Bryce Canyon National Park in a Day

We arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park after an exhausting few days; hiking and mountain biking in Zion National Park plus more biking in Red Canyon just outside of Bryce. We were both suffering in the southern Utah heat and really just felt like lazing around in air conditioning and not doing a lot. However that would be unacceptable; we were in Bryce Canyon with its amazing red rock hoodoo formations after all, so after cooling off while watching the introductory movie in the visitors centre we headed into the park to see it all.

We essentially did Bryce Canyon National Park in a day, meaning we drove the 18 mile scenic drive, got out at all the main lookouts and did a few short walks. Works out that this itinerary is a great way of getting the most from Bryce Canyon in a single day.

With my increasing interest in photography I really wanted to capture some great photographs of Bryce Canyon National Park which meant I had to be thinking about light. We visited at the end of June and it was very hot with clear blue skies. There was ample light, often too much and when the sun was high in the sky it tended to wash out the beauty of the park. If you only have one day it pays to visit the best photo spots when the sun is low in the sky – the prime hours (dawn & dusk).

You should start exploring Bryce Canyon early. Start at Sunrise Point where you can take photos and embark on a walk or two before it gets really hot. We walked the Queens Garden Trail and combined it with the Navajo Loop Trail to Sunset Point and the Rim Trail which took us back to Sunrise Point. Note that both Sunrise and Sunset points are visited by the Bryce Canyon shuttle; so you can leave your vehicle at either location, do half the walk and catch the shuttle back to your car.

Hoodoos Through Branches

Hoodoos Through Branches

Walking Queens Garden Trail

Walking Queens Garden Trail

Squeezing Through Tunnel

Squeezing Through Tunnel

Crossing a Dried Riverbank

Crossing a Dried Riverbank

I found a mini Bulldozer

I found a mini Bulldozer (Random Walk Pic)

Photographing Up

Photographing Up

Looking Up

Looking Up

 

After taking morning photos and getting a decent walk under your belt it’s time to do the eighteen mile scenic drive to Rainbow Point. There are plenty of lookouts and picnic spots along the way so take it slow – make sure you have packed plenty of food and drink. Swamp Canyon, Piracy Point, Black Birch Canyon and Ponderosa Canyon are just a few of many spots where you can get out, go for a short walk and take some photos. We found that doing the scenic drive during the hot hours of the day still made good use of our time but allowed us not to feel too guilty about not doing any long walks.

Hoodoos from Above

Hoodoos from Above

Two Trees

Two Trees

Watchful Prairie Dog

Watchful Prairie Dog

Gifted Food

Gifted Food (An RV’er who was about to return their rented RV gave me their food)

Hoodoos from Below

Hoodoos from Below

 

Driving back during the afternoon when the sun is lower allowed us to re-capture some photos which we were not able to get good shots of during the middle of the day when the sun was too high and bright.

Finish the day at Inspiration Point, preferably with another walk since it’s no longer so hot. If you want to find some different angles as well as the famous ones walk from Inspiration Point along the canyon rim to Sunset Point; capture photos as the sun is getting lower in the sky, just make sure you photograph the last of the rays touching the tops of the Bryce Canyon hoodoos from Sunset Point.

Hoodoos in Afternoon Sun

Hoodoos in Afternoon Sun

Renee and I during Sunset

Renee and I during Sunset

Last Rays Touching Bryce Canyon

Last Rays Touching Bryce Canyon

Tree & Bryce Canyon Sunset

Tree & Bryce Canyon Sunset

Grab Shot of Bird Flying Away From Tree

Grab Shot of Bird Flying Away From Tree

 

To reiterate the key points to visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in a Day:
- Sunrise Point (for sunrise)
- Do a walk before it gets too hot
- Do the 18 mile scenic drive during the hot hours of the day
- Finish the day with another walk & photos at Inspiration Point and Sunset Point

Bryce Canyon is pretty awesome, well worth a visit. But don’t just take my word for it, check out James’ post on Visiting Bryce Canyon on his Escaping Abroad travel blog.

Want to see more of our Great North American Road Trip
The Plan
Map showing Posts by Location

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Comments

  1. Nice Write up and shots. Brought back memories from my trip to this awesome place !

  2. I love the gifted food. That’s happened to us more than once. (Gifts from people who have rented RVs, bought way too much stuff and are flying back home.)

    Enjoy the pasta!

  3. Stunning photos Sam, but that river crossing looks pretty dangerous ;)

  4. Fun to visit southern Utah with you. I was there last spring. Same route. What an unforgettable trip. Five national parks all in a row. I camped for a few days both in Red Canyon and in the park, and that was fun too.
    Here’s one of my posts from that trip: http://www.wanderingnotlost.org/2011/05/land-of-the-hoodoos-bryce-canyon/

    • I hadn’t heard of the Paiute Legend of the Hoodoos before. The Legend People who were bad and turned to rocks. Interesting, thanks for sharing.

  5. Great article, I was hoping to get to Bryce this summer but only was able to do Zion. I’ll have to try again in 2012

  6. Hey Sam,

    We went to Zion in August of this year. It was the bomb. We also visited Bryce. It was breath taking, however to me Zion was more spectacular.
    Great experience but I picked the wrong month because it was over 100F during out stay. I heard the winter and fall is gorgeous. We’ll be back asap. :)

    Peace

    Akos

  7. Fabulous shots – love the one looking up to the trees…

    • Thank you. Bryce Canyon and Utah in general didn’t have a lot of trees so the ones you did see often make quite cool contrasting photos.

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