high elevation. Once you hike up and out of the canyon via the Two Bridges trail, you’ll connect the loop by hiking back along the rim trail to Sunrise Point.

Bryce Canyon national park in January

2. Scenic Overlooks

There are many scenic overlooks throughout the park. From the fee station, the road into the park goes for about 18 miles. The first 3 miles are open and plowed first in winter, but the rest of the road is only open when the weather permits. Luckily, there is a lot to see within the first 3 miles of the drive.

The most easily accessible scenic overlooks are:

  • Sunset Point – look for Thors Hammer at this overlook!
  • Inspiration Point
  • Bryce Point

If the road is open past the 3-mile mark then these are some other points of interest to check out:

  • Natural Bridge
  • Rainbow Point

detailed photo of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon national park

3. Cross Country Skiing

Yet another way to explore Bryce Canyon national park is on cross-country skis! You cannot ski off the rim into the canyon, it’s illegal, also probably pretty dangerous, but there are plenty of routes above the rim.

Popular cross-country ski areas are:

  • Bristlecone Loop Trail
  • Paria Ski Loop
  • Paria View Road (closed in winter to cars)
  • Fairyland Point Road (closed in winter to cars)

In addition to these areas in the park, Bryce Canyon City also maintains  miles of groomed ski trails  to explore.

Snowshoe and Cross-country Ski Rentals:

Snowshoes and cross-country skis are available for rental outside the park at the Ruby’s Inn Winter Activity Center in Bryce Canyon City.

4. Stargazing

Did you know that Bryce Canyon National Park has International Dark Sky status? It has some of the darkest skies in the country due to the high elevation, clean air, and remote location.

In the Winter on a clear night, you can see the dimmer outer arms of the Milky Way galaxy. Since nighttime temperatures are very cold, it’s best to view the sky from Sunset Point or Inspiration Point so you can stay close to the car and retreat if you start to get too cold!

5. Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

The Ruby Inn hosts the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival every year. It’s a family-friendly event with tons of activities, crafts, seminars, and more!

view from the Mossy Cave trail in Bryce Canyon national park in winter

Bryce Canyon Winter Travel Tips and Preparation

  • Is your vehicle capable and prepared for winter road conditions such as snow and ice? The roads can be snowy and slippery. If you’re renting a vehicle, you might want to consider a vehicle that can handle winter road conditions.
  • For example, I always have a warm blanket or sleeping bag, extra food, tire-changing tools, jumper cables,  a battery-powered jumper cable pack , a shovel, a fully stocked first-aid kit, a headlamp or flashlight, and a fire-starting kit with me. Read more on  vehicle supplies and preparedness .
  • Dress appropriately for winter. Even if you’re just planning to visit the viewpoint and never stray too far from the car, it’s always good practice to be prepared with proper clothing. Plus, it will make your time outside so much more enjoyable. Dress in layers. It’s so much better to have extra clothes in the car that you don’t need than not enough clothes. Being cold and miserable is a quick way to ruin a trip.
  • Pack extra water and snacks in the car. There are very few places to buy food in and around the park. I always pack all my own snacks and have a cooler in the car with lunch. The last time I visited the park, I packed tuna salad and made sandwiches for lunch in the car. Packing some bread, cheese, and lunch meat is another easy lunch idea. This is also a great way to save money because the food options that are available in Bryce Canyon City can be expensive.
  • Pets are only permitted on paved surfaces in the park. They are not allowed on trails or unpaved viewpoints or in public buildings such as the visitor’s center. They must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. They also can’t be left in the vehicle while you hike. Due to these rules, it’s best that you leave your pets at home when visiting Bryce Canyon. If you’re looking for similar red rock and hoodoos. The nearby  Red Canyon  has some dog-friendly trails. This is a beautiful area with many great hikes.

hoodoos covered in snow in Bryce Canyon

What to pack for Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

Proper winter clothing:.

Firstly, in general, you want to dress in layers – base layer, mid layer, and outer layer. This will allow you to adjust as needed throughout the day.

Secondly, your layers should be moisture-wicking. Wool clothing is the gold standard when it comes to your base layers. In other words, cotton should NOT be worn in the winter. Wool clothing comes in different weights depending on the conditions and warmth that you need.

After you have a base layer, you can think about mid-layers – things like fleece, or synthetic-fill jackets. Lastly, your outer layers are all about wind and water protection.

Make sure you also have gloves, a neck gaiter (I love this wool one ), and a hat.

Hypothermia is a very really possibility and danger when traveling to Bryce Canyon in winter. Being prepared with proper clothing, layers, and gear is so important.

hiking with warm layers in the winter in Bryce Canyon

Proper Footwear:

Proper footwear is also really important. Your gym sneakers are not good winter footwear. I have the Oboz Bridger winter hiking boots and they are amazing! They’re so warm and comfortable. I wear them all winter long. Make sure to pair these with some good moisture-wicking socks.

Traction for your boots – As I mentioned above, you’ll need some traction devices for your shoes because the trails, parking lots, and walkways can be really snowy or icy. I use microspikes and love them. They’re really easy to take on and off and work so well, especially on icy walkways!

My winter hiking boots:

These Oboz Bridger boots are the best winter hiking boots I’ve ever tried! They’re so warm and so comfortable. Highly recommend.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Hiking Gear:

If you’re going to hike, even just a little, you must make sure you have all your winter hiking gear including the essential systems for day hiking . Too many people hit the trails unprepared.

In addition to all my hiking gear, in the winter months, I love to pack something warm like a mug full of hot coffee, cocoa, or bone broth to sip on during the hike.

Hiking is not something that you should decide to do on a whim in the park. Spend some time planning and preparing for the activities you want to do.

It’s important to note that there’s much less daylight when hiking in the winter . You want to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to hike so you’re not stuck out in the dark.

snow at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

Possible Bryce Canyon 1-Day Itinerary

Bryce is a small park and if you only have one day, don’t worry because you can see and do a lot in one day! Here’s what I would do:

  • Try to wake up early. In the winter, sunrise is around 7:45 am. Fill up the coffee mugs with hot coffee, bundle up, and head out to the viewpoints. Start at Bryce Point followed by Inspiration Point.
  • If you’re looking for a solid hike that goes down into the hoodoos, hike the Queen’s Garden to Two Bridges loop. This typically takes about 2-3 hours.
  • If you want an easier shorter hike, try hiking or cross-country skiing on the road out to Fairyland Point. This hike is about 2 miles round trip and mostly flat. The viewpoint is beautiful and we didn’t see any other people.
  • After the hike, get some food and perhaps head to Sunset Point for photos and sunset. In the winter, sunset is around 5:30 pm. After that, head back to the hotel in Bryce Canyon City for dinner and a dip in the hotel hot tub!

red canyon arch in utah

More Utah Travel Guides from a Local

Bryce Canyon National Park is close to the very popular Zion National Park. Many people choose to see them both on the same road trip.

Below you’ll find my Zion resources and other Utah travel guides for activities nearby that you might want to consider adding to your trip:

  • 5 Reasons to Visit Zion National Park in Winter (plus top things to do!)
  • Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary (from a local)
  • Guide to Snow Canyon State Park in Utah (if traveling to and from Las Vegas, this is such a cool place to stop!)

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Amanda is a Utah-based adventurer with a major love for fresh sage, slot canyons, and dutch oven brownies! If you’ve come to learn about camp cooking, hiking, and USA travel, you’re in the right place.

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The Ultimate Bryce Canyon Winter Guide | Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Snow

Spending the holidays in Utah and wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon in winter? This Bryce Canyon Winter guide has all the details on how to have a memorable time in this spectacular national park. 

With its towering orange hoodoos and complex of amphitheaters and arches, Bryce Canyon is a memorable sight to behold. In summer, you’ll see the red hoodoos changing hues as the sun crosses the sky. But winter brings a mystical charm and fantasy to this park that makes it all the more alluring. 

Sitting at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet, this park receives nearly 100 feet of snow a year. The contrast between the towering red rocks and the white snow makes for incredible photo opportunities. It’s one of the reasons why Bryce Canyon is one of the best national parks to visit in winter . 

Winter also sees fewer visitors, meaning you’ll practically have the canyon to yourself. So grab your best hiking boots , and let’s get to exploring this impressive canyon.

Bryce Canyon Winter

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission (for which I am very grateful for) at no extra cost to you.    

How to Get to Bryce Canyon National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon National Park is quite remote and far from major cities. The two major airports nearest to Bryce Canyon are Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Both locations are about a 4-hour drive from Bryce. 

Cedar City Regional Airport has connections to Salt Lake City and is a 1.5-hour drive from Bryce. 

If you’re out on a Utah National Parks road trip (which is highly recommended), Bryce Canyon is also about 1.5 hours away from Zion National Park. 

Once you get to the park, you’ll have to pay a $35 access fee per vehicle entering. This will give you access to the park for seven consecutive days. 

If you’re on the hunt for the best national park in Utah , you may want to consider purchasing an America the Beautiful pass instead. This will give you access to all the US national parks for a year. 

Tip: If you’re planning on renting a car, be sure to check with the rental company that they have snow tires or 4×4 vehicles. Driving in snow can be slippery and dangerous, so the right wheels are essential.  

Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon in Winter

Weather conditions can quickly switch up, which may mean you’ll need to postpone your adventures temporarily and retreat to safety and warmth. Consider one of these spots to wait out any hefty storms or rest after a day of adventuring. 

Budget: Bryce Canyon Log Cabins

Cozy up in one of these spacious and clean log cabins situated a short 20-minute drive from the canyon. The Bryce Canyon Log Cabins include air conditioning, a television, a microwave, and a small fridge. It’s the perfect option for short stays and is conveniently located near a grocery store. 

Mid-range: The Inn of Escalante

The cozy, adults-only Inn of Escalante offers mountain views and homely, spacious rooms. There’s also a quaint garden, a nearby restaurant, and free WiFi. Bryce Canyon is just over an hour away, and the drive there is sure to be as scenic as the destination. 

Luxury: Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel

If you’re seeking a luxury stay with all the amenities, the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon is an excellent option. It’s located just outside Bryce Canyon National Park and features a gym, on-site restaurant, and complimentary toiletries. You’ll also find a coffee machine in your room, so you can refuel and warm up whenever necessary. 

Camping: North Campground – Bryce Canyon National Park 

If you’d like to rough it out and give camping in the snow a go, North Campground in Bryce Canyon is open year-round. The campground has 100 campsites, and it’ll cost you about $20 per campsite per night. 

This site doesn’t have any water, sewer, or electrical points to connect to, so you’ll have to come fully prepared. Have a look at this winter backpacking guide for tips on camping in the snow. 

Read More: Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park | 15 Amazing Lodging & Tips

Bryce Canyon Winter Weather

Bryce Canyon Winter

Winter in Bryce Canyon can be absolutely freezing. Because of its higher elevation, this canyon experiences much colder temperatures than you’d find in Zion and other nearby national parks. The park generally experiences colder temperatures from October through to May. 

Bryce Canyon temperatures range around 36°F during the day — with temperatures being their lowest in December. At nighttime, you can expect average temperatures around 15°F. So, it’s safer to pack more warm clothes than you think are necessary. Bryce has seen minimum temperatures as low as -26°F! 

If you’re hoping to see the hoodoos capped in snow, the most snowfall takes place from December to February. The weather can change quite drastically, and the weather in Bryce differs greatly from the surrounding areas. So it’s good practice to check the weather forecast online or call the visitor’s center ahead of time. 

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Things to do in bryce canyon in the winter.

Bryce Canyon Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park may not be as vast or have as many activities as Zion National Park , but there is still plenty to do. 

Take a Photo at Red Canyon Arch

Bryce Canyon Winter

This may be the shortest activity on the list, but it’s a must-do. You’ll find the Red Canyon Arch on Highway 12 if you’re coming into Bryce from nearby Panguitch. So the sights actually start before you’ve entered the park. 

This arch is carved out of mountain rock and creates a tunnel for the scenic Highway 12 to pass through. Stop here for a dramatic photo before heading onwards to the main attraction. 

Take in the Views

visit bryce canyon in winter

Once you’re in Bryce Canyon National Park, one of the first things to do is to catch the breathtaking views. Bryce is a beautiful national park to visit in spring or summer, but it takes on a whole new character during winter. 

Marvel at the beauty of the red hoodoos and evergreen trees capped with snow from one of the four main viewing points. These are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Point, and Inspiration Point. 

All viewing points have parking lots, so they are easily accessible if you only have time for a quick stop and photo op. 

If you’re starting your Bryce adventure early, you’ll want to make your first stop at Sunrise Point. Here, you’ll get to see the hoodoos and snow glow in the soft morning light. Sunset Point and Inspiration point provide excellent late afternoon views, and Bryce Point is perfect at any time of the day. 

Bryce Point is also a popular spot for bird watching. Look out for birds like Western Bluebirds, Peregrine Falcon, American Robins, and various hummingbirds.

There are a few less popular spots worth stopping at, but these tend to be closed during and after snowstorms. These points are Piracy Point, Rainbow Point, Fairview point, and Yovimpa Point. Depending on the weather, you may be able to access the roads leading to these viewpoints. 

Take a Guided Tour of Bryce

Bryce Canyon Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park is not only home to the world’s greatest collection of hoodoos in the world. Archaeologists estimate that Bryce Canyon has been frequented since about 10,000 years ago. 

While planning your Bryce Canyon adventure, why not book a guided tour to learn more about this canyon’s flora, fauna, and vast and interesting history? The guided tour will also take you to some of the top sights in the canyon. This is an excellent option if you’d prefer not to be in the driving seat while sightseeing. 

Go Snowshoeing

Bryce Canyon Winter

Think of snowshoeing as hiking with special attachments. Snowshoes help you walk across snow without sinking by creating a larger surface area to distribute your weight on. Snowshoeing can be quite a workout, but it’s tons of fun. 

The park rangers offer a few guided snowshoe experiences now and then. On these walks, you’ll learn about the geology and winter ecology of this area. You’ll also be able to borrow snowshoes and poles if you manage to sign up in time. 

Sign-ups take place at 8 am on the day of the snowshoe hike and can be done at the visitor’s center. Unfortunately, you can’t book ahead of time. So your best bet is to check the official website to find out which days the hikes are taking place and show up early. 

If you happen to be at Bryce Canyon early, it may also be worth enquiring at the visitor center if they’re hosting a guided walk on that day. These hikes usually last around two hours.

If you’d prefer to go on your own snowshoe adventure, the best routes for flat terrain are Paria View Road, Fairyland Point Road, and the Rim Trail. 

Tip: Have a look at this guide on what to wear when snowshoeing so that you’re fully prepared for the fun. 

Try Cross Country Skiing

If you’d like a slightly more fast-paced way of getting across the snow, cross-country skiing is an excellent option. 

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are allowed on the routes mentioned above, as well as on Bristlecone Loop Trail and Paria Ski Loop. The park specifically leaves certain roads unplowed during the snowy season so you can ski to your heart’s content. 

Do keep in mind that downhill skiing and snowboarding are illegal in this park, so be sure to remain on level terrain. This is not only to keep you safe but to protect the unique environment from damage. 

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Attend the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

The Bryce Canyon Winter Festival offers the perfect opportunity to discover new ways to enjoy adventuring in the snow. The yearly collaborative event between Ruby’s Inn and Bryce Canyon National Park usually spans over President’s Day weekend. It’s a great option to add to your itinerary if you visit Bryce Canyon in February.

Here, you’ll learn all kinds of skills through ski clinics, archery clinics, wildlife tracking, snowshoeing, and astronomy lessons. The festival also hosts crafts and art classes, yoga, pottery-making lessons, and photography workshops. 

If ever there was a place to enrich your mind, this festival is it. Bring your family or adventure crew along, and enjoy a fun weekend of enriching classes and workshops. 

Take a Hike

Bryce Canyon Winter

Bryce Canyon offers some of the best hikes in Utah . The canyon may be small, but its beauty makes for an unforgettable hiking experience . There are plenty of basic trails that are interconnected. So you can tailor your hike to be as short or long as you want it to be. 

One of the best national park hikes is the Navajo Loop trail that kicks off at Sunset Point. Because the Wall Street side of this trail is closed off during winter, you won’t be able to hike the entire loop. This roughly 1-mile route has an elevation of 515 feet and takes around 1-2 hours to complete. 

It’ll take you past attractions like Two Bridges and Thor’s Hammer—the tallest hoodoo in Bryce Canyon National Park, towering 150 feet tall. 

If you’re up for more, you can combine the Navajo Trail with the Queen’s Garden trail. The Queen’s Garden route kicks off at Sunrise Point and is slightly longer, at 1.8 miles, but has a lesser elevation change of 450 feet. The combination of the two trails will take you around 3 hours to complete and stretches for about 3 miles. 

A more challenging option is the Fairyland Loop which starts at Fairyland Point. This less crowded trail is 8 miles long, with an elevation change of 1900 feet. It’ll take you past attractions like Tower Bridge and the Chinese Wall and provides excellent views of the orange hoodoos. 

Tip: Consider using some of the best hiking apps to help you plan your route and explore more hiking options. These can be especially helpful if you’re a beginner hiker . 

Walk Along the Rim Trail

While hiking Bryce Canyon in snow can be exhilarating, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re looking for a less strenuous path that’ll deliver breathtaking views, why not consider the Rim Trail hike? 

This trail follows the canyon’s rim between Sunset and Sunrise Point, so it’s close to parking lots. It’s also fully paved, meaning it’s wheelchair and stroller accessible—and your favorite pooch can join you in admiring the views of the Bryce Amphitheater. 

You will encounter a few changes in elevation on this 1-mile out-and-back trail, but the route is still accessible and walkable. So if you only have an hour or so to see the canyon, this trail should be your first stop. 

Go Stargazing 

The clear wintery nights provide the perfect conditions for admiring the stars while huddled up with some blankets and hot chocolate. Bryce Canyon is a certified International Dark Sky Park , which means it’s one of the few places still free of light pollution. 

Put on your best down jacket and head to your favorite lookout point to admire the Milky Way. The sun sets around 5-6 pm. So you can end your day in the park with a mesmerizing view of the sun setting, and the sky lit up by stars. 

If you’re not too clued up on the night sky but want to learn more, the park rangers host occasional winter astronomy programs. As the weather can be unpredictable, these programs are sometimes canceled. So it’s best to call the call center ahead of time and find out whether one will be hosted on the day you’re there. 

Tip: Sunset and Inspiration Points have the nearest parking lots, making them great spots for stargazing and quickly retreating to warmth. 

visit bryce canyon in winter

Tips for Visiting Bryce in Winter

Bryce Canyon Winter

Visiting Bryce Canyon in winter is a spectacular experience. Not only because of its smaller crowds but also because of its many opportunities for fun in the snow. But, the snow brings its own set of challenges. Below are a few things to remember when heading out on your winter adventure. 

  • The Bryce Canyon visitor’s center operates at limited hours (8 am – 4:30 pm) during winter. The visitor’s center can be a great help in cases of emergency. So try to keep your adventuring limited to these hours if it’s your first time in the park. 
  • Although Bryce Canyon National Park is relatively small compared to other national parks, it still spans a whopping 56.2 square miles. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you fuelled while exploring and in case you get lost. 
  • Certain roads and hiking trails are closed during winter for your safety. If you’re familiar with Bryce Canyon, your favorite hiking trail or road may be closed off during winter. Always call ahead to double-check that your planned route is open for foot or vehicle traffic. 
  • Pets are only allowed on paved areas in the park. You’ll also have to keep your pet on a leash no longer than six feet. 
  • The park rules are in place to keep you safe and protect this incredible natural attraction. Be sure to follow all park rules and signs and practice the seven principles of leave no trace to play your part in preserving the park. 

What to Pack For Visiting Bryce National Park in Winter

Bryce Canyon Winter

Reaching an elevation of almost 8,000 feet, this park can get extremely cold. You also won’t encounter the same weather here as in other national parks in Utah. Below are a few winter hiking gear and clothing essentials to pack for your visit to Bryce. 

  • Layering is essential. Be sure to pack tons of base layers like thermal shirts and leggings. You’ll also want mid-layers like fleece jackets and sweaters. 
  • Moisture-wicking outer layers, like waterproof jackets and pants. 
  • When hiking, bring an extra set of clothes in case your outfit gets wet. 
  • Waterproof winter hiking boots . The last thing you want is icy cold and wet socks and shoes. You also won’t be able to join any ranger-led hikes if you’re not wearing suitable shoes.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses. The snow can reflect tons of sunlight, putting you at risk of sunburn and damage to your eyes. 
  • Snowshoes or skis (or both). If you don’t have your own, you can rent or purchase them in Bryce Canyon City.
  • Shoe traction devices like microspikes or crampons. These can be absolute life savers as they help you keep your footing on slippery ice and snow. 
  • National Park Pass: If you are an avid hiker like me, it’s worth getting the year-long America The Beautiful Pass.   >Get It Here
  • Bryce Canyon National Park map in case you get lost while hiking. >Get One Here

visit bryce canyon in winter

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Bryce Canyon Snow Hiking Tips

Bryce Canyon Winter

You can enjoy the many benefits of hiking any time of the year, but hiking in the snow requires extra preparation. Below are a few tips for hiking in Bryce Canyon in winter.

  • As mentioned above, traction devices are your best friend in snowy conditions. Bring over-the-shoe traction devices and make sure your vehicle has winter tires to prevent slipping or getting stuck. 
  • The visitor center usually sells traction devices if you have forgotten yours. 
  • As the weather conditions at Bryce Canyon can be quite different from what you might encounter in nearby towns, always check the forecast. You may also want to call the visitor center ahead of time to ask what the weather is like. 
  • Part of the Rim Trail (between Bryce Point and Inspiration Point) closes during winter. So you’ll only be able to walk the path between Sunset and Sunrise Points. 
  • At such a high elevation, you may experience altitude sickness. This can present as shortness of breath, tiredness, dizziness, headaches, and feeling sick. This can be prevented or treated with lots of water and rest and moving to a lower altitude if needed. 
  • Always bring along a complete emergency kit.  

Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Driving Tips

Besides needing winter tires or wheels fitted with chains, there are a few other things to consider for driving in Bryce Canyon in Winter. 

There are a few roads that are closed off during winter. These include the road to Fairyland Point and the road leading to Paria View. They’re usually left unplowed so that you can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on them.

The scenic Southern Drive is also usually closed off for a day or more after a snow storm. The park is quite fast with plowing roads after snow storms, but this road tends to be one of the last few to be opened up. So, if you know that the park recently experienced snow, it may be good to consider alternative routes. 

Final Thoughts on Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

Hopefully, this guide has you excited and ready to plan your trip to Bryce Canyon in winter. The warm-hued hoodoos amidst the icy winter wonderland are a must-see, so be sure to bring along your best camera gear for hiking . 

You’ll also love these hiking photography tips and tricks if you’re looking to take the best photos for your feed. 

visit bryce canyon in winter

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Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter (2023)

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Imagination Point Bryce Canyon in Winter

A visit to Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter can be a magical experience with the winter months bring a unique opportunity to see the signature hoodoo rock columns covered in snow. The trade-off is freezing temperatures and the prospect of weather-related trail closures.

So is a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter worth it? Having recently visited Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter we wanted to share our experience and our tips for visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon in Winter

Table of Contents

Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon in Winter

Most visitors to Bryce Canyon stay in Bryce. Bryce is located close to the park entrance and is only a short drive to the park.

  • Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon:  one of the newer options in Bryce, just a few minutes drive from the park entrance. Rooms are spacious and there is an outdoor pool. We’ve stayed multiple times –   check prices here!
  • Vacation Rentals:  One of our favorites, Under the Rim, is cosy, clean and has incredible views –   check prices here!
  • The Lodge at Bryce Canyon:  operates in limited capacity during winter. The lodge is within walking distance of the trails and viewpoints. Accommodation is a mix of cabins, lodge and hotel rooms. Rustic but comfortable – check prices here
  • Camping: there are two campsites in the park, North Campground and Sunset Camping. Only loop A of North Campground is open in the winter months.

Click here for Bryce Canyon hotel prices

Elk in Bryce Canyon in Winter

Weather in Bryce Canyon in Winter

Due to its higher elevation, the weather in Bryce is quite different to the other Utah National Parks. During the winter months, Bryce Canyon is generally sunny with great visibility but temperatures tend to be very low — in winter, temperatures typically reach highs of  40°F (4.4°C) and lows of 15.4°F (-9.2°C).

Located on the Paunsaugunt Plateau, snow is always a possibility in Bryce Canyon in winter and, depending on the year, varies from a sprinkling to a few feet. The paths to the viewpoints can be icy so make sure to wear shoes/boots with a good grip.

It is also highly likely that you will encounter snow at some stage during your journey to/from or in Bryce Canyon at this time of year so make sure to check the weather in the run-up to your winter visit. We last visited Bryce Canyon National Park in late November and, with snow on the horizon, we checked the forecast repeatedly until it was the day we left for Bryce. We set out really early in order to avoid a snowstorm that was forecast to roll in our first night – it hit shortly after we arrived and we would not have wanted to have been driving through it!

Bryce Canyon in Winter tips: make sure you top up the antifreeze/coolant in your windscreen wipers before you set out for Bryce Canyon.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park Trails in Winter

Some of the Bryce Canyon trails are closed during the winter months due to safety concerns:

  • Rim trail from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point: closed to all traffic during the winter months
  • Wall Street Section of the Navajo Loop Trail: closed in winter, and often early spring, due to rockfall risk.
  • Peekaboo Loop connector trail from Bryce Point:  can also be closed if conditions are poor due to slipping risk.
  • All trails: dependent on weather, closed as necessary
Bryce Canyon in Winter tip:  snow is cleared only from the paths at the overlooks and the paved section of the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Point.

It is still possible to do some great hikes in winter:

  • Rim Trail:  open from Fairyland Point to Inspiration Point
  • Queen’s Garden Trail: one of the easiest trails descending from the rim, it starts at Sunrise Point and descends 320 feet
  • Navajo Trail: begins at Sunset Point and descends 550 feet from the rim. The Wall Street Section is closed in Winter due to rockfall risk.

For visitors who are new to hiking in snowy conditions, there are lots of ranger-led hiking tours into Bryce Canyon that are worth checking out. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also popular in Bryce Canyon in Winter. Check with the Visitors Center when you arrive for full details on what guided hikes are available.

Bryce Canyon Entrance

Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

Some things to consider about visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter:

The park is less crowded in Winter

With the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas week, the crowds are significantly lower in Bryce Canyon National Park during the winter months. As a result, accommodation tends to be less expensive.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon in Winter

Winter Clothing and Gear

In order to really enjoy Bryce and stay warm in the winter months you are going to need to pack some additional gear.  Lots of layered clothing, gloves, a hat and a warm jacket for hikes are a must.

If you plan to hike in Bryce Canyon in winter you will definitely need waterproof hiking boots and traction devices at a minimum. We highly recommend throwing a pair of YakTrax in your day bag. Yak Trax are hiking spikes that you clip onto your hiking trainers or boots and give you extra grip on wet or icy ground. You can pop them in your pocket and quickly attach them to your shoes or boots when you come across ice or packed snow. They were invaluable for avoiding slips or falls at the viewpoints where the ice made the areas extremely dangerous and slippy. We used ours on all our winter hikes in Utah – check prices now!

With the shorter days its also worth having a head torch in your bag in case you get caught out after dark. We use this USB rechargeable one and it comes everywhere with us –  check prices now!

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon in Winter

Shorter days

The shorter daylight hours of the winter months mean that park days are shorter so make sure to plan ahead.

Photography

Winter is one of the best times of the year for photography in Bryce Canyon National Park. If you’re lucky enough to visit when Bryce Canyon gets snow the images of the white snow covering the signature hoodoo rock columns makes for amazing images.

Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon

Tips for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

  • Dress appropriately:  layer up and stay warm on the trails. If you don’t own a pair, consider purchasing some Yaktrax which make it so much easier to navigate the icy trails.
  • Start and finish early:  make the most of the shorter days and grab the best parking spots by getting out on the trails as early as possible.
  • Keep your plans flexible: the weather and snow are unpredictable in this part of Utah and snowstorms can roll in quickly. It’s worth keeping plans flexible and having the option of a lower elevation park as a backup.
  • Bring a flask of hot water:  we found warming up with a hot drink to be a post hike and post viewpoint lifesaver when the temperatures were freezing.
  • Bring storage for muddy boots:  some of the trails are muddy in Winter and having something to put your boots in post hike is essential to protect the inside of your car.
  • Camping:  the North Campground is open in the winter months.

Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon

Is it worth visiting Bryce Canyon National park in Winter?

In a word, yes! Although there is a trade off of closed trails and freezing temperatures, winter in Bryce is one of the most beautiful times to experience the park. Low visitor numbers and the chance of seeing the stunning red hoodoos of Bryce Canyon capped in white snow is an unforgettable sight.

Bryce Canyon in Winter tip:  Ruby’s Inn, a hotel in Bryce, hosts a winter festival over President’s weekend.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon in Winter

Is it safe to visit Bryce Canyon in Winter?

We visited Bryce Canyon in late November just as a cold front was approaching the park and we felt perfectly safe visiting the park. Once you are aware of how cold it can get and pack lots of warm clothes Bryce is both safe and spectacular in the winter. You may have to work around snow or poor driving conditions but once you drive safely and stay off the road when the weather gets bad it’s a great experience.

Bryce Canyon in Winter tip: make sure to follow the traffic and weather advice when planning your trip to Bryce Canyon to stay safe during the winter months. If the traffic reports advise that roads are closed or unsafe then you should heed them and make alternative arrangements.

Imagination Point Bryce Canyon in Winter

Driving in/to Bryce Canyon in Winter

Cold fronts are common in the Bryce area during the winter months and snow storms can dramatically change the road conditions. We highly recommend keeping a close eye on the weather forecast in the weeks and days leading up to your trip. There is a great app, UDOT Traffic, available on Android and Apple devices that gives up-to-date traffic and road conditions throughout Utah. We used this app extensively during our time in Utah in winter. It is especially useful for showing closed roads or roads affected by snow or ice.

The main roads and parking lots within Bryce Canyon National Park are regularly maintained and are plowed throughout the winter and after heavy snowstorms. This allows access to the four main lookout points (Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset and Sunrise Points) regardless of the weather. Fairyland Road and Paria View Road are not plowed to allow for snowshoeing.

Despite the regular road maintenance, the roads can get very slippy, especially in cold snowy weather so drive slow and allow lots of distance between cars.

Bryce Canyon Entrance in Winter

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What to Do When Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

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After visiting during almost every season, I’ve found that nothing quite compares to Bryce Canyon in winter.

With so many people visiting in the summer, most people don’t even think about taking a trip to Bryce Canyon in the cold. However, it can be a great way to avoid the crowds and see the park covered in a blanket of snow.

Even though some parts of the park are closed in winter, like the Wall Street portion of the Navajo Loop Trail , one of the best Bryce Canyon National Park hiking trails , there are still many spots open to the public. Plus, Bryce Canyon City, Utah , even has its own winter festival!

Below, learn all about what it’s like to visit Bryce Canyon in winter.

Table of Contents

What to Bring for Bryce Canyon in Winter

Aerial view of Bryce Canyon National Park, showcasing the intricate, snow-dusted red rock formations contrasting with the expansive green valley and mountain range in the distance.

When visiting Bryce Canyon in winter, you have to pack differently than you would if you were visiting in the summer. Because it’s colder, the hiking trails will also be a lot icier, meaning you’ll have to pack a lot more to stay safe.

The first thing you’ll want to be sure to pack is traction devices . You can easily buy spikes to put on the bottom of your shoes at a place like Amazon . These will ensure that you’re less likely to slip on the trails if they happen to be icy. Spikes/YakTrax are the singlehanded best purchase I’ve ever made for hiking.

If you want to be extra careful, a pair of hiking poles can also go a long way on the ice!

A solitary raven perched atop a snow-capped stone pillar, with a backdrop of dense, evergreen trees in a winter landscape.

You’ll also want to pack many layers because it can get freezing in the mornings, only to warm up by mid-day. Think jackets, sweatshirts, hats, and gloves; articles of clothing that you can take off as the day goes on.

Lastly, make sure you bring hiking boots. You can buy hiking boots pretty much anywhere, but my favorite boots are from The North Face. You can purchase a similar pair to the ones that I have here !

Of course, also make sure you bring the basics, like a water bottle ( this Hydro Flask is my fave !), snacks , a portable charger, and sunscreen .

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Bryce Canyon in December Weather

On average, the weather in Bryce Canyon in winter is around 36°F each day, but of course, that fluctuates. It only rains a few days each month in the winter, but you can definitely expect snow.

In fact, the park starts to get snowy as early as October!

Close up of snow on hoodoos.

The altitude is also something you’ll have to get used to, as the park is 7,664 feet up in elevation. If you’re not from a high altitude, then it definitely can take a bit for you to get used to it.

Don’t rush into activities, and don’t force yourself to do too much in one day in Bryce Canyon to be safe.

A great way to get an overall idea of what the park is like (as far as snow and ice goes) is to go to the Visitor Center when you first get to the park. The rangers are always super helpful, and they’ll let you know what’s going on. Be sure also to grab a Bryce Canyon map while you’re there!

Snowy lodge surrounded by snow.

Bryce Canyon Winter Lodging

There are so many great places to stay near Bryce Canyon , but in winter, you’ll definitely want to just stay in either Tropic or Bryce Canyon City because of their proximity to the park. It’s best to stay as close as possible because of the snow!

You could also consider booking a Utah cabin for the night. Here are some of the best places to stay during your visit!

Snow-covered walking path leading through a wooden fence line with evergreen trees on the side, against the backdrop of a cloudy sky, offering a quiet winter landscape at Bryce Canyon.

Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn

The absolute best place to stay while visiting is Ruby’s Inn . Not only is it affordable, but there are snowshoes and cross-country ski rentals available right at the hotel as well.

This is the most accessible place to stay if that’s a concern to you, as it’s right near the entrance of the park!

I stayed here during a trip to the park in January 2024 and was amazed at everything there. The rooms are great; there’s a supermarket/convenience store, on-site restaurant, and breakfast buffet.

North Campground

If you have an RV or want to camp in a tent, you can easily consider staying right at the North Campground. It usually requires a reservation, but in the winter, no reservation is necessary, and instead, it’s first-come-first-serve.

There are about 50 spots for tents only and another 50 for RVs only. The campground is in a great location right near the Visitor Center, the popular Fairyland Loop Trail, and even the General Store. Note that there aren’t any electric hookups.

Be sure to learn all about successful winter camping tips before braving the cold!

Dramatic red sandstone hoodoos capped with snow, standing out against the white-covered slopes of Bryce Canyon, with green conifers dotting the rugged landscape.

Bryce Country Cabins

The Bryce Country Cabins is where I stayed during my trip to Bryce Canyon, and I loved it. You’ll have your own log cabin, which is nice and toasty in the winter. Plus, there’s a little kitchenette area with a table and chairs, a refrigerator, and a microwave.

While technically located in Tropic, the Bryce Country Cabins are only a short drive away from the entrance to the national park. There are also tons of great local restaurants right near the cabins that you could easily walk to if you wanted.

Best Things to Do in Bryce Canyon in Winter

Wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon? Winter activities are a bit different than those that you can enjoy the rest of the year, so keep reading.

Visit Popular Viewpoints

Sign that says Sunrise Point.

The viewpoints in Bryce in winter are unlike the rest of the year because you can see the hoodoos covered in snow! The great thing about the views is that, for the most part, you can just drive to a parking lot and take a short walk to get to the spot.

Popular spots worth checking out include Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Point, and Inspiration Point.

Bryce Point is definitely one of the more underrated spots to see, while Sunrise Point is incredibly popular. If you want to see Sunrise Point, visit it right in the morning!

Snowshoe to Take in the Scenery

When visiting Bryce Canyon in January or any of the other winter months, definitely look into snowshoeing ! This is one of the most unique things to do in Bryce Canyon , and it provides a great way to explore the area while also getting some exercise.

There are a few ways to do this! You can rent snowshoes at a place like  Ruby’s Inn Winter Activity Center  or bring your own.

Another way to do this is to go on one of the full-moon snowshoe hikes with the park rangers! They offer these from November to March, but the snow levels must be higher than 16”. 

Stargaze at a Popular Viewpoint

Stars in the night sky.

Stargazing in Bryce Canyon in winter is an experience unlike any other. Sure, you can stargaze any other time of the year, but the whole canyon lights up differently at night when it’s covered in snow.

There are ranger-led stargazing programs, but a great way to do stargazing in the park is to find your favorite viewpoint (like Bryce Point or Sunrise Point) and park in the parking lot there until the sun is down. Then, walk out to the point and take in the marvelous view.

If you want to visit and take photos , be sure to set your camera to the proper night sky settings or risk your photos not coming out well.

Hike in the Park

Visitors walking along a snow-covered trail winding along the edge of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater, with striking red rock formations and evergreen trees under a vast sky.

Arguably, the best thing to do when visiting Bryce Canyon in February or any other winter month is to go hiking . Some of the best Bryce Canyon winter hikes offer great views of the Bryce Amphitheater, the main attraction in the canyon.

If you’re interested in Bryce Canyon winter hiking, just know that there are a few different trails that close, including part of the Rim Trail that goes from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point and the Wall Street portion of the Navajo Loop Trail.

Here are a few of the best hikes to do in winter:

  • Sunrise Point to Sunset Point (Easy trail, 1.1 miles)
  • Queens Garden Trail (Easy, 1.8 miles)
  • Mossy Cave Trail (Easy, 0.8 miles)

🥾 Check out this post to see more great Bryce Canyon hikes.

Drive the Scenic Route

Driver's perspective of a wintery road trip, with a view through the car's windshield showing a road flanked by snow-covered ground and evergreen trees under a cloudy sky.

If it’s super cold during your visit, drive the scenic road ! This only takes a few hours and allows you to go all the way through the park. You can even pull off and check out some of the best viewpoints along the way.

The road you’ll want to follow is Highway 12, which will bring you through glorious red sandy areas with red rocks. At one point, you’ll even go through a super short red tunnel right over the road. This is a popular spot to stop and take a photo.

Go Cross Country Skiing

Yes, when visiting Bryce Canyon in December, you can absolutely go cross-country skiing! Many people don’t even know that this is an option. You can’t ski right into the canyon, but there are some fantastic routes higher up that you can enjoy. The best place to rent cross-country skis is right at Ruby’s Inn.

If you’re staying at Ruby’s Inn, there are trails right nearby that you can enjoy throughout Bryce Canyon City. Or, you can go to the park and enjoy the Bristlecone Loop Trail, Fairyland Point Road, or certain parts of the Rim Trail.

View through a natural frame of evergreen trees, overlooking the snow-dusted red rock formations of Bryce Canyon that lead into a vast valley with mountainous horizons.

Snowmobile For Fun

While you aren’t allowed to snowmobile directly in Bryce Canyon National Park in winter, there are tons of trails nearby that are super fun and open to the public!

A lot of the trails are well-maintained, too, which makes the experience even better. The majority of the trails are free to use.

Duck Creek Village is one of the best places to snowmobile, as well as the ones that start right near Ruby’s Inn. There are quite a few spots in the area where you can rent snowmobiles, too, or you could book a tour .

A serene winter view from the rim of Bryce Canyon, with a foreground of a snow-covered ground and scattered pine trees, leading to the iconic red rock formations and vast plateaus in the distance.

Attend Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

Last but not least, you have to attend the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival! It usually takes place in February (over Presidents’ Day Weekend) and is hosted for the community.

During the event, there are tours, fun outdoor activities, and even free classes. Plus, it occurs over three days, so even if you can’t go one day, you can go the next. The schedule changes each year, but usually, there are photography clinics, art classes, guest speakers, yoga, archery, ski clinics, and more.

Sometimes, Ruby’s Inn even offers ice skating too as part of the fun!

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KP is the head blogger and founder behind Volumes & Voyages. After studying abroad in Dublin for a semester, KP got bitten by the travel bug. Now, she writes articles to help other travelers in between trips where she chases her wanderlust. KP has lived in many different places, including Boston MA, Denver CO, Las Vegas NV, southern VT, and Dublin IE.

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10 comments.

Wow what a gorgeous park! The red rocks covered in snow is so beautiful. I love to hike and snowshoe, so that would be a really fun activity to do. I especially like the idea of staying in a cabin too!

I highly recommend staying in a cabin!

Wow!! I have only ever visited Bryce Canyon in the summer, but it is so incredibly gorgeous in the winter! I had no idea you could cross country ski there, that sounds like so much fun!

It really is gorgeous and underrated in winter!

I’ve never thought about visiting Bryce in the winter. After reading your post, I am considering visiting in the winter to take advantage of the cool activities you mentioned.

I’m glad this post was helpful!

Wow! Looks stunning!

It really is!

This national park looks amazing! I have never visited it, so I am adding it to my list 🙂 By the way, I also love your pictures.

Thank you! I’m glad this post was helpful. 🙂

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The Secrets to Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

  • October 15, 2021
  • By foxintheforest

Last Updated on January 10, 2024 by foxintheforest

If you dream about towering red rock hoodoos dusted in snow, then you’ve got to check out Bryce Canyon in winter. In fact, seeing Bryce Canyon with snow might be one of the better times to visit the stunning national park. The crowds are much thinner than the summer months and the landscapes are utterly serene.

Bryce Canyon National Park in winter can be quite cold, but it’s worth the rosy cheeks to experience the magic of the canyon dusted in snow. There are a few closures to navigate, but if you’re flexible, you can see most of the park’s highlights during the winter months.

If you’re looking to explore Bryce Canyon like a local, not a tourist, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve visited Bryce Canyon many times, including the winter months. Out of all of my visits to this natural phenomenon, winter is by far my favorite. So bundle up and let’s discover what makes Bryce Canyon in winter so special!

About this Guide to Bryce Canyon in Winter

Inside this epic guide to exploring Bryce Canyon’s winter wonderland you’ll find:

  • Pro tips for visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter
  • When to visit Bryce Canyon
  • Info about what’s open in the park and how to plan your visit like a local
  • Tips to beat the crowds at Bryce Canyon
  • Things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park in winter
  • Where to stay

Is Bryce Canyon Open in Winter?

Yes! In fact, most of the US national parks are open year-round and Bryce Canyon is no exception. If the weather is particularly bad, the park may close temporarily for snow removal, but in general, the park is open for visitors. With just a couple of exceptions, the majority of the park’s attractions are open to visitors.

Do keep in mind, there are a few closures. First, the visitor’s center is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day (but the park is open). The General store and bathrooms at Inspiration Point and Peekaboo Loop are also closed during the winter. Dump stations at the North Campground are also closed for use.

Pro Tip : The Bryce Canyon snow is only plowed from paved sidewalks at overlooks and the paved section of the Rim Trail between Sunrise and Sunset Point so you’ll want waterproof footwear and strap-on traction for your feet.

Bryce Canyon map in winter

Is Bryce Canyon Worth Visiting in the Winter?

Absolutely! In fact, you can argue that Bryce Canyon is actually better to visit in the winter. Many people think Bryce is one of the best national parks for winter . You won’t see the huge lines of tour busses, crowds are thinner, and the scenery is more magical. Seeing the contrast of deep, white, fluffy snow against an amphitheater of hoodoos is a special treat.

Many people opt to visit Bryce Canyon in December. This is an excellent time of year to visit. The park sees an uptick of crowds for the Christmas and New Years’ holidays, but it’s otherwise an amazing time to enjoy the stunning scenery of Bryce Canyon.

What’s the Weather Like?

Bryce Canyon sits at about 8,000 feet above sea level, which means that it has more of a mountain climate despite the red rocks. Bryce Canyon in winter is quite cold. Temperatures are regularly below freezing and nighttime lows are typically in the teens.

  • November : Average high 45F, average low 23F
  • December : Average high 36F, average low 15F
  • January : Average high 37F, average low 15F
  • February : Average high 38F, average low 17F
  • March : Average high 45F, average low 23F

Pro Tip: Pack plenty of layers and bring a face covering for cold days. And don’t forget, you’ll want sunscreen for that high-altitude sun too!

Bryce Canyon snow totals for winter typically range between 14 and 17 inches per month. With temperatures below freezing and some areas of Bryce Canyon receiving very little natural light, it’s almost guaranteed that if you visit Bryce Canyon National Park in winter, you’ll see snow.

Bryce Canyon Altitude

Many people are surprised to learn that Bryce Canyon sits at about 8,000 feet above sea level. This means you’ll likely feel the altitude. When you’re visiting Bryce Canyon , be sure to properly acclimatize to the altitude .

Bring plenty of water (warm beverages in a thermos help keep you toasty). Plan on drinking at least 2 liters a day per person. Also, avoid alcohol and too much caffeine intake when you first arrive.

Another thing to note about the altitude is that the climate in Bryce Canyon is more like the mountains and less like the desert. This means that snow totals are much higher in Bryce Canyon than other national parks in Utah. Good news for photographers and those looking to enjoy the unique winter scenes of Bryce.

However, keep in mind that this means you’ll want proper footwear for visiting Bryce Canyon in winter. Plan on wearing waterproof hiking boots. Snowshoes and traction like microspikes are also quite handy!

bryce canyon national park in winter

Where is Bryce Canyon?

Bryce Canyon is located just south of the town of Bryce in the southwestern corner of Utah. The area surrounding Bryce Canyon National Park is quite rural. However, the main road is paved and easy to access. At about 4 hours and 15 minutes from Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon is one of the more accessible national parks in Utah.

How Long to Spend in Bryce Canyon in Winter

Most people will opt to spend one day in Bryce Canyon . However, two days in Bryce Canyon will let you see all the sights and really experience the park.

However long you decide to spend in Bryce Canyon, you’ll certainly want to see at least one sunrise and sunset. Experiencing the park for sunrise is an exceptional treat – and a great way to see some of the top sites with literally no one around. Sunset is another excellent time, especially if you’re into photography.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning on visiting multiple national parks within a 12-month period, consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Parks Pass . Otherwise, it’s $30 per day to enter the park. You’ll have to pay the fee again if you exit and re-enter the park on the same day.

What is There to Do in Bryce Canyon in the Winter?

There are plenty of amazing things to do in Bryce Canyon . Although some activities (like horseback rides) are not available in the winter, there’s still a wide variety of ways to experience the park.

Driving Bryce Canyon in Winter

Arguably one of the best ways to experience Bryce Cayon National Park in winter is to go for a scenic drive. The main road through the park is regularly plowed in the winter, making it an excellent way to enjoy the famous Bryce Canyon overlooks and warm up in your vehicle. A few must-see spots include:

  • Sunrise Point
  • Sunset Point
  • Bryce Point
  • Inspiration Point
  • Fairview Point
  • Natural Bridge
  • Rainbow Point

Road Closures for Bryce Canyon During the Winter

There are only two sections of road that close permanently during the winter months. The 1-mile road leading to Fairyland Paint and the 0.30-mile road leading to Paria View. Both of these roads can be accessed with snowshoes/hiking or with cross-country skis.

If there’s a bad storm, the main park road may close temporarily at mile marker 3 for snow plowing. These closures usually last a day. The first three miles of the road include the Bryce Amphitheater (Sunrise, Sunset, Bryce, and Inspiration points) is the first area to be plowed so there’s still park access.

bryce canyon snow

Snowshoeing and Hiking in Bryce Canyon

One of the best ways to explore the park is to head out on one of the many amazing Bryce Canyon hikes. Snowshoeing and hiking in Bryce Canyon is an amazing way to get down into the hoodoos and experience the park. With several different hikes catering to all abilities, there are a lot of trails worth exploring. A few noteworthy winter trails include:

  • Queens Garden to Navajo Loop: 2.9 miles, 2-3 hours, easy to moderate
  • Fairlyand Loop: 7.8 miles plus 2 miles of road walking. 4-5 hours. Moderate to difficult
  • Peekaboo Loop Trail: 5.2 miles. 2-3 hours. Moderate.
  • Sunrise to Sunset Point: 1.1 miles. 30 minutes to an hour. Easy
  • Tower Bridge Trail: 3.5 miles. 1.5 to 2 hours. Easy to Moderate
  • Rim Trail: 7.5 miles. 3.5 to 5 hours. Easy to moderate.

What to Pack for a Winter Hike in Bryce Canyon

Hiking in Bryce Canyon in winter requires special gear. The snow is often slippery and can be quite deep in parts. If you’re planning on hiking you’ll want to bring:

  • Layers: Fleece layer, base layers, jacket, beanie, gloves
  • a Buff to protect your face
  • Sun protection: Sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses
  • Sturdy waterproof hiking boots
  • Microspikes
  • Snowshoes (optional)
  • hiking poles (optiona, but helpful if you are wearing snowshoes)
  • 2 liters of water
  • First aid kit
  • Extra pair of non-cotton socks
  • Hand and toe warmers

Trail Closures in Bryce Canyon for Winter

There are a few seasonal trail closures to be aware of. First, the Wall Street Side of the Navajo Loop Trail is closed due to rockfall hazards. You can take the Two Bridges Side if you are doing a loop hike with Queen’s Garden or Peekaboo Trail.

The Rim Trail between Inspiration and Bryce Point closes each year due to snow cornices. The only way to access Bryce Point is by car.

Pro Tip: Always check with the National Parks Service for up-to-date conditions.

bryce canyon in december

Stargazing and Full Moon Hikes

Even though the snow is here, Bryce Canyon still offers a variety of ranger programs. A few fun programs include a full moon snowshoe hike where you can experience the park basked in moonlight. Scheduled in accordance with the full moons, this is one of the must-do activities in Bryce Canyon.

Not visiting during a full moon? Then you’ll want to visit Bryce Canyon at night time to scope out the stars. Bryce is known for its dark skies and the stargazing is incredible. With crisp winter air, the stars feel even more vibrant. But certainly pack warm gloves, a thermos of hot cocoa, and a parka!

Check the weather to ensure the skies are clear so you aren’t disappointed. Since the temps get frigid cold at night, consider going to an overlook such a Bryce Point or Sunrise Point so you aren’t too far from your vehicle.

Photographing Bryce Canyon in Winter

Winter is the best time to photograph Bryce Canyon. The landscapes are serene with unbelievable color displays that you won’t believe. It’s truly a photographer’s dream. Photographing a sunrise and sunset in Bryce Canyon is an absolute MUST while visiting.

Personally, I think Sunrise Point is more impressive at sunset and Sunset Point is better for sunrise. Having photographed virtually all of the popular viewpoints during dusk and dawn in the park, I’d recommend checking out Inspiration Point for sunrise.

In winter, be sure to bring a tripod and keep a few extra camera batteries on you. Stash them in a chest pocket so they stay warm. Batteries die quickly in frigid temps. Bring along a USB charger you can use in the car too!

bryce canyon in winter

Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is a popular wintertime activity in Bryce Canyon National Park. Ruby’s Inn rents both snowshoes and cross-country skis for reasonable rates. You can find their Winter Adventure Center in the town of Bryce. Popular cross country ski routes include:

  • The Rim Trail
  • Bristlecone Loop Trail
  • Paria Ski Loop
  • The unplowed Paria View and Fairlyand Point roads.

Sledding and Backcountry Skiing in Bryce Canyon

Unfortunately, due to safety reasons and the delicate nature of the rock hoodoos, it is illegal to sled or backcountry ski in Bryce Canyon National Park. Snowboarding is also not allowed. You are not allowed to downhill ski whatsoever in the park and sledding is prohibited. So keep the sled and backcountry setup at home.

Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon

There are plenty of options for lodging during the winter in Bryce. You can opt to stay at Best Western Plus (aka Ruby’s) in Bryce Canyon for a standard budget hotel experience. Or you can opt for one of the vacation rentals in Bryce. Use a tool like AirBnB to find a place to stay.

Bryce is just 5 minutes from the park and the easiest place to call home base. The town itself is extremely small and very touristy. There are a handful of restaurants, a gas station, and a few lodging options.

If you’d prefer to camp the North Campground Loop A is available, but be prepared for extremely cold temperatures. You can also opt to camp for free just outside the park. Learn how to find free camping in National Parks with my mini-course on finding epic free camping .

Additional Utah Adventure Travel Resources

Looking to explore Utah this winter? Check out these pro resources:

  • Arches National Park in Winter is Pure Magic
  • Visiting Canyonlands National Park in Winter
  • Epic Slot Canyons in Utah You’ve Got to Hike

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Your ultimate guide to Bryce Canyon in winter, including things to know, what to do, how to beat the crowds, and everything you could need to make the most out of your visit to Bryce Canyon in winter.

Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

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Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.

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Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter: 15 Brilliant Things to Do 

By: Author Insider's Utah

Posted on Last updated: October 29, 2023

Categories Bryce Canyon National Park

Home » Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter: 15 Brilliant Things to Do 

Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter: 15 Brilliant Things to Do 

It might be the smallest national park in Utah, but Bryce Canyon packs a punch. Gaze out at the strangely beautiful sandstone structures we know as hoodoos, and it’s hard not to pick a favorite member of Utah’s Mighty Five . 

It’s no wonder over 2 million visitors drive over from nearby Zion , St. George , and other parts of the country. But while most visitors plan their trip between May and October, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Bryce Canyon isn’t just open year-round; we think it’s one of the best times to visit. Are you on the fence about visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter? We’ll break the ice and tell you everything you need to know about why you should visit Bryce Canyon National Park from December through February.

Why You Should Visit Bryce Canyon National Park in the Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

Which Utah National Park gets the most snow? Yes, it’s Bryce Canyon National Park. The trails and scenic drive through the canyon and above the amphitheaters see up to 82 inches of snow each year. What does that mean for your visit? Bryce Canyon in the winter is a photographer’s dream when snow falls on landmarks like Thor’s Hammer , Queen’s Garden, and Silent City – adding a pillowy white layer to the dramatic sandstone structures.

But outdoor activities like hiking and snowshoeing are also alive and well at Bryce Canyon in the winter. 

Bryce Canyon National Park in December

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

December is usually the coldest month in Bryce Canyon, with temperatures falling to lows of 12°F (-11.1°C) and highs around 36°F (2.2°C).  But with about 2 inches less average snowfall than January and February, you’ll have the best chance to enjoy the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive . Unlike Zion, you can drive year-round to Bryce Canyon, and the lookout points off Hwy 63 offer stunning perspectives of the park’s main attractions.

Bryce Canyon National Park in January 

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

While precipitation picks up later in the winter, it’s not unheard of for the canyon walls and towering hoodoos to sport a nice new coat of white snow.

That said, January usually offers nice enough weather for a hike down the canyon, especially if you can time it between snowfalls. The average high temperature in January is still only 36°F (2.2°C), but you may see a few warmer days throughout the month.

Bryce Canyon National Park in February

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

February in Bryce Canyon is a bit unpredictable, but it can be one of the most exciting times to visit the park. With the holiday season long gone, crowds are usually scarce, and temperatures are warming up with an average high and low temperature range of 38°F to 13°F (3.3°C to -10.5°C).

February might just be the best time to get your winter wonderland photos of Bryce Canyon Snow.

Top 10 Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park in the Winter 

Photograph thor’s hammer in the snow.

Thor’s Hammer

A big reason why you want to visit Bryce Canyon in the winter is to get those perfect photographs around the park.

There are a few places you can do it, but Thor’s Hammer is probably the most iconic shot you can take in the park, and it’s only that much more dramatic after it snows. Located in Bryce Amphitheater, you can get wonderful shots from Sunset Point. A sunrise over the snow-covered canyon below Thor’s hammer is a shot of a lifetime. 

Top Tip: Hiking down the Two Bridge section of Navajo Loop gives you a unique perspective, and you can also hit Queens Garden.

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

Getting all bundled up, grabbing a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and hitting the road is one of our favorite ideas when visiting Bryce Canyon during the colder months. Luckily, you can access the park for most of the winter, so long as there isn’t a heavy snowfall the day you visit. You don’t need to make reservations, so if the roads are open, you can take the 18-mile drive on Highway 63. There is so much to see along the way, including some of our favorite lookout points. The kaleidoscope of colors on Rainbow Point and the pine-lined floors of Swamp Canyon contrast beautifully with the snow.

Top Tip: Going on a family road trip to Bryce in the winter is one of our favorite things to do in Utah with kids .

Scenic Lookout at Ponderosa Point

 Ponderosa Point

Another one of our favorite lookout points along the scenic drive is Ponderosa Point. Why? Because of the high elevation (nearly 9,000 feet), the vegetation is a bit different than other parts of the park. 

So what can you expect to see when you’re here? You can capture some of our favorite holiday photos, with several types of pine trees popping up from the sandstone rock formations, looking down at Ponderosa Canyon below.

Top Tip: Look for a few species of pine trees, including Douglas Fir and Blue Spruce. 

Watch the Sunset Over the Snow-Covered Hoodoos 

Sunset Bryce Canyon

Few things are as magical as watching the sunset over a winter landscape. But part of getting that perfect shot (or just enjoying the view) is to find the right location. It’s not as easy to catch an amazing sunset at Bryce as you’d think. Lucky for you, we have a couple of favorites. Sunset Point (go figure) and Inspiration Point are popular places to see a sunrise and add to the effect of the bewitching hoodoos . But we think Paria View gets the best chance for optimal lighting over the snow-capped sandstone on your winter holiday to Bryce Canyon. Bonus points? You also may see elk if you look carefully down in the canyon.

Read Next: The Best Places to See Sunrise & Sunset in Bryce Canyon

See the Sunrise Along Peekaboo Loop Trail

We have good news for you. Sunrises in Bryce Canyon National Park are much easier to capture than sunsets. You can enjoy the morning rays bouncing off the snow-covered amphitheaters and rocky cliffs along the canyons in dozens of places. 

Our favorite spots in the winter? Bryce and Sunrise Points are always excellent options. But taking one of the best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon is the perfect way to see the winter wonderland all around you. Start along the Navajo Loop on the Two Bridges section until you get to the Peekaboo Loop Trail. The approximately 5-mile trail is challenging, and you’ll want the right footwear (traction devices), but seeing the sun hit the canyon walls from below is worth the effort. 

Birdwatching

Want to see some wildlife on your visit to Bryce Canyon? Winter is a perfect time to go birdwatching and offers unique chances to see woodpeckers, raptors, and ravens perched on the hoodoos, trees, and snow-covered canyons. Peregrine falcons are a popular option to look for at Paria View, but you’ll need to look a little more closely than in the summertime.

Try Snowshoeing at Bristlecone Loop

Bristlecone Loop

Many of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon during winter months are a lot easier when you have the right equipment. Snowshoes make the trails much easier to hike after you get a few inches, and there are dozens of spots to choose from. Bristlecone Loop is one of our favorite Bryce Canyon hikes, and the 1-mile loop is a good place to try out snowshoeing, thanks to the flat terrain and beautiful namesake pines. 

Queens Garden

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

The rather striking resemblance of one of the famous hoodoos in Bryce Canyon to Queen Victoria is how the well-known rock formation earned its name. Look closely, and you’ll see what we mean. Part of the Navajo Loop is closed in the winter, but you can still see this famous hoodoo in all its winter glory. Just follow the Two Bridges Trail to the viewpoint and enjoy one of the easier hikes down into the canyon with some great winter photo ops of Queens Garden .

Cross Country Skiing

Bryce Canyon is one of Utah’s best national parks for winter sports. Why? The heavier snowfall makes the trails the perfect place to try seasonal favorites like cross-country skiing.

So, where are the best places to take to the trails? We think the section of the Rim Trail that remains open during the winter (from Sunrise Point to Bryce Point) near Bryce Amphitheater is the best place to ski with a view.

You can also ski out to Fairyland Point, which you can’t access by car after heavy snowfalls. 

Top Tip: Rent your gear at Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City.

Have a Holiday Meal at Stone Hearth Grille

If you’re visiting during the holiday break, be sure to try one of the best restaurants in Bryce Canyon for a festive meal. We love the hearty Western cuisine at Stone Hearth Grille any time of year. But the grass-fed ribeye steak with pureed potatoes and tarragon butter is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family.

Top Tip: Pair your holiday meal with one of their well-curated wines, like Patz & Hall Pinot Noir from Sonoma, California.

Unique Things to See & Do in Bryce in Winter: Hidden Gems That Are Off the Beaten Track

Full moon snowshoeing.

Remember when we said there are lots of great opportunities to snowshoe in the winter in Bryce Canyon? One of the park’s most exciting offerings is snowshoeing after dark. If you arrive at the visitor center at 4 p.m. in the winter during the full moon schedule , you can win a spot with the guided walk above or down into Bryce Canyon.

It’s an exciting way to see the park, but spaces fill up quickly, and you’ll need to cross your fingers that the skies are clear. 

Annual Christmas Bird Count

Since Frank Chapman began the tradition on Christmas Day, 1900, the CBC has slowly gained fame across the USA. What is it? Avid bird hunters and families looking for a free thing to do on holiday break, head out to the national park to count migratory birds. It’s a fun winter activity and gives scientists important data that helps track climate change and recognize any differences from one year to the next.

Top Tip: This year’s event is on 12/16/2023. You can learn more here .

Swamp Canyon Loop

When you’re rolling along Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, you’ll see one of our favorite viewpoints in the winter – Swamp Canyon Loop. Bring your hiking gear because this is one of our favorite winter walks. The moderate 4.5-mile loop begins near the highway before taking you into some of the more challenging winter terrain. You don’t have to climb too much (the elevation change is under 900 feet), but the trails can be challenging to navigate, especially after snowfall. That said, there aren’t many hikers, so your chance to see wildlife and enjoy the scenic views of the snow-capped pine trees without the crowds is very good.

Top Tip: Download an offline map and bring a GPS; this trail is hard to navigate. 

Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

Each February, Bryce Canyon National Park and Ruby’s Inn host the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival. It’s a great opportunity to try winter sports in the park and at the resort in town. Ice skating, cross-country skiing, and archery classes are just a few of the events held at the popular festival.

Top Tip: Next year’s festival is set for February 17-19, 2024. Learn more about the event here .

Winter Camping at North Campground

Camping is one of our favorite Bryce Canyon winter activities, but you can only access one of the two campgrounds during the winter – the North Campground.

The good news is there are around 100 campsites, you’re near the popular Rim Trail, and the pine trees look amazing in the snow.  

Read Next: Check out our guide to Bryce Canyon Camping

Practical Tips for Exploring Bryce Canyon in the Winter 

Where to stay near bryce canyon national park.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

Not only is it much less crowded at Bryce in the winter, you have plenty of options for where to stay . Some of our favorite hotels near the park are in Bryce Canyon City, Cannonville, and Panguitch. We’ve done plenty of research, so check out our guide on local hotels.

Read Next: The Best Hotels in Bryce Canyon National Park

Plan Your Winter Hikes Ahead

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

We love a spontaneous day hike as much as anybody, but you need to be a little more strategic when visiting in the winter. First, you’ll want hiking poles,  traction devices for your shoes, and plenty of warm clothes. But you’ll also want to know about any road closures and be aware that two of the most popular trails are off-limits at Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter. A portion of the Rim Trail (from Inspiration Point to Bryce Point) and part of the Navajo Loop Trail (the Wall Street section) are closed all winter long.

Check the Forecast and the NPS Website

Because the roads close after heavy snowfall (and Bryce Canyon sees a lot from December to March), you’ll want to keep track of the forecast before planning your daily activities. You can also check the National Park Service website for winter warnings and updates.

 Winter Activities in Bryce Canyon: Map

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  • Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • The Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

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Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

Standing atop the Bryce Amphitheater is undeniably spectacular. But immersing yourself in the activities both in and around Bryce’s notable hoodoos can’t be beaten. Fortunately, there are many things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park: hiking, camping, stargazing and horseback riding, just to name a few. Whether it’s a long backpacking expedition into the wild or cross-country skiing in the winter, a new adventure awaits you in Bryce Canyon.

Explore Bryce Canyon National Park Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon

After falling asleep beneath a star-filled sky, you’re greeted by rays of pink and orange light from nearby sandstone hoodoos in front of a picturesque sunrise. Needless to say, this is one of the most beautiful places to camp in Utah. There are two established campgrounds to choose: Sunset Campground and North Campground. Each campground accepts reservations — and it's a good idea to book early, because sites tend to fill quickly.

Sunset Campground lies just 1.5 miles south of the visitor center, with 100 sites for RVs and tents. This campground includes sites that are ADA-compatible. Reservations are accepted early May through late September. These sites are ideal if you’re interested in hiking the trails near Sunset Point.

The nearby North Campground lies just east, across the road from the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center . You’ll find 99 available sites for RVs and tents. Reservations are accepted early May through late September, and the campground has at least one open loop year-round. North Campground also has an RV dump station (open summer only). If you’re a winter camper or plan to spend time on the nearby Rim Trail, this may be the campground for you.

Hiking & Backpacking

After a quick camping breakfast, set out on Bryce Canyon’s renowned network of hiking trails . Whether it’s a stroll down the popular Rim Trail, a short family hike on The Mossy Cave Trail, or a multi-day backpacking excursion on the Under the Rim Trail, there is great hiking for everyone to enjoy. Plus, the region surrounding Bryce Canyon is full of equally rewarding trails to explore.

Before you go, it’s always a good idea to stop in at the visitor center. Here you can check trail conditions and get a schedule for the Bryce Canyon shuttle, which connects the shuttle area outside the park with the park’s most popular trailheads. To start, explore the best hiking trails in Bryce Canyon to start building your to-do list.

Horseback Riding

Once you’ve covered some ground on foot, a guided horseback ride may be the perfect change of pace. There are several guides in the nearby town of Bryce, with tours available for every ability level and schedule. Horseback riding is an ideal way to experience a bit of the park’s rich western history, and a local heritage that once heavily relied upon horses for transportation. To start, browse Bryce Canyon’s horseback riding guides.

As an accredited International Dark Sky Park , Bryce Canyon promises world-class stargazing. On a clear night you may be able to see planets like Jupiter and Venus, as well as a Milky Way that stretches across the sky. With little to no light pollution from nearby towns, the more desolate regions of the park may fall under the darkest skies you’ve ever seen.

To start, we recommend signing up for the park’s “Dark Rangers” stargazing program. Learn more with this guide to stargazing in Bryce Canyon.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Stargazing from the Rim Trail just before sunrise. The rising sun illuminates the canyon and hoodoos from below the horizon.

Photo: Jeanna Martinucci

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon on horseback is a great way to experience the park during the summer and fall months.

Photo: Courtesy of Ruby's Inn

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon trails can be accessed in the winter by cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Photo: Hage Photo

Taking a Scenic Drive

While the hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park is superb, so is the park’s 18-mile scenic drive (Highway 63). Stop by the visitor center for a brochure full of useful Bryce Canyon information. All of the overlooks lie east of the park road (left, as you drive south), but that’s not to say that the western side of the road isn’t packed with jaw-dropping scenery. To avoid cutting across traffic, we recommend that you drive all the way south, then stop at the overlooks on your way back. If you only have a short amount of time, make sure you stop at Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints.

Here’s a tip to help you get a good look at some of the best scenery: Just after passing the park boundary (and before the entrance/fee station) watch on your left for the road to Fairyland Canyon. Many visitors, in their eagerness to enter the park, miss this viewpoint just 1 mile off the main road that allows you an up-close view of the red rock spires. The fantastic hoodoos you see below, for which Bryce is so famous, were explained by the Paiutes as “legend people” who had been turned to stone. As you study the twisted maze of canyons, consider the words of early Mormon pioneer (and park namesake) Ebenezer Bryce, who described it as “a hell of a place to lose a cow.”

Due to congestion on the park road, trailers are not allowed beyond Sunset Campground, and vehicles longer than 25 feet are not allowed at Bryce Point or Paria View. You may leave your trailer in the visitor center parking lot. As noted above, a free voluntary shuttle bus system, operating May through early October (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily), will take you from Ruby’s Inn or the visitor center to all the park’s overlooks and trailheads. So take the shuttle if you want to experience scenic driving through Bryce Canyon National Park but don’t want the hassle of dealing with traffic.

Cross-Country Skiing & Winter Hiking

If your first thought wasn’t to pack your ski gear on a trip to see Southern Utah’s red rocks, you’re not alone. Winter in Southern Utah is one of our local’s best-kept secrets. Thanks to its high altitude, the park's trails, ponderosa pines and red rock hoodoos are covered under a blanket of snow come November. For a more tranquil, less-crowded vacation, winter is the perfect time to visit Bryce Canyon. Plus, many trails are still groomed for hikers, others are ready for snowshoeing and the family can spend an afternoon ice skating in the charming town of Bryce, just outside the national park.

Biking and E-biking

Bike the shared-use path that runs five miles from the Bryce Canyon shuttle parking station to Inspiration Point. Bicycles and permitted e-bikes are only allowed on paved surfaces: the shared-use path, park roads and parking areas. For mountain bike trails near Bryce Canyon, head to Red Canyon .

Walking the Dog (Paved Paths Only)

Pets are prohibited from unpaved trails inside Bryce Canyon National Park. However, pets are allowed on the 0.5-mile section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points. Out and back, this 1-mile paved path around the amphitheater offers a variety of hoodoo views.

Eating at a Bryce Canyon Restaurant

The park doesn’t let visitors go hungry. The General Store serves "grab-and-go" hot and cold foods (pizza, soup, ice cream and sandwiches) and beverages (soda, water, beer, and coffee). Seasonally, the Lodge at Bryce Canyon opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Valhalla Pizzeria & Coffee Shop dishes up pizza, salads, beer, wine, pastries, coffee and espresso drinks.

Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill delivers cowboy classics, including flat-iron steak, salmon, barbecue platter and chicken, along with cowboy demonstrations and country music. Meanwhile, Cowboy Ranch House (at Bryce Canyon Resorts) mixes Old West and Mexican flavors in its flame-grilled steaks, chicken and burgers that pair well with the 12 beers on tap behind the bar. 

Editor’s note: Check restaurant sites for updated hours, as some close during the winter season. 

More Bryce Canyon Inspiration

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon Hikes

Hiking through Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best ways to see the park’s famous hoodoos, spires and sandstone fins.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Bryce Canyon Travel Tips

What’s the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park? What should I bring? Can I camp? Read our Bryce Canyon travel tips to find out.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Winter in Bryce Canyon National Park

See red rock hoodoos coated with a dusting of snow against a stunning scenic backdrop on an unforgettable winter visit to Bryce Canyon National Park.

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Things To Do Near Bryce Canyon

Adventure doesn’t end at the park’s boundary. Just outside Bryce, the landscape lays out ample opportunity for fun, whether you crave a little luxury or off-the-grid solitude.

Glamping 

Camping too rustic for you? Try glamping at Under Canvas Bryce Canyon or Wander Camp Bryce Canyon . Enjoy the adventure of camping — relaxing to the sights and sounds of nature, cooking meals under a blue sky canopy, and roasting s’mores around the fire — but with the perks of safari-like tents and hotel-inspired bedding. 

Mountain Biking 

While Bryce Canyon National Park prohibits off-road biking, Red Canyon (just 15 miles from Bryce’s visitor center) welcomes mountain bikes. In fact, Red Canyon’s Thunder Mountain Bike Trial is a favorite for its playful hills and views of Bryce’s red-rock formations.  

Spending a Day — or More — in Red Canyon

Red Canyon sits between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon and is worth a stop to picnic, hike, mountain bike, camp, horseback ride or go off-roading. In fact, many visitors stumble upon the wonder when they drive through two arch tunnels as they enter or leave Bryce. 

Exploring Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is a massive geographic phenomenon worth going off-grid to tour (read: no crowds and limited cell coverage). The closest access to Bryce Canyon National Park is through Tropic, Utah, but another way to explore the area is through Kanab, Utah . If you're heading to an area with limited cell reception, it's important to pack a paper map or GPS, and always be sure to let someone know where you're going and what time you'll be back.

Playing in Kodachrome Basin State Park

Just 20 miles from Bryce and surrounded on three sides by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Kodachrome Basin State Park  deserves a day or two to supplement your Bryce Canyon adventures. Camp, hike, mountain bike, horseback ride and stargaze among 67 sandstone chimneys that playfully change color as the sun moves over the park. 

Driving (Slowly) Along The All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12

Scenic Byway 12 stretches over 120 miles of roadway to access national parks, state parks, national monuments, scenic overlooks and plenty of great restaurants and shops. A stop at the scenic overlook near the road’s summit at about 9,000 feet puts it all into perspective — especially at sunrise and sunset. 

Fueling Your Adventure at a Restaurant Near Bryce Canyon

Known for its homemade soups and pies, Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant is easy to find just west of Bryce on Highway 12 and dishes up classic American fare and local microbrews. The Stone Hearth Grille , located in Tropic, Utah, just 10 miles from Bryce, offers a fine dining experience to visitors looking for white table linen service, grass-fed local beef, a lengthy wine menu, seafood and seasonal vegetables. 

If you’re traveling to or from Bryce through Panguitch, Utah (about 23 miles from Bryce), stop for to-go coffee and muffins at Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee or a sit-down barbecue at Desert Grill .

Editor’s note: Check restaurant sites for updated hours, as some close during the winter season.

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Bryce Canyon Winter.

Bryce Canyon , Hike , National Parks , Utah , Utah Hikes

8 best bryce canyon winter hikes and things to do.

Bryce Canyon National Park is like a giant playground for adults. The arches, rock formations, and vibrant colors make it extremely magical but even more so when it is dusted with snow.

If you’re looking to visit Bryce Canyon in winter then you’re in luck…and if you weren’t considering it yet then I hope this post convinces you! It is one of the best U.S. National Parks to visit during the winter. Only a few roads and trails are closed during the season which leaves the majority of the park open for exploration.

In this post I cover the best Bryce Canyon winter hikes , travel tips , where to stay, and other things to do . Slip on those boots and bundle up because it’s about to be a cold adventure!

Bryce Canyon In Winter

*Disclaimer:   the below links may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through my links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please see my  d isclosure  for more info.

Park Information

First thing first- let’s begin with essential park information. Bryce Canyon runs a bit differently during the winter so it is important to be aware before your visit. I break it down for you below!

Entrance Fees

Entry into Bryce Canyon is $35 per vehicle and can be purchased online or upon arrival. If you plan on visiting other National Parks, however, investing in an America the Beautiful Pass is highly recommended and will save you money.

Shuttle Service

Bryce Canyon does have a shuttle service but it doesn’t run in the winter . You’re left at the mercy of being able to find parking at the trailheads or walk further on your own two feet. Luckily a lot of the viewpoints and trailheads have decent sized parking lots, so you should have no problem finding parking. The popular Sunrise and Sunset viewpoints still fill up fast especially if the park happens to be busy.

Winter Crowds

Bryce Canyon National Park is the largest concentration of rock hoodoos in the world. That is pretty impressive. But believe me when I tell you it is even more impressive when dusted with snow. And if you think the snow will keep away the crowds- think again.

When I visited in December of 2020 parking was hard to find and the crowds filtered in by early morning. This was even during a snow storm! I visited between Christmas and New Years which happened to be a busy time for the park and leads me to believe it is a usual thing.

I just visited again December 2022 days before Christmas and the park was much less crowded than my previous experience but still had a good amount of people. Parking was easy to come by and the area was pretty quiet.

My best advise is to play it by ear. If the park is crowded then plan to arrive for sunrise in order to secure parking and witness the orange rocks glow. The further you hike into the canyon the further you’ll distance yourself from the crowds anyways. Most visitors hang around the viewpoints and Navajo/Queen’s Garden loop.

But if you get lucky and Bryce Canyon isn’t that busy then you’re okay getting a later start to your day. You can wait for the sun to rise and give some warmth to your adventure! But just keep in mind you have shorter days because the sun will set around 5 PM.

Cell Service

Like most U.S. National Parks, cell service in Bryce Canyon is very limited. Be sure to have a map and/or GPS device with you while hiking.

This is also important if you plan on hiking deep into the park while snow is falling. When I last visited it was during a pretty heavy snowfall and it covered the trail quickly. There wasn’t a soul in sight at the time so I had no foot prints to follow. It made it difficult at times to follow the trail so I utilized Gaia GPS .

Winter Road Conditions

If it is early winter and the park hasn’t experienced heavy snowfall yet then the roads will be fine. However if the park has received some winter storms you’ll want to be prepared.

The conditions can change drastically and fast during or after a snowstorm. The roads become very slick with ice, black ice, or deep snow that hasn’t been plowed yet. This means you’ll need to drive slow and with caution so you don’t slide off the road or get stuck.

Always check the weather conditions before arriving. If the park is expecting snow then a 4×4, snow tires, and chains are highly recommended. If you don’t have either of these, I highly suggest waiting until the plows have cleared the roads and stick to only the main roads through the park.

Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes.

Where To Stay In Bryce Canyon During Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park sits at a high elevation on top of a plateau, meaning the weather can be variable. The park experiences rain and snow storms throughout the year and temperatures can fall below freezing every night between October and May.

With this in mind, visiting Bryce Canyon in winter means you most likely will want to purchase accommodations to keep you warm and dry. But for whatever reason you enjoy camping in the winter or have a sick setup, I’ve included a campground option for you below!

  • Bryce Canyon Lodge is only open for winter season from November 1-27th. Their Sunset Lodge, Guest Studio, and Guest Suites are your choices during this time and you’ll need to secure them plenty ahead of time online !
  • North Campground is first-come-first-serve during the winter season and is located right in the park. RV’s are allowed.
  • Just outside of the park are Ruby’s Inn (Best Western Plus) which has an on-site restaurant, Bryce View Lodge , and Bryce Canyon Grand (Best Western Plus).

My personal favorite is Ruby’s Inn. The family history can’t be beat and their grounds have everything you need- a general store, laundry, restaurant, and activities. They’re also right outside of the park which makes it super convenient!

Tips For Visiting Bryce Canyon In Winter

Visiting Bryce Canyon in winter is fairly easy but being prepared is essential for a safe adventure. Here are a few tips for your visit:

  • Have the proper footwear. If you plan on getting out and doing some hiking or walking around, having waterproof hiking boots will help keep your feet warm. Pair them with Merino Wool socks to stay extra toasty!

visit bryce canyon in winter

  • Dress in layers. As you move around more you’ll get warm and probably strip down. But it is always best in the winter to begin with a base layer, insulating layer, and protective layer like a packable down jacket.

visit bryce canyon in winter

  • Have an ice scraper in your car. If it snows over night or during your hike you’ll want something to be able to brush the snow and scrape ice with. Never pour water on your windshield thinking it will help melt the ice- it doesn’t work!
  • Begin your adventures early. The earlier you get out and finish your hike, the better. Every day I’ve hiked Bryce Canyon in winter the snow got worse in the late afternoon to evening. Not to mention you have less daylight in the winter!
  • Check restaurant hours of operation! The restaurant choices around Bryce Canyon National Park are already slim, and their hours may be different in the offseason. Always double check to make sure you’re not left without anywhere to eat. The Subway closed at 6 p.m. when I was there during December…yikes.
  • If you want to see all of the viewpoints I suggest driving to the end of the park and starting backwards. The reason being is all of the viewpoints are on the left as you’re driving into the park. If you drive to the end first and turn around then they will be on your right and you won’t be stuck trying to constantly turn left!

Pro’s Of Visiting Bryce Canyon In Winter

With the exception of around the holidays, Bryce Canyon is usually less populated than during the peak season. This means you may have parts of the trail to yourself if you hike deep enough into the canyon. Regardless of the population, the views alone are worth visiting. It is a very unique time to see the hoodoos dusted with snow!

Con’s Of Visiting Bryce Canyon In Winter

Due to high elevation snow is always possible during the winter here. The roads and trails may be icy, not every road or trail is open during the winter, and the shuttle service won’t be running. You’ll also have to brave the low temperatures. If it is snowing then your visibility into the canyon will be very limited, which is a bummer if you’re staying on the rim portion.

I always recommend tracking yourself or following an already made track so you can check in and be sure you’re on the right path. Below is a screenshot of one of my hikes in Bryce Canyon!

visit bryce canyon in winter

Preparation saves lives.  Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS .

You can download my tracks from Bryce Canyon National Park  and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!

Best Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes

Now what you’ve been waiting for- the low down on the hikes. Before you start planning though, it is always good to know what is open and what is closed.

Here is a quick list of areas typically closed during winter. It is always best to check the National Park website for current closures and weather conditions before arriving!

  • Wall Street
  • Rim Trail between Bryce and Inspiration Point
  • Agua Connecting Trail
  • Paria View road (closed to vehicles, open to pedestrians)
  • Fairyland road (closed to vehicles, open to pedestrians)

But don’t worry because there are PLENTY of trails and viewpoints left open to explore. I’ve listed them for you below!

Bryce Canyon In Winter.

Navajo/Queens Garden Loop

Distance: 3.0 miles RT

One of the most popular hikes in Bryce Canyon National park during any season is the Navajo and Queens Garden Loop. It is a moderate loop that is easy to find, short, and gives you a great over-all experience in the park.

Many travelers, photographers, and the like spend a lot of time on this trail taking photos because there are so many great rock formations and back drops.

To hike this loop you’ll start at the Sunset Point and end at Sunrise point , or vise versa.

Pro Tip: The Wall Street to Queens Garden is another favorite loop but the Wall Street portion is always closed during winter. You’ll only be able to hike the Navajo to Queens Garden, or vise versa.

Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes.

Fairyland Loop

Distance: 7.7 miles RT

If you’re up for a longer and more strenuous hike then you may consider the Fairyland Loop. This is one of the largest loops in Bryce Canyon to hike! It takes you down into the amphitheater, past some hoodoos, back out of the amphitheater, and around a portion of the rim.

Usually you’d enter the trail from the North end of the park, however, this road is typically closed during winter. Instead, you can begin the loop from Sunrise point .

Local Tip: If you’re up for a short side excursion, you can also visit Tower Bridge. Once you come upon where the two trails intersect, just hike on over to view the Tower Bridge and retrace your steps back to the Fairland Loop, then continue.

Read the full trail guide: Expert Guide To Hiking Fairyland Loop In Bryce Canyon

Tower Bridge, Bryce Canyon In Winter.

Tower Bridge

Distance: 3 miles RT

One Bryce Canyon winter hike that is easily forgotten about is the Tower Bridge. It is an easy to moderate hike down into the canyon and ends at a viewpoint where you can view the Tower Bridge from below.

To get to the Tower Bridge you’ll begin at Sunrise point and hike along the Rim trail to Fairyland Loop. You’ll actually hike along the Fairyland trail for a bit until you come across a sign to turn off for the Tower Bridge.

Once you get your fill of views you turn around and head back the way you came. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can combine it with the Fairyland Loop to add quite a bit of more mileage.

Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes.

Peekaboo Loop

The Peekaboo Loop is one of my favorite Bryce Canyon winter hikes because it is tucked back further into the canyon and you usually lose the crowds. It is also a very scenic loop providing tunnels to walk through, a view of windows, and is a great moderate challenge.

Peekaboo Loop itself is 3 miles, but there are essentially two main ways to get to the loop which will add to the mileage depending which way you approach.

One way to reach Peekaboo Loop is by starting at Bryce Point. From the parking lot there is a trail called the Peekaboo Loop Connector that you’ll take. You’ll intersect with the loop and can go either way! Once you complete Peekaboo Loop you’ll hike back up the connector trail to the parking lot.

Sometimes Bryce Point is closed during the winter, or the road to access it is temporarily closed due to road conditions. If so, you can also hike it from the Navajo Trail. Instead of taking a left to loop into Queen’s Garden, you’ll take a right and hike a short connector trail to Peekaboo Loop. The signage is very easy to follow so you’ll be able to find your way!

Bryce Canyon National Park.

Figure 8- Navajo / Queens Garden And Peekaboo

Distance: 6.5 miles RT

Another great option is to hike a big figure 8 by connecting the Navajo / Queens Garden Loop with the Peekaboo Loop. This is a great moderate day hike option that gives you a fun experience of Bryce Canyon. If you had only one hike to choose, I’d choose this one!

To hike this figure 8 I’d start at Sunset point, go down the Navajo Trail, connect to Peekaboo Loop, then connect back with Queen’s Garden and end at Sunrise. From Sunrise point back to Sunset point it is just less than .5 miles on the Rim Trail!

Pro Tip: All of these loops and trails can get confusing. It is a lot easier if you familiarize yourself with the park map when planning and/or hiking!

The Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon In Winter.

The Rim Trail

Distance: 5.5 miles one way

You don’t have to hike into the amphitheater to enjoy it! The Rim Trail is just as it sounds- a trail that leads you along the rim of Bryce Canyon and you still get some epic views.

The Rim Trail is 5.5 miles one way from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point but during the winter a portion of it is closed , so you’ll only be able to hike as far as Inspiration Point.

Still, you don’t have to hike the entire thing! You can always turn back whenever you feel.

Mossy Cave, Bryce Canyon winter.

Distance: 0.8 miles RT

Tucked away and hidden off US-12 is Mossy Cave, one of the easily missed Bryce Canyon winter hikes. If you’re looking to stretch your legs you may consider stopping for a quick peek.

While it doesn’t look like much during the summer, it actually transforms for the winter season. Giant icicles hang off the overhang and into the opening. There also is a frozen waterfall nearby if you’re up for more exploration!

visit bryce canyon in winter

Read the full trail guide: 5 Reasons Mossy Cave Waterfall Is Worth The Stop

Bryce Canyon winter hike.

Bristlecone loop

Distance: 1.0 miles RT

The Bristlecone Loop trail is probably the least popular of all Bryce Canyon winter hikes because it is located on the most Southern end of the park and rarely shared on social media. The trailhead embarks from Rainbow Point which is 18 miles in, at the very end of the Scenic Drive.

Short and easy, the Bristlecone Loop takes you along the highest point of Bryce Canyon National Park through a forest of Spruce, Douglas Fir, and White Fir. About halfway through and the views open up, allowing you to see the vastness beyond the park. Hike counter-clockwise for an easier hike or clock-wise to break a little sweat.

Other Bryce Canyon Winter Activities

Believe it or not there are other ways to enjoy the snow in or around Bryce Canyon National Park! Ruby’s Inn not only provides affordable accommodations and a family restaurant, but they also have some fun activities for you and your family!

For more information and pricing on each activity be sure to check out Ruby’s Inn here.

Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing

A fun way to get outdoors to enjoy a fresh snowfall is to go snowshoeing or cross country skiing. It makes traversing on the fresh, fluffy snow much easier so you don’t sink in. They can even be a great winter workout! Ruby’s Inn provides rentals, maps, and trail info so you’ll be all set for your adventure!

Local Tip: The Canyon 2 Canyon trail is one of the best for snowshoeing and cross country skiing!

Ice Skating

Ruby’s Inn has a winter activity center which includes an Ice Skating rink. They allow you to bring your own skates or they’ll provide rentals if you don’t have any (for a small cost). You can’t experience winter without playing out on the ice!

Snowmobiling

If you have as snowmobile you may want to bring it to Bryce Canyon. There are miles and miles worth of trails for you to explore- both fresh and groomed. Stop by Ruby’s Inn during your visit for exclusive maps and trail information!

Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

Every year a winter festival is hosted by Ruby’s Inn near Bryce Canyon National Park. They host a ton of activities as well as free clinics, demos, and tours. It is a great way to get out and be introduced to a new hobby- skiing, kayaking, archery, crafts, and more!

Bryce Canyon National Park.

Final Thoughts On Visiting Bryce Canyon In Winter

There is no place like Bryce Canyon National Park during the winter. The desert landscape transforms into a giant winter wonderland just waiting to be explored!

Regardless if you enjoy winter hiking or not, the views alone are worth stopping by. You can always look into the amphitheater from one of the viewpoints above or try something different such as snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

After visiting during a two day constant snowfall I have to say I had a blast and I’ll definitely be visiting every winter that I can just to play in the snow.

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you visited Bryce Canyon in the winter, or plan to in the future? Share in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “ 8 Best Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes And Things To Do ”

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Do you have recommendations where to stay in Bryce during the winter. Car camping sites are good too. My 4R is setup for me to stay inside.

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Hi Gil! Thanks for reading. When I visited I stayed at the Ruby Inn. They are just down the road from the park entrance and have a restaurant and convenience store on-site! I found it super convenient since BCNP is pretty remote. If you don’t want to pay that much for accommodations, Ruby Inn also has RV parking and a campground.

The park does have one campground open during winter- the North Campground. They have about 99 sites and are first come first serve so I’d check there first. If you’re looking for a quick free place to park and sleep I suggest looking on freecampsites.net or campendium.com

Hope that helps!

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Love it! I always thought these desert places most view as hot NDA are the most beautiful in winter when the snow dusts everything.

Thank you, David! I agree, the desert landscape dusted with snow is one of the most beautiful winter views 🙂

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Visiting Bryce Canyon in December

visit bryce canyon in winter

  • Bryce Canyon Visitor Guide

Learn all about what to expect visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in December (Written by Erin McCarthy)

December marks the beginning of the winter season in Bryce Canyon—the landscape is muted by a blanket of freshly fallen snow. The trails beckon to be explored on snowshoes or cross-country skis. It’s a spectacular time to visit due to the low number of visitors and fun winter activities. The annual Christmas Bird Count is held a few days before Christmas, where you can collect data to help monitor winter bird populations in Bryce Canyon. If you are at the Park on Christmas Day, be advised the Visitor Center and fee booths will be closed. Below is our complete guide to the winter wonderland that is Bryce Canyon in December.

Top Rated Bryce Canyon Hiking Tours

benefits of visiting bryce canyon in December

The biggest advantage to visiting Bryce Canyon in December is the small number of visitors. The Bryce Amphitheater area—by far the most popular section of the Park—can be seen by snowshoes or cross-country skis and without the usual parking lot hassles. The free shuttle runs throughout the Bryce Amphitheater in December too. Be among the few people to see the fins, hoodoos, and slot canyons covered in snow.

drawbacks of visiting in december

The biggest drawback of visiting Bryce Canyon in December is unpredictable road closures. During snowstorms in the Park, the main road will be closed until the snow is cleared, beginning at mile marker 3.

In December, there are seasonal trail closures due to safety concerns. The Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop trail is closed in the winter due to rockfall danger. If you decide to hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski along the Rim Trail, be advised it is closed in the winter between Inspiration and Bryce Points due to snow cornices. Fewer facilities are available  in the winter (restrooms, dining, and lodging); so plan ahead as much as possible.

things to do in december

The small number of visitors in December makes Bryce Canyon a winter wonderland to be explored on foot, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or by vehicle. Here are a few suggestions for December activities.

Christmas Bird Count: This event has taken place every year since 1900. You’ll be collecting data that will protect endangered populations and crucial habitats. There are varying route options so you can participate at any fitness level. An important and fun activity for the whole family!

Cross-Country Skiing: Cross-country skiing trails in Bryce Canyon are groomed beginning in December. The Paria ski loop is 3.5 miles of beautiful, gently sloping solitude. If you have more time and are looking for a shorter ski trail, travel down to the southern tip of the Park at Rainbow Point, and ski the 0.7 miles of the Bristlecone Loop Trail. Venture outside the park to find several miles of groomed cross-country ski trails . If you need to rent skis, check out the nearby Ruby’s Inn  in Bryce Canyon City.

Hiking/Snowshoeing: Another fun outdoor activity in the winter is hiking. Hike the Rim Trail with snowshoes, or spikes for hiking shoes. One of the most highly recommended winter activities is a ranger-led full-moon snowshoe hike. Check out the calendar to see if it works for your December visit. Snowshoes are provided free of charge.

Take a Scenic Drive: If you’re not keen on winter sports, you can take a scenic drive through the 18-mile-long Park road (if conditions allow) and effortlessly marvel at the many breathtaking viewpoints.

Explore Bryce Canyon with Award Winning Guides

visit bryce canyon in winter

Explore Bryce Canyon Trips

visit bryce canyon in winter

hiking in december

It is essential to be well-prepared for the conditions when hiking in Bryce Canyon in December. Since Bryce Canyon is at a high elevation, snowfall in December is almost guaranteed. Depending on the amount of snow, you may need different equipment. In the freshly fallen snow, you’ll need snowshoes to explore. If the snow has melted but ice remains on the trail, it is highly recommended to wear waterproof boots with spikes to avoid falling and potential injuries. Bring warm layers, 4 liters of water, and keep in mind that the sun sets early in December. It’s always a good idea to pack a headlamp just in case dusk settles in on you. Enjoy the almost deafening silence and blissful solitude in one of the most iconic areas of southern Utah.

The popular 3-mile Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Trail is a good winter hiking option, but remember the Wall Street section is closed during the winter. This hike will be an out-and-back instead of a loop.

Booking a guided tour allows you to maximize your time in Bryce Canyon. Wildland Trekking offers private guided day hikes and luxurious inn-based tours in the month of January. Let a local, knowledgeable guide teach you the natural and cultural history of Bryce Canyon while you take in the expansive views.

Winter backpacking in the park is permitted, but only the most experienced backpackers should venture out in these conditions. Make sure to purchase a  backcountry permit.

weather in December

Expect low temperatures and snow on the trails in December. The average high is 36 and the average low is 15 degrees Fahrenheit (2/-9 degrees Celsius). December snow accumulation is typically 14 inches on average. Be prepared for winter conditions by bringing plenty of water, high-calorie snacks, and warm layers.

join a guided hiking adventure

Booking a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park is the opportunity to experience one of the most scenic  hiking vacations  in the United States. The biggest advantage to booking a guided tour is that it will allow you to focus your energy entirely on enjoying this iconic area. Permits, local transportation (excluded on some day tours), meals, and gear are all figured out for you on a Wildland Trekking tour.

Wildland Trekking offers several options for guided  inn-based  and  camping tours  in the southern Utah area. You’ll have the chance to see magnificent rock formations, learn about the cultural and natural history of the area, and enjoy some solitude all while having the adventure of a lifetime.

BRYCE CANYON ADVENTURE TOURS

  • INN-BASED HIKING PACKAGES : these tours are all-inclusive packages with lodging, amazing daily hikes, expert guides, meals, transportation and more!
  • BRYCE CAMPING TOURS : camping-based hiking packages provide all-around hiking experiences of Bryce on wonderful outdoor vacations.
  • BRYCE DAY HIKE TOURS : maximize your day in Bryce on a fully guided, award-winning hiking tour of one of the Park’s best trails.
  • ALL UTAH HIKING TOURS : check out a full list of Utah offerings, which include Bryce Canyon, the North Rim, Arches, Canyonlands and more.
  • UTAH BACKPACKING TRIPS : explore options for discovering Utah on an all-inclusive backpacking trip with expert guides and mind-blowing scenery.

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visit bryce canyon in winter

Related Pages

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  • Visiting Bryce Canyon in August
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  • Visiting Bryce Canyon in January
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Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes ⛄ Hike the HOODOOS in snow! ⛄ December in Bryce Canyon National Park for winter hiking trails ⛄ Utah travel blog

If you’re looking for a national park to visit in the winter that has snow-packed trails with beautiful winter landscape, then you just might want to consider Bryce Canyon National Park!

It’s winter in southern Utah!

As far as how much time to spend in the Bryce Canyon National Park, it’s totally reasonable to make it a perfect one day in Bryce Canyon . 

9 best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

aka best things to do in Bryce Canyon in winter!

utah winter hikes. Bryce Canyon in winter. December. Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes to see the hoodoos. bryce canyon in snow. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Best things to do in Bryce Canyon in winter. maybe october, november, december, january, february, march, april. Utah travel blog

I went to Bryce Canyon in December 2019, and the pictures in this blog post are from that time.

1. Queens Garden Trail (out-and-back)

Time: 1-2 hours

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - queens garden trail from sunrise point. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

Start at Sunrise Point for an out-and-back trail. This hike goes down into the canyon so you’re walking among the hoodoos, and you can go to “Queens Garden” and then go back the same way you came.

See more pictures from Queens Garden Trail .

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Queens Garden Trail. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

2. Navajo Trail (out-and-back)

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - navajo loop trail from sunset point. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

Start at Sunset Point for an out-and-back trail. This hike also goes down into the canyon. This is also called the Navajo Loop Trail, but it’s not a loop trail in the winter because the “Wall Street” section is closed.

See more pictures from Navajo Trail .

Also see more pictures from the viewpoint where this hike starts: Sunset Point

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Navajo loop trail. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

3. Queens Garden + Navajo Trail

Time: 2-3 hours

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - queens garden and navajo loop combination trail. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

For a longer and a bit more diversified hike, instead of doing Queens Garden or Navajo Loop as an out-and-back, you can combine these two trails for a loop since they connect.

This is the most popular option for hiking in Bryce Canyon.

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Queen Garden Navajo loop trail. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

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  • For women: Merrell hiking shoes (one of the best outdoor shoe brands, perfect for hiking)
  • For men: Merrell hiking shoes
  • You will thank yourself for having hiking poles if you're doing any of the best hikes that have steep trails!
  • For women: Teva walking sandals (one of the best sandal brands for the outdoors)
  • For men: Teva sandals
  • Moisture-wicking tech t-shirt for women perfect for hiking when you'll be outside a lot sweating
  • tech-t-shirt for men
  • For more ideas, do a search for hiking clothes !

4. Queens Garden + Navajo Loop + Peekaboo Loop (Figure 8)

Time: 4-5 hours

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - peekaboo loop trail. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

For an even longer and more diversified hike, you can add in the Peekaboo Loop Trail. Peekaboo connects to the Navajo Loop.

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Queen Garden Navajo Peekaboo loop trail. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

5. Tower Bridge Trail (out-and-back)

Start at Sunrise Point. You’ll take this trail to do the Fairyland Loop (next listed hike), but you can also make it an out-and-back.

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Tower Bridge Trail. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

6. Fairyland Loop Trail

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - fairyland loop trail from sunrise point. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

Start at Sunrise Point. You can then take the Tower Bridge Trail to start the hike down. Or you can keep walking along the rim trail and start the hike at Fairyland Point.

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Fairyland Loop Trail. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

7. Rim Trail (out-and-back)

Time: 30 minutes to 3+ hours depending how long you want to make it!

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - rim trail from inspiration point to sunset point to sunrise point to fairyland point. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

Several of the loop hiking options above include hiking along the rim trail.

You can also choose to hike only the rim trail, which means you won’t be hiking into the canyon at all.

There are a few hills along the rim trail, but it won’t be as steep as the other trails.

So for a solid winter hike, you can choose viewpoints along the Rim Trail that have parking lots to start your hike (Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point), and then do an out-and-back along the rim.

This will give you frequent views of the hoodoos in the canyon from above.

In winter, the Rim Trail between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point is closed.

The road to Fairyland Point is also closed in winter, so you won’t be able to start your Rim Trail hike from there.

Map of Bryce Canyon winter hiking trails: Rim Trail with sunrise point, sunset point, inspiration point. Best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon national park. utah road trip. southern Utah travel blog

8. Mossy Cave Trail (out-and-back)

Time: 1 hour or less

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - mossy cave trail to see icicles. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

This is actually located outside of the main area of Bryce Canyon National Park, but still considered to be a part of a national park recommended trail.

So this can be something to do at the start of your day or at the end of your day.

Your destination is a small cave with icicles.

See more pictures from Mossy Cave Trail .

9. Ranger-led snowshoe hike

Time: 1.5-2 hours

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - park ranger led snowshoe hike. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

This isn’t a specific trail, but definitely an activity to consider if you’re looking to experience Bryce Canyon in winter!

You don’t even need to bring your own snowshoes.

That will be provided, for free!

This is a snowshoe hike guided by a park ranger, and the specific trail you do will be determined by the snow conditions that day.

The only real requirement is that you wear snow boots or waterproof hiking shoes – your feet will be checked when you sign up on the day of your hike!

See more pictures of snowshoeing in Bryce Canyon with a park ranger .

What shoes to wear for winter hiking in Bryce Canyon

If you don’t have footwear suitable for winter hiking, then I think a worthy investment would be hiking boots !

Waterproof hiking shoes are better than regular shoes so the wet snow won’t give you cold wet feet. (Wet when the snow melts.) These can also keep your toes more insulated (warmer!) than regular shoes.

Also see tips on what to pack (and what to wear!) for a Utah winter vacation when you’ll be hiking in snow !

When is there snow at Bryce Canyon?

Winter weather - When is there snow at Bryce Canyon National Park. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

As per the National Park Service :

Snowstorms in October are not unusual, yet there are also many sunny and pleasant autumn days during the month. From October to May temperatures fall below freezing nearly every night. The park typically experiences its coldest and snowiest periods from December through February. Spring storms in March and April can still produce heavy snowfall that may impact travel in the region.

So, it’s very likely that there will be snow if you visit Bryce Canyon National Park in December, January, and February.

It’s also possible that there’s snow in Bryce Canyon in October, November, March, and April. 

If you’re wondering if there’s snow right now in Bryce Canyon, have a look at the official Bryce Canyon National Park accounts on facebook and twitter .

They usually post recent pictures of the park, and in winter they tend to mention weather conditions too.

Trails closed for winter in Bryce Canyon

Here is general Bryce Canyon winter info for trails that can be found on the official Bryce Canyon National Park website :

Snow is ONLY cleared from the sidewalks at the overlooks and the paved section of the Rim Trail from Sunset to Sunrise Point. The Rim Trail from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point is closed to all traffic, including skis and snowshoes. Due to the high risk of rockfall events, the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail is routinely closed in the winter and early spring. The Peekaboo Loop Connector Trail descending from Bryce Point is very steep and often closed due to slick conditions and slide potential.

And about general road closures in winter:

Fairyland Road and Paria View Road are intentionally left unplowed in winter to allow for skiing and other winter activities. Following winter storms, the 18-mile southern scenic drive may close beyond the Bryce Amphitheater at Mile 3 to allow crews to clear the road. These closures typically last between one to three days, depending on the severity of the storm. However, the roads and parking lots which provide access to the four main Amphitheater overlooks (Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points) are plowed immediately after winter storms.

As the date for your Bryce Canyon winter vacation gets closer, check this page for current alerts that will include road closures due to heavy snow.

They usually mention temporary road closures on facebook and twitter too.

Bryce Canyon is at high altitude!

Bryce Canyon National Park in winter rim trail at high altitude elevation. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

The generally accepted elevation that starts to be considered “high altitude” is around 8,000 feet (2,440m).

But most people generally don’t feel ill-effects at this height, although it is possible.

The Rim Trail, where most of the hikes listed below start, is around 8,000 feet, with slight variation depending on which part of the Rim Trail you are on.

Bryce Canyon National Park in winter at high altitude elevation. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

If you are concerned about the altitude, you might consider staying the night before near Bryce Canyon National Park.

This will give you an overnight to get a little adjusted before you go hiking the next day.

A hotel that’s a 15-20 minute drive from Bryce Canyon might be at an elevation of around 6,000-7,000 feet.

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes to see the hoodoos. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Best things to do in Bryce Canyon in winter. Utah travel blog

Bryce Canyon National Park winter itinerary

Want to do ALL of these trails that are open in winter during your trip to Bryce Canyon this winter?!

Here’s how to make it a perfect 2 days of winter hiking in Bryce Canyon!

Pack your hiking poles !!

  • Sign up for the snowshoe hike at the visitor center at 8am
  • Start at Sunset Point
  • Walk Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
  • Hike the loop: Queens Garden + Navajo + Peekaboo
  • Free park ranger guided snowshoe hike
  • Drive the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and stop at the scenic viewpoints
  • Mossy Cave Trail
  • Start at Sunrise Point
  • Hike the loop: Tower Bridge + Fairyland Loop
  • Arrive back on the Rim Trail at Fairyland Point
  • Hike the Rim Trail back to Sunrise Point (or, keep going to the end of Rim Trail to Inspiration Point, then head back to Sunrise Point)

This is basically as I did it during the 2 days I was in Bryce Canyon.

The main slight variation was that I wasn’t able to do the full Peekaboo Loop Trail as there was a meeting time for the snowshoe hike… and I was going too slow. 😉

So I just started off on the Peekaboo Loop and made that portion an out-and-back by turning around after a little bit instead of completing the whole loop. Even that small portion I did on the Peekaboo Loop I thought was great.

If you are also planning for the snowshoe hike… if you don’t take too much time after you sign up for the snowshoe hike at 8am , and you’re speedy on the trails, then you might have time to do the whole Peekaboo Loop before the snowshoe hike, or at least a lot of it!

Otherwise, if you’re interested in Peekaboo, the combination hike of Navajo + Peekaboo (without Queens Garden) might work out better.

Snowshoeing at Bryce Canyon

Best Bryce Canyon winter hikes - bryce canyon snowshoe trails. beautiful national parks to visit in winter. Utah travel blog

If you’ve never gone snowshoeing before and have even a small interest in it, then definitely consider doing the park ranger-led snowshoe hike!

If you want to do snowshoeing on your own, Bryce Canyon National Park can be good for that too.

The Bristlecone Loop Trail seemed like a good spot for it.

The Rim Trail between Sunrise Point and Fairyland Point, as well as between Inspiration Point and Sunset Point seemed like it could be an option too.

I say this based on what the trail conditions were when I was at Bryce Canyon.

The Rim Trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point is more popular which means more foot traffic which means there’s a greater chance of no snow on this part because the path has been trampled over a lot more.

You can stop by the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor center to talk to a park ranger when you arrive for snowshoe trail recommendations based on current snow conditions!

See Bryce Canyon winter photos:

  • Queens Garden Trail
  • Navajo Loop Trail
  • Park ranger snowshoe hike
  • Sunset Point (Starting point of Navajo Loop Trail on the Rim Trail)
  • Bryce Point (short stop on the scenic drive through the park)
  • Farview Point to Piracy Point (short stop on the scenic drive)
  • How to spend one perfect winter day in Bryce Canyon

Make it a Southwest America national parks winter road trip!

  • 5 day road trip: Arizona Utah national parks route
  • One day in Grand Canyon National Park in winter
  • One day in Zion National Park in winter

HAPPY HIKING BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK IN WINTER!

Best national parks to visit in winter for winter hiking trails - Bryce Canyon National Park. Utah travel blog

First-timer’s guide to Bryce Canyon National Park

Lauren Keith

May 8, 2024 • 7 min read

A person walking along a switchback trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The cooler temperatures at Bryce Canyon National Park make hiking a pleasure © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

The smallest of Utah’s "Mighty 5" national parks, Bryce Canyon packs a big punch. The first time you clap eyes on its iconic hoodoos – those otherworldly rock spires striped with orange, pink and red – is a moment you’ll never forget, even if you’ve seen photos of them before. This incredible park is home to more hoodoos than anywhere else in the world.

Bryce Canyon’s high elevation, averaging more than 8000ft but reaching almost 10,000ft at its loftiest points, gives this national park an edge. The seasonal cycle of freezing and thawing water repeatedly over millennia has transformed the soft sandstone and limestone into an utterly unique landscape. Despite its name, Bryce is not actually a canyon but rather a plateau (a canyon is formed by flowing water).

Epic hiking trails skirt the plateau rim before diving down into the forest of alien pinnacles, fragrant juniper trees and centuries-old bristlecone pines. Here is everything you need to know about planning a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park.

When should I go to Bryce Canyon National Park?

More than half of the visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park go between June and the end of September, and for many, summer is the best time to visit. Bryce Canyon’s higher elevation means that the average high temperature in July is a blissful 79°F –a far cry cooler than the average of 100°F in Arches and Canyonlands or nearly 90°F in nearby Zion National Park .

In 2023, Bryce Canyon National Park’s busiest month was September, with 367,425 visitors, while January saw just 29,457 adventurers make the trip. The winter months can bring a powdered-sugar dusting of snow atop Bryce Canyon’s "fairy chimneys," providing an even more magical setting, though some trails and accommodations are closed.

The night sky above Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

How much time should I spend at Bryce Canyon National Park?

Some travelers visit Bryce Canyon as a day trip from Zion National Park (about 80 miles, a 1.5-hour drive from Zion’s east entrance), but it’s worth staying at Bryce Canyon for a full day or two. (How do you choose between Utah’s top national parks? Don’t! See them both.)

Bryce shows off its true colors at sunrise and sunset when the amphitheater of hoodoos looks like it’s been set alight with a golden-red glow. After the sun has departed, Bryce Canyon’s clean, dry air promises excellent nighttime visibility for stargazing, reaching all the way to the Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light-years away.

Is it easy to get to and around Bryce Canyon National Park?

Yes, Bryce Canyon is easy to visit if you have a car – it's just a few hours’ drive from the closest airports and major cities.

During the busier months of April through October, shuttle buses are available to get visitors around the park. The shuttle bus is free to ride with park admission and reservations are not required. There are 15 stops, nine of which are in the park; it also stops at some hotels in Bryce Canyon City outside the park entrance, where you can leave your car. Unlike at Zion National Park, the shuttle bus at Bryce Canyon is not mandatory, and visitors are allowed to drive their own vehicles into the park.

Cycling is also a great way to get around, and you can ride a bike to every major trailhead. The paved multi-use path that runs through the park goes to the Inspiration Point overlook and, beyond the park, it connects with the Red Canyon Bicycle Trail, which takes you past even more hoodoos and awesome rock formations outside Bryce’s boundaries.

Female hiker walking on the Queens Garden Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Top things to do at Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos are the stars of the park, and you’ll want to spend as much time as you can gawking at them from every angle and letting your imagination – and your feet – roam. Many hoodoos here have evocative names, such as Thor’s Hammer, and the Native Paiute believe that the formations are ancient "Legend People" who were turned to stone as punishment for wrongdoing.

The Rim Trail , one of Bryce Canyon’s easiest hikes, traces the upper edge of the plateau, overlooking the bowl of hoodoos below and linking up several viewpoints. While crowds cluster at these viewpoints because they are also accessible by car, you can walk a short distance along the Rim Trail to admire the scene in solitude.

But you can’t leave Bryce without walking among these iconic formations instead of just seeing them from above. A handful of hiking trails leave the rim and descend into the maze of stunningly sculpted high-mountain desert, threading their way through the hoodoos. The most popular hike in Bryce Canyon National Park is the Queen's Garden–Navajo Loop Combination Trail . It hits Bryce’s signature features in a relatively short amount of time and starts (or ends) with an iconic series of switchbacks between high ocher-colored canyon walls.

A quieter and more challenging hiking option is the Fairyland Loop , an eight-mile day hike that gives a good workout thanks to the 1900ft of elevation gain. The trail meanders around hoodoos, down into washes, up and over saddles and past ancient bristlecone pines that cling to the rocky cliffsides for dear life.

My favorite thing to do at Bryce Canyon National Park

There are some seriously epic viewpoints where you can spy on the hoodoos to your heart’s content, but I don’t think any spot is as cool as surveying the scene from a horse saddle. On my last visit to Bryce Canyon, I signed up for a three-hour horse-riding adventure with Canyon Trail Rides , the park's official concessioner, which takes riders out on Peekaboo Loop from April through October.

My horse for the day was an ornery, sandy-colored boy named Twerp, and our guide added amusing commentary, telling stories and pointing out rock formations along the way.

Unless you have your own horse, booking with Canyon Trail Rides is the only way to see this national park from a saddleback perspective. Trail rides book up quickly, so reserve as far in advance as you can. Even if you’re on foot instead of on a horse, the Peekaboo Loop is one of the best hikes in Utah .

How much money do I need for Bryce Canyon National Park?

The standard entrance pass for Bryce Canyon National Park costs $35 per vehicle or $20 per person if you’re visiting on foot or bicycle, and it’s valid for seven days. If you’re visiting more national parks on a road trip through Utah and beyond, it’s worth buying the America the Beautiful pass for $80. It's valid for a year at all national parks and federal recreation land across the country for one vehicle or four per-person entry fees – arguably one of the best travel deals available.

There's a lodge and two campgrounds inside the park. Bryce Canyon Lodge costs from $200 to $330 per night depending on the season and size of the room. Campgrounds cost $30 a night for both tents and RVs. At certain times of the year, campsites are first-come, first-served, but in the busiest season (mid-May to mid-October), you must book at recreation.gov in advance.

A tent at a campground during the late afternoon in the Bryce Canyon National Park.

What is the closest city to Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon City sits at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. Calling it a city is generous, but it has a handful of hotels and restaurants. The towns of Tropic and Cannonville, east of Bryce Canyon National Park, have a few more options for both accommodations and eating.

Where’s the best place to stay near Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon National Park has two in-park campgrounds, as well as the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge , which opened in 1925 and is perfectly set between the Sunrise Point and Sunset Point scenic overlooks, offering trailheads on your doorstep. Try to book a cabin if one is available – these spots are more charming than the motel-style rooms, which feel a little dated (but not in a cute way).

South of Cannonville, Bryce Glamp & Camp has gorgeous geodesic domes that feel like a home away from home, with kitchenettes, full bathrooms and plush mattresses. Wind down in the evening at your own outdoor gas firepit, watching the fading sunset light play on the quiet red-rock landscape.

Keep planning your trip to Utah:

Make the most of your America the Beautiful Pass and visit Utah's other national parks Explore on foot with six of the best hikes in the state Bring the whole family with our guide to visiting Utah with kids in tow

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Everything You Need to Know about Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

Southern Utah / February 19, 2019 by Allison / 12 Comments This article may contain sponsored content or affiliate links.

What's more beautiful than Bryce Canyon National Park in the summer? It's Bryce Canyon in the winter.

Bryce Canyon National Park is open year-round, and winter is a great time to go. Orange hoodoos and green bristlecone pines topped with pristine snow against a bright blue sky… It's absolutely spectacular.

I have visited Bryce Canyon in January and February, in two different years. The first trip was a romantic getaway with my husband. The most recent was a multi-generation trip with my husband and kids, plus my dad and sister. The trips were different in a lot of ways, but Bryce Canyon's scenery never fails.

Here's what you need to know to plan a great Bryce Canyon winter trip.

Bryce Canyon in Winter

Winter weather in Bryce Canyon National Park is mostly sunny, with clear air and cold temperatures. Depending on the year, there could be anywhere between a few inches and a few feet of snow. Our first trip was completely dry. Several snow storms blew through Bryce Canyon during our second trip, adding several inches each day to deep snow already on the ground. 

Bryce Canyon winter temperatures are usually around freezing (32 F). They could be a little warmer or much colder. I recommend packing head-to-toe winter gear for the whole family so cold weather won't keep you inside.

Waterproof boots with good traction are essential if there is snow and ice on the ground. I had trouble walking across the hotel parking lot without my winter boots.

Need a list? Check out my 8 Winter Clothing Essentials for Families . Just swap the ski helmet and goggles for a warm hat and sunglasses.

The altitude of Bryce Canyon National Park is 8,000+ feet. Some viewpoints are over 9,000 feet. If you're not used to high altitudes, you might feel them here.

My dad lives in Utah and has traveled to Bryce Canyon many times without any problems. However, he visited Los Angeles and Phoenix right before he met us at Bryce Canyon and he suffered from nausea the whole weekend. By our last morning, he was too sick to drive home. I drove his car while my husband drove our van. As soon as we dropped to 6,000 feet, he started feeling better.

Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest to combat altitude sickness. If it doesn't improve, drive to a lower altitude. You won't have to drive far to feel a difference. 

visit bryce canyon in winter

Getting There

Driving to Bryce Canyon in winter takes a little more planning than driving in the summer. Bryce Canyon is located in a remote, mountainous area where driving in a snow storm will be especially scary.

Watch the weather forecast and consider other options and routes if snow might be a problem. I have been driving in Utah's snow for decades and would cancel the trip or change plans rather than drive to Bryce Canyon in a snow storm.

Once you get to Bryce Canyon, snowy roads are less of a problem. The main road and major parking lots in Bryce Canyon are plowed quickly after a storm. They are not as narrow and steep as other local highways. The best time to see Bryce Canyon's winter splendor is right after a snow storm.

Salt Lake City and Las Vegas are the closest cities with major airports. Both are about 4-5 hours drive from Bryce Canyon National Park.

For more details and links to current weather information, visit the official Bryce Canyon National Park website . 

Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel

Ruby's Inn and the Bryce Canyon Grand are just about the only Bryce Canyon hotels open in the winter. They are Best Western Plus hotels located right outside the park. Both are owned by the same family, along with all the other hotels, restaurants, activities and services in “Bryce Canyon City.” 

I have stayed in both hotels. The Bryce Canyon Grand is newer, and all the rooms and facilities are in one building. Ruby's Inn is bigger and less expensive. Motel-style rooms are spread across several buildings at Ruby's Inn.

We booked a basic double queen room at Ruby's Inn for my family of four on our most recent trip. The queen beds were actually doubles, and the room had little space to spare. It was a tight squeeze for two adults, a teen and a tween. Next time, I would pay more to get a family suite or double king room.

You may find a few other hotels open year round in the neighboring towns of Tropic or Panguitch. However, with winter rates under $100/night at Ruby's Inn, I wouldn't shop around.

Click the button below to get more information about Ruby's Inn and Bryce Canyon Grand on TripAdvisor.com . Then book directly through rubysinn.com , because you'll get free cancellation until 4 PM on the day of check-in. This was a valuable benefit for us as we watched the weather forecast in the days before our most recent winter trip to Bryce Canyon.

visit bryce canyon in winter

There is only one restaurant inside Bryce Canyon National Park and it's closed in the winter. This leaves you with Cowboy's Buffet and Steak Room at Ruby's Inn and a couple other restaurants, like the Pines, farther outside the park. Winter is the off-season and most restaurants near the park will be closed.

We ate all our dinners at Cowboy's Buffet on both winter trips, and I liked it better the second time than the first. The soup and salad bar seems a lot fresher. A breakfast buffet at Cowboy's Buffet is now complimentary for all guests.

Ruby's Inn also has a small grocery store where you can find a lot of picnic supplies and other provisions. I stop at the supermarket for lunch supplies before I leave home. Ruby's Inn and Bryce Canyon Grand both have in-room refrigerators and microwaves. 

visit bryce canyon in winter

Winter Activities

There are lots of fun things to do at Bryce Canyon with kids in the winter. 

Sightseeing  – Many of Bryce Canyon's view points will be open in all weather. My favorites are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point and Inspiration Point. If the Rim Trail is clear, or if you have snowshoes, you can hike between them. 

See the sunrise – Sunrise is the time to see and photograph Bryce Canyon in it's best light. In the summer, you have to get up crazy early to see the sunrise. The timing is a lot more reasonable in the winter when the sun rises later. 

Snowshoeing – Take a free ranger-led snowshoe hike or explore on your own. Sign up for guided hikes at the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor center starting at 8 AM on the day of the hike. Space is limited and equipment is provided. All the slots were filled by 8:30 AM on our most recent trip, during Winter Fest. We didn't get to go. On most other dates, it shouldn't fill as fast. On our first trip, my husband and I were the only non-park employees on the hike.

Ruby's Inn rents snowshoes. It's currently just $10 per person for a full day or $7 for a half day. We hiked along the canyon rim from Sunset to Sunrise point and only part of the trail was clear. We occasionally sank to our knees in the snow. It would have been a lot easier in snowshoes.

Cross Country Skiing – Some side roads in Bryce Canyon National Park are left unplowed in the winter for cross country skiiers and snowshoers. You can rent skis for the same rate as snowshoes at Ruby's Inn.

Star Gazing – Winter skies are clear and dark at Bryce Canyon National Park. Park rangers set up big telescopes for stargazing on select evenings. My husband and I attended one of these star parties on our first trip, and it was a lot of fun. Dress warm!

Hiking – I love hiking Bryce Canyon in warm weather, but haven't ventured below the rim on our winter trips. You need to be more committed and have specialty gear to hike Bryce Canyon in the winter. Trails below the rim may not be open at all. If they are, you will need extra traction to navigate the ice and mud. 

Swimming – Ruby's Inn and the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel both have indoor swimming pools and hot tubs. It's a fun way to finish wearing out the kids after a morning or afternoon of sightseeing in the park.

Full moon snowshoe hikes, sleigh rides, horseback riding, ice skating and snowmobiling are also offered in or near Bryce Canyon National Park. Contact the ranger desk, Ruby's Inn or a local outfitter to find out what activities will be available during your visit.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Winter Festival

Ruby's Inn hosts a Winter Festival over President's Weekend in mid-February. In addition to the activities listed above, there are more guided activities, equipment demos, fitness classes, crafts and more.

After my family finished admiring the views in Bryce Canyon, we returned to Ruby's Inn and spent the afternoon enjoying the activities. My teen daughter and I made pottery. My dad went to the fat tire bike demo. My sister attended a photography lecture. My husband and son headed for the pool. Later, I went to a yoga class with my sister and daughter.

All of these activities were free. I really tried to get my kids to go to the Family Dance in the evening, but they were WAY too cool for that.

Ruby's Inn was busy during the Winter Festival. Room availability was limited when I booked a few weeks in advance, and the atmosphere was bustling for an off-season weekend.

Learn more about the Winter Festival at Ruby's Inn at  https://www.rubysinn.com/bryce-canyon-winter-festival/ .

Bryce Canyon in Winter

Bryce Canyon is a whole different place in the winter. Crowds are light, room rates are cheap and the views are even more spectacular in the snow. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are popular. Hiking trails may be closed.

Snow storms can limit access and activities during the winter. I recommend that you go with somewhat flexible timing and a backup plan, in case weather affects your plans. Be sure to dress for cold temperatures and snow.

One or two full days is probably long enough for most families to appreciate winter at Bryce Canyon National Park. If you have more time, pair your visit to Bryce Canyon with Zion National Park , which is also lovely – and less crowded! – in the winter. Zion Canyon sits at a much lower altitude, where winter temperatures are usually mild.

Allison on Email

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Reader Interactions

December 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

Thanks for the information. I was thinking about taking a short family trip during the Christmas break and think this looks like a viable option… The other one we are considering is Zion National Park. I’ve heard that one is pretty neat as well, with the frozen waterfalls and stuff.

Allison Laypath

December 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Sounds fun! I think that both are good options. Zion will be warmer, but Bryce may offer more ranger-led activities. The trick with Bryce will be snow. If there isn’t yet enough, it’s hard to go snowshoeing, etc. Of course, that means that the hiking trails will be open! Just be sure to prepare for slick and muddy terrain.

Jody Robbins

January 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm

OMG, are those hoodoos for real? Gorgeous!!!

Colleen Lanin

January 11, 2015 at 10:53 am

WOW. Those pics are just gorgeous!

January 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Stunning photographs!

Katie Dillon

January 12, 2015 at 11:20 am

How fun. Bryce Canyon is on our list!

carrickbuss

December 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Allison, great post!

Bryce Canyon is on our list for next summer, but I wish we could go now. We just returned from Rocky Mountain NP and we loved it for many of the reasons you love Bryce – low crowds and great scenery. We felt at times like we had the place to ourselves!

I didn’t realize the elevation was so high there, but 9k ft is no joke! The vistas are tremendous from up there! And to be able to stargaze in that clear, dark sky sounds awesome!

Great read and lovely photos!

December 6, 2016 at 9:17 am

Thank you, Carrick! It has been years since I visited Rocky Mountain NP. Now I want to plan a trip! I hope you have a great trip to Bryce next summer.

March 15, 2019 at 6:04 pm

Are dogs allowed? I usually travel with them.

March 17, 2019 at 9:25 pm

Hi Aimee. Pets are allowed inside Bryce Canyon National Park, but you cannot take them outside of paved areas. You can find more information on the Pets page of the Bryce Canyon website. https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/pets.htm

Antilog Vacations

March 4, 2019 at 3:05 am

Great post, Love it

January 28, 2021 at 11:00 am

Thanks for the info. We are going next weekend.

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visit bryce canyon in winter

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Beautiful viewpoint along Navajo Loop to Queens Garden Trail in the winter in Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a beautiful and unique place to visit with its tall hoodoos and stunning vistas regardless of the seasons. However, in winter, the already breathtaking landscapes transform into something even more magical. Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter is something straight out of the storybook, a winter wonderland. There is nothing like the interesting reddish hoodoos covered in sparkling snow. The pure white snow is in stark contrast against the red hoodoos, which makes their colors become even more vivid. There is also something peaceful about the flurrying of snow, fluttering upon the pine trees and the striking landscape. Also, most of the time, you’ll have the whole place to yourself. So if you’re seeking beauty and serenity, Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter is the place!

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Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter

Although Bryce Canyon National Park is especially gorgeous in the winter, it does require some planning ahead of time to make sure your adventure is safe and enjoyable.

Visiting Tips

  • In the winter, there are two roads that are closed to vehicles: the road leading to the Fairyland Point parking lot and the one leading to Paria View . They are, however, available for hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers.
  • Check road conditions and weather forecast before going – The main road through Bryce Canyon usually is closed temporarily at mile marker 3 (right after the turn for Bryce Point) following snowstorms. The closure typically lasts for a day or more, depending on the weather. So if you’re planning to drive all the way to Rainbow Point, it might not be possible.

Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Map

  • Always come prepared – At this high elevation, the weather can be unpredictable , especially with winter storms. Always come prepared such as bringing enough warm clothes and snow chains. It can be very cold here, with a record low in Jan and Feb at -26.
  • There are serious chances of you getting frostbite and/or hypothermia . With the low temperature and wind chill, there are serious chances for you to get frostbite or hypothermia if you don’t dress properly or be careful. To dress properly means dressing in loose-fitting layers, wearing waterproof outwear, and keeping your face and ears protected, especially it’s windy out. 
  • Bring traction devices such as crampons or micro-spikes, along with your snowshoes when visiting. It can get very slippery throughout the park, especially in the parking lots and other paved areas.

Visiting Tips - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

How Long Should I Stay?

So how long should you stay when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter? Well, a lot of it will depend on the weather, what you want to do, and your comfort level. However, we feel like 2 days would be sufficient. This will give you enough time to experience the beauty of this winter wonderland, yet not too long in case the weather turns bad, which shut down a lot of adventure options.

How Long should i stay - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

What Should I Bring?

Your packing list for the winter in Bryce Canyon National Park is very important. It can get below freezing here. Also, the wind chill is also a big issue. If you don’t dress properly, you can get frostbite or hypothermia.

  • Traction device: If you’re visiting in the winter, the trails and even the parking lot or any paved area can be icy. Therefore, we recommend bringing micro-spikes or crampons for added traction. You don’t need anything fancy. Just the simple one like this one would work. If you’re planning to hike trails that are not too popular or right after a snowstorm, you might need snowshoes. If you forget to bri ng yours or don’t have one, you can either purchase the micro-spikes at the Visitor Center or rent them at the Ruby’s Inn Winter Adventure Center. The Adventure Center also rents snowshoes.
  • Warm Clothing and Accessories – Make sure your outerwear such as jacket, pants, shoes, and gloves are waterproof. This way, you won’t get wet after getting into the snow and ended up with frostbite or hypothermia. Vy actually uses this jacket from R.E.I and she loves it. Also, layering is your friend. Wear multiple layers instead of one big sweater. This way, you can adjust according to the temperature. We love our Smartwool baselayer. For pants, this is Vy’s version , and this is Dustin’s version . For the top, here’s Vy’s , and here’s Dustin’s . We also recommend wearing wool baselayers and socks instead of cotton. And last but not least, neck gaiter and beanie, something to keep your face and ears covered.
  • Snow Chain: The weather can get very predictable up here, make sure to bring chains for your car so you don’t get stuck
  • Other Accessories: Items such as sunscreen and sunglasses are important. Even in the winter, the sun can be especially blinding. We use eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen, Stream2Sea SPF 30 , and tinted, organic All Good Organic Sunscreen Butter. Also, bring enough food and water. Everything either closes early or closes down for the season here.

Packing List - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

Things to Do in the Winter at Bryce Canyon National Park

Even though many areas are closed during the winter in Bryce Canyon National Park, there are still a lot of things that you can do here.

Scenic Drive to Rainbow Point

If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon National Park when the main Southern Scenic Drive is open, it is a beautiful drive that takes you to multiple viewpoints, overlooking the beautiful canyon below. One of these viewpoints is the famous Natural Bridge. It is about 40 minute drive. Please note that this scenic road (after mile 3) temporarily closes after snowstorms. Make sure to check the Alerts and Conditions page for road statuses. Even if this main road is closed, you still can get to Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Just these 4 stops are definitely worth your visit.

Scenic Drive - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

When visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll have to do at least one hike. It is nice to see the amphitheater from the rim, however, it is so much more beautiful once you get down in the middle of these beautiful hoodoos. If you’re short on time, the one hike you must do is the Navajo to Queens Garden Loop . It is not too long or too challenging, yet the juice is worth the squeeze. If this hike is too much for you, we recommend doing the Mossy Cave . Better yet, do both! 

If the weather permits, and you are capable, we recommend taking on the Peek-a-boo loop and the Fairyland loop. These two trails are much longer and more difficult. Also, since they are not well-traveled, sometimes, there are no trails to follow. Please make sure to know what you get yourself into because tackling these two hikes. For hiking in the winter, we recommend wearing either snowshoes or micro-spikes. If the snow is deep and fluffy, you’ll need snowshoes. On hard-packed trails, micro-spikes work way better. If you need to rent snowshoes or micro-spikes, check out the Ruby’s Inn Winter Adventure Center , right outside the park entrance.

Hiking - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

Snowshoeing

If you’re interested in snowshoeing, there are trails all throughout the park and outside the park as well. Inside the park, you are allowed to use snowshoes on all trails. The most popular snowshoeing trails are along the Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, the road to Fairyland Point, and Paria Road. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you can either rent them or join a free Ranger Program. The Ranger Program is good if you’re new to snowshoeing, but it’s also available for all levels of experience.

Snowshoeing - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

Cross-Country Skiing

Bryce Canyon is the perfect place to do some cross-country skiing , even if you have never done it before. There are over 18 miles of groomed trails available. There are also tons of ungroomed trails as well. These trails are free to use if you have your own equipment. If you don’t, the Ruby’s Inn Winter Adventure Center , right outside the park entrance, offers very reasonable cross-country skiing rentals. And guess what, you don’t even need to know how! It is super easy to pick up. We did this on our last trip. It was super fun. Please note that it is illegal to ski off of the rim into the canyon.

Cross-country Skiing - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its dark sky. It is a perfect place to see the Milky Way. In the winter, stargazing can be spectacular. That being said, it can be a bit of a challenge because the temperature can be VERY cold. Therefore, Sunset Point and Inspiration Points are the best options for stargazing because of the nearby parking lots.

Stargazing - Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

Happy Adventuring. Don’t forget to check out the related posts below for more inspiration on your upcoming adventures. While you’re at it, go follow us on  Instagram  and subscribe to our  Youtube channel ! We’ll love you forever!

These are the gear that we personally use and find them helpful for this particular adventure. Don’t forget to check out our  Recommended Gear section as well. 

adventure gear

Hiking Gear: Merrell Women's Moab 2

Good hiking shoes are recommended on these adventures. Vy uses the Merrell Women’s Moab 2 hiking boots

visit bryce canyon in winter

Good hiking shoes with good traction are best. Dustin’s shoes are  Targhee III Waterproof

Hiking Gear: Stream2sea sunscreen

There isn’t a lot of shade in the desert. Make sure to use lots of sunscreens! We use eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen, Stream2Sea SPF 30.

Hiking Gear: All Good suncreen for face

Face sunscreen is also important. We love these tinted, organic All Good Organic Sunscreen Butter.

Hiking Gear: Camelback LUXE

You should bring plenty of water on your hikes. Vy loves the Camelback L.U.X.E .

Hiking Gear: Patagonia Women's Nine Trails Pack 18L

For shorter hikes, the  Patagonia Women’s Nine Trails Pack 18L is perfect to hold water and your essentials. 

Hiking Gear: Patagonia Micro Puff

Sedona can get very cold in the winters and springs. We love our packable Patagonia Puff Jackets! You can get Vy’s version here , and Dustin’s version here .

Hiking Gear: Patagonia Mens Houdini Jacket

If you want something lighter, we love the packable Patagonia Women’s Houdini® Jacket and Patagonia Men’s Houdini® Jacket

other things to bring

  • Depending on where you’re staying, make sure to pack groceries and other essentials ahead of time.
  • Lunch and snacks are recommended for longer hikes. For healthy and easy snacks, check out some of our recipes .

camera gear

Camera Gear: Sony a7III

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15 Amazing Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Bryce / North America / Outdoors / USA / Utah

If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, don’t miss these spots!

Bryce Canyon National Park is an incredibly unique park in the US because it’s home to a large concentration of colorful hoodoos (the stone pillars). The park is relatively small, so you can see a lot in one day, but there’s enough to do if you want to explore for 2-3 days, too!

At the bottom, we wrote about more to do, but first, these are the park’s highlights.

15 Incredible Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure  for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: June 11, 2024

− − Content Menu

What you need to know before you go.

  • Map of Bryce Canyon

Winter Activities

Other viewpoints in bryce canyon.

  • Best Photography Spots at Bryce

More Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce canyon visitor center, hours, and fees, how to get to bryce canyon national park, bryce canyon national park shuttle, tips for visiting bryce canyon national park, frequently asked questions.

  • Best Places to Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Where to Eat at Bryce Canyon

Things to Do Near Bryce Canyon NP

Planning checklist.

  • More Resources
  • Parking is limited, but a free shuttle takes you around the park.
  • Pay attention to the weather. Flash floods can happen, especially in the summer.
  • Summer is the hottest and busiest season to visit.
  • The park is open year-round, although roads may close due to weather.
  • If you visit multiple parks, get an  America the Beautiful Annual Pass  to save money.
  • You can see all the highlights in a day but should spend 2-4 days if you want to explore the backcountry or multiple trails.
  • Roads and trails may close in the winter, so check current conditions.

1. The Scenic Drive

37.6397594,-112.1717112,  map

The scenic drive lets you enjoy much of the park’s beautiful scenery. It takes a minimum of 3 hours to drive to the 13 viewpoints and back.

Local Tip: Pick up an  America the Beautiful  park pass before you go to save time at the gate. It’s especially great if you plan on visiting multiple parks!

2. Visit Bryce Point

37.6111461,-112.176254,  map

Get up early and catch the sunrise at Bryce Point. The morning light catches the hoodoos and gives it a beautiful orange glow. It’s a short walk to the viewpoint and is among the highest overlooks along the rim.

See More: 11+ Breathtaking Things to Do in Kanab Utah

bryce point bryce canyon

3. Get Inspired at Inspiration Point

37.6111795,-112.1762969,  map

Follow a short trail to Upper Inspiration Point to get panoramic views of the amphitheater, where you’ll find a ton of concentrated hoodoos.

Local Tip: Photography here is best at dawn and dusk. 

See More: 11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US to Add to Your Bucket List

Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon Things to Do

4. Sunset Point

It gives you views of the main amphitheater and features Thor’s Hammer. This is also where the Navajo Loop trail starts. 

5. Sunrise Point

37.6237792,-112.1699769,  map

This is just a 10-15 min walk from Sunset Point. You can see Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship against the Pink Cliffs and Aquarius Plateau backdrop here. Bryce, Inspiration, Sunrise, and Sunset are the park’s main attractions and also the busiest spots.

See More: 15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park Utah

6. Hike the Navajo Loop Trail

37.6224771,-112.167858,  map

This moderate 3-mile hike begins at Sunset Point and takes you down into the amphitheater. The views are entirely different down here. You’ll get a chance to see large Douglas-fir trees, stand right next to the hoodoos, and see the gorge called Wall Street.

navajo loop trail

7. See the Natural Bridge

37.6225965,-112.2358862,  map

An easy pull-off gives you close-up views of this natural arch. It sits 85 feet long and 125 feet high.

natural bridge bryce

8. Fairyland Point

37.6502768,-112.1548038,  map

You can see this viewpoint without paying the park entrance fee. The views here aren’t as amazing as the other viewpoints, but it’s worth a stop.

9. View from Agua Canyon

37.5254419,-112.2549148,  map

This is one of the best views in the park. You see three layers of beauty: hoodoos in the front, Pink Cliffs behind them, and the Navajo Mountain on the horizon.

agua canyon

10. Stop at Rainbow Point + Yovimpa Point

37.4759551,-112.249491,  map

The final stop through Bryce Canyon is Rainbow Point. You get panoramic views of Southern Utah. Yovimpa Point is just a minute walk from Rainbow Point.

rainbow point bryce canyon

11. Queens Garden Trail

37.6284351,-112.1634905,  map

3.0 mi, 623 ft elevation, moderate

This is considered the easiest trail that goes into the canyon, where you can get closer to the hoodoos. Many people like to combine the Navajo Loop Trail with this trail so you get to see both!

12. Hike the Peek-a-Boo Trail

37.6043627,-112.1592172,  map

5.2 mi, 1453 ft elevation, moderate

The Peek-a-Boo Loop is 3 miles but can only be accessed through other trails. The shortest hike you can take starts from Bryce Point, making it a 5-mile hike that takes you to the Wall of Windows, the Cathedral, and the Three Wise Men formations. If you’re already hiking the Navajo Loop Trail, add the Peek-A-Boo Loop to get an 8.6-mile trek.

13. Under the Rim Trail

37.6283531,-112.1651279,  map

22.4 mi, 4366 ft elevation, difficult

If you want to go backpacking, Under the Rim Trail is the longest trail in the park. You can get an intimate look at Bryce with this one-way 23-mile hike over two days. It’s the best way to see everything from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point.

UPDATE: Portions of the trail are deteriorating and damaged, so strong navigating skills are necessary .

Local Tip: You must get a backcountry permit and arrange a ride at the end since it’s a point-to-point hike.

bryce canyon under the rim trail

14. Join a Night Hike with their Ranger Program

Check the visitor center for the most up-to-date information. They offer ranger programs like Astronomy and Full Moon hikes, where they give a short presentation. You get a closer look through telescopes. Don’t forget to check out the other ranger-guided activities.

15. Rent a Bike

A bike is a great way to get around the park. They have traditional and e-bike rentals, but we recommend e-bikes. The park is at high elevation, so even if you’re used to biking, you’ll get more winded. There are tons of mix-use paths through the park, and you can even bike up to the canyon edge outside of the park.

Bryce Canyon Map

In the winter, you can get a unique park experience by snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or sledding.

If you are there to explore even more, here’s a list of the other viewpoints and hikes. Several viewpoints are connected, where you get a slightly different perspective of the same view. If you’re strapped for time, visiting them all is unnecessary.

  • Swamp Canyon
  • Piracy Point
  • Farview Point
  • Ponderosa Canyon
  • Black Birch Canyon

Best Photography Spots at Bryce National park

  • Inspiration Point (sunrise + sunset)
  • Bryce Point (sunrise)
  • Sunrise Point (sunrise + sunset)
  • Sunset Point (sunrise)
  • Natural Bridge (mid-morning)
  • Agua Canyon (late morning)
  • Thor’s Hammer (sunrise, after sunset)
  • Paria View (sunset)

Pro Tip: The Photopills  app helps you map precisely where the sun will be at a specific location. I use it the most for astrophotography, but it’s also great for planning sunrise and sunset shots.

  • Mossy Cave (0.8 Mile, easy)
  • Rim Trail (11 Miles, easy)
  • Bristlecone Loop (1 Mile, easy)
  • Tower Bridge (3 Miles, moderate)
  • Hat Shop (4 Miles, moderate)
  • Swamp Canyon (4.3 Miles, moderate)
  • Fairyland Loop (8 miles, strenuous)
  • Riggs Spring Loop (8.5 miles, strenuous)

Pro Tip: Download AllTrails+ to have the trail maps offline.

what to do in bryce canyon

Visitor Center:  4.5 miles south of the intersection of Hwy 12 & Hwy 63

HOURS: Spring Hours (April): 8 AM-6 PM Summer Hours (May-Sept): 8 AM-8 PM Fall Hours (Oct): 8 AM-6 PM Winter Hours (Nov-Mar): 8 AM-4:30 PM 435.834.5322

We always recommend you visit the Visitor Center first to get the most up-to-date info from park rangers. They always have great insight into what’s happening in the park.

ENTRANCE FEES $35 per vehicle ($30 for motorcycles) $20 per person if entering by foot or bicycle Admission is for seven days and includes unlimited use of the Shuttle $70 Bryce Canyon National Park Annual Pass $80  Annual Pass to National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands  (we have this!)

CAMPGROUNDS Two campgrounds near the Visitor Center have restrooms with flush toilets and drinking water. Daily rates start at $30. During the summer, there are coin-operated laundry and shower facilities. There are no hookups, but a dump station for RV users is at the North Campground.

The closest major airports to Bryce Canyon National Park are  LAS  (Las Vegas, NV) and  SLC  (Salt Lake City, UT). Both are roughly 270 miles from the park.

There are two smaller airports close by: CDC (Cedar City, UT), which is 80 miles away, and SGU (St. George, UT), which is 125 miles away.

From the North: Take I-15 South to UT-20 East. Follow US-89 south to UT-12 East to UT-63. Take UT-63 south to Bryce Canyon.

From the South: Take I-15 North to UT-9 East through Zion NP to US-89. Go North on US-89 to UT-12 East to UT-63. Take UT-63 south to Bryce Canyon.

The free shuttle system (with proof of entrance fee) in Bryce Canyon is a great way to see the park without worrying about parking. 

The Shuttle Service Hours are as follows: April 5 – May 9: 8 AM to 6 PM May 10 – Sept 22: 8 AM to 8 PM Sept 23 – Oct 20: 8 AM to 6 PM

Buses typically come every 15 minutes, but you can also  track them live here . The shuttle stops at these points in the order listed:

Bryce Canyon City

  • Shuttle Station (recommended parking)
  • Old Bryce Town
  • Best Western + Grand Hotel
  • Best Western + Ruby’s Inn
  • Ruby’s Campground

Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Visitor Center
  • Sunset Campground (Southbound)
  • Bryce Point 
  • Inspiration Point
  • Sunset Campground (Northbound)
  • Sunset Point
  • Bryce Canyon Lodge
  • Sunrise Point (General Store)
  • Visitor Center (Northbound)
  • Ruby’s Campground (Northbound)

The  Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour  is currently closed but typically offers a free daily guided tour to Rainbow Point twice a day (9 AM and 1:30 PM). It is a 3.5-hour tour and covers 40 miles.

  • The park is busiest from 10 am to 4 pm.
  • The park reaches elevations of 9,100 feet.
  • Bryce is open year-round and the roads are plowed and sanded after heavy snowstorms. Some roads may still close due to weather.
  • Summer is the busiest and hottest (highs of 70s or low 80s) time to visit. With that said, fall, winter, and spring are great times to visit to avoid peak crowds and heat, but weather can vary greatly. Between October and May, temperatures fall below freezing at night and you may still get snow. Between December and February, you’ll get the coldest temperatures in the area.
  • You can take the free shuttle to get around the park.
  • Get AllTrails+ if you plan on hiking so you have access to the trail maps offline.
  • Save money by picking up an  America the Beautiful Annual Pass  if you want to take your own vehicle and you’re visiting multiple national parks.

HOW LONG SHOULD I SPEND IN BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK?

You can easily see all the major points in Bryce Canyon in one day. If you want to do longer hikes or more backcountry adventures, 2-4 days will give you more flexibility.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT BRYCE CANYON?

Summer is the most popular time to visit, with roughly 60% of visitors coming at this time. The weather is the warmest and crowds are the highest. Shoulder seasons in late spring or early fall help avoid the crowds but still gives you decent weather, although Spring and Fall can still bring snow. Winter is cold and can have heavy snow.

WHICH IS BETTER, ZION NATIONAL PARK OR BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK?

It’s hard to answer which is better between the two. They offer very different landscapes. Zion is much busier and crowds are very hard to avoid during the busy seasons. It is also a much larger park requiring more days to see everything. Since they are so close, we always recommend spending a day at Bryce then the remainder of the time exploring Zion.

WHAT IS BRYCE CANYON FAMOUS FOR?

Bryce Canyon National Park is best known for its hoodoo formations and the density of the features. A hoodoo is a spire or pinnacle shaped rock left standing by erosion.

Best Places to Stay

Staying in the park at Bryce Canyon National Park is amazing! They have rooms in their Main Lodge, the Sunrise and Sunset Motel, and Cabins . We stayed in a Cabin , which had two queen beds, a full bathroom, porch, and gas-log fireplace. The best part was that it was a 1-2 minute walk from the rim. Since we were there for astrophotography, it made it easy to pop out to the rim when we needed. I even woke up for sunrise shots because it was so convenient! Cabins fill up fast since the location is so good. Book your room here .

If the cabins or lodge are fully booked, then check the map below for other accommodation options.

Where to Eat

Since we stayed in the park, we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Bryce Canyon Lodge Dining Room . I’ll be the first to admit that most National Park food isn’t great, but we were really impressed at this spot!

  • Breakfast – They have a buffet or a la carte menu. We always did the buffet because they had an amazing fruit spread, including berries, melons, and more. We really enjoyed the biscuits and gravy too.
  • Lunch – Their Canyon Southwest Caesar is tasty. I love how it mixes southwest flavors with the classic caesar salad. I also enjoyed the Warm Trail Bowl for something healthy. Both portions are big!
  • Dinner – The Fish & Chips were good and the Grilled Ribeye was delicious. We also enjoyed the Jumbo Shrimp Fettuccine. And save room for dessert! The Croissant Beignets are so good and we wish we had ordered it at every meal.
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (19 mi east / 25 min)
  • Kanab  (76.5 mi southwest / 1 hr 21 min)
  • Zion National Park  (72 mi southwest / 1 hr 18 min)
  • Capitol Reef National Park (112 mi northeast / 2 hr 5 min)
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area / Lake Powell  (150 mi / 2 hrs 30 min)
  • Page, AZ  (151 mi southeast / 2 hrs 35 min)
  • Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
  • Download these helpful language apps .
  • Find a great deal on Bryce hotels .
  • Arrange a rental car for your trip.
  • Book a tour for your visit.
  • Get airport lounge access .
  • Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
  • Get a new backpack for your trip.
  • Buy a Bryce travel guide .
  • Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
  • Don’t forget your in-flight essentials .
  • Save money on attractions with a Go City Pass .

More Resrouces

  • Bryce Canyon Trails Map
  • Best Easy Day Hikes Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
  • Lonely Planet Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks

Where else have you seen hoodoos? Can you think of any other things to do in Bryce Canyon that can’t be missed?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

15 Incredible Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

SEE MORE NATIONAL PARK GUIDES

BLACK CANYON GUNNISON

BRYCE CANYON

CRATER LAKE

DEATH VALLEY

GRAND CANYON

GRAND TETON

GREAT BASIN

GREAT SAND DUNES

JOSHUA TREE

SEQUOIA + KINGS CANYON

WHITE SANDS

YELLOWSTONE

“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes ” – M. Proust

Esther and Jacob

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J) , YouTube , TikTok , and Pinterest.

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Does a senior national parks pass accepted

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visit bryce canyon in winter

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Alerts in effect, queens garden & navajo combination.

Last updated: May 22, 2024

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P.O Box 640201 Bryce, UT 84764

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visit bryce canyon in winter

12 Best Hikes In Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Zion and Bryce are both top Utah National Parks, but the latter can rival the former, thanks to its scenic hikes that are easily among the best hikes in America.
  • Bryce Canyon offers unique geological formations like hoodoos and vibrant hues, captivating visitors with stunning views.
  • Expect an array of hikes open year-round in Bryce Canyon National Park suitable for all fitness levels, showcasing the park's beauty.

Utah is home to five National Parks and over 43 state parks (but not all are worthy of being named among the top parks in Utah ). Unsurprisingly, it has become the ultimate destination for adventurous travelers aiming to discover natural wonders, such as Bryce Canyon, often described as a geological masterpiece that can rival the otherworldly landscapes in adventurous spots like Death Valley National Park and its epic hikes , as well as the ever-famous Zion National Park, which is also in Utah.

One question appears often: Is Zion or Bryce better? It depends; Zion offers incredible bucket list hikes like Angels Landing, America's most dangerous hike showcasing stunning canyon views at every turn. However, Bryce can rival its popular counterpart; it's also home to a natural wonder: Bryce Canyon, which opens up a realm of otherworldly hiking trails that are just as breathtaking.

Bryce Canyon National Park spans an area of over 35,000 acres. While it may not be as extensive as some other national parks, it compensates with its unique geological formations, including towering hoodoos, eroded rock formations, and vibrant hues. Visitors can expect countless viewpoints and an array of hikes open year-round perfect for amateurs and experienced hikers. Out of all the things to expect when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park , these hikes come top of the list.

UPDATE: 2024/05/09 19:32 EST BY ERICA BLAIR

Enjoy even more of the most splendid hikes in Utah in Bryce Canyon National Park

These hikes are perfect for people of all different fitness levels and show you the fantastic, natural side of Utah. With easy-to-follow maps, a guide to how strenuous each hike is, and information on why you should lace up your boots and have some fun, this list has it all.

Getting A Permit For This Scenic Utah Hike Is Almost Impossible

Yovimpa point, a brief and beautiful way to experience a slice of bryce canyon.

Yovimpa Point is a hike that you can do on your lunch break and still have some time to enjoy a sandwich and look at your pictures afterward. Most people can make the 0.3-mile hike in less than 10 minutes, and you'll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views around.

On a clear day, you can see straight across the canyon and get some incredible snaps.

Sheep Creek & Swamp Canyon Loop

Head to this slippery but worthwhile trail in the winter months to appreciate a snowy wonderland.

This trail is epic at any time of year, but it's particularly lovely during the winter months when you can step into a fairy-tale winter wonderland as you explore the 4.5-mile loop.

Although Sheep Creek and Swamp Canyon Loop is among the fairly popular trails in Bryce Canyon National Park, you can still find some quiet spaces to relax and fully take in the surrounding scenery. As it's a moderate hike, good shoes and hiking poles are a must, especially if the weather conditions are a bit tricky.

Winter hiking can be difficult and good shoes are an absolute must. Invest in some hiking poles and get boots with excellent tread so that you can make your way over icy and slippery bits, and also protect your feet from rocks and keep them snug in colder conditions.

The Rim Trail

Panoramic views and an easy hiking trail await you on this scenic hike.

What is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon National Park for beginners? Some would say it's this one! Travelers aiming to have an experience that combines an easy hike and stunning views should consider the Rim Trail, one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park.

It starts in the south at Bryce Point, stretching 5.5 miles towards the north to Fairyland Point. This path is filled with impressive geological formations, including iconic hoodoos and amphitheaters. Hikers can expect a leisurely stroll, numerous viewpoints, and opportunities to capture memorable photographs.

Whether admiring the sunrise or sunset, the Rim Trail is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, as it showcases the park's breathtaking beauty, making it an accessible and rewarding adventure for visitors of all ages.

12 Of The Most Beautiful Hiking Trails In 2024

Sunset point to sunrise point hike, spend the early morning hours enjoying incredible sky scenes on this great trail.

National Parks are often excellent places to enjoy the sunset or the sunrise. The Sunset Point to Sunrise hike is an easy trail leading to prominent viewpoints within the park and is widely considered to be one of the best hikes in the US for catching the sunset or sunrise.

The path is paved, making it easy for people with children, and it’s also dog-friendly, but pets must walk only on paved surfaces. This short tail gives hikers a glimpse of impressive rock formations and contrasting colors within the national park. It’s also an interesting option for visitors who don’t have much time to explore the region.

The Navajo Loop Trail

See splendid flora and wind your way through narrow trails on this exciting adventure.

The Navajo Nation is an extensive area stretching over the states of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. Within Bryce National Park, hikers can explore the Navajo Loop Trail, which starts and ends at Sunset Point.

So, just how hard is the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon? AllTrails rates it as moderate; it goes through narrow walls, and hikers can also access important landmarks in the region, including Douglas-fir trees and Thor's hammer.

The Navajo Loop Trail has two sides. While the Two Bridges side remains open year-round, the Wall Street side is often closed during the winter.

The Queen's Garden Trail

Marvel at some of utah's best rock formations on this easy and rewarding trail.

The Queen's Garden Trail is the most popular hiking trail in Bryce Canyon National Park for first-time visitors. The path features a combination of unique rock formations and expansive views.

This hike starts at Sunrise Point, where hikers descend into the Queen's Garden. It is considered an easy trail and is commonly combined with the Navajo Loop Trail , resulting in a total distance of 2.9 miles. The hike concludes at Sunset Point.

The highlight of this hike is the sight of the Queen Victoria Hoodoo, named after the queen herself. However, the path is also adorned with other majestic rock formations.

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The fairyland loop trail, a challenging but captivating hike with incredible views.

Experienced hikers seeking a challenge should consider the captivating Fairyland Loop Trail, which could perhaps rival the toughest and most rewarding hikes in the world .

This 8-mile hike commences at Fairyland Point, the northernmost viewpoint within Bryce Canyon. Since no transportation is available, travelers need to walk to the starting point. Alternatively, hikers can also start the hike at the rim trail near the Tower Bridge trailhead.

The Fairyland Loop Trail presents a challenging level of difficulty due to its length and elevation changes. It typically takes around five hours to complete, making it essential to bring water and snacks for the journey.

To optimize the hiking experience, it is recommended to follow the trail counterclockwise.

The Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail

A dazzling descent into bryce canyon surrounded by incredible nature.

Hikers can begin the Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail from Bryce Point, which is considered among the top hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. This 5.5-mile loop trail showcases stunning rock formations, including the famous Wall of Windows. Descending 670 feet within Bryce Canyon, visitors hiking during the summer may also have the chance to see horses wandering around.

The trail starts and ends at Bryce Point, featuring a descent into the canyon with steep switchbacks and rewarding views. To avoid crowds and high temperatures, hikers should begin the trail early in the morning. It is important to carry sufficient water and wear sturdy footwear throughout the hike.

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This florida trail offers scenic views with minimal hiking, mossy cave trail, a brief and beautiful trail that features a waterfall.

The Mossy Cave Trail is a unique and accessible hiking experience. This 0.9-mile trail is suitable for all skill levels and showcases a picturesque waterfall and a mossy overhang.

Starting at the trailhead near the parking area, hikers can enjoy the serene beauty of the area while exploring the geological formations and the moss-covered walls.

The trail is among the most beautiful hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park and provides a refreshing escape during the hot summer months. Plus, it offers a glimpse into the park's diverse ecosystem. Remember to bring water and wear comfortable shoes.

The Bristlecone Loop Trail

An easy and scenic loop that you can do in just 30 minutes.

Hikers looking for a relaxing trail should consider the Bristlecone Loop Trail. This one-mile trail goes through ancient bristlecone pine forests (some of which are over 1,800 years old) and impressive viewpoints to the Four Corners area.

The trailhead is conveniently located near Rainbow Point, the southernmost point of the park. Along the way, informative signs provide fascinating insights into the unique ecosystem and the resilience of the bristlecone pines.

It's an ideal trail for a leisurely stroll, photography, and gaining a deeper appreciation for the park's natural wonders. Remember to bring water, sunscreen, and a camera.

Toer Bridge Trail

A moderate trail that rewards you with views of tower bridge.

The Tower Bridge Trail is one of the best hikes Bryce Canyon National Park has in store for sightseers. It's a moderate 3.4-mile round-trip trail that leads to the impressive Tower Bridge, a natural rock formation resembling a bridge. The trail offers striking views of the surrounding canyon and opportunities for exploration.

The best time to visit is during the cooler months of spring and fall, avoiding the peak summer heat. Travelers should wear sturdy shoes, carry water, and use sunscreen. The trail provides an enjoyable and memorable adventure, showcasing the unique geological features of Bryce Canyon.

The Under The Rim Trail

An epic and long hike that will give you the full picture of the joys of backcountry exploration in bryce canyon.

The Under-the-Rim Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park, but it is a challenging and immersive hiking experience. This hike spans approximately 23 miles, and travelers often sleep one or two nights on the trail . Hikers will encounter varying terrains and elevations, providing a true wilderness adventure.

It's important to plan and prepare accordingly, as this trail requires adequate hiking and camping gear and ample food and water supplies. The Under-the-Rim Trail allows hikers to explore the park's hidden gems and offers a more remote and rewarding journey for experienced trekkers seeking an unforgettable backcountry experience.

12 Best Hikes In Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park

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Best u.s. national parks for 2024.

For more than 100 years, the National Park Service has managed millions of acres solely for the "enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations." Today, 63 designated national parks in the United States draw millions of visitors a year to witness jaw-dropping natural wonders and unforgettable terrains. To determine the best U.S. national parks, U.S. News considered scenic beauty, range of activities and the opinions of both travel experts and recent park visitors. Do you have a favorite park? Cast your vote below to help us determine next year's ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations require reservations for timed entry. Plan ahead to ensure you can visit on your preferred date.)

Glacier National Park

Yellowstone national park, yosemite national park, grand canyon national park, grand teton national park, zion national park, denali national park and preserve, kenai fjords national park, bryce canyon national park, redwood national and state parks, arches national park, sequoia national park, olympic national park, hawai'i volcanoes national park, mount rainier national park, rocky mountain national park.

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Considered one of the world's best places to visit , Glacier National Park spans two mountain ranges and includes more than 700 lakes across Montana. Take advantage of the park's expansive hiking trails, and be sure to hit traveler favorites like the Trail of the Cedars and Iceberg Lake Trail. Other activities include a ride along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road and a trip to the unique Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Canadian border. What's more, Glacier National Park hosts plenty of free ranger-led activities like guided hikes and stargazing events ideal for visitors of all ages.

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Even if Yellowstone didn't hold the incredible distinction of being the world's first national park, the 2.2 million-acre park, which stretches across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, could easily stand on its own for its unique natural attractions and magnificent landscapes . Here, travelers can get lost in the splendor of Yellowstone's many lakes, mountains, bison-filled valleys and, of course, its unmatched hot springs and active geysers (of which the park boasts more than half of the world's supply). To avoid the crowds that often plague Yellowstone while also ensuring excellent weather, plan to visit in April, May or October.

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One of California's most-visited national parks, Yosemite National Park stands out for its bevy of impressive waterfalls, such as Vernal Fall and Bridalveil Fall, as well as its unique granite rock formations like Half Dome and El Capitan. There are also ample scenic hiking and camping opportunities; just keep in mind that campsites sell out quickly after becoming available for booking, so make your reservations in advance. Whatever your itinerary may be, make sure to stop by the Tunnel View overlook, which offers showstopping panoramas of Yosemite Valley. What's more, the picturesque lookout spot is relatively easy to access (no hiking is required).

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The Grand Canyon is so magnificent that even the highest quality photos don't do the Arizona park's vast beauty justice – you just have to see it in person. The 18-by-277-mile UNESCO World Heritage Site offers endless hiking opportunities with trails of various lengths and degrees of difficulty, as well as the chance to raft the Colorado River. For a slight break from the tourist crowds, head to the less-congested North Rim. And if you're looking for a different vantage point, consider a helicopter tour to learn more about Grand Canyon National Park and see it in all its glory from above.

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Jackson Hole's backcountry is a wild wonderland begging to be explored. Once home to ranchers and fur trappers, this Wyoming park now offers more than 250 miles of trails that weave past forests, lakes and the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Grand Teton mountain range. The Cascade Canyon Trail – which takes travelers past waterfalls, glacier-carved canyons and more – shows off the best of Grand Teton National Park's stunning topography. Don't forget to stop by the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center to stock up on maps, check out its informational exhibits and watch the interesting documentary film about the park.

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Utah's Zion National Park is a paradise for thrill-seekers. Hike Angels Landing, which brings you up through a nearly 1,500-foot natural staircase (permits are required to hike this popular trail and are awarded through an online lottery system). You can also trek The Narrows, a roughly 10-mile hike through the thinnest section of Zion Canyon, which requires hikers to travel upstream through the Virgin River. For a less strenuous exploration of the park, join a shuttle bus tour to traverse the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which takes you past many of the park's most famous landmarks.

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Spanning six million acres of unspoiled Alaskan wilderness, Denali National Park and Preserve is as vast as it is fascinating. One-sixth of the park is covered in glaciers, and the tallest mountain in North America, Denali, stands within its bounds, towering at 20,310 feet high. The park appeals to true explorers as there isn't an abundance of marked trails. However, free ranger-led trail hikes are available seasonally. Visitors can also watch a sled dog demonstration, go snowmobiling or take a narrated bus tour of the 92-mile Denali Park Road to see scenic landmarks like Savage River and Wonder Lake.

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Comprised of glaciers, coastal fjords and icefields, Kenai Fjords National Park transports guests to an age where ice covered large parts of the earth. The Harding Icefield – which was created more than 23,000 years ago – is one of this Alaska park's main features, extending for 700 square miles and viewable via the 8.2-mile Harding Icefield Trail. Visitors can also embark on the Glacier Overlook Trail and Glacier View Loop Trail to catch vistas of Exit Glacier, which flows from the famed icefield. Or, take a kayak or a boat tour to experience the awe-inspiring landscapes from the water.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Hoodoos are odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from forces of erosion, and Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the most extensive collection of hoodoos in the world. Located in southern Utah, the nearly 36,000-acre park offers an array of hiking opportunities. All trails offer a glimpse of the impressive red rock formations; visitors can also sign up for guided horseback riding tours. While Bryce Canyon is most popular in summer, the park's stark white snow-covered landscape juxtaposed with the orange-red rocks is an unforgettable sight. Winter is also a prime time for activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

visit bryce canyon in winter

As the name suggests, Redwood National and State Parks are best known for their sky-high redwood trees, which typically soar more than 300 feet tall. Along with exploring the old-growth redwood groves, travelers can hike past rivers, through prairies and along 40 miles of Pacific Coast shoreline, spotting wildlife like elk, sea lions and various species of birds as they go. If you can't stay long, scenic drives like Howland Hill Road and Enderts Beach Road showcase park highlights. But for those wanting to sleep under the stars and rise with the sun, there are four developed campgrounds.

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Established in 1929 and awarded national park status in 1971, Arches National Park covers nearly 77,000 acres in eastern Utah. Oddly shaped sandstone monuments occupy every view, and the formations make the park an excellent place for backpackers, rock climbers and hikers, not to mention photographers. Visitors will find a whopping 2,000-plus arches in the park – the world's densest concentration of these natural structures. The most popular to see are Landscape Arch, Delicate Arch and Double Arch. Plus, travelers will want to check out the visitor center, which features a wealth of information and exhibits outlining Arches National Park's history, geology and more.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Sequoia National Park is defined by its beautiful, towering sequoia trees – the largest trees in the world. Travelers can hike through this unique California national park to admire its trees, rivers, meadows and wildlife. A visit here is not complete without seeing the Giant Forest's General Sherman Tree, which measures nearly 275 feet tall and more than 36 feet in diameter, making it the world's largest tree by volume. After you ogle the truly impressive evergreens, try some other adventurous activities like rock climbing, horseback riding or fishing.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Among the nearly 1 million acres that make up Olympic National Park, visitors can wander through the enchanting Hoh Rainforest, trek to stunning overlooks and relax on more than 70 miles of Pacific Northwest coastline. One of North America's top hiking destinations , this Washington state gem features top trails like Mount Storm King and the Hall of Mosses. However, you will also want to save time for trying out one of Olympic National Park's other popular activities, which range from canoeing on Lake Crescent to birdwatching on Kalaloch and Ruby Beach.

visit bryce canyon in winter

Visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park for a chance to get up close and personal with two of the world's most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The latter almost continually erupts, which visitors can witness from multiple points in the park, including Crater Rim Drive and the famous Chain of Craters Road (although eruption sightings are never guaranteed). While driving along Chain of Craters Road, set aside time to stop at the Kealakomo Overlook. The scenic lookout offers expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and the ancient village of Kealakomo.

visit bryce canyon in winter

At 14,410 feet tall, Mount Rainer is the highest peak in the Cascade Range and the tallest volcano in the contiguous United States. Though thousands of travelers tackle the ambitious hike to the mountain's summit each year, it's far more popular to drive to Sunrise, the highest point accessible by vehicle, to soak in 360-degree views of the Cascade Range and Emmons Glacier. Numerous shorter hikes are also available at Mount Rainier National Park, so visitors can explore the temperate rainforests of Carbon River, admire the picturesque wildflower meadows at Paradise or search for the waterfalls in the old-growth forests at Ohanapecosh.

visit bryce canyon in winter

The Rockies earn plenty of points for their convenience. Sitting about 70 miles northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park makes for an easy daytrip. However, you could also spend days exploring this Colorado park. The Rockies' magnificent landscape is one for the books, featuring more than 350 miles of scenic trails, plenty of lakes and numerous mountain peaks taller than 10,000 feet. If you're short on time, Emerald Lake Trail is a popular trek that's less than 5 miles round trip and promises spectacular alpine views. If you'd rather skip the hiking, opt instead for an auto tour of Trail Ridge Road.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

Acadia National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

Crater Lake National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

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visit bryce canyon in winter

Shenandoah National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

Dry Tortugas National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

Haleakala National Park

visit bryce canyon in winter

Canyonlands National Park

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  3. How to Enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

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  1. Bryce Canyon Ep 1

  2. 1988 Baaji Visit Bryce Canyon, Vegas Tacos , Bridgette, Snowy, Disneyland Anaheim, Parade

  3. Winter Hike in Bryce Canyon National Park Utah !

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  5. Scenic Pullouts in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

COMMENTS

  1. Visiting in Winter

    Planning a Winter Visit. The stark white of freshly fallen snow, red rocks, blue sky, and evergreen trees--some say Bryce Canyon is even more beautiful in winter! Here at 8,000 feet (2,438 m) the scenery changes dramatically in the colder months, providing unique opportunities to see the park and requiring a very different packing list.

  2. Winter In Bryce Canyon National Park

    Bryce Canyon's winter temperatures have plunged as low as -26 degrees Fahrenheit, and subzero temperatures can occur during any winter month. Plan for a snowy visit. The park typically receives just under 100 inches of snow a year, though one year 82 inches of snow fell in January alone. Expect freezing temperatures most nights from October ...

  3. Things to do in Bryce Canyon in Winter: The Perfect 1-Day Itinerary

    You will get the unique experience of driving through Red Canyon Arch that is carved right out of the mountain! 2. See Thor's Hammer at Sunset Point Overlook. Thor's Hammer is the tallest hoodoo in Bryce Canyon National Park. All of the hoodoos range in height from the height of a human to stories tall.

  4. Visit Bryce Canyon in Winter: 5 Things to Do & Winter Travel Tips

    Bryce Canyon facilities in Winter. Visitors Center - With the exception of major holidays, the Visitor Center remains open in the winter months, however, they do close at 4:30 pm. Campgrounds - The North Campground remains open year-round, but Sunset Campground closes each winter from November to April.Note: The North Campground RV Dump Station closes in winter.

  5. Tips for Visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon in Winter

    Check Bryce Canyon's official site for more information if festivals are your jam. Invest in a Garmin inReach Mini 2 ($100 OFF thru Nov. 20, 2023!) for peace of mind. Weighing just 3.5 oz., this compact satellite communicator adds peace of mind to your adventures without adding weight to your pack.

  6. Bryce Canyon in Winter: Things to Do + Tips (in 2024!)

    9. Bryce Canyon Winter Festival . No wintertime visit to Bryce Canyon is complete without being present at the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival! The event usually offers free-of-charge clinics, demonstrations, tours, etc. Throughout the festival, health clinics such as pain relief, injury prevention, and nutrition classes are available.

  7. The Ultimate Bryce Canyon Winter Guide

    Attend the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival. The Bryce Canyon Winter Festival offers the perfect opportunity to discover new ways to enjoy adventuring in the snow. The yearly collaborative event between Ruby's Inn and Bryce Canyon National Park usually spans over President's Day weekend. It's a great option to add to your itinerary if you ...

  8. Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter (2023)

    Due to its higher elevation, the weather in Bryce is quite different to the other Utah National Parks. During the winter months, Bryce Canyon is generally sunny with great visibility but temperatures tend to be very low — in winter, temperatures typically reach highs of 40°F (4.4°C) and lows of 15.4°F (-9.2°C).

  9. What to Do When Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

    Hike in the Park. Hiking in winter is totally possible - just make sure you bring the proper hiking gear. Arguably, the best thing to do when visiting Bryce Canyon in February or any other winter month is to go hiking. Some of the best Bryce Canyon winter hikes offer great views of the Bryce Amphitheater, the main attraction in the canyon.

  10. Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter: Pro Secrets

    Bryce Canyon sits at about 8,000 feet above sea level, which means that it has more of a mountain climate despite the red rocks. Bryce Canyon in winter is quite cold. Temperatures are regularly below freezing and nighttime lows are typically in the teens. November: Average high 45F, average low 23F.

  11. Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter

    Bryce Canyon National Park in December. December is usually the coldest month in Bryce Canyon, with temperatures falling to lows of 12°F (-11.1°C) and highs around 36°F (2.2°C). But with about 2 inches less average snowfall than January and February, you'll have the best chance to enjoy the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive.

  12. Winter in the Bryce Canyon Area: Hiking, Cross-Country ...

    Snowshoeing & Winter Hiking Trails in Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon provides amazing winter snowshoeing and hiking opportunities. Many visitors prefer the relatively flat terrain of Paria View Road, Fairyland Point Road and the Rim Trail open sections. Ranger-guided snowshoe hikes are a great way for adults and kids ages 8+ to explore the park ...

  13. Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

    Fortunately, there are many things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park: hiking, camping, stargazing and horseback riding, just to name a few. Whether it's a long backpacking expedition into the wild or cross-country skiing in the winter, a new adventure awaits you in Bryce Canyon. Explore Bryce Canyon National Park Best Time to Visit Bryce ...

  14. 8 Best Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes And Things To Do

    Navajo/Queens Garden Loop. Distance: 3.0 miles RT. One of the most popular hikes in Bryce Canyon National park during any season is the Navajo and Queens Garden Loop. It is a moderate loop that is easy to find, short, and gives you a great over-all experience in the park.

  15. Visiting Bryce Canyon in December

    The biggest drawback of visiting Bryce Canyon in December is unpredictable road closures. During snowstorms in the Park, the main road will be closed until the snow is cleared, beginning at mile marker 3. In December, there are seasonal trail closures due to safety concerns. The Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop trail is closed in the ...

  16. Visiting in Winter

    Planning a Winter Visit. The stark white of freshly fallen snow, red rocks, blue sky, and evergreen trees--some say Bryce Canyon is even more beautiful in winter! Here at 8,000 feet (2,438 m) the scenery changes dramatically in the colder months, providing unique opportunities to see the park and requiring a very different packing list.

  17. 9 best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

    As far as how much time to spend in the Bryce Canyon National Park, it's totally reasonable to make it a perfect one day in Bryce Canyon. 9 best winter hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. aka best things to do in Bryce Canyon in winter! I went to Bryce Canyon in December 2019, and the pictures in this blog post are from that time. 1.

  18. First-timer's guide to Bryce Canyon National Park

    The winter months can bring a powdered-sugar dusting of snow atop Bryce Canyon's "fairy chimneys," providing an even more magical setting, though some trails and accommodations are closed. ... Some travelers visit Bryce Canyon as a day trip from Zion National Park (about 80 miles, a 1.5-hour drive from Zion's east entrance), but it's ...

  19. Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

    The best time to see Bryce Canyon's winter splendor is right after a snow storm. Salt Lake City and Las Vegas are the closest cities with major airports. Both are about 4-5 hours drive from Bryce Canyon National Park. For more details and links to current weather information, visit the official Bryce Canyon National Park website.

  20. Why You Must Visit Bryce Canyon NP in the Winter: Complete Guide

    Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a beautiful and unique place to visit with its tall hoodoos and stunning vistas regardless of the seasons. However, in winter, the already breathtaking landscapes transform into something even more magical. Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter is something straight out of the storybook, a winter wonderland.

  21. 15 Amazing Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

    Bryce, Inspiration, Sunrise, and Sunset are the park's main attractions and also the busiest spots. See More: 15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park Utah. 6. Hike the Navajo Loop Trail. 37.6224771,-112.167858, map. This moderate 3-mile hike begins at Sunset Point and takes you down into the amphitheater.

  22. Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

    Visiting in Winter. Plan your Bryce Canyon winter adventure. Current Conditions. Know what to expect during your visit to Bryce Canyon. Plan Your Visit. A good place to start for trip planning information. ... Nature lovers and birders of all levels will gather at Bryce Canyon to participate in the world's longest running citizen bird census.

  23. Bryce Canyon National Park Guide: Activities, tours, and ...

    Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is the perfect getaway from Las Vegas. Hike, eat, drink, shop and more in Bryce Canyon City, Utah. Visit one of the most beautiful national parks for the jaw ...

  24. Queens Garden & Navajo Combination

    Safety. Bryce Canyon is a high altitude park ranging from 8,000 feet (2438 m) to over 9,000 feet (2743 m) in elevation. Even mild exertion in the park can lead to altitude-sickness if you're not prepared. Visit our Hiking at High Altitudes page to learn more. Wear hiking boots with good ankle support and "lug" traction.

  25. 12 Best Hikes In Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park

    Zion and Bryce are both top Utah National Parks, but the latter can rival the former, thanks to its scenic hikes that are easily among the best hikes in America. Bryce Canyon offers unique ...

  26. 4+ Hour Winter Visit

    A shorter visit should focus on the first 3 miles (4.8 km) of the park, known as the Bryce Amphitheater.After a stop at the Visitor Center just past the fee booths for restrooms, the park gift shop, and other amenities, continue 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the turn for Bryce Point.The road to Bryce Point is 2 miles (3.2 km) long and ends at one of the park's most popular overlooks.

  27. Best U.S. National Parks for 2024

    Denali National Park and Preserve. #7 in Best U.S. National Parks for 2024. Spanning six million acres of unspoiled Alaskan wilderness, Denali National Park and Preserve is as vast as it is ...