Bryce Canyon Information
Highest in summer; lowest in winter.
South-central Utah, approximately 85 miles northeast of Zion National Park.
Address: Bryce Canyon National Park P.O. Box 170001,Bryce Canyon, Utah 84717-0001. Telephone: (435) 834-5322
The park is open 24 hours per day throughout the year. There may be temporary road closures during and shortly after winter snow storms until plowing is completed and conditions are safe for visitor traffic. Road maintenance may require brief closures of individual areas at other times.
Visitors can enjoy Bryce Canyon during any season. Summer days are pleasant and nights are cool at 8,000-9,000 feet. July is the warmest month, with an average daytime high temperature of 83 degrees and a nighttime low of 47 degrees. Much of the area’s precipitation comes as afternoon thundershowers during mid to late summer. Spring and fall weather is highly variable.
Cold winter days are offset by high altitude sun and dry climate. Winter nights are subfreezing. During some winters, Alaskan cold fronts descend on the Colorado Plateau region bringing temperatures as low as 30 degrees below zero. Although March is the snowiest month, the area can have snowstorms from October through April. Annual snowfall averages 95 inches, providing opportunities for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing
The high altitude sun can burn in any season-hats and sunscreen are recommended all year. Layered clothing is good preparation for the plateau’s temperature extremes and frequent strong winds. Boots with good tread and ankle support are strongly recommended for hikes into the canyons.
Established 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument; expanded in 1919 as Zion National Park. Significance Established to preserve and protect the scenic beauty, unique geologic features, and unusual assemblage of plants and animals. Size 229 square miles.
Lowest – 3,666 ft (1,128m) Coalpits Wash in the southwest corner. Highest – 8,726 ft (2,660 m), Horse Ranch Mountain in the Kolob Canyons section. Precipitation Annual Average; 15 inches. Name Zion, a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety or refuge, given to this canyon by Mormon pioneers in the 1860s. Geology Sedimentary rock, mostly sandstone. Some limestone, shale, mudstone and conglomerate. Mostly Triassic through Jurassic (250 million to 150 million years ago). Some recent volcanic activity in the form of cinder cones and lava flows. Plant Life Richest diversity of plants in Utah–almost 800 native species. Differences in elevation, sunlight, water, and temperature create “microenvironments”, like hanging gardens, forested side canyons, and isolated mesas that lend to this diversity.
Animal Life 75 species of mammals, 271 birds, 32 reptiles and amphibians, 8 fish. Commonly seen animals include mule deer, rock squirrels, lizards, and many species of songbirds. Rare or endangered species include Peregrine Falcons, Mexican Spotted Owls, spinedace (a fish), and some species, like the Zion snail, found nowhere else on earth. Human History Evidence of Ancestral Puebloans, formerly known as the Anasazi, date from about 2,000 years ago; Paiutes from about 800 years ago. Mormon settlers arrived in the 1860s. Park Visitation in 1920 was 3,692; in 1996 it reached 2.6 million.
From north or south on U.S. 89, turn east on Utah 12 (seven miles south of Panguitch, Utah) and travel to the junction of Utah 12 and 63. Turn south (right) on Utah 63 and travel three miles to reach the park entrance. (Utah 12 continues east through the northern portion of the park.)
From the east, travel west on Utah 12 to the intersection of Utah 63. Turn south (left) to reach the park entrance.
Fees, Costs, Rates
- Passenger cars are charged $30 per 7-day visit, or $35 per year, valid only at Bryce Canyon National Park.
- Non-commercial motorcycles are charged $25, whether motorcycle has one or two riders.
- Noncommercial tours (e.g., scouts, church groups, school groups on recreational outings) as well as foot and bicycle travelers are charged $5 per person age 17 and older.
- Commercial tours are charged according to seating capacity as follows: $25 plus $5 per passenger for 1-6 seats; $50 for 7-15 seats; $60 for 16-25 seats; and $150 for 26 or more seats.
- Golden Eagle ($50 annual fee) and Golden Age ($10 one time fee) Passports are available at the park Entrance Station and are honored for occupants of noncommercial vehicles. Golden Access Passports are issued at the park visitor center.
- Campsites $10 per site per night. (Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders receive a 50% discount.)
- Annual Pass: $80, good for one year at any National Park or Federal Recreation Area. Purchase your Annual Pass online Here
- $5 per permit
Facilities and Opportunities
Visitor Center/Exhibits: The park visitor center is open year round except Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. A ten-minute slide program, exhibits, restrooms, information, and backcountry permits are available here. In addition, maps and other publications are available for purchase through Bryce Canyon Natural History Association.
Trails, Roads: The 18-mile main park road winds along the edge of the plateau, terminating at the south end of the park. Return to the entrance via the same road. Spur roads and pullouts offer opportunities for viewing and trailhead parking. Park speed limits range from 25 to 35 mph and are strictly enforced.
In summer, parking at most viewpoints is extremely congested. Your best chance of finding a parking space at Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, Bryce, and Paria Viewpoints is before 10:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m.
Because all of Bryce Canyon’s viewpoints are east of the main park road, we recommend that you drive the 18-mile road to the southern end of the park, start with Rainbow Point, then stop at the remaining viewpoints on your way back to the park entrance. This will help you to avoid making left turns in front of oncoming traffic.
Special Concerns: Due to steep grades and limited parking, trailers are not allowed beyond Sunset Campground. Campers should leave trailers at their campsite. Day visitors should leave trailers at their overnight campground, at Ruby¹s Inn free shuttle parking area just outside the park, at the park visitor center or at the trailer turn-around south of Sunset Campground.
No vehicles over 25 feet in length are allowed at Paria View where the parking area is too small for large vehicles to turn around.
Marked bus parking spaces are available at all parking lots which can accommodate buses. Bus engines should be turned off while parked. Motorhomes and trailers are not permitted in spaces designated for buses.
The park has over 50 miles of hiking trails with a range of distances and elevation change. Assess your ability and know your limits. Use caution if unaccustomed to the high altitude.
Day Hikes: The easiest trail is the 1/2-mile (one way) section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points. Other sections of the Rim Trail (which extends 5.5 miles between Fairyland and Bryce Points) have steeper terrain. The Fairyland Loop (8 miles round trip), Peekaboo Loop (4.8 or 5.5 miles round trip), Queen’s Garden (1.7 miles round trip) and Navajo Loop (1.5 miles round trip) trails wind down through the rock formations along steep grades. The Peekaboo Loop Trail also serves as a horse trail.
Backcountry: The Under-the-Rim Trail extends 23 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point and has eight backcountry campsites. The Riggs Spring Loop Trail (8.8 miles round trip) from Rainbow Point has four backcountry sites. Both trails drop below the rim of the plateau and lead through forested areas. A permit is required for overnight backcountry camping and is available at the park Visitor Center. A $5 donation is requested for backcountry use.
Programs/Activities: Park rangers and volunteers conduct interpretive activities, including hikes, walks, geology talks and evening slide programs from late spring through early fall. Check at the park visitor center or Bryce Canyon Lodge for daily schedules.
Junior Ranger Program: The Junior Ranger Program offers children ages 12 and under the opportunity to learn more about the park. Although the program is designed as an independent learning experience in an effort to accommodate individual family schedules, one important requirement is that the kids attend a ranger-guided activity. Recommended minimum time needed for completion of the program is approximately one full day. When kids fulfill their requirements, they can bring their completed booklets to the park visitor center and receive a Junior Ranger certificate. In addition, a special patch is available for $1.
Volunteers in Parks (VIPs): Each year at Bryce Canyon, volunteers donate more than 10,000 hours of service–over 10% of the park’s workforce. VIPs help staff information desks, serve as campground hosts, patrol trails, build fences, work with computers, conduct wildlife surveys, take photographs, and more.
Currently the park is seeking volunteer applications for a winter/spring Museum Tech position. Call 435/834-4412 or visit the Volunteers In Parks Job Opportunities page of the NPS ParkNet website www.nps.gov/volunteer/jobs for a position description and on-line application.
To learn about other volunteer opportunities at Bryce Canyon, ask for an information packet at the visitor center or write to: Superintendent, Bryce Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 170001, Bryce Canyon, UT 84717-0001.
Lodging and camping facilities: Amfac Parks and Resorts, Inc. operates the Bryce Canyon Lodge, with 114 rooms including lodge suites, motel rooms and cabins. The season begins April 1 and runs through October 31. Make lodging reservations on-line at www.amfac.com. Or you can write to: Amfac Parks and Resorts, Inc., 14001 East Iliff Ave., Suite 600, Aurora, CO 80014, or call 303/297-2757 or fax 303/237-3175 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Time.
Additional lodging is available throughout the area. Reservations are recommended.
CAMPING The park has two campgrounds, North and Sunset, with 218 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost is $10 per site per night. There is a limit of 6 people, 3 tents, and 2 vehicles per site. There are no hook-ups. Sites fill by early afternoon during the summer months. Loop A of North Campground has a heated restroom and remains open through the winter. Group Camping: One group site is available in Sunset Campground by reservation only from approximately May 15 through October 10 (depending on weather).
- Maximum size limit of 30 people and eight vehicles. Minimum of seven people.
- Fee charged is the greater of either $30 per night or $3 per night per person 6 years and older. Fee is payable upon arrival.
- Site is assigned by lottery held on February 1 of each year. Only one application per party will be included in the drawing. All non-competitive requests will be granted. All requests received after February 1 will be granted on a first-received, first-served basis.
- Reservations are accepted by mail, phone, or FAX.
Call 435/834-4801 for more information.
Private, Utah State Parks, and US Forest Service campgrounds are located throughout the area.
Food/supplies: Amfac Parks and Resorts, Inc. operates a dining room in the Bryce Canyon Lodge, as well as a general store at Sunrise Point. Groceries, souvenirs, camping supplies, quick meals, restrooms, coin-operated showers and laundry facilities are available at the store from April through October.
Private stores in the immediate area are open all year for food, supplies and other services.
Other Concessions/NPs-Managed Visitor Facilities and Opportunities: In spring, summer and fall, wranglers lead horseback rides into Bryce Amphitheater along a dedicated horse trail as well as on the Peekaboo Loop Trail. Write to Canyon Trail Rides, PO Box 128, Tropic, UT 84776, or call 435/679-8665 or 435/834-5500 for information and reservations.
Accessibility: Most park facilities were constructed between 1930 and 1960. Some have been upgraded for accessibility, while others could be used with assistance.
Because of the park’s natural terrain, only a half-mile section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points is wheelchair accessible. The one-mile Bristlecone Loop Trail at Rainbow Point has a hard surface and could be used with assistance, but several grades do not meet standards.
Parking is marked at all overlooks and public facilities. Accessible campsites are available in Sunset Campground.
Recomended Activities / Park Use
Sight-seeing, hiking, camping, backpacking, photography, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, bird watching and other wildlife observation, star gazing, contemplation, relaxation.
Reservations / Permits:
Reservations are recommended for Bryce Canyon Lodge. Park campsites are first-come, first-served, except for the group site which is by reservation only.
A $5 permit is required for overnight backcountry camping. Permits must be obtained in person and are issued at the park visitor center from 8:00 a.m. until two hours before sunset. No reservations are accepted.
Basic Visit Recommendations:Plan to spend from one to several days depending on your personal interests. Because of the wide variety of recreational opportunities on nearby private, state and other federal lands, you can easily plan an extended vacation in this area.
With a short time to spend in the park:
- Stop at the Visitor Center for information, exhibits, and a ten-minute slide program. Publications and maps are available for purchase.
- Drive to Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints.
- Hike a canyon trail or stroll along the rim. Check at the Visitor Center for current trail conditions.
- Lunch at one of the designated picnic areas.
With one or more days to spend in the park (in addition to the above):
- Drive to Rainbow Point (18 miles one way) and stop at the 13 viewpoints on your return trip. Check at the Visitor Center for current road conditions and closures.
- Attend a ranger-guided activity (available during summer months).
- Snowshoe or cross-country ski a designated trail on the plateau top. Rental equipment is available outside the park.