Bryce Canyon National Park sign

One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park

Here is the perfect way to spend one day at Bryce Canyon National Park!

Not sure what see in Bryce Canyon National Park if you only have one day?

Here’s how to see get the most of your one day at one of the most popular Utah National Parks with the Bryce Canyon must see places. This itinerary does include some of the best Bryce Canyon hikes, so bring your hiking shoes!

Tip: Be prepared for a busy day!

Where to stay at Bryce Canyon  National Park

To see Bryce Canyon in one day, it would be best to spend the night close to Bryce Canyon. Of course, staying in the park would be better, but Canyon City is a short drive to the entrance of Bryce Canyon and the Visitor Center, which is always a great place to begin the day. There are several hotels from which to choose in Canyon City, but just like in another popular destination, make your reservations in advance.

There are a few options inside the park including The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. If you prefer to camp at Bryce Canyon, the campgrounds are first come-first serve, so plan on arriving early in the morning to claim an open spot.

Getting around Bryce Canyon National Park

Each of the areas listed below are easily accessible via car or the Bryce Canyon shuttle. Cars are allowed inside the park, but due to congestion, it is highly recommended riding the shuttle.

The Bryce Canyon shuttle runs from 8am-6pm April 12-May 9, 8am-8pm May 10-September 29 and 8am-6pm September 30-October 20. Check out details on the Park Shuttle for additional information.

You may pick up the shuttle inside the park, but please be aware of parking restrictions. If you are staying in Canyon City, the shuttle picks up/drops off at several of the larger hotels.

Bryce Canyon map
Bryce Canyon map

Tip: If you are staying inside the park, several of the trailheads, points of interest and shuttle stops are within walking distance.

What to pack

  • Snacks – please do not feed the wildlife!
  • Sunscreen!
  • Hat for sun-blocking
  • If cooler weather, take a jacket.
  • Water, water, water! The air is dry – you can’t have too much water.
  • Camera
  • Rain jacket – In can rain anytime
  • Sense of adventure!

Photography Tips

Tip: Bryce Canyon is a perfect backdrop for black and white photos.

Black and white photos on Queen's Garden trail
Bryce Canyon is a perfect backdrop for black and white photos

Hike the Hoodoos Challenge

Regardless of the path you choose for the day, be sure to tackle the Hike the Hoodoos Challenge!

Hike the Hoodoos Challenge at Bryce Canyon
Hike the Hoodoos Challenge at Bryce Canyon

The challenge is a fun way for all ages to explore Bryce Canyon trails, while also getting some exercise. The simple rules are to hike a minimum of 3 miles on specially marked trails and find the “Hike the Hoodoos” benchmarks along the way. You can either take a picture with it or make a rubbing of the benchmark.

After you complete the challenge, drop by the Visitor Center to collect your prize!

Read more about the Hike the Hoodoo Challenge on the National Park website.

RELATED: Visiting other Utah National Parks in one day? Check out how to spend one day at Zion National Park!

Option 1 including Canyon Horseback Riding

If you enjoy horses, exploring Byce Canyon trails via horseback is a wonderful experience. There are so many great trails and vistas to see, adding in horseback riding will provide a way to see more of the park in one day.

Sunrise Point

Regardless of whether you chose to go horseback riding, starting your day at Sunrise Point is a perfect place to start.

Colors of Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon
Sunrise Point

Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

Stop by the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center after you see the sunrise at Sunrise Point. Grab a Bryce Canyon map, stamp your National Park passport book, buy some souvenirs or just chat with a National Park Ranger. Seeing the video of the park is also a favorite for many people.

Queen’s Garden Trail

Queen's Garden trail sign
Queen’s Garden trail is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon

The trail to Queen’s Garden is considered one of Bryce Canyon’s best hikes. It is the least difficult of all the Bryce Canyon hikes which takes you into the canyon. The trail is 1.8-miles round-trip and should take 1-2 hours depending on your physical ability.

Hiking Queen's Garden trail at Bryce Canyon
Hiking Queen’s Garden trail

Hike the Hoodoo Challenge: Queen’s Garden is one of the benchmarks – be sure to take a picture or rubbing of the benchmark before you leave. It also gives you a great start on the minimum 3-miles of hiking.

Tip: Do not be fooled how easy the hike is on the way to Queen’s Garden. The difficult part is the way out of the canyon! Also, take photograph breaks on your way out and don’t forget to take some in black & white.

Queen's Garden one of the best hikes at Bryce Canyon
Queen’s Garden

Lunch at Bryce Canyon Lodge or the General Store

Depending on what time you start the day, this itinerary should have you ready for lunch after the hike to Queen’s Garden. If you are running short on time, the General Store has snacks and pizza slices.

If you have a little more time, the Bryce Canyon lodge does have a restaurant serving lunch from 11:30am-3pm. Also, at the lodge, is Valhalla Pizzeria which is a great option if you don’t want General Store snacks & pizza or a more formal sit-down lunch.

Horseback riding with Bryce Canyon Trail Rides

As you plan when to start the day, keep in mind you must check in for the 1pm trail ride at 12:15pm.

While there are several operations who have trail rides into the canyon, Bryce Canyon Trail Rides have the longest rides and you see more of the canyon.

Your trip starts just outside the Bryce Canyon lodge. The ride takes you 8 miles into the canyon and lasts approximately 4 hours along some of the best trails in Bryce Canyon.

Horseback riding on trails at Bryce Canyon
Horseback riding along some of the best trails at Bryce Canyon

Tip: Being late will not make you a favorite with the locals (from experience). Have cash available for your guide!

Mossy Cave Trail

Mossy Cave Trail is located outside the more popular scenic drive. While it does take about 10 minutes to drive to the parking area, it is worth the drive as it’s the only trail in the park with a waterfall.

Hiking along stream at Mossy Cave
Mossy Cave trail

The trail is an easy 0.8-mile roundtrip to the waterfall and cave.

Hiking Mossy Cave at Bryce Canyon
Hiking Mossy Cave

Hike the Hoodoo Challenge: Mossy Cave Trail is one of the benchmarks – be sure to take a picture or rubbing of the benchmark before you leave. If you hiked Queen’s Garden, you are at 2.6-miles of your 3-mile goal.

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

Make your way back into the park. If you haven’t done so already, stop at the official Bryce Canyon National Park sign for pictures.

As you drive along the scenic route, go to the furthest spot, Yovimpa Point (mile 18) and make these stops on your way back for different view-points.

Natural Bridge along the scenic drive at Bryce Canyon
Natural Bridge
  • Ponderosa Canyon (between mile marker 14-15)
  • Agua Canyon (between mile marker 13-14)
  • Natural Bridge (between mile marker 12-13)
  • Inspiration Point (between mile marker 2-3)
Rainbow Point along the Bryce Canyon scenic drive
Rainbow Point along the Bryce Canyon scenic drive

Hike the Hoodoo Challenge: When you arrive at Inspiration Point, take the short 0.7-mile hike to Sunset Point to complete your 3-miles for the Hike the Hoodoo Challenge.

Finish the day at Sunset Point

While Sunset Point can be enjoyed at anytime during the day, it is a perfect end to your one perfect day at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Option 2 excluding horseback riding

If horseback riding isn’t your thing, try the following route for the day:

  • Visitor Center
  • Sunrise Point
  • Hike the Rim Trail

Hike the Rim Trail

Rim Trail is an easy path which runs along the scene route along the amphitheater. It can be as short as 1-mile, but you can take it the 2.5-miles to Inspiration Point.

If you don’t want to back track, take the shuttle bus back to your starting point.

Hike the Hoodoo Challenge: The Rim Trail is one of the benchmarks – be sure to take a picture or rubbing of the benchmark before you leave.

The remainder of your day would be the following:

  • Queen’s Garden Trail
  • Drive the Scenic Route
  • Mossy Cave Trail
  • Sunset Point

Listen to a Ranger talk

Check the schedule at the Visitor’s Center on scheduled ranger-led talks and hikes. This is an excellent way to learn more about the park first-hand.

Other Information

Best time to visit Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is the highest elevation National Parks in Utah, which means it is cooler than all the other parks.

Summer temperatures have the days a comfortable temperature with cool evenings. However, summer months also bring the largest crowds.

If you don’t mind cooler temperaturs, the best time to visit could be April-May or September-October, but be prepared for all types of weather.

Distance from Zion to Bryce

Many visitors to the Utah National Parks combine visits to Bryce Canyon with Zion National Park.

The distance from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is ~70 miles and a 90 minute drive.

Have fun spending one day at Bryce Canyon National Park!

RELATED: Visiting other Utah National Parks in one day? Check out how to spend one day at Arches National Park!

21 thoughts on “One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park”

  1. Pingback: One Day at Zion National Park - Checking It Off the List

  2. Your blogs always make me want to take a trip and follow your footsteps. Love all the good info and the great photos

  3. Pingback: How to see Arches National Park in One Day - Checking It Off the List

  4. I love Bryce Canyon. My favorite US National Park so far. The shapes and colors are incredible there. Thanks for the detailed information and awesome pictures.

  5. Oh I have never even heard of Bryce Canyon National Park!

    May I just say that I love the way you compose your images! The image, together with the way you write, kind of makes me feel that I have been there with you. Gret job!

  6. Bryce Canyon has been on my bucket list for years. I love the idea of the Hoodoo Challenge, I will definitely do that when I finally get there. Love getting prizes lol

  7. Your photos are beautiful and especially the black and white. I only use my little phone for pics so I wonder if they would come out even half this good! The Hoodoo Challenge is a great idea for the park. I love freebies and would absolutely take advantage of this!

  8. Oooh, I love those hoodoos. I would certainly take the challenge! I’ve visited Zion but didn’t make it to Bryce. I hope to get there someday!

  9. Awesome post! I love Bryce Canyon National Park. It is great to visit in the summer, because it is so high up that the summer heat does not get there. It is magical in the wintertime, when the snow lightly dusts the hoodoos. What a place!

  10. I’ve travelled all over the world, but I’ve covered pretty much nil of the United States. I always think about the cities, and I forget you have so many amazing national parks. I think I’ll have to plan a road trip one day to try and see a whole load of them. Bryce Canyon looks stunning!

  11. Ohhh Bryceee!!! How I miss thee. My short visit to Bryce was a few years ago in September. The plan was to stay 3 nights 2.5 days. What happened was 1 night and .5 days. My girlfriend and I were national park hopping/road tripping/tent camping from Vegas up to Zion/Bryce down to Page/Grand Canyon back down to Vegas for a week. We packed 1 blanket (not sleeping bag) 1 sheet and 1 sweatshirt because it was supposed to be a warm trip. When we got to Bryce we had 1/2 a day to visit the park until we had to make camp before dark. The altitude was making me sick, andddd the temp dropped that night down to 43 f (6 c). We had every piece of clothing we brought with us on, wrapped in our towels, and rolled into a human burrito to share the 1 blanket and 1 sheet. You understand why we didn’t stay another night? haha It was still a great trip.

  12. Love Bryce! Such a gorgeous park and so much to see and do. I love how your list covered all the must-sees. I haven’t done horseback and will be sure to try that next time.

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Nancy Williams

Nancy Williams

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