As the smallest National Park in Utah, Bryce Canyon provides a challenge for visitors looking to escape the crowds, but with just a little planning, this park’s brilliant hikes, fantastic vistas, and forests of hoodoos can become the quiet refuge we’re all looking for.
Crowd Factor: 7/10
If you were to draw an oval from Sunrise Point to Bryce Point and capture all those little trails in between, it would capture nearly all of traffic in the park.
Things to Do
Most Popular: The Main Amphitheater
Sunrise, Sunset, and Inspiration Points
Navajo/Queen Loop Trail
Four separate overlooks surround the amphitheater from every angle. All of them are barely separated by more than two miles, all of them with very limited parking. Sunrise/Sunset Points serve as the trail heads to the Navajo/Queen Loop, which as the busiest trail, doesn't come close to the most fantastic.
The Park Shuttle: Use It As Much As Possible
An estimated four times as many cars enter the park each day as there are available parking spaces. Arrive before 830am for easy and convenient parking, then leave your car where it is until evening.
Photo Credit: NPS
Peak Alternative: Rainbow Point & Bristlecone Pine Loop
The lone exception to the “Never Drive Anywhere” rule would be a trip out to Rainbow Point.
Day Hike Recommendation: Fairyland Loop Trail (8.0 mi)
Uncrowded, spectacular, and horseless, Fairyland Loop is the best trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
5 Hikes That Mather
#1 Fairyland Loop
Fairyland Loop is a wonderful trek among spectacular hoodoos without the mega-crowds of the Queens/Navajo.
Distance: 8.0 Miles
Peak Alternative: Somewhat. Far less busy than the Main Amphitheater, but you will encounter a fair amount of other hikers during peak hours.
Best Start Time: Before 9AM
All Camping is First-Come, First Serve
Both car camping campgrounds in the park fill around noon. The nearest reservable campsite on Recreation.gov is Pine Lake in Dixie National Forest, 30 minutes away by car.
Mather's One-Day Itinerary
These times are based on summer daylight hours, typical temperatures, and crowd sizes.
700a: Wake Up
800a: Arrive Park Gate
815a: Park @ Sunrise Point (near the General Store)
830a-130p: Fairyland Loop Trail
130-230p: Lunch and Recover
230-330p: Shuttle to Visitor Center for Passport Stamp and Junior Ranger Books
330-4p: Shuttle to Bryce Point
4-6p: Walk Rim Trail back to your car at Sunrise Point. Enjoy ALL the Main Amphitheatre vistas along the way.
6-730p: Dinner at North Campground Picnic Area
730-9p: Enjoy sunset along Rim Trail or at Sunrise Point.
930p: Pass Out