A visit to Southern Utah isn’t complete without a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, one of the most unusual natural wonders in the United States. This fascinating park is known for its huge collection of red hoodoos, which are bizarrely shaped rock pillars rising hundreds of feet above the canyon floor, giving the area an otherworldly vibe. The canyon is spectacular year-round, but the high elevation brings significant seasonal weather shifts that can affect your itinerary. As you search for Bryce Canyon National Park vacation rentals, this guide can help you decide what time of year to visit and what to pack for a fun, comfortable trip.
The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It features overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are around sunup and sundown.
Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the Summer
Summer is stunning in Bryce Canyon. Temperatures are comfortably warm, with most days in the 70s and 80s, and the bright sunshine gives the red rocks a warm glow. Lightweight clothing is ideal, and it’s a great idea to bring a light rain jacket for the occasional thunderstorm. Most visitors come to Bryce in the summer to check out the views or hike through the canyon. If you’re short on time, drive from the Visitor Center to Inspiration Point, stopping at each of the overlooks along the way. The park also offers a free shuttle and a twice-daily Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour. Hiking is the best way to experience Bryce Canyon. Stroll the Rim Trail for beautiful views of the legendary Amphitheater and Thor’s Hammer, or get close to the hoodoos on the Navajo Loop Trail or Queens Garden Trail.
Vacation rentals in the small communities around Bryce Canyon book quickly in the summer; reserve a property early to stay close to the park. Inside, you can grab meals and snacks at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon’s restaurant, Valhalla Pizzeria, and the Sunrise Point General Store.
Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the Fall
Autumn in Bryce Canyon is a photographer’s dream in the autumn. The deciduous trees in the surrounding canyons turn vibrant shades of yellow and orange, transforming the area into a rainbow of color; the park is particularly gorgeous at sunset and sunrise. September and October, with their 70-degree and 60-degree days, are the perfect months for hiking. November temperatures dip into the 50s, so a mid-weight jacket is a must. Fall is also an ideal time for horseback riding. Canyon Trail Rides offers both horse and mule tours that descend into the Amphitheater; this is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with the hoodoos if you’re traveling with kids or non-hikers.
Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the Winter
Winter is one of Bryce Canyon’s most spectacular season. From crisp white snow falls on the canyon floor, highlighting the brilliant crimson color of the hoodoos and the bright blue of the sky. Hiking is possible for experienced backcountry adventurers, as long as you have crampons or a strap-on traction device. For most visitors, there are safer ways to see the park in the winter; bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis and head down Fairyland Road or Paria Point Roads, which are not plowed by the National Park Service. Park rangers offer free guided snowshoe hikes that include the use of poles and snowshoes. Each month, you can enjoy the park under the stars during a guided full moon snowshoe hike.
Winter temperatures in Bryce Canyon usually range between 10 and 40 degrees. Depending on the day, you might experience blue skies or a whiteout blizzard. Pack boots and warm winter gear, and be sure to tuck a blanket in your car in case of a surprise storm. Keep in mind that some less-used roads might be closed for hours after a big storm, but the road to Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point is plowed right away. The Visitor Center is open during the winter, but all restaurants and stores close down after the fall season.
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Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the Spring
Spring is a constant surprise in Bryce Canyon. In early March, snow often lingers on the tops of the hoodoos. Enjoy the 40-degree temperatures on cross-country skis or snowshoes. By April and May, colorful wildflowers dot the slopes, and daytime temperatures rise to the 50s and 60s, creating beautiful hiking weather. A sunny day can quickly turn in to a mountain snow squall, however, so you can stay comfortable by packing waterproof hiking boots and a mid-weight jacket. In the early season, it’s a good idea to tuck gloves and a hat into your daypack.
When the snow melts around mid-April, the park comes to life. Horseback rides resume, the Lodge at Bryce Canyon’s restaurants reopen, and visitor levels begin to increase. May offers a great balance of manageable crowds, perfect weather, and open hiking trails.
The Best Time to Go?
Though Bryce Canyon offers plenty to do year-round, summer is the best time to visit. Days are sunny, warm, and mostly dry, so it’s easy to plan full days of hiking above and below the rim. All of the park’s services, including restaurants and guided ranger programs, are open for business. Visitor levels are high during the summer, but the beautiful weather is worth the traffic; plus, it only takes a quick hike to leave the crowds behind and explore the hoodoos in peace. Great road conditions from June through July also make it easy to access Southern Utah’s other attractions, including Zion National Park and Snow Canyon State Park.
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