Bryce Canyon in 24 hours
Yes, it is possible to experience the park with limited time
Determine what you want to do ahead of time, so you don’t waste time at the park
Try to stay overnight if you can
You can view the park by car, on foot, and by bike or horseback
There are no fewer than five National Parks in Utah, and visitors in the area might be forgiven if they get a bit over-ambitious with planning for a road trip into the area. If you find yourself in this situation, you may realize that you’ve allotted just a day for Bryce Canyon. If so, don’t worry. With some planning and a little strategy, it is possible to make the most out of even a short time at the park.
Prioritize and plan
Do you want to see hoodoos or to stargaze? Are you hoping to come away with great photography, experience a hiking adventure, or view wildlife? Are you the type of person who is satisfied with seeing things from your car, or do you want to get into the park on your own two feet, on the saddle of a horse, or the seat of a road bike?
Consider your preferences ahead of time and then invest some effort into planning. Getting some legwork done early means that rather than being at the park deciding what route to take, or trying to track down a reservation, you can have more time to enjoy the area.
Try to make a day at the park mean 24 hours
To some people, a day at the park may mean a drive through the main roads or an 8-hour excursion spent at assorted stops at viewing points. If you can, try to make your trip last longer. This park is gorgeous at sunrise and sunset when the light plays off the hoodoos and enhances the park’s otherworldly landscapes.
An overnight stay will also give you the chance to get outside well after dark, where a full moon heightens the drama of rock formations. In addition, the park has one of the best-known starscapes in the country with frequent views of the Milky Way. Ranger programs can lead visitors on trails through the park at night or help them identify what they’re seeing in the sky.
Viewing the park by car
If you can’t stay overnight, one of the easiest and most efficient ways to see as much as possible is by car. There’s an 18-mile drive with approximately 13 viewing points for visitors to stop at. Get out of the car, stretch your legs, and see as much as you can. The full drive can take between two and four hours, depending on how you pace yourself.
Hiking the Rim Trail
The Rim Trail gives one of the best overviews of the park’s surreal landscapes.
The park’s rim trail gives visitors the chance to experience some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet, including the main amphitheater. The full hike can be pretty long – 5.5 miles one way. However, there are ways to customize the experience to what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that the section of the trail that many people like best is known as Upper Inspiration Point. Try to include that as part of your visit if you can.
Other park highlights
As part of your visit, try to see some of the most well-known sights. These include Thor’s Hammer, which you’ll probably recognize from the many photos of the iconic formation. You may also want to make time to see the famous, natural karstic rock bridges in the park, or hike either Navajo Loop or the Queen’s Garden Trail.
There’s a lot of options to choose from. Once you’re in park boundaries, there will be plenty of rangers available to help make decisions. Don’t hesitate to seek their advice. They are around because they love the park and appreciate assisting visitors to enjoy it too.
A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:
Work for these companies and get paid for travel | Living 101
Want to get paid to explore? Here’s how
Family vacations are one of the best things you can give your child | Living 101
When you take your family on vacation, you’re giving them more than just time away