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One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park: Itinerary & Guide

Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite national parks. With sweeping views of hoodoos, the canyon, and valleys beyond, this national park has so much to see. Bryce is small enough that you can cover a fair bit of ground in a day, but big enough that you have more to return to. Here’s my ultimate guide to one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.

When to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a park that you can visit anytime of year. While summers are certainly the most popular time to visit, I prefer visiting Bryce Canyon during shoulder seasons. Autumn is a particularly nice time in the park, with brisk mornings, warm afternoons, and fewer crowds.

The summertime can be brutal with the heat, so if you decide to visit then, make sure you wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water, as there isn’t a ton of shade in this national park.

In the wintertime, snow covers the hoodoos, resulting in spectacular orange and white views. The roads can be icy and very slippery, so make sure you carry tire chains in your car.

What to Pack for a Bryce Canyon National Park Day Trip

You can get away with packing relatively lightly in Bryce. Most trails are relatively short and the park is small, meaning you can get to everything you need pretty easily. That being said, you’ll definitely want to be prepared!

In the summertime, bring a hat, sunglasses, good shoes, sunscreen, and a BUNCH of water. Water is the most important thing – the trails are often exposed to the sun and temperatures can reach 80°F (around 27°C).

In the wintertime, pack plenty of layers. I recommend a wicking base-layer (something like merino wool would be good), a fleece or jumper, and then a down jacket. On the bottom, leggings under trousers typically do the trick. I never leave without wool socks and a hat! You might also consider bringing microspikes if there’s been freezing temperatures or snowfall.

In late November, we were in down jackets and wool socks in the morning but in tank tops in the afternoon. Layers, layers, layers!

One Day in Bryce Canyon National Park Itinerary

Sunrise at Sunrise Point

This Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary begins with an iconic sunrise view. Sunrise point is an obvious choice for sunrise, but you can catch great views from most of the northern rim. Watch the sun come up over the hoodoos, slowly lighting up the valley beneath you. If you get lucky, vibrant sunrises make the canyon look like its on fire. There’s no better way to wake up.

We like to make a coffee at camp before watching sunrises. Waking up to the smell of butane and ground coffee reminds me of when I was young. We’d wake up to that combination of smells and sip on hot chocolate while eating dry Quaker Oat squares. Whether its coffee or hot chocolate, I highly recommend getting something to sip on while you watch the sunrise – I find that a hot bev gives you ‘permission’ to start your day a little more slowly and gently. Once the sun has fully risen and your hot drink has warmed you from the inside out, get moving! It’s hiking time.

Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail

The Fairyland Loop Trail is my FAVORITE hike in Bryce. It’s absolutely spectacular. This trail takes you along the Rim Trail so you get a view over the canyon before descending down on the Fairyland Trail to hike among the hoodoos. While the hike officially starts from Fairyland Point, you can also start from Sunrise Point so that you don’t need to drive from your sunrise spot.

The Fairyland Loop Trail is a little bit longer than the other hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. It takes about half a day and is roughly 8 miles. If that sounds a bit too strenuous for you, the Navajo and Queen’s Garden Trails are also popular trails. While more crowded, they have great views of the hoodoos and are iconic Bryce Canyon hikes!

You can read my full guide to the Fairyland Loop, Bryce’s ultimate hidden gem, here.

Drive the 18 mile Bryce Scenic Drive

The Bryce Scenic Drive takes you on the main road through the park and to scenic viewpoints that are often missed! The first three miles of the scenic drive bring you along the Bryce Amphitheater, where you can stop at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point. As you venture further into the Southern part of the park, you can visit 9 other incredible stops. We particularly loved seeing the Natural Bridge Overlook and Rainbow Point.

We went in the late afternoon, just before sunset. This is a great time to drive along the scenic route because everything shimmers in that golden hour light. Make sure that you leave enough time to see all of the stops before sunset. Sunset isn’t great at Bryce Canyon National Park because the hoodoos fall into the shadows. We may have left just a *tad* too late, so err on the side of being early.

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce, Utah is the town just outside of the national park. There are two main places to stay here. Ruby’s Inn, which has been around since the beginning of tourism at Bryce Canyon, and the Best Western Plus across the road.

We stayed at the Best Western Plus during our last trip to Bryce Canyon and had a great stay. The rooms were large and we had two Queen beds and a view over the property. We were able to be properly fueled up for our hikes with the breakfast buffet, and when we had to leave early, they gave us boxes so we could take our breakfasts to go. There’s also a gym (in case your hike wasn’t strenuous enough!) and a hot tub (in case your hike was a little too strenuous!).

Camping in Bryce National Park

There are two campgrounds in Bryce Canyon National Park that are open during the summertime – North Campground and Sunset Campground. Reservations can run out within minutes of the booking season opening, so make sure you prepare and book as early as possible!

We hope that this one day in Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary helps you have an incredible day in a beautiful place! This park is small but breathtaking and is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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