Frequently Asked Questions

Are you trying to plan a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park and don't know where to start? Driving an oversized vehicle and don't know where to park? Want to know more about hiking in the park?

For answers to these questions and more, start with our most frequently asked questions
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General Questions

Yes. The park is open 24 hours a day throughout the year. Visit the Operating Hours and Seasons page for more detailed information.

No. There are no advanced reservations required to enter Bryce Canyon National Park. Simply present your Annual, Access, or Lifetime Pass or pay the park admission fee to enter the park.

Not necessarily. Nearly all viewpoints face east and offer spectacular views of the canyons bathed in morning's rich, dramatic light. The east-facing orientation of the viewpoints means the sun will set behind you, not over the amphitheater.

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.

You can still experience Bryce Canyon even if you only have a limited time to visit.

If you're a first time visitor, we recommend spending the majority of your time in the Bryce Amphitheater. This iconic area is located along the first three miles of the main road and is home to some of the most popular trails in the park, including Queen's Garden and Navajo Loop. These hikes offer an up-close and intimate look at the highest concentration of hoodoos in the world!

Looking for a hike?
  • Visit the 1 to 3 Hour Hikes page for easy and moderate hikes that can be completed in 3 hours or less.
  • The 4+ Hour Hikes page has suggestions for moderate and strenuous hikes that take you a little deeper into Bryce Canyon.

It depends. Sixty percent of our visitors come to Bryce Canyon from 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.

From the numerous National Park Service sites in southern Utah, to state parks and public lands, there are plenty of nearby attractions to accompany your visit to Bryce Canyon.

Approximate distances from Bryce Canyon National Park:
  • Arches National Park: 245 miles.
  • Canyonlands (Island in the Sky): 256 miles.
  • Canyonlands (Needles District): 322 miles.
  • Capitol Reef National Park: 112 miles.
  • Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim): 150 miles.
  • Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim): 300 miles.
  • Zion National Park (east entrance): 78 miles.

There are picnic areas located throughout the park in both the Bryce Amphitheater area and along the Southern Scenic Drive. For a full list of locations, visit the Plan a Picnic page.
 

Hiking Questions

The Queen's/Navajo Combination Loop is our most popular hike in the park and the one we most recommend to first-time visitors. The Queen's/Navajo Combination Loop combines the open views and unique hoodoos of the Queen's Garden Trail with the iconic switchbacks and towering canyon walls of the Navajo Loop Trail.

Descend Queen's Garden at Sunrise Point, ascend the Navajo Loop to Sunset Point, and then complete the loop back to Sunrise Point via the Rim Trail, enjoying views into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater below.

Looking for more hiking information? Find the perfect hike for you.

Pets are only permitted on paved surfaces in the park; this includes:

Learn more about pet regulations, service animals, and the B.A.R.K. Ranger program.

Yes. Bryce Canyon's limestone does not form sheer cliff faces like you may see at other parks, which is often a relief to those who fear sharp drop-offs. In addition, our day-hikes have an average trail width of 64 inches, so most trails do not require navigating along edges on narrow trails.

We recommend starting with The Rim Trail which offers scenic views of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater while allowing you to stay as far from the edge as you choose. In addition, you can view many of our day-hikes from the rim, which will allow you to make a decision as to whether it feels comfortable to you to try to hike them.

Remember, even if you start a trail, you can always turn around and end it if you don't feel comfortable to continue!

Hikes are listed with accessibility information including the minimum, maximum, and typical widths of trails if you are looking for specific trail information.

Because of the park's natural terrain, only a 1/2 mile section of the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points is wheelchair accessible. The one-mile Bristlecone Loop at Rainbow Point has a hard surface and could be used with assistance, but several grades do not meet standards.

All front-country hikes are listed with detailed accessibility information such as grade, cross slope, and trail widths.

Learn about wheelchair accessibility and how to plan an accessible visit to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Service animals are allowed in national parks. What is a service animal?
 

The only trail that has a restroom is the Peekaboo Loop, which has a pit toilet located on the west side of the loop. This restroom is only open seasonally.

Most other trails have restroom facilities at, or near to, their trailheads. However, some might only be open seasonally. Visit our individual hiking pages to learn more about what facilities are near to each trailhead and when they are open.
 

Parking and Shuttle Questions

No. In no area of the park is riding the shuttle mandatory, however it does provide the most predictable way to enjoy the park's iconic Bryce Amphitheater area of the park while also helping reduce congestion and both noise and air pollution.

The shuttle operates from April through mid-October, and It provides convenient access to trailheads for almost all of the park's many day hikes and is especially suited to scenic one-way hikes along the Bryce Amphitheater Rim Trail

The park shuttle is free with your park admission.

Visit the Shuttle Page for shuttle schedules, maps and more information.

If you need transportation in the park beyond what the Park Shuttle provides, visit our approved Commerical Tours and Services page.

The shuttle travels throughout the iconic Bryce Amphitheater area of the park (miles 1-3) from April through mid-October, and is the perfect choice for those looking to enjoy both a predictable and convenient visit to the park. It provides convenient access to trailheads for almost all of the park's many day hikes.

  • The shuttle is not required.
  • The shuttle is free with park admission: Your park entrance receipt or annual pass allows you and the occupants of your vehicle unlimited shuttle access.
  • Proof of admission must be shown to the bus driver when boarding outside the park. If you have an Interagency Annual, Access, or Lifetime Pass, simply show your pass to the driver when you board.
  • Buses typically arrive at each stop every 15 minutes, but with the new Bryce Canyon Shuttle Tracker you can time your next ride to the minute.
  • The best place to board the shuttle is before you enter the park, at the Shuttle Station in Bryce Canyon City (Stop 1), or at the Visitor Center (Stop 6).
  • The best place to park your car is at the Shuttle Station in Bryce Canyon City or the Additional Parking lot across from the Visitor Center.
  • All buses are wheelchair accessible and can accomodate 2 bicycles on a front rack.
  • Pets are not permitted on the shuttle.
Visit the Shuttle Page for shuttle schedules, maps and more information.

If you need transportation in the park beyond what the Park Shuttle provides, visit our approved Commerical Tours and Services page.

Due to rising vehicle congestion and interference with park shuttle operations, vehicles 23 feet (7 meters) and longer are restricted from parking in the following areas during park Shuttle Season (typically mid-April to mid-October). These restrictions apply while park shuttles are operating (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with shorter hours to 6 p.m. in April and October).

Generally speaking, these restrictions apply to facilities and viewpoints in the popular Bryce Amphitheater area of the park, found along the first three miles of the main park road. There are no oversized vehicle restrictions along the Southern Scenic Drive (miles 4 - 18).

Restricted areas include:

For more information, see the Oversized Vehicle Restrictions page.

Bryce Canyon Amphitheater (Miles 1 - 3)

The Bryce Canyon Amphitheater is where you can access the four main viewpoints: BryceInspirationSunset, and Sunrise Points. The majority of the park's day hikes can be found in this area.

Each of these viewpoints has a parking area that is open to private vehicles, however, due to the popularity of this area, parking spaces can be sparse during our peak seasons. 

Parking Along the Southern Scenic Drive (Miles 4 - 18)

Each viewpoint along the Southern Scenic Drive has parking available. All vehicles, including oversized vehicles over 23 feet (7 meters), are permitted to drive this road and park at all viewpoints.

Shuttle Parking

If you're looking to park your vehicle in order to take the shuttle, we recommend parking at the Additional Parking Lot across from the Visitor Center or the Shuttle Station Parking Lot in Bryce Canyon City,
 

Camping and Lodging Questions

The park has become an extremely popular destination in recent years. Due to this popularity, front-country park campgrounds can fill by noon on weekends from May through October.

To increase your chances of getting a first-come, first-served campsite during our peak season, we recommend arriving as early as possible to reserve a spot.

Unable to find a campsite?
  • Private campgrounds and lodging are available in gateway communities. Visit Garfield County Tourism Bureau for more information.
  • Dispersed camping might be available on nearby Forest Service land. Note: you are responsible for understanding and abiding by all USFS regulations.
  • Camping along the roadside or at a roadside pull off is not allowed within the park and violators may be subject to a citation.
Visit the Campgrounds page for more information on camping in Bryce Canyon.

Camping along the roadside or at a roadside pull off is not allowed within the park and violators may be subject to a citation.

Dispersed camping may be allowed on surrounding Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service land. More information can be found on their websites.

Note: you are responsible for understanding and abiding by all dispersed camping regulations.

Visit the Campgrounds page for more information on camping in Bryce Canyon.

Backcountry camping is permitted only in designated campsites and a backcountry permit must be obtained at the Visitor Center prior to any overnight trips. 

Overnight visitors to Bryce Canyon’s backcountry areas are able to reserve permits for peak season trips up to three months in advance using the website Recreation.gov.

Permits for peak season trips occurring March through November are available online up to three months in advance, as well as on a walk-in basis at the Visitor Center. Online permit holders will still be required to check in at the Visitor Center before departing on their overnight trip to review backcountry regulations, rent a free bear canister, or have theirs inspected.

Permits for winter trips occurring December through February will remain on a walk-in basis, issued up to 48 hours in advance.
 
  • Permit pick-up and walk-in permits are available at the Visitor Center from 8 a.m. until one hour before the Visitor Center closes. All site reservations are subject to availability.
  • Online permits must be picked up in person by 2:00 p.m. MT the day of your trip or your reservation will be cancelled.
  • Overnight stays are limited to a maximum of 14 nights.
  • Cost is $10/permit + $5/person to obtain a permit. Cash and card accepted.
  • Permits are required for all overnight backcountry stays.
Visit the Backcountry page for more trip planning information.
 

While camping remains available at North Campground year-round, Sunset Campground closes each winter from November into April.

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon and dining room close in winter, but lodging often remains available at the Sunset Lodge Unit.

Private campgrounds and lodging may be available in gateway communities. Visit Garfield County Tourism Bureau for more information.

The Visiting in Winter page has more information on visiting Bryce Canyon during the winter season.
 

Geology, Wildlife, and Other Park Specific Questions

A hoodoo is a pinnacle, spire, or odd-shaped rock left standing by the forces of erosion. Bryce Canyon is famous for having the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world! 

The formation of Bryce Canyon and its hoodoos requires 3 steps:

1) Deposition of Rocks - Approximately 50 million years ago, the Bryce Canyon area was low lying, surrounded by areas of higher topography to the west, which encouraged streams to strip particles from these highlands and deposit them into this basin area. These tiny particles accumulated and cemented together to create Bryce Canyon’s rocks (limestones, dolostones, mudstones, siltstones and sandstones).

2) Uplift of the Land - Plate tectonic interactions uplifted Bryce’s rocks to the “goldilocks zone” - the perfect elevation for the forces of nature to create Bryce’s hoodoos. It is at this elevation in which the forces of nature can break down Bryce’s rocks to create its current landscape.

3) The Sculpting of the Hoodoos - The forces of weathering and erosion, mainly ice and rain, work in concert to sculpt Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos. Water seeps into the cracks in the rock and freezes into ice. This expansion into ice causes tremendous pressure on the surrounding rock, and thus causes it to break apart. This “ice wedging” process eventually breaks the edge of the plateau down into walls, windows, and then as individual hoodoos.

Visit the Geology of Bryce Canyon page to learn more about the hoodoos.

With elevations averaging around 8,000 feet (2438 m) and reaching up to over 9,000 feet (2743 m) Bryce Canyon is a high altitude park.

At 8,000 feet effective oxygen levels are about 75% of what's found at sea level, and as oxygen falls the risk for altitude sickness goes up. 

While altitude sickness can affect absolutely anyone, those with preexisting heart conditions, risk of stroke, COPD, asthma, and other chronic illnesses carry an elevated risk of complications.

Learn how to stay safe while hiking at high altitudes.

 

Bryce Canyon's high elevation, clean air, and remote location creates some of the darkest skies in the country. During a new Moon on a clear weather night, you can see thousands of stars and the spectacular band of the Milky Way Galaxy shooting across the sky.

During certain months of the year rangers might offer Night Sky Telescope Programs or guided consellation tours to educate visitors about the science and cultural history of astronomy. These programs can be quick to reach capacity but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the night sky on your own!
 
  • Where should I go to view the night sky? Bryce Canyon is an International Dark Sky park, which means our dark skies are protected. While certain areas are slightly darker than others, there are no bad places to view the night sky! We recommend Paria View in summer and anywhere along the rim any time of year.
  • When should I view the night sky? (Apps? Milky Way info?)
  • Where is a good place for Astrophotography? Many photographers like to take photos along the rim trail whereas some who are looking for natural features in the foreground choose to hike the Queen's Garden or Navajo trails. (safety?)
Learn more about Bryce Canyon's protected night skies or check the calendar for upcoming ranger programs.

Those piles of wood you might see while driving through the park are part of our fuels reduction and wildfire mitigation program. 

Trees that are impacted by disease, overcrowding, or pose a hazard are selected for thinning as part of Bryce Canyon's fire management plan. This thinning is what would happen naturally if small, lower-impact fires were allowed to burn as they occurred naturally over the past century. A thinned forest is a healthy forest.

These trees are cut and stacked and during the months of January and February when snow covers the ground, sufficiently dried piles will be burned in prescribed fires.

Learn more about fire management in Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park is home to many animals including 59 mammal and 11 reptile species. Park boundaries mean little to the migratory hummingbirds, nesting Peregrine Falcon, Rocky Mountain Elk, and Pronghorn which cross through the amphitheater and forested plateau.

Commonly seen mammals include: Mule Deer, Utah Prairie Dogs, Chipmunks, Golden-mantled ground squirrels, Pronghorn, and Gray fox. Elk can be seen seasonally. Badgers, American black bears, and Mountain lions are rarely seen.

Commonly seen birds include: Steller's jays, Ravens, Clark's nutcrackers, and White-breasted and Pygmy nuthatches. Peregrine falcons and Golden eagles can be seen occasionally as well as seasonal migratory birds.

Reptiles are occasionally seen so keep an eye out for Mountain Short-horned lizards and Striped Whipsnakes. The only venomous snake that can be found in Bryce Canyon is the Great Basin Rattlesnake, which is occasionally seen in the summer.

It is a violation of federal law to feed any wildlife in the park and surrounding areas. Be mindful that some of these animals may be seen on or near the roads and trails and should not be approached as they may be dangerous.

The Bridge FIre (2009)
The Bridge Fire started from a lightning strike on June 14, 2009 at Bridge Hollow in Dixie National Forest land. One month later, on July 14, hot and dry conditions along with unpredictable winds from the southwest carried the fire into the park. 30 mph (48 km/hr) gusts carried sparks from the flames across the scenic drive near Whiteman Bench, allowing the fire to spread quickly.

In total, the Bridge Fire burned 3,947 acres split almost evenly between the park and Dixie National Forest land. This was the largest fire in Bryce Canyon National Park’s history. Within the park, the burned area stretches west on Whiteman Bench and below the rim between Swamp Canyon and Farview Point. Along the west side of the park road, the visible burn stretches approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) between mile markers 8 and 10.

Riggs and Lonely Fires (2018)
Both the Riggs and Lonely Fires were started by lightning strikes – the Riggs Fire on August 25, 2018, and the Lonely Fire on September 6 of the same year. Both of these fires originally started on Dixie National Forest land, and eventually merged into one large fire in mid-September. Fire managers decided to let them burn naturally to reduce the buildup of fire fuel brought on by fire suppression. However, the fire began to spread into the park which would threaten both visitors and historic buildings. As a result, fire managers decided to implement a backburn off of the Bristlecone Loop trail.

In total, the Riggs and Lonely Fires burned about 2,300 acres between the park and Dixie National Forest land. The backburned area is still obvious on the Bristlecone Loop today.

Read more about fire history.

Last updated: April 17, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O Box 640201
Bryce, UT 84764

Phone:

435 834-5322
Phones are answered and messages returned as soon as possible as staffing allows.

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