One Day In Bryce Canyon: The Perfect 1-Day Itinerary

(Last Updated On: 06/01/2022)

Famous orange hoodoo formations. Scenic viewpoints. Vibrant hiking trails. There are endless ways to spend one day in Bryce Canyon National Park. Out of all the stops on my Utah National Parks Road Trip, this was by far my favorite National Park of them all. The hikes take you deep inside the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater and the views at Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Wall Street on the Navajo Loop Trail are all forces to be reckoned with.

The park sits at an impressive elevation of 9,000 feet above sea level which allowed the largest collection of hoodoos in the world to form the Bryce Amphitheater, which is why this park is so special and world-renowned. Truthfully, before I planned my visit to Bryce I didn’t even know what a hoodoo was, let alone just how rare they are, so when I learned that they’re essentially the bread and butter of this place, it made me appreciate this compact little slice of Utah even more. If you’re wondering how many days you should spend in Bryce Canyon, one day is plenty of time to see the best of the park, squeeze in the best hiking trails, things to do, and even hit the Bryce Canyon scenic drive on your way out!

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or a booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.

 


 

 

Best Time To Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon varies on a few different factors, but I can best suggest late summer and early fall as the best time of year to visit. The crowds are out the wazoo during the prime summer months, so try to delay your visit a bit into fall to get fewer crowds. The summer months aren’t hot at all compared to the other National Parks in Utah because the elevation is so high above sea level, that’s why Bryce Canyon is so much colder compared to the other parks in Utah, so you’re going to have beautiful weather during the summer months.

Visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter gets pretty tricky because the Bryce Canyon scenic drive can be closed due to poor road conditions and all the hiking trails may not be open from snowfall. Once you actually venture inside the canyon and get onto the trails, you lose a ton of tourists from the popular viewpoints and Rim Trail anyway, so aim for the summer or early fall months.

I will say, though, if you want some seriously STUNNING photos, when Bryce Canyon experiences snowfall it’s one of the most magical experiences you’ll have in your life, so just keep that in mind, but always cater to the trip you want to have. I would only recommend doing this if you’ve already visited the park once before. But just in case, March is the snowiest month in Bryce Canyon…

 


 

Where To Stay Near Bryce Canyon National Park

When it comes to finding where to stay for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, your options inside the park are limited to camping at either the North Campground or the Sunset Campground. Spots at these campgrounds are very competitive, even for a walk-up spot in the high season, so I would plan to book way in advance to secure your spot. Both of these campsites are in centralized locations close to the shuttles and Bryce Canyon Visitor’s Center, so neither are a bad choice, the only thing to remember is that the North Campground is first come first served only. For more tips on camping in Bryce, read my full guide! 

If you’re looking for where to stay outside and near Bryce Canyon National Park, Ruby’s Inn & RV Park is your best bet. Aptly named, “Bryce Canyon’s Doorstep”, Ruby’s Inn is barely a stone’s throw away from the Bryce Canyon Visitor’s Center. This is an ideal hotel and campground hybrid that is close to the park and offers a full panel of amenities for your adventures inside the park. Since the options in this part of Utah are so limited, yes, a Best Western is the top pick. For those of you looking for camping here, tent sites are not reservable, but spots for RV’s, trailers, and campers can be reserved here.


Booking.com

 


 

Things To Know Before Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park

LOCATION | Bryce Canyon is situated in Southern Utah near other Utah road trip stops like Zion National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. It’s also close to a lot of other hubs for outdoor adventure like St. Goerge, Kanab, the Grand Canyon. The best way to experience the park, in my opinion, is on a Utah National Parks road trip, otherwise, the closest airport is in Las Vegas, four hours away.

OPEN | Year Round

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEE | It’s $35 per car to enter Bryce Canyon National Park and this payment gets you into the park for a full week. If you’re visiting other National Parks in Utah, I recommend picking up an America The Beautiful Park Pass. This gets you into ALL US National Parks for a year and will save you a lot of money if you frequent the parks!

BRYCE CANYON FREE SHUTTLE | Bryce Canyon is very small and compact, but finding parking is a nightmare, so your best bet is to use its free shuttle service. It stops at iconic viewpoints every 15-minutes and you can track the shuttle routes here to know their next stops!

 


 

How To Spend One Day In Bryce Canyon National Park

If you only have one day in Bryce Canyon National Park, don’t stress because the park is small enough and condensed enough that a single day is plenty of time to squeeze in everything you’re dying to see. When I was planning my own Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary, I wanted to see AS MUCH as possible with the time I had and this list reflects that. This itinerary starts with one of the most important things to do in Bryce Canyon, and any National Park, a stop into the Bryce Canyon Visitor’s Center. This is the best place to go to pick up a park map, learn about the park’s geology, and ask the rangers questions about hiking trails, viewpoints, and hidden gems. After you finish up there, head to Sunset Point for sunrise. This was a little tip I learned from one of the Park Rangers! Sunrise and sunset points have the best light at the opposing time of day.

Once you’ve finished up photos at Sunset Point, head to the first hike of the day, the Navajo Loop Trail. This hike can normally be combined with the Queen’s Garden Loop, but we’re going to mix things up with this itinerary, so do the entirety of the Navajo Loop and then you have the option to head over to Sunrise Point. If you don’t want to backtrack, head over to this viewpoint now, otherwise head here for sunset. After this, you’re going to be combing two trails: Peek-a-Boo Loop and the Queen’s Garden Trail. This is one of my favorite trails in the park because you see SO MUCH in one run. It also saves you a lot of time and by the end, puts you at the other end of the park to see other viewpoints on your way back.

After this trail, rest at Bryce Point and Inspiration Points.

The last trail for this one day in Bryce Canyon itinerary is an option depending on your energy levels and how much time you have, Fairyland Loop Trail. If you’re feeling ambitious, I recommend tackling this 8-mile hike and bringing a headlamp in case the sun goes down while you’re on the trail. Bryce Canyon National Park is a Gold Tier Certified Dark Sky Park, so you’ll be able to spot the milky way as long as the skies are clear! Finish up your day on this trail and before you head out the next morning, go to Rainbow Point for sunrise, the highest point in Bryce Canyon National Park!

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME

Rim Trail

Mossy Cave Trail

Bristlecone Pine Loop Trail

Bryce Amphitheater Traverse Trail

Yovimpa Point

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

NEARBY

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Zion National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Arches National Park 

 


 

LEAVE NO TRACE

With exploring nature comes out personal responsibility to leave it as we left it. Please make sure you’re following Leave No Trace Principles. This keeps hikes and areas in Bryce Canyon National Park litter-free and the space clean for future hikers to enjoy.

 


 

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor’s Center

BRYCE CANYON ITINERARY TIP | The Visitor’s Center doesn’t open until 8:00 am, so if you get to the park before then, you’ll have to skip or visit later on. If you wait until 8:00 to try and enter the park, the lines will be extremely long, so get into the park as early as you can to maximize your day in Bryce Canyon.

I know that going to the Visitor’s Center can seem like a total snooze fest, but here you’ll learn what makes Bryce Canyon National Park so special, or really any national park for that matter. There is a museum-like area in the back left corner of the building that teaches you all about what hoodoos are, how they are formed, and why Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the top places in the world to see this unique type of geology.

One of the most valuable aspects of any Visitor’s Center in a National Park are the Park Rangers. Even with a formulated itinerary, you can ask them a variety of questions about alternative routes, better trails, and even hidden gems. Anytime I have reached out I have always been blown out of the water with recommendations, most of which you cannot find online. Remember to pick up a park map before you leave, maybe a souvenir, and then make your way to the first stop of the day.

 


 

Sunset Point

BRYCE CANYON ITINERARY TIP | Your morning coffee tastes like 6/5 stars when you’re enjoying it overlooking the Bryce Amphitheater! I brew mine at camp, pour it into my favorite mug, and BOOM, a toasty cup of coffee, and a great sunrise all before 9 am.

Despite the irony of this first stop on your one day in Bryce Canyon itinerary, Sunset Point is an excellent place to experience the sunrise. You’ll get a great overlook of the infamous hoodoos of Bryce Canyon before you enter a forest of these fairy chimneys. Early in the morning and later in the evening are two of the best times to photograph Bryce Canyon because the lighting is a lot softer. The angle of the sun prevents the harsh shadows the hoodoos cast on each other and the lighting overall is a lot less harsh. This is one of my favorite locations on the Rim Trail to take a memorable photo.

During my visit to Bryce Canyon, one of the park rangers suggested going to Sunset Point for sunrise rather than the other way around because the lighting is better, so head here rather than Sunrise Point for better light and fewer crowds.

 


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Navajo Loop Trail

TRAILHEAD | SUNSET POINT

DISTANCE | 1.5 MILES

After enjoying the sunrise at Sunset Point, you’re conveniently placed at the trailhead for the next activity, hiking the Navajo Loop Trail. This is one of the most popular trails in the park and for this reason, you want to get here very early in the morning to avoid crowds. This isn’t a very long hike, but the switchbacks going down and back out of this portion of the park can be challenging, especially since you’re going to be at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level. 

What I enjoy most about this trail is that while it’s short, it packs a massive punch with the views along the way. Plus, since it’s so short in distance, it leaves a lot of time to hit other scenic spots in the park for the rest of this itinerary.

 

 


 

Sunrise Point

This is one of the most panoramic views of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. You’ll be able to hundreds of tiny hoodoos lining the canyon walls, filled with vibrant forest pines. Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park feels like walking on a real-life rainbow. 

From Sunset Point, it’s a short walk over to Sunrise Point. You can either head over there now or come back for sunset if you want some better lighting, but for the sake of time, it’s placed at this part of the itinerary to avoid backtracking. If you’re going back for sunset, take the shuttle because Sunrise Point parking fills up VERY FAST. Also, make sure you know what time the last shuttle leaves so that you don’t miss it!

 


 

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Queen’s Garden Trail & Peek-a-Boo Loop

TRAILHEAD | SUNRISE POINT

DISTANCE | ~6 MILES

The next hike to check off your list during your one day in Bryce Canyon is another cult-favorite, the Queen’s Garden Trail! But since we only have a day in the park, we are going to spice things up a bit and combine two hikes into one: Queen’s Garden Loop and the Peek-a-boo Loop. Normally, the Queen’s Garden Trail begins at Sunrise Point and emerges at Sunset Point by the Navajo Loop. But instead of completing the loop, we will link onto the Peekaboo Loop and continue further down into the southern part of Bryce Canyon National Park. If the thought of switching trails makes you weary, don’t worry, there are plenty of signs that will point you in the correct direction. I even mapped out the route in the Google map at the beginning of this blog post, so make sure you download it before you go!

Once you hike down into Bryce Canyon on Queen’s Garden, you’re going to come to a ‘t’ on the trail, and both directions are going to read the Navajo Loop. Go left and get onto the Navajo Loop. Then watch for a sign for the Peekaboo Loop that will be on the left as well a small way down the trail. Once on the Peek-a-boo Loop, you’re going to hike around a mile then emerge at another ‘t’, which then you will want to make a right turn to complete the Peek-a-boo Loop and emerge at Bryce Point.

 

 


 

Bryce Point 

After completing the latter half of the Peek-a-boo Loop, you will be able to take in the beautiful view of Bryce Point. This is one of my favorite viewpoints in the park because you can see all the hoodoos, the pine forest, known as the Queen’s Garden, and all of the landscapes that are beyond Bryce Canyon. It’s known for being one of the best viewpoints out of all of the National Parks in the United States, so make sure you take it all in when you get up here! This is also a great spot to spend sunset if you’re looking for alternatives to Sunrise Point, or if you’re spending an extra day in the park.

 


 

Inspiration Point 

After Bryce Point, you can hop on the shuttle and get off at Inspiration Point. Alongside Bryce Point, this viewpoint is probably one of the most beautiful in the entire park. This is also another great spot for sunrise if you don’t want to drive all the way to Rainbow Point the next morning. This panoramic view is well worth the stop and a great place to enjoy a snack or a pre-dinner meal before you hop onto the Fairyland Loop. Once you’re finished up here, you can then board the shuttle once more to Fairyland Point, our final stop of the day!

 


 

Fairyland Loop

TRAILHEAD | Fairyland Point

DISTANCE | 8 MILES

Unfortunately, the Fairyland Loop was one that I missed during my day in Bryce Canyon. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had prioritized this hike right after the Navajo Loop Trail!

I don’t want to say this is the least hiked trail in the park, but it’s most certainly not as highly trafficked as all of the other trails in the park. It is labeled strenuous for both its ascent and length, but don’t let this scare you away from taking this on! The Fairyland Loop goes through some of the most beautiful views in the park, and many that most people do not see, so you get to enjoy fewer crowds and iconic views.

While this hike is long enough already, I was recommended by a park ranger to take the detour to Tower Bridge for the sunset! It adds a little bit more to your hike, and you may need to bring a headlamp along to complete the Fairyland Loop, but it’s worth the additional mileage. If you pass Tower Bridge and aren’t up for completing the loop, you can hop off where the Fairyland Loop meets the Rim Trail. I always recommend completing the loop, but sometimes you gotta wave the white flag.

 

 


 

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Rainbow Point

OPTIONAL

Wakey wakey! Before you leave Bryce Canyon, you have the option to sneak in one last viewpoint for sunrise. At the very bottom of the park, and the highest point in the park (10,000+ feet!), you can experience a nice, quiet morning after the adventurous day you just had. As always, the coffee tastes better with the view here, so bring that along if you feel so inclined but other than that, simply enjoy the stillness of this morning. It’s pretty special.

If you don’t want to drive all the way to Rainbow Point, other great alternatives for sunrise are Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Bryce Point.

 


 

Overview of this One Day In Bryce Canyon Itinerary

Stop at the Visitor’s Center

Sunrise At Sunset Point

Hike The Navajo Loop

Stop At Sunrise Point

Hike The Queen’s Garden Loop + Link Onto Peekaboo Trail

Take In The Rewarding View At Bryce Point

Stop At Inspiration Point

Hike The Fairyland Loop

Rainbow Point (Optional for next day’s sunrise)

 


 

What To Pack For One Day In Bryce Canyon

 

SUN PROTECTION | A lot of the Bryce Canyon trails are exposed, so you’ll need chapstick with SPF, a hat, and sunscreen.

FIRST AID KID | Large or small accidents, you want to be covered. This lightweight first aid kit fits nicely in my bag and has everything I need.

LAYERS | Bryce Canyon National Park’s elevation is around 9,000 feet so it stays cool, even in the summer months! Pack an extra layer!

PROPER SOCKS | Avoid cotton at all costs to prevent blisters. These are my favorite!

GPS/NAVIGATION TOOL | This is crucial to keep you from getting lost. GAIA, All Trails, and Hiking Project are great apps to consider.

WATER/SNACKS | Pack plenty of food and snacks for the day, as well as a 2.5L hydration bladder or equivalent in water bottles.

 


 

One Day In Bryce Canyon Itinerary Map

Use this map to help you navigate this one day in Bryce Canyon itinerary and nearby stops! For best use, download this map to your smartphone so you can use it offline (instructions here).

 


 

MORE HELPFUL GUIDES FOR YOUR ONE DAY IN BRYCE CANYON ITINERARY:

–  The Ultimate Guide To Camping In Bryce Canyon National Park

– 10 Jaw-Dropping Bryce Canyon National Park Hikes You CANNOT Miss

– Packing For A Day Hike: 12 Adventure Essentials To Get You Exploring

 

ADD THIS BRYCE CANYON ITINERARY TO THESE OTHER ROAD TRIP STOPS CLOSE BY:

– The ONLY Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary You Need

ZION NATIONAL PARK (1.5 hours away)

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK (2.5 hours away)

How To Spend One EPIC Day In Capitol Reef National Park

– Hiking The Cassidy Arch Trail In Capitol Reef National Park

GRAND CANYON (3 hours away)

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK (4.5 hours)

– The 10 BEST Hikes In Canyonlands National Park

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK (4 hours)

– A PERFECT 3-Day Itinerary For Arches National Park

– The BEST Guide To The Delicate Arch Hike In Arches National Park

– 10 Arches National Park Hikes That Will BLOW Your Mind

– The Ultimate Guide To Camping In Arches National Park

– Tower Arch Trail: The Best Hike In Arches National Park

 


 

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Looking to see all of Bryce Canyon National Park's highlights in only one day? This EPIC itinerary covers the best hikes, viewpoints, and best things to do with 24-hours in this Utah National Park! Begin your day with the Navajo Loop and venture out to Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, and other exciting day hikes! #utahtravel #utahnationalparks

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