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.
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!
- Hat for sun-blocking
- If cooler weather, take a jacket.
- Water, water, water! The air is dry – you can’t have too much water.
- Rain jacket – In can rain anytime
- Sense of adventure!
Tip: 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!
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.
Regardless of whether you chose to go horseback riding, starting your day at Sunrise Point is a perfect place to start.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The trail is an easy 0.8-mile roundtrip to the waterfall and 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.
- 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)
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.
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.