Bryce Canyon National Park or ‘Land of the Hoodoos’ is a favorite among Utah’s National Parks. Bryce was named after Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce who described the canyon as “a hell of a place to lose a cow“. Bryce Canyon is more like a natural amphitheater of hoodoos – tall, pole like rock structures that will bewitch you (pun intended). But these red rock spires are not the work of folk magic but are carved by the erosive forces of water. Bryce Canyon National Park lies at a much higher elevation offering substantially different ecology and is a contrast for those visiting all five parks in one trip.
Getting there – The closest major airports are in Las Vegas, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Where to Stay – Lodging is available at the Bryce Canyon Lodge during summer and at the Sunset Hotel during the winter season. Bryce Canyon also offers two campground sites. Nearest town – Panguitch.
Fees – Private, non-commercial vehicles must pay a $30 entrance fee and for individuals $15, both are good for 7 days. A National Park Pass ($80) will allow access to all National Parks for one year.
Need to Know – Bryce Canyon is located 50 miles west of Escalante, 83 miles northeast of Zion National Park, 120 miles southwest of Capitol Reef National Park, and 160 miles north of the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The Scenic Byway 12 is a famed scenic route from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park.
MUST SEE AT BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Bryce Canyon is relatively small in comparison to the other national parks in Utah which makes it fairly easy to cover the majority of the park in one day. Most of the park’s major overlooks are located on the 18-mile scenic park road. It is almost like a ‘hop on and hop off‘ ride unless you choose to hike.
Bryce Point – From Bryce Point, one can view one of the most dramatic views of the park’s hoodoos called The Bryce Amphitheater. Make sure to come here at sunrise and catch the first rays of sun on the hoodoos. It is truly a moment to savor.
Sunrise Point – Catch inspiring views of the canyon amphitheater at this point. Located near Bryce Canyon Lodge. It offers views of popular formations – the Silent City and Thor’s Hammer.
Sunset Point – Don’t go by the name, at Sunset Point you can enjoy the views of the hoodoos any time of the day. A popular spot for photography owing to the soft light in the mornings.
Inspiration Point – Another viewpoint accessible by car or from the Rim Trail, Inspiration Point is popular for photography especially during sunset.
Natural Bridge – Bryce is known more for its hoodoos but this deep red natural arch forms a beautiful frame to the ponderosa trees.
Rainbow Point & Yovimpa Point – Located at the end of the park road, Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point provide sweeping views of the hoodoos from the higher points in the park.
Navajo Loop (1.3 miles round trip) – A popular trail in the park, that takes you to the floor of Bryce Canyon. Thor’s Hammer and Wall Street are few of the notable formations found on this trail. The trail starts at Sunset Point and descends to the main canyon amphitheater while making steep switchbacks. It is best to combine this hike with Queen’s Garden trail.
Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Combination (2.9 miles round trip) – The trail starts from Sunrise Point and finishes at Sunset Point, takes you up close to the hoodoos and interesting rock formations.
Peekaboo Loop (5.5 miles round trip) – A strenuous trail owing to change in elevation, this trail also leads through hoodoos, rock formations within the Bryce Amphitheatre. You can also go on a guided horse or mule ride on this trail. The trail begins at Bryce Point and is also accessible from the Queen’s Garden trail.
Bristlecone Loop (1.0 miles round trip) – This trail starts from Yovimpa Point and leads through bristlecone pine trees to an overlook on the cliff’s edge.
All photos by Vikram Khangarot