Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Visitor Questions
- What is a hoodoo?
A hoodoo is a pinnacle, spire or odd-shaped rock left standing by the forces of erosion.
- How long does it take to visit Bryce Canyon?
It takes a minimum of 3 hours to drive to the 13 viewpoints along the park's 38-mile (round-trip) scenic drive. In addition, there are hiking trails, ranger programs, horseback rides, campgrounds and picnic areas to greater enhance and extend your visit.
- Are Sunset and Sunrise Points the best places to view sunrise and sunset?
Not necessarily. Nearly all viewpoints face east and offer spectacular views of the canyons bathed in morning's rich, dramatic light. The two most popular viewpoints for sunrise are Sunrise Point and Bryce Point. For sunset, pick your favorite overlook (we recommend Inspiration Point or Paria View) and plan to arrive 1½ hours before sunset for the best lighting.
- Is Bryce Canyon really a canyon?
Yes and no. The park is actually an eroded escarpment of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. There are about a dozen amphitheaters, or horseshoe-shaped canyons, which scallop its eastern edge. The largest of these amphitheaters is named Bryce Canyon.
- Is the shuttle mandatory, or may I take my own vehicle into the park?
The shuttle is voluntary. It's a convenient way for visitors to tour the park, without adding to traffic congestion and impacting park resources. You are, however, welcome to bring your own vehicle into the park.
- How did the park get its name?
Ebenezer Bryce, an immigrant from Scotland, moved with his family to the Paria River valley in 1875. Bryce was sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because his skill as a carpenter would be useful in settling the area. Local people called the canyon with strange rock formations near Ebenezer's home, "Bryce's Canyon." The Bryces moved to Arizona in 1880. To this day, people continue to call this area Bryce Canyon.
- What's the elevation of the park?
Park elevations reach 9,100 feet (2778 meters). People with heart or respiratory problems should be especially careful not to overexert themselves. Winters are typically long and cold, with an average of 96 inches of snow. Summers are mild and ideal for hiking and camping.
- How far is it to Zion and Grand Canyon?
The east entrance of Zion National Park is 78 miles from Bryce Canyon. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 150 miles from Bryce Canyon; the South Rim is 300 miles.
- What kind of wildlife am I likely to see?
Wildlife commonly seen at Bryce includes: Mule Deer, Utah Prairie Dogs, Chipmunks, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Pronghorn (antelope), Gray Fox, Ravens, Steller's Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, Red-tailed Hawks, Turkeys, and Mountain Short-horned Lizards. Black Bear, Elk, and Mountain Lions are rarely seen.
- Is the park open year-round?
Yes, and we highly recommend visiting Bryce in the "off-season." Sixty percent of our visitors come to Bryce Canyon June through September, but October through May is a fantastic time to enjoy the park. In fall and spring, there are fewer people, cooler temperatures, and spectacular fall foliage and wildflower displays. In winter, deep snow blankets the plateau and provides excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. Bryce Canyon's winter landscapes stagger the imagination, as dazzling white snow contrasts beautifully with crimson-colored hoodoos.