Bryce Canyon is one of the Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah. Its amphitheatre of colourful hoodoos is not to be missed. Here’s how to spend one-day in Bryce Canyon National Park and see all the best sights.

By: Mark Barnes | Published: 19 Jan 2024 | Last update: 26 Jan 2024

Bryce Canyon National Park is a geological wonder. Stunning amphitheatres are filled with row upon row of towering spire-shaped rock formations known as hoodoos. These hoodoos are a vibrant mix of reds and oranges, pinks and whites. In the early morning light, they look like they’re on fire.

Hoodoos come is all shapes and sizes, formed by nature into figures that resemble cultural icons including Thor’s Hammer and Queen Victoria.

Bryce Canyon National Park is not that big, and the highlights can be comfortably explored in one day.

Here’s our one day in Bryce itinerary, it captures all the best views and visits the strangest rock formations. There’s a map of the area and tips on where to stay.

HOW MANY DAYS IN BRYCE CANYON?

One day is the perfect amount of time in Bryce Canyon National Park. Plan your itinerary well and you can see all the best viewpoints and hike to the most interesting parts of the amphitheatre. 

Avid hikers may want to spend longer, but with so much else to see in Utah we recommend following our 2-week road trip itinerary and heading on to Zion Canyon National Park or Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

BRYCE CANYON LAYOUT

Bryce Canyon National Park is relatively small. One main road runs from north to south with viewpoints stretched along its length. It only takes about 30 minutes to drive from one end to the other.

The most dramatic part of the park is the main amphitheatre which sits just under the rim between Bryce Point and Sunrise Point.

queens garden hike bryce
QUEEN’S GARDEN

MAP | BRYCE CANYON

The map below shows the layout of the main amphitheatre area and includes our favorite viewpoints and hiking trails.

  • Rim Trail from Sunset to Sunrise Point – brown.
  • Navajo Loop Trail – orange.
  • Queen’s Garden Trail – red.
  • Peekaboo Loop Trail – purple.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


SUNRISE AT BRYCE CANYON

Dawn in Bryce Canyon National Park is magical, so it’s worth starting your day in Bryce early. As the sun rises over the horizon it gradually lights up all the hoodoos in the amphitheatre. The slightly dull browns become a shimmering of pinks, oranges, and reds.

The best viewpoint at sunrise is (not the misnamed Sunrise Point) but Bryce Point. From here you get a view of the entire sweep of the amphitheatre as the sun lights it up.

It can get busy, so it’s worth arriving 15 to 30 minutes before the sun comes up. There’s a large parking lot next to the viewpoint which is a 10-minute drive from the visitors’ centre.

Breakfast – If you fancy breakfast after the early start, Bryce Canyon Lodge serves breakfast from 7 am to 10 am (April to October) and has a choice of buffet or à la carte. They don’t take reservations, so you can just turn up.

MORNING IN BRYCE CANYON

Straight after breakfast is the best time to hit the trails before it gets too hot. With only one day in Bryce Canyon, you should focus on exploring the main amphitheatre between Bryce Point and Sunrise Point. There are hikes for all abilities, so pick the one that suits you most.

1. RIM TRAIL

The Rim Trail is an almost entirely flat walk along the edge of the canyon rim. Looking down on the hoodoos you’ll be able to make out some of the strange shapes like Thor’s Hammer. The views gradually change as you arc around the amphitheatre. It’s a very easy hike and you can pick the length you want to complete.

  • Sunset to Sunrise Point (brown on map) – 0.5 miles | 20 minutes
  • Inspiration to Sunrise Point – 1.2 miles | 40 minutes
  • Bryce Point to Sunrise Point – 2.7 miles | 1 hour 30 minutes

Shuttle buses run on the road behind the rim, so you can walk one way and get the bus back.

2. NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL

The Navajo Loop trail begins at Sunset Point. It drops just over 500 feet down the canyon via sharp switchbacks between narrow walls. Along the way it passes the famous hoodoo called Thor’s Hammer and Douglas Fir trees that contrast beautifully with the orange rock.

The loop has two sides: Two Bridges and Wall Street. The park authorities recommend hiking down Wall Street and up Two Bridges. The hike is only 1.3 miles but with 500 feet of ascent and descent it can take 1 hour to 90 minutes. (Marked in orange on map above)

Unfortunately, the walk cannot be completed in winter as Wall Street closes. It was also closed in fall 2023 due to trail damage, so check the latest information before you set off.

3. QUEENS AND NAVAJO COMBINATION LOOP

This is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon National Park. It heads along the Rim Trail (brown on map) between Sunset and Sunrise Point, drops down into the canyon via Queen’s Garden Trail (red on map) and climbs back up to the rim using the Two Bridges section of the Navajo loop (orange on map).

It’s a great contrasting combination of trails. The Rim trail offers grand views over the canyon, the Queen’s Garden Trail sweeps gracefully around the hoodoos, while the Two Bridges section is wedged between the narrow canyon walls.

The walk is 2.9 miles long with 625 feet of ascent and descent. It takes about 2 – 3 hours.

4. FIGURE 8

If you’re an avid hiker, we recommend the Figure 8 trail. It combines the Queen’s Trail and Navajo Loop above with the Peekaboo Loop. The Peekaboo loop is a bit tougher than the others, but the rewards are fewer people and great views over the Wall of Windows and Cathedral.

It starts at Sunset Point, follows the Rim Trail to Sunrise Point (brown on the map), drops down into the canyon using Queen’s Garden Trail (red), completes the Peekaboo loop (purple on map), and reconnects with Navajo loop (orange) to climb up to the rim.

The entire hike is 6.4 miles with 1,575 feet of ascent and descent and takes 4-5 hours. Half-way around there are pit toilets (summer only).

LUNCH IN BRYCE CANYON

There are several options for lunch in the park, but they are usually only open from May to October. If you take one of the longer hikes (like the Figure 8) it’s a good idea to bring a packed lunch and plenty of water.

  • The Lodge at Bryce Canyon – Lunch is served in the wood-panelled dining room from 11:30 to 3pm on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • The General Store – Located next to Sunrise Point, it serves grab and go hot and cold foods like soup and sandwiches.
  • Valhalla Pizzeria & Coffee Shop – Opposite Bryce Canyon Lodge it offers pizzas, salads, and drinks.

Water-filling stations are at Sunset Point restrooms, and the General Store near sunrise point (May-October).

bryce canyon one day itinerary

AFTERNOON IN BRYCE CANYON

The temperatures rise in the afternoon so it’s a good time to get in your car (or use the shuttle bus) to explore the other viewpoints in the National Park. You should have already seen Sunset and Sunrise Points on the hike, but here’s our pick of the others to see on a one-day Bryce itinerary.

INSPIRATION POINT

Inspiration points is a three-level viewing platform looking over the main amphitheatre. The view towards Sunset Point with the hoodoos backed by Boat Mesa is wonderful. (5-minute drive from the visitors’ centre)

BRYCE POINT

If you did not get here for dawn, head to Bryce Point in the afternoon. It provides the best sweeping views over the entire amphitheatre. (10-minute drive from the visitors’ centre).

sunset point bryce canyon
SUNSET POINT

RAINBOW & YOVIMBA POINTS

At the very southern end of the park (a 30-minute drive from the visitors’ centre), these two viewpoints are not as dramatic as the main amphitheatre, but they do offer good views of the Grand Staircase. The Grand Staircase are a series of colourful rock layers that rise like a staircase from Grand Canyon North Rim to Bryce.

At Yovimba you are standing on the Pink Cliffs, looking down at the Grey Cliffs. In the distance you can see the White Cliffs and beneath those the Red Vermilion cliffs. Much of this wonderful scenery can be explored in nearby Grand Staircase Escalante National Park

rainbow point bryce canyon
RAINBOW POINT

FAIRYLAND POINT

Many visitors forget to stop at Fairyland Point. North of the visitors’ centre and down a wooded track, it provides a wonderful view of younger hoodoos overlooking Fairyland Canyon. In our opinion, it is the best viewpoint not on the main amphitheatre. (8-minute drive from the visitors’ center)

To drive and stop at all the above viewpoints takes about 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes. If you don’t have that much time skip Rainbow & Yovimba Points.

fairyland point bryce canyon national park
FAIRYLAND POINT

SUNSET AT BRYCE CANYON

Sunset at Bryce Canyon is nowhere near as impressive as sunrise. The main amphitheatre is facing the wrong way and most of the hoodoos are in the shade. It would be no crime to leave Bryce Canyon in the late afternoon and head off to your next destination.

However, if you want to add sunset to your one-day itinerary in Bryce, head back to whichever is your favorite viewpoint. We’d go for Bryce Point.

view from sunset point bryce canyon
VIEW FROM SUNSET POINT

WHEN TO VISIT BRYCE NATIONAL PARK?

The best time to visit is from May-June and September-October, when the temperatures are good for exploring and the trails are less busy.

At 8,000 feet in altitude Bryce Canyon National Park is cooler than other National Parks in Utah, but it can still reach 80°F (26°C) in summer, and a mighty cold 14°F (-10°C) in winter.

In summer the weather conditions are still good, but the summer holidays make the park a lot busier. In winter many of the park facilities are closed and the trails often covered in snow.

queens garden bryce
QUEEN’S GARDEN

WHERE TO STAY NEAR BRYCE CANYON

There’s only one lodge in the park, but it’s easy (and cheaper) to stay just outside and drive in (the park is open 24 hours) to visit all the sights at Bryce Canyon.

OUR PICK

TROPIC

BRYCE CANYON LOG CABINS

Cute, well-decorated, good-value log cabins in the town of Tropic. An excellent place to spend the night between Bryce and Escalante. It’s a 15-minute drive from the visitors’ centre.


CANYON CITY

BEST WESTERN PLUS BRYCE CANYON CITY

The clean and modern Best Western Plus is in Canyon City and just a 7-minute drive from the visitors’ centre.


BRYCE CANYON

THE LODGE AT BRYCE CANYON

The only lodging inside the park, this historic building is very atmospheric and just a short walk from the rim. It’s not cheap but is great for just pottering outside for sunrise and sunset.


bryce canyon itinerary

WHERE NEXT AFTER BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon is one of the Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah. All can be explored on a wonderful 2-week US road trip that includes Las Vegas, Grand Canyon & Monument Valley.

Here are our recommendations on how to see it all: