Bryce Canyon

Hoodoo You Think You Are
John McKinney

Bryce Canyon was our favorite National Park out of Utah’s Mighty 5 (link). Bryce Canyon dazzled us with something we had never seen before, hoodoos. These beautiful spires rising from the earth were a sight to behold. Waking up while it was still dark, we made it to Bryce Point, one of four observation points that overlook the park’s main area of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.

The hikes

Waking up early is a must at Bryce. You’ll want to get out to one of the four observation points before sunrise to see that golden Sun on the rock formations below. The best place to grab a picture that doesn’t have the Sun directly in your shot is at the furthest point out, Bryce Point. Just make sure to grab a jacket before getting out of your car here. Even in July, this point can get chilly in the morning due to the wind that kicks up and the more temperate climate in the area.

From here, drive over to Sunset Point and begin the Navajo Loop Trail down into the canyon. You’ll be hiking right alongside the hoodoos here. The popular loop is Sunset Point to Sunrise Point via the Navajo Loop & Queen’s Garden Trails. I highly recommend this combo trail. However, if you are able to, add the Peek-a-boo Trail before you do the Queen’s Garden portion. The Peek-a-boo Trail will take you through the canyon and provide stunning views that you won’t soon forget. This trail is quite possibly our favorite trail we’ve ever done, anywhere. It will add a few miles to your trip but trust me, it is completely worth it. We absolutely loved it.

After you’ve finished the Peek-a-boo Trail, finish off the Queen’s Garden Trail and exit the canyon through Sunrise Point. From here, you can make a short walk along the rim to Sunset Point to grab your car.

Now that you’ve trekked through all of the canyon, make the drive out to Rainbow Point on the other side of the park. The drive is beautiful and even in Summer the weather should be cooler due to the elevation and shade from the trees. What struck us most about Bryce Canyon is that even though it has orange rock hoodoo canyons below, there are large trees through the top of the park. It’s what makes it one of the more diverse parks in the country in my opinion. Before leaving the park for the day, stop at the last of the four observation points, Inspiration Point. Here you can experience a beautiful Utah sunset over orange rock hoodoos. Bryce Canyon National Park was our favorite Park on this whole trip, I hope you enjoy it as well!

Where to stay

The best thing to do for lodging here is to camp, though the campgrounds inside the park fill up fast. I would recommend any of the campgrounds inside the Park.

If camping isn’t your thing or just not your thing on this trip, then I’d recommend staying at the Bryce Canyon Lodge in the Park. The reason being you’ll want to get out early to beat the crowds and to soak up as much time as you can in this amazing National Park.

Another option is where we stayed, The Buffalo Sage B&B. It’s right outside the tiny town going toward the Park. It was only about 10 minutes from the Park and there was definitely a tranquility to the place. The owners were extremely helpful and friendly.

“Bryce Canyon dazzled us with something we had never seen before.”

Where to eat

We went to two places in Tropic to eat, Pizza Place and IDK BBQ. Both had very good reviews on Yelp so we were excited to try them. The Pizza Place was delicious. We got Hawaiian pizza and scarfed nearly the whole thing down. This place is also great because it’s very reasonably priced which can be rare in these small towns that rely a lot on tourism.

The other place we went was IDK BBQ. It had great reviews and we hadn’t had BBQ since before starting the trip so it sounded like a good choice to us after expelling a large amount of energy hiking. As you walk in there is chalkboard wall where you can write whatever you’d like. There were tons of things saying how great the place was. We got our food, dug in, and suddenly….sadness. It was ok. I guess I shouldn’t have expected much from a BBQ place outside the South. After going there, I would’ve preferred going back to Pizza Palace or one of the other two places in town.

How Many Days

For Bryce Canyon, if you’re just driving through the park, you could see some of the beauty of the area in a day. However, in my opinion that’s not really a way to see parks like this. The magnificence of Bryce Canyon will draw you in and beg you to stay longer. We got in as it was getting dark after making the drive from Canyonlands through Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Dixie National Forest. We got to Bryce Point by sunrise the next morning and spent the whole day hiking as the weather is much more temperate. We left in late afternoon, ate dinner in Tropic, then came back to watch the sunset.

All this to say, you could do Bryce in a full day and see most of what it has to offer if you are happy to hike all day. If that doesn’t sound like you or you just want more time to enjoy this sadly often overlooked park, allot an extra day.

Going in, I expected to enjoy Bryce Canyon a good bit but after visiting became one of, if not my favorite National Park after this trip. Don’t rush your trip when you’re here, the hoodoos are worth the time.

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