How to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park When You Only Have a Day

If you only have one day in Bryce Canyon, what should you do?

Bryce Canyon is a great place to visit, and it is easy to see in one day. We have visited this park a handful of times over the years, both during the late spring when there is still snow along with the early summer just when it is beginning to get hot. We have written this itinerary so you can avoid crowds, get the most out of your time, and see as many of the viewpoints and sights as possible! We’ll share what not to miss in Bryce Canyon National Park when you only have a day!

bryce-canyon-inspiration-point-lookout
Bryce Canyon scenic viewpoint

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Bryce Canyon in a Day: The Best Things to See and Do

When you have one day for visiting Bryce Canyon, the best things to see and do are:

  • Photograph and admire the hoodoos – Feast your eyes on the magical hoodoos and take lots of photos.
  • Take the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive – Go on the scenic drive and visit all of the viewpoints.
  • See the main viewpoints – Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point.
  • Take a Hike.
  • Check out the visitor center.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Bryce Canyon?

The thing about visiting Bryce Canyon is you can literally see it and make it a short pit stop along a multi-national park road trip coming from Zion and the North Rim. Or you can spend hours exploring depending on your road trip expectations.

If you have time to spare, we recommend planning the entire day visiting to fit in at least one or two hikes!

Planning to spend an entire day at Bryce will allow you to go on the scenic drive, visit the main viewpoints, take lots of photos, go on a day hike or two, and explore the visitor center.

Bryce Canyon Itinerary

Bryce Canyon National Park is a beautiful and unique place to visit. There are plenty of things to do and see in the park, so you’ll never get bored. Whether you’re interested in hiking, sightseeing, or just taking in the scenery, Bryce Canyon is a great place to visit.

Are you ready to plan your visit? Let’s go!

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

This national park is famous for its hoodoos! Did you know the word means to bewitch?

Once you see a hoodoo in real life for the first time, you will definitely be awed! Hoodoos are tall irregular geologic formations found in the arid West, most notably in Bryce Canyon National Park and Utah.

Get your camera ready to take lots of photos!

Would you like to know more about the camera equipment we have for adventure photography? Check out our article, here!

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

If you don’t plan to hike, start your visit by doing the scenic drive.

The scenic drive is 38 miles, and there are 13 viewpoints to pull off, enjoy the views, and take photos.

If you plan to hike, we recommend hiking first and going on the scenic drive later in the day. More on hikes below.

Bryce Canyon Shuttle

As of 2022, riding the shuttle is not mandatory. You can still drive your own vehicle along the scenic drive route. If you’d like to be toured around, check out the shuttle schedule. Read more about the shuttle here.

Bryce Canyon Viewpoints

The most famous viewpoints for capturing photos are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point.

If you are visiting to capture epic photos for sunrise, be sure to get to Sunrise Point! The same goes for Sunset Point. If you’d like the perfect lighting for a sunset photo, be sure to stand or sit for Sunset Point.

All of the viewpoints are incredibly breathtaking, so don’t sweat it if you aren’t an early riser or can’t stay for sunset.

Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

There are many beautiful trails to explore. You can hike most of the year as well as snowshoe in the winter.

If you are hiking in the summer, be sure to hike first to enjoy the cooler mornings.

Popular easy Bryce Canyon hikes include:

  • Sunset to Sunrise Trail paved section along the Rim Trail – 1.0 mile (1 hour hike)
  • Rim Trail – 1.0 mile to 11.0 miles (choose how far you want to hike 1 hour to 7 hours)

Popular moderately difficult hikes include:

  • Queen’s Garden – 1.8 miles (about 1-2 hour hike)
  • Navajo Loop – 1.3 miles (about 1-2 hour hike)
  • Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Combination – 2.9 miles (about 2-3 hours to hike)

For the more strenuous popular hikes, such as Peekaboo Loop, find more information to plan from Bryce Canyon National Park.

Explore the Visitor Center

Before you leave, check out the visitor center! They have a museum, short film, and bookstore.

Since we enjoy being outside the most, we typically hit the visitor center on the way out. We save our energy for hiking and touring around. There are restrooms inside.

bryce-canyon-national-park-overlook-snow
Bryce Canyon view along the Rim Trail

Arriving in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park is kind of in the middle of nowhere!

Below are estimated distances to plan a road trip from a few of the surrounding cities:

  • Distance from Salt Lake City – 270 miles
  • Distance from Las Vegas – 260 miles
  • Distance from Phoenix – 430 miles
  • Distance from Flagstaff – 285 miles
  • Distance from Panguitch (nearest town) – 27 miles
  • Distance from Moab – 248 miles

We recommend planning your road trip to arrive during daylight so you can see the beauty of the surrounding area and navigate the winding roads.

Pssst… Is Moab on your road trip route? Then you’ll love checking out awesome things to do in Moab!

Bryce Canyon National Park Entrance Fee

There is an entrance fee to enter the park.

As of 2022, the costs are:

  • $35 per vehicle (valid for 7 consecutive days);
  • $30 per motorcycle; or,
  • Annual America the Beautiful Pass accepted (which is $80 annually)

bryce-canyon-national-park-overlook-april
Beautiful overlook after a snowstorm

Other National Parks Near Bryce Canyon

A few other National Parks are relatively close and easy to pair for a Southwest road trip!

We recommend hitting Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the same trip.

  • Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon – 80 miles and roughly 1.5 hours away
  • Bryce Canyon to North Rim – 150 miles and roughly 3 hours away

Road Trip Travel Tip: Protect your road trip with traveler insurance. Whenever we road trip more than 100 miles from home, we always purchase cancel for any reason travel insurance. We like to use Travel Insurance Master. You can select the exact coverage you need.

travel-insurance-master-LOGO

Best Time of Year to Visit Bryce Canyon (and Avoid the Crowds)

From our experience, the best time of year to visit is the early spring (April-May) and late fall (October).

After Labor Day, you can catch fewer crowds, and the weather will be great for hiking.

When visiting in the spring, the area may still have snow, limiting hiking opportunities, but it can also help you avoid the crowds.

Late spring through early fall (June-September) is a pretty busy time of the year to visit, with most of the U.S. taking summer holidays. Plan to visit during the weekdays and avoid any major holidays if you go during these months.

The majority of the photos in this article were taken in the early spring (April). It was snowy, cold, and we practically had the entire park to ourselves. It was awesome!

bryce-canyon-hoodoos-late-spring-snow
Viewpoint along Bryce Canyon scenic drive during spring

Weather in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon does get snow and the park is located at an elevation between 8,000-9,100 feet. They do plow and sand the roads after snowstorms.

The park is open year-round (unlike the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is closed seasonally if you didn’t know – just in case you were planning to visit in the off-season).

Hikes Where Pets are Allowed

Good news! Dogs can enter the park if you are road tripping with your best friend!

Dogs are allowed on the paved section of the Rim Trail and paved viewpoints.

The National Park Service is strict about pets in the park:

  • Pets must be on a leash
  • You cannot leave your pet unattended at any time
  • Must pick up pet waste
  • Pets cannot be on unpaved trails
  • Pets cannot be on unpaved viewpoints

bryce-canyon-hoodoos-with-snow
Famous hoodoo geology

What if You Only Have a Half-Day Planned?

No worries.

If you only have a half-day in Bryce Canyon, we recommend doing the scenic drive and stopping at all the viewpoints to take photos, soak in the epic vistas, and hoodoo country.

For a half-day itinerary, plan to spend a minimum of 3 to 4 hours driving the park and taking photos. The scenic drive is 38 miles, and there are 13 viewpoints. Depending on the time of year you go, it could take longer with the crowds.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park is a place of unparalleled natural beauty and should be experienced firsthand. If you can’t visit for an extended period of time, don’t worry – you can still see the park in a day. With a little bit of planning, you can hit all the highlights and have a memorable experience.

We hope this guide has inspired you to visit Bryce Canyon and enjoy everything it has to offer.

Tips for Adventuring in the Desert

Our mission is not only inspiring happiness through travel and outdoor recreation in the U.S., but recreating responsibly and being stewards of the environment.

Check out our article on how to recreate responsibly in the desert. We talk about the importance of Leave No Trace as well as protecting precious biological soil crust.

We hope you enjoy this Bryce Canyon Itinerary, and it helps you plan a wonderful trip!

Thanks for reading!

Ashlee & Pablo


Shop Hiking + Road Trip Gear

Below are recommendations for hiking and road trip gear we never leave home without!

Osprey Day Pack

Hydroflask Water Bottle

Oboz Mid Leather Hiking Boots (women’s)

Yeti Tundra Roadie


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Alt text: top left photo: Bryce Canyon hoodoos, top right photo: Bryce Canyon view with snow on the ground, bottom left photo: Bryce Canyon Arch Natural Bridge, bottom right: Bryce Canyon viewpoint with snow on the ground

We would love to hear from you!

When are you planning on visiting Bryce Canyon National Park?

Drop us a comment if you have questions! We would love to help.

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

20 Comments

  1. Vanessa on May 29, 2021 at 10:03 am

    I appreciate that you included a section on traveling with pets! We love to take our dog when we travel, especially on outdoor excursions. Thank you!



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:23 am

      Hi Vanessa! Yes, you can take your baby 🙂 Have fun!



  2. Hannah on May 29, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Ah, Bryce Canyon looks incredible! The views look amazing and the landscape is unbelievable! I’d really love to visit one day and go hiking. It looks unbelievable! Hopefully, I’ll manage to get there at some point! Thanks for the great guide!



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:23 am

      Hi Hannah! Thanks for reading and commenting. You will have so much fun visiting the US and road tripping through the Southwest National Parks!!



  3. Chelsea on May 29, 2021 at 11:06 am

    I spent a day in Bryce a few years ago in September. we camped and froze our asses off + I had the worst altitude sickness. Now that I know more- I want to go back well prepared to do some hiking! Great info!



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:22 am

      Hi Chelsea – Great share! Yes, it is such high elevation it gets really cold! Bring lots of layers. Same goes for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Hope you have fun on your next trip.



  4. Erica on May 29, 2021 at 11:22 am

    I love this post on Bryce Canyon NP! It is one of my favorite national parks and you have great tips to help people visit for a day. I agree that heat is a determining factor and that shoulder season is the best time to visit. You have helpful itinerary ideas too: he viewpoints are stunning and hiking through the hoodoos is otherworldly.



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:21 am

      Hi Erica! Thanks for commenting. We really appreciate it. Have a great summer!



  5. Taylor on May 29, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite National Parks. I love all of those hoodoos and the variety of hiking trails they have there. 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:20 am

      Hi Taylor! We agree! The hoodoos are magical.



  6. Emma on May 29, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    When I do get to Bryce Canyon for the first time I really want to make sure I have enough time, but I’m really glad to see how easy it is to see a lot of it in a day – that scenic drive sounds like such a beautiful trip



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:19 am

      Hi Emma – you will have a wonderful time visiting Bryce Canyon!



  7. Ashley on May 30, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Your photos are beautiful, super exciting to read that dogs are allowed on the Rim Trail and at the viewpoints.



    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2021 at 11:18 am

      Hi Ashley! Thanks for reading. Yes, it is nice to have an option when road-tripping with our dogs!



  8. Josy A on May 30, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    I love the look of all those rock formations with a sprinkling of snow – it sounds like April is a fantastic time of year to visit (and get some hikes in!) I think I would need more than a single day though as this is such interesting scenery!



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 2, 2021 at 7:03 am

      Hi Josy! You could totally spend more time hiking all of the trails. It is a beautiful park. Hope you get to see it someday.



  9. Jori Sutton on May 31, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Ugh, I so want to do a Utah road trip! This looks gorgeous and I’ve heard so much about Bryce canyon. Now I can see why!



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 2, 2021 at 7:04 am

      Hi Jori! Go for it! Fall would be a great time in the Utah desert. Have fun!



  10. Magicandbliss on June 2, 2021 at 3:26 am

    I’d really love to go out for a scenic drive to Bryce canyon. Thanks for the detailed information, I love going all prepared for outdoor adventures and you’ve made it so convenient for me to plan a visit to Bryce.



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 2, 2021 at 7:05 am

      Hi there – thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope you have a memorable trip! Feel free to email or message us if you need recommendations.