26 Best Sights in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

Fodor's choice

Even if you're eager to hit the hoodoos, the visitor center—just to your right after the park entrance station—is the best place to start if you want to know what you're looking at and how it got there. Rangers staff a counter where you can ask questions or let them map out an itinerary of "must-sees" based on your time and physical abilities. There are also multimedia exhibits, Wi-Fi, books, maps, backcountry camping permits for sale, and the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association gift shop, whose proceeds help to support park programs and conservation.

Inspiration Point

Fodor's choice

One of the best—though often most crowded—places in the park to watch the sunset, this lofty promontory with sweeping vistas into the Bryce Amphitheater is easily accessed by car—the parking lot is down a short and well-signed spur road near the start of Bryce Point Road. But for a more exciting approach and a bit of fresh air and exercise, consider hiking to this dramatic spot via the relatively easy and flat Rim Trail; from Sunset Point, it's a ¾-mile trek south, and from Bryce Point, it's a 1½-mile hike northwest. From either direction, the views are spectacular for virtually the entire hike. 

Main Park Road

Fodor's choice

Snaking for miles along the canyon's rim, the park's only true thoroughfare accesses more than a dozen scenic overlooks between the entrance and Rainbow Point. Major overlooks are rarely more than a few minutes walk from the parking areas, and from many of these spots, you can see more than 100 miles on clear days. Remember that all overlooks lie east of the road, meaning that you may be looking into the sun early in the day but can enjoy spectacular color and light closer to dusk. Allow two to three hours to travel the entire 36-mile round-trip—more if you set out on any hikes along the way. The road is open year-round but sometimes closes temporarily after heavy snowfalls. Be on the lookout for wildlife crossing the road. Trailers are not allowed at Bryce Point and Paria View, and vehicles longer than 20 feet are prohibited from parking at most of the major stops in and around the Bryce Amphitheater from mid-May through late October; during these months, you can travel throughout the park via the free shuttle and park your larger vehicle at the shuttle station parking lot in Bryce Canyon City.

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Natural Bridge

Fodor's choice

Formed over millions of years by wind, water, and chemical erosion, this 85-foot-tall, rusty-orange arch formation—one of several rock arches in the park—is an essential photo op. Beyond the parking lot lies a rare stand of aspen trees, their leaves twinkling in the wind. Watch out for distracted drivers at this stunning viewpoint.

Navajo/Queen's Garden Combination Loop

Fodor's choice

By walking this extended 3-mile loop, you can get a clear sense of what makes this park so special; it takes a little more than two hours. The route passes fantastic formations and an open forest of pine and juniper on the amphitheater floor. Descend into the amphitheater from Sunrise Point on the Queen's Garden Trail and ascend via the Navajo Loop Trail; return to your starting point via the Rim Trail. Moderate.

Queens Garden Trail

Fodor's choice

This hike is the easiest way down into the amphitheater, with 450 feet of elevation change leading to a short tunnel, quirky hoodoos, and lots of like-minded hikers. It's the essential Bryce "sampler." Allow two hours total to hike the 1½-mile trail plus the ½-mile rim-side path and back. Easy.

Rainbow and Yovimpa Points

Fodor's choice

Just a half-mile apart, Rainbow and Yovimpa Points offer two spectacular panoramas facing opposite directions. Rainbow Point's best view is to the north overlooking the southern rim of the amphitheater and giving a glimpse of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument; Yovimpa Point's vista spreads out to the south. On an especially clear day you can see all the way to Arizona's highest point, Humphreys Peak, 150 miles away. Yovimpa Point also has a shady and quiet picnic area with tables and restrooms. You can hike between them on the easy Bristlecone Loop Trail or tackle the more strenuous 9-mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail, which passes the tallest point in the park. This is the outermost auto stop on the main road, so visitors often drive here first and make it their starting point, then work their way back to the park entrance.

Rim Trail

Fodor's choice

A 1-mile section of this level trail connects Sunrise and Sunset points and is an ideal way to launch or wrap up your day. Take your time strolling. Evening is the best time for photos, as much of the rim looks out to the east over the amphitheater. Listen for songbirds, look for a silent swooping owl, and watch the sun’s last rays dance on the hoodoos. This section of the trail is wheelchair accessible, and pets on leashes are welcome. More ambitious walkers can enjoy the full trail, which extends 5½ miles between Bryce Point and Fairyland Point—this longer hike trail does have some elevation changes. Easy to moderate.

Sunrise Point

Fodor's choice

Named for its stunning views at dawn, this overlook a short walk from the Lodge at Bryce Canyon is one of the park's most beloved stops. It's also the trailhead for the Queens Garden Trail and the southern end of the Fairyland Loop Trail. You can also walk to Sunrise Point along the easy Rim Trail from Sunset Point (to the south) or the North Campground (to the north).

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon

Fodor's choice

Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood was already a national park specialist, having designed lodges at Zion and the Grand Canyon, before turning his T square to Bryce in 1924. With its distinctive, wavy, hunter-green shingle roof and artful interior, this National Historic Landmark has been faithfully restored, right down to the lobby's huge limestone fireplace and log and wrought-iron chandelier. Inside the historic building, the only remaining hotel built by the Grand Circle Utah Parks Company, are a restaurant and gift shop, comfy sitting areas, and information on park activities. Just a short walk from the rim trail, the lodge's landscaped brick terrace is an enchanting place to relax after a hike. The lodge also offers accommodations in several historic log cabins and two lodge-inspired but motel-style buildings nearby on the wooded grounds.

Agua Canyon

This overlook in the southern section of the park has a nice view of several standout hoodoos. Look for the top-heavy formation called The Hunter, which actually has a few small hardy trees growing on its cap. As the rock erodes, the park evolves; snap a picture because The Hunter may look different the next time you visit.

Bristlecone Loop Trail

This 1-mile trail with a modest 200 feet of elevation gain lets you see the park from its highest points of more than 9,000 feet, alternating between spruce and fir forest and wide-open vistas out over Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and beyond. You might see yellow-bellied marmots and dusky grouse, critters not typically found at lower elevations in the park. Allow about an hour. Easy.

Bryce Point

Reached via a narrow 2-mile spur road off the main park road, Bryce Point is where the park's fairly easy Rim Trail (which you can hike from here to Inspiration Point or even all the way to Sunrise Point) meets with the more challenging and remote Under-the-Rim Trail, and it's also the southernmost vista point into the Bryce Amphitheater—and a favorite place to watch the sunrise. After absorbing views of the Black Mountains and Navajo Mountain, you can follow the Under-the-Rim Trail to explore beyond the Bryce Amphitheater to the cluster of top-heavy hoodoos known collectively as The Hat Shop. Or, take a left off the Under-the-Rim Trail and hike the challenging Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail down into the amphitheater.

Bryce Point Rd., 5 miles south of park entrance, Utah, 84764, USA

Fairyland Loop Trail

Hike into whimsical Fairyland Canyon on this trail that gets more strenuous and less crowded as you progress along its 8 miles. It winds around hoodoos, across trickles of water, and finally arrives at a natural window in the rock at Tower Bridge, 1½ miles from Sunrise Point and 4 miles from Fairyland Point. The pink-and-white badlands and hoodoos surround you the whole way. Don't feel like you have to go the whole distance to make it worthwhile. But if you do, allow at least five hours round-trip with 1,900 feet of elevation change. Difficult.

Fairyland Point

The viewpoint nearest to the park entrance, this scenic overlook adjacent to Boat Mesa, ½ mile north of the visitor center and a mile off the main park road, has splendid views of Fairyland Canyon and its delicate, fanciful forms. The Sinking Ship and other formations stand before the grand backdrop of the Aquarius Plateau and distant Navajo Mountain. Nearby is the Fairyland Loop trailhead—it's a stunning five-hour hike, and in winter it's a favorite trail for snowshoeing.

Off Main Park Rd., Utah, 84764, USA

Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument

In September 1996, President Bill Clinton designated 1.7 million acres in south-central Utah as Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. The three distinct sections—the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante—offer remote backcountry experiences hard to find elsewhere in the Lower 48. Waterfalls, shoulder-width slot canyons, and improbable colors all characterize this wilderness. One of the best access points from Bryce is along Scenic Byway 12, which straddles the northern border of the monument—the Hogback section, between the small towns of Escalante and Boulder (which offer outfitters, lodging, and dining), is particularly spectacular.

Mossy Cave Trail

This short hike (0.8 mile) has a little bit of everything you might be looking for in Bryce: the sound of rushing water, a small waterfall, a grotto, and hoodoos. The trailhead is on Highway 12, north and east of the main entrance, and it follows an irrigation ditch dug in the 1920s by Tropic farmers looking to divert water from the Sevier River for agriculture. Since the dig predates the park, the water right-of-way belongs to the farmers. This is an especially fun hike in winter, when the waterfall transforms into a display of dazzling icicles. 

Hwy. 12, Utah, 84776, USA

Navajo Loop Trail

One of Bryce's most popular and dramatic attractions is this steep descent via a series of switchbacks leading to Wall Street, a slightly claustrophobic hallway of rock only 20 feet wide in places, with walls 100 feet high. After a walk through The Silent City, the northern end of the trail brings Thor's Hammer into view. A well-marked intersection offers a shorter way back via the Two Bridges Trail or continuing on the Queens Garden Trail to Sunrise Point. For the short version allow at least an hour on this 1½-mile trail with 515 feet of elevation change. Moderate.

North Campground Viewpoint

Across the road and slightly east of the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, this popular campground has a couple of scenic picnic areas plus a general store and easy access to the Rim Trail and Sunrise Point.

Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail

The reward of this steep trail is The Wall of Windows and The Three Wise Men formations. Start at Bryce, Sunrise, or Sunset Point and allow four to five hours to hike the 5½-mile trail or 7-mile double-loop. Horses use this trail spring–fall and have the right-of-way. Difficult.

Piracy Point

Offering an impressive range of panoramas, this peaceful picnic area lies ¼ mile north of Farview Point (to which it's connected by an easy trail), slightly off the main road.

Off main park road, at Fairview Point, Utah, 84717, USA

Riggs Spring Loop Trail

One of the park's two true backpacker trails, this rigorous 9-mile path has overnight options at three campsites along the way. You'll journey past groves of twinkling aspen trees and the eponymous spring close to the campsite. Start at either Yovimpa or Rainbow Point and be prepared for 1,500 feet of elevation change. Campers need to check in at the visitor center ahead of time for backcountry permits. Difficult.

Sunset Point

Watch the late-day sun paint the hoodoos from this famous overlook a short walk from the Lodge at Bryce Canyon (or you can drive here via the short spur road off the main park road). You'll be treated to a striking view of Thor's Hammer, a delicate formation similar to a balanced rock. Sunset Point is also the access point for the tremendously popular hike 550 feet down into the amphitheater on the Navajo Loop Trail. 

Sunset Point Rd., Utah, 84764, USA

The Hat Shop Trail

The sedimentary haberdashery sits 2 miles from the trailhead. Hard gray caps balance precariously atop narrow pedestals of softer, rust-color rock. Allow three to four hours to travel this somewhat strenuous but rewarding 4-mile round-trip trail, the first part of the longer Under-the-Rim Trail. Moderate.

Tower Bridge

This relatively short but steep, less-crowded hike on the Fairyland Loop Trail takes you to a natural bridge deep in the amphitheater. Walk through pink and white badlands with hoodoos all around on this 3-mile trip that takes two to three hours and incurs 760 feet of elevation change. Moderate.

Under-the-Rim Trail

Starting at Bryce Point, the trail travels 23 miles to Rainbow Point, passing through The Pink Cliffs, traversing Agua Canyon and Ponderosa Canyon, and taking you by several springs. Most of the hike is on the amphitheater floor, characterized by up-and-down terrain among stands of ponderosa pine; the elevation change totals about 1,500 feet. It's the park's longest trail, but four trailheads along the main park road allow you to connect to the Under-the-Rim Trail and cover its length as a series of day hikes. Allow at least two days to hike the route in its entirety, and although it's not a hoodoo-heavy hike, there's plenty to see to make it a more leisurely three-day affair. Difficult.