Bryce Canyon National Park
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Bryce Canyon National Park

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When Is the Best Time

When Is the Best Time

Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. However, there are a lot of things to consider if you’d like to make this a visit you’ll remember forever. We wrote this guide to give you the best tips for Bryce Canyon in terms of the best time (months), weather, busy times, best hikes, personal hotel tips, and more. Use our quick navigation:

  1. Monthly Weather and Busy Times
  2. Avoiding Tourist Crowds (IMPORTANT!)
  3. Opening Hours and Shuttle Service
  4. Best Hotels
  5. 5 Amazing Easy Hikes and Walks

 

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park in terms of weather is from May until September. The temperatures are usually mild between 63°F and 80°F (17°C – 27°C). However, it’s peak season. If you want to avoid busy times and still experience mostly pleasant weather, go in April or October.

Guide-Book Tip: Check out the best and latest (2019 edition) guidebook for Bryce and Zion which is available. This is a must-read before you go: Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks. 

Tour Tip: This one is unforgettable: You spend three days with the best tour guides you can imagine and explore stunning Zion and Bryce National Parks, Monument Valley, as well as Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. You ride with a 4x4 jeep through Monument Valley and get world class photo opportunities on this once in a lifetime tour. Hassle-free with with everything taken care of! Read the reviews: Bryce, Antelope, Grand Canyons, Zion & Monument Valley - Exclusive Tour
 

Bryce Canyon Access (Health Update)

Bryce Canyon Operations 2020
Click the image for more details on the official Bryce Canyon Operations NPS page

For Bryce Canyon National Park no reservations are required (as of 9/2020). That's why our 'Avoiding the Crowds' Tips became even more important. Visitor center, roads, and trails are a open and accessible. There are only a few restrictions. Please find out more about the limitations by clicking the image above. 

 
Monthly Weather and Busy Times

Sitting at a relatively high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, Bryce Canyon National Park is colder than any national park in Utah including Zion, Canyonlands and Arches. Summer temperature is pleasant and mild with little fluctuations. Night time in spring and fall are chilly but winter is the coldest with plenty of snowfall. Remember to pack your warm clothes when planning your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park anytime of the year. Monthly average maximum temperatures:

More details: Bryce Canyon Climate

Spring (March – May): Weather during spring transition from cold to mildly warm. Nonetheless, visitors still need a jacket particularly in March and April. This is the time to see snow melt from the higher elevation mountains surrounding this spectacular park. However, especially March is still considered a 'winter month' with snow and often unpleasent temps. April is the time when most Bryce experts consider going: The snow is melting and it's the first 'warmer' month as temperatures are getting more pleasant in April.  It doesn't matter that the trails are still muddy and that’s it's unlikely to see flowers. Also, keep in mind that nights in April and May are chilly. 

Summer (June – August): Experience pleasant days and cool nights during summer. The best weather is in July, the warmest month. Rainfall during mid to late summer comes as afternoon thundershowers. These are also the peak tourist months with heavy crowds.

Fall (September – October): Especially September is a great month with pleasant temperatures, blue sky, clear and crisp air. However, weather can be unpredictable and fall nights can be relatively chilly. It is possible to experience some snowfall in October.

Winter (November – February): Winter is the coldest time to visit Bryce Canyon. One will experience lots of snow between January and February, making it ideal time to enjoy snow activities such as skiing and sledging. Much of the area experience the occasional snowstorm from October through April. The coldest month is December. Few facilities and amenities will either remain closed or reduce their operating hours. The shuttle won't operate in winter. However, it's still worth visiting in the colder months! Why? 1) No crowds, you have the park almost to yourself. 2) It's cold but definitely not freezing cold during the day. 3) Accommodation prices are at their lowest with great discounts (check our hotel tips below). There are also a lot of amazing things to do in the winter. We loved the 'Ranger Guided Snowshoe Hike'. Check the official park website for more information: NPS - Bryce Canyon Winter Visit

 
Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The park is attracting over 2.6 million people annually. Summertime is the peak tourist season and very busy. Quieter times are winter, early spring and late fall. In September, the crowds start to thin out slightly after Labor Day (first Monday in September). However, not on weekends, as they are still packed in September.  June, July and August bring the heaviest crowds. In May it already starts to get busy, especially on weekends.

To avoid the crowds, start your day’s exploration early and go mid-week if possible. Finding the perfect parking space can sometimes be challenging especially at the view points along the scenic drive. However, you can find a nice parking spot just few kilometers away from the more packed ones. Special Tip: If you want to park your car at Sunset Point (limited parking only), arrive there around 7 a.m. A park ranger even suggested 6 a.m.! Otherwise it's better to use the shuttle (see below). Hiking enthusiasts should also start very early as most hiking trails will be packed later. The family friendly and moderate trails are packed in high season: Rim Trail, Queens Garden Loop, Navajo Loop, … You can find solitude, even in peak season, on the more strenuous day hikes like Fairyland Loop and Peekaboo Loop. Especially if you start early. Looking for very easy, short hikes or walks? Read our guide with the 5 best hikes and walks at the end of this article.  

 
Opening Hours and Shuttles

The park is open 24 hours throughout the year. The Visitor center is modern, with everything you need. No restaurant though. Visitor Center Operating Hours . Shuttle service for the Bryce Canyon stops in late October and resumes with the start of spring in mid-April. Detailed schedule: Bryce Canyon Park Shuttle Is is it free? Yes, there is no additional fee. You can use the shuttle as often as you like. It's all included in the $35 entrance fee to Bryce Canyon.

 
Best Hotels (Personal Tips!)


Sunrise at Bryce Canyon by PiConsti, CC BY-SA

Whether you're planning for adventurous hiking or enjoying one of the stunning viewpoints after after an easy hike/walk (read more below), there is one thing you should always do: Stay at least one night even if you have limited time!! Why?

  • Staying at a very close hotel or inn allows you to start early and dodge the crowds. That way you'll enjoy Bryce Canyon so much more. You also prevent stress as you don't have to drive a long way right before getting to the awesome spots.
  • You can take awesome photos like the above one at sunrise and sunset without any stress. Getting up early, eating breakfast and then driving for 8-10 minutes only (or taking the shuttle) to take gorgeous photos at the amazing viewpoints is much better than every other option with the annoying crowds.

Where to stay? The best place we know is definitely Best Western Ruby's Inn (Tip: Book well in advance as it's in high demand! If you don't book now: Bookmark the link!). 4 reasons why we always stay at Ruby's Inn:

  1. Fantastic: From the moment you walk through the door, you see this magical fireplace. The helpful and extremely friendly front desk agent greets you and helps you with everything. Quote from a visitor: 'The staff go out of their way to make you feel like a king!'
  2. Comfortable: The rooms are perfect, clean large and with everything you need. The breakfast is included and really excellent!
  3. Very close: It is the closest hotel to Bryce Canyon! Only 8 minutes drive to Sunrise Point, even less to the Visitor Center. Other viewpoints are also close and very easy to visit from the Ruby's Inn
  4. Very convenient: It gets even better, as the official shuttle also stops right at the Inn. It takes you to Sunrise Point or Sunset Point as well as other great viewpoints


More lodging options? In case you don't mind driving a slightly longer, use the map below to find another hotel nearby. Hint: Zoom out first with the minus button! If you don't see the map use this link: Bryce Canyon Hotels and Lodges Bookmark it in case you're not booking now, as you can save money by comparing prices later.

Booking.com


Tourist and Weather Calendar

Where and Tips

Bryce Canyon, UTAH
United States

Bryce Canyon National Park boasts the most beautiful sandstone scenery in the American West. Here is the largest collection of hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) in the world! Descriptions fail. Photographs and words can not do justice.

Review by user Ray Downs: Great hiking everywhere, tons of trails and guides can show you around. Can be VERY crowded in the peak summers months. I like it best in the winter but it can be very cold...but the snow on the red rocks makes the best photos. Sunset and sunrise are the best times to be on the rim...mid day in the bottoms allows light to filter down. Be safe and take lots of water in the summer.

 
5 Easy Hikes and Walks (The Most Amazing Ones)

Do you have limited time only and still want to experience the most stunning views? The great thing about Bryce Canyon National Parks is that you don't have to hike for a couple of hours to view most dramatic sceneries. There are the super short hikes or walks which are less than 1 mile (or 2 miles), where you can experience the most stunning views. It often takes only a few minutes to half an hour driving between the best easy trails and viewpoints. It gets better: The first 3 hikes/walks below all start at Sunset/Sunrise Point or nearby and can be combined easily without driving on a single day.

We highly suggest to stay one night, even if you have limited time only. That way you can start very early (see above) and beat the crowds at the most popular spots and trails. Also taking stunning photos at sunset the evening before and at sunrise with the crowds is a amazing.  Read our hotel tips above and choose either the Best Western Ruby's Inn (our top tip, bookmark it!) or one of the others. Now: Below are the easiest hikes and walks with amazing views you can easily do all in one day. Looking for more?  Check the official NPS website: Bryce Canyon Day Hikes You can reach most other hikes/trails via the shuttle as well. 

1. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point


Bryce Canyon - Sunset Point

This is a small section of the longer Rim Trail. The best thing here: If you stay right there or nearby (see above) you can just walk in a few minutes to the trailhead. A lookout over the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater which is one of the most impressive views in whole Utah. You can see the famous hoodoos, sections of Queen's Garden Trail and even Navajo Mountain on a clear day. The path is also wheelchair accessible and pets are allowed. Get here first thing in the morning!
 

2. Queen's Garden Trail


Bryce Canyon - Queens Garden Hoodoos

This short hike starts at Sunrise Point. That means you can do it right after 'Sunset to Sunris Point' if you like. Although you hike down then up again, the views in each direction are completely different. This is such a scenic hike with many opportunities for stunning photos. At the end of the trail you see a hoodoo which looks like Queen Victoria overseeing the garden. A must-do hike/walk.
 

3. Navajo Trail


Traversing Navaja Loop by Andrew Smith, CC BY-SA

This short hike starts also at Sunset Point and has a scenery like Queen's Garden with many impressive hoodoos. You can even combine it with Queen's Garden if you like. However, it's a little steeper with greater elevation gain. That's why it's officially rated as moderate by NPS. However, it's still an easy one if you don't try to rush through. Please be extra careful of loose rocks which can roll on this hike beneath your feet.
 

4. Mossy Cave Trail


Mossy Cave Trail by Anna Irene, CC BY-SA

This one is outside the park, but only an 18 minutes drive from Sunrise Point (Bryce Canyon Lodge). For an additional hike on one day besides hikes #1-3 you might choose this one or #5 (Bristlecone Loop). In case you'd like to visit Capital Reef National Park after Bryce Canyon, this one is just on your way. You'll also spot the intriguing hoodoos and mostly follow a river, see a waterfall, cross a bridge and finally hike up to a fascinating shelter cave. It's an easy, but very nice and interesting hike.
 

5. Bristlecone Loop


cliff (near Rainbow Point) by brando, CC BY

You start from the southern end of Bryce Canyon National park at Rainbow Point. It's a 30 minutes drive from Sunset/Sunrise Point. This trail runs through a forest, the highest part of the park with elevations over 9100 feet (2800 m). On the trail you can spot those impressive ancient bristlecone pines. Some of them are 1800 years old! The canyon view is truly stunning and on this trail you can also spot wildlife. In winter this hike may be impossible because of snow.

 

Photos

Comments

SandyH

Looks really great. On my hiking list now!

@Ray Downs: I don't like crowds. Are spring and fall also good seasons to visit? Besides the missing snow for photos :)

Ray Downs

Spring and fall are great too...it is best to miss the shuttle service times. So you can self drive. During the most congested times you can use the shuttle. April-Sep.

Tim72

Nice! @Ray: Do you have more photos?

Ray Downs

Here is one from sunset point.

Ray Downs

Here is another

Ray Downs

Here are a few more shots of Bryce Canyon

Chris

Bryce Canyon is a photographers dream at sunrise and sunset. We came here in March and experienced snow.

travelguy

Spectacular scenic views! You must see those hoodoos during sunrise and sunset. Amazing for photos. Thanks @Drew Hays for the attached shot.

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