Trip Report | Bryce Canyon

Some destinations have been on my bucket list for years, and those trips are usually well-thought out, and planned for, months in advance. Others are last-minute itinerary additions, that are thrown in because of routing, timing, or an unexpected opportunity. Places I likely never even considered, or knew anything about, but ended up becoming a favorite spot.

Bryce Canyon National Park falls in that latter category…it’s the best place I never knew I wanted to go!

I’ll get into the where and why of our routing in a future post (including the complete itinerary, hotels, parks, and driving times), but as luck would have it, Bryce Canyon was exactly the halfway spot we needed, and the perfect overnight pitstop. It was also a highlight of the entire week! In fact, if I had to choose my favorite experience/sight of the trip…hiking Bryce Canyon would be easily make the Top Three. (Hence the picture overload!!)

At our first stop, Zion National Park (read our Trip Report here), you enter in through the base of the canyon, with cliffs and mountains of rock rising up all around. But Bryce Canyon is the opposite…the drive in to the park is flat, with no sign of the canyon or the complexity that lies below.

But within minutes, you’re standing at the edge of one of nature’s coolest exhibitions. You can easily wander the paved path around the rim, but hiking down into the canyon is where things really get cool. (Although, it’s not technically a canyon, because of how it was eroded…but that’s beyond my education level.)

Rain Jacket | Athletic Jogger Pants | Shoes | Similar Parka

What makes Bryce Canyon so distinctive, is the massive geological structures, called hoodoos, that look as if they grew out of the rocks. It reminded me of a giant drip castle! And the sun shining off the red and orange rock was almost blinding at times!

There had been a fresh snowfall, but with the elevation at almost 9,000-feet, it was quite warm…and soggy. The slush and dirt formed a sticky, clay sludge, but it was more of an annoyance than a deterrence, and we easily made our way to the bottom within an hour.

My shoes were absolute lifesavers, too, and were perfect for the rocky terrain, snow, ice, and mud…and later wiped clean-as-new!

Micro-Wool SocksWorld’s Best Hiking Shoes

Weatherproof Jacket | Cap | Sunglasses

Athletic Jogger Pants | Shoes | Twill Pants | Pullover | Similar Boots | Sunglasses

Velcro Tennis Shoes (not recommended for these type of trails!)

Twill Pants | Pullover | Similar Boots | Sunglasses

{Where We Stayed}

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
We only spent a single night at Bryce, so we opted to stay within the park itself for easier access. Our visit fell during off-season, so the main lodge and most of the rooms and cabins were still closed. Our room was basic, but clean, comfortable, and recently updated, with a nice patio. There are no TVs, and wifi was virtually nonexistent, but we were a 2-minute walk to the canyon’s edge! It’s one of the original national park lodges in the country, and they’ve done an amazing job of preserving the integrity, while keeping it comfortable.

There are more hotel options in Bryce Canyon City, about 10 minutes from the park.

{Where We Ate}

Valhalla Pizzeria & Coffee Shop
Off-season restaurant options are limited, so this little shed on the edge of the park was an unexpected surprise…and packed! We sat by the little fireplace and inhaled our homemade pizza, and then stopped again the next morning for cappuccinos and homemade baked goods.

{Trails We Hiked}
We arrived Bryce Canyon right after lunch, and spent the afternoon exploring the most popular trails. From above, it looks like a twisty maze, but the trails are well-marked and easy to follow.

Rim Trail to Sunrise Point ~ Even, paved trail with sweeping views of the canyon

Sunrise Point to Queens Garden ~ Descend about 600-feet on a gritty trail, past towering hoodoos, carve-outs, & ‘windows’ in the rock’s wall

Queen’s Garden to Navajo Loop Trail ~ More meandering through pine trees and hoodoos, finishing with a mile of winding switchbacks through the red and pink layers of rock.

Inspiration Point ~ Perfect spot to watch the sunrise

*Sugarplum Travel Tip: The hikes aren’t as daunting as they seem from above, but don’t get caught in a rainstorm…apparently flash floods happen easily and rush through the canyon.

Athletic Leggings | Hiking ShoesCap

(I used this wide-angle clip-on phone lens for this shot…it’s great for family selfies!)

Bryce Canyon is a bit off the beaten path (there’s only one way in, and one way out)…so it doesn’t see near the crowds of nearby Zion or Grand Canyon, and the higher elevation keeps the temperature milder in the Summer. It’s also only one of three International Dark Skies parks in the U.S., making it an unparalleled spot to stargaze. There is virtually no ambient light from traffic or structures, so the thousands of stars and constellations are visible like no place I’ve ever seen. Have you been to Bryce Canyon? Is it on your bucket list now?!

See the first stop of this trip, Zion National Park, here, and more of our Travel Adventures here.

[More National Parks Posts]

National Parks Road Trip | The Itinerary
Trip Report | The Grand Canyon
Trip Report | Bryce Canyon
Trip Report | Zion National Park
Trip Report | Antelope Canyon + Horseshoe Bend
Trip Report | Big Bend National Park
Trip Report | West Texas Road Trip
Our Favorite Hiking Spots in the United States
Road Trip Essentials

Leave a Comment


  1. Oh. My. God. Your photos are so amazing, I’d love to visit one day and see the canyon for myself!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
  2. The pictures are STUNNING!

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
  3. Charlotte wrote:

    I love your description of Bryce, “best place I never knew I wanted to go”. My husband and I did Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyons last year for the first time, and Bryce was actually my favorite, not only for the views but because we rode the mules down into the canyon. I have the exact same picture of in front of that railing. LOL I loved revisiting Bryce through your family.

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
  4. Courtney wrote:

    Hi Cassie! Love the blog 🙂 I’m curious, what lens do you usually use for your photos? I’ve gotten into photography with my kiddos and have a good set up…but thinking about splurging on a new lens for myself! Your pictures are always so beautiful!!

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Thanks, Courtney! I actually just upgraded my camera for Christmas and took this camera & lens with me: Most of the pics I just used the ‘landscape’ mode so I didn’t have to mess with the manual settings all day!

      Posted 3.31.17 Reply
      • Courtney Rowe wrote:

        Thank you! I upgraded my camera for Christmas as well, so I was thinking it might be time for a new lens too 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

        Posted 4.5.17 Reply
  5. We stopped at Bryce Canyon a few years ago on a road trip to Northern California and, just like you said, it’s breathtakingly beautiful! And, as gorgeous as your pictures are, it’s nothing compared to seeing it in person! We definitely want to go back and stay longer!

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
  6. Amy wrote:

    You are making me homesick! Bummer that you couldn’t get up to Arches or Canyonlands, as those are actually my two very favorite parks in Utah. Hope you get to make another trip! Even growing up in Utah, I only visited Bryce a couple of times, but it’s always nice to see others appreciate what you sometimes take for granted. I remember growing up thinking the red rocks were so ugly (?!?!?) and that in the summer they just “smelled hot.” 🙂 But I would love to be there now!

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      That’s funny…and so true, we’re the same about our own area! It’s hard to recognize the beauty when it’s part of your everyday. We definitely want to go back and see more of the area!

      Posted 3.31.17 Reply
  7. Wow, these pictures are incredible! I took a trip to the southwest last year and a flight delay (7 hours, ugh) caused us to miss out on Bryce Canyon time-wise. I hope I can get back there someday, it’s beautiful!

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      What a bummer!! yes, keep it on your list for a future trip!!

      Posted 3.31.17 Reply
  8. Lynette wrote:

    Your pictures are amazing! I totally want to go there now. One question – I’m a little bit afraid of heights – Are there places where you could fall??? (Yes, I realize I sound like an overprotective mom!!)

    Posted 3.30.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Thank you, Lynette! Yes, there are absolutely places you could fall, but if you stick to the main trails, then you’re fine. Like anywhere, accidents could happen, so we had really firm talks with our kids before going. Grand Canyon was actually the safest of the three bc you could stick to the paved rim trail with railings if you wanted, but the good stuff is when you step down into the actual trails. That’s one of the reasons we waited to go until our kids were older.

      Posted 3.31.17 Reply
  9. Bruce wrote:

    Wife and I hiked Monday (Under the Rim from Rainbow Point) and Peekaboo Tuesday. About the twelfth time there and we run the 1/2 marathon in July! We love Bryce! Thanks for the pics and blog

    Posted 3.31.17 Reply
  10. Shelley wrote:

    I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce as an 11 year old and Bryce was the one which made the lasting impression with me. I can’t wait tomreturn with my husband some day.

    Posted 4.3.17 Reply
  11. great photos. we’re spending a few days near/in bryce on our 2 week utah park road trip, and this is giving me all sorts of excitement. there’s supposed to be telescopes set up and ranger talks while we’re there, i can’t wait!

    Posted 4.5.17 Reply
  12. Amy wrote:

    Loved seeing all your pictures! We live in Michigan but have a home in Arizona that we go to in the winter for a few months , and did that tour in the middle of June because that’s our anniversary. So we decided to traveling north after we flew to Arizona ( because who wants to stay in Arizona when it’s 107 out lol) and see Bryce Canyon,and antelope Canyon, and Lake Powell and then drove up to Colorado! It was the most beautiful unexpected time I have ever had! We also did the Grand Canyon as well although it looks like it was much warmer for us than it was for you ha ha 😜 So much beauty in this country! To me Bryce was just jaw dropping! So many memories you are making! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 5.17.17 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      That’s amazing…your route sounds perfect! Bryce was our fave of the three, too!

      Posted 5.17.17 Reply