Bryce Canyon National Park Guide with Kids Plus 15 Tips for Visiting +Map and Itinerary

    Bryce Canyon National Park is one of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks and deserves to be at the top of your family travel bucket list. While Bryce doesn’t make the top ten of visited national parks, it still receives over 2.5 million visitors a year. Visitors come to see the star of the park, the abundant hoodoos. While you’ve seen pictures of the famous Bryce Amphitheater, there’s nothing like seeing the venue in person. An early morning visit will leave you jaw-dropped by the beauty of red-rock spires, pinnacles, and hoodoos.

    How to Get to Bryce Canyon National Park

    Bryce Canyon is located in southwestern Utah, about 75 miles northeast of Zion National Park.

    • Salt Lake City is 268 miles away or a 4-hour drive.
    • Las Vegas is 260 miles away or 4 hours.
    • Flagstaff, Arizona is a 5-hour drive or 283 miles away.
    • Capitol Reef National Park is two hours away. If traveling between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon, we recommend driving Scenic Byway 12.

    How to Get around Bryce Canyon National Park

    While Bryce is the smallest of Utah’s national parks, it can become crowded during the summer months. You can get around Bryce with your car but parking lots and pullouts fill early. The shuttle offers convenient access through the park and from Bryce Canyon City.

    By Personal Vehicle

    Drive the 18-mile Scenic Drive in your car stopping at viewpoints and parking lots to hike and enjoy the views.

    Free Shuttle Service

    Bryce Canyon Shuttle

    The park offers a 15 stop free shuttle with 6 stops outside the park and 9 stops inside the park. Proof of park admission is required before boarding. Shuttles arrive every 10-15 minutes and run from 8 am to 6 pm, 8 pm in summer.

    Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour (cancelled 2021)

    This free shuttle tour runs from Ruby’s Inn to Rainbow Point from May to September twice daily. The 3.5-hour tour makes eight stops along the park road. Reservations are required and can be made 48 hours in advance by calling 435-834-5290 or at the shuttle offices at Ruby’s Inn, Ruby’s Campground, or the Shuttle Parking Area.

    Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon with Kids

    While only 1% of visitors at the Grand Canyon visit the canyon floor, at Bryce you’ll find relatively easy hikes to lead you to the bottom of the horseshoe-shaped bowl.

    Easy Hikes

    View from Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
    • Navajo Loop, 1.3 miles
    • Queen’s Garden, 2.0 miles – easiest route into the canyon
    • Mossy Cave Trail, 0.8 miles – easy walk to a small waterfall
    • Bristlecone Loop, 1.0 mile – stroll through ancient forest
    • Sunset Point to Sunrise Point, 1.0 mile – easy paved trail

    Moderate Hikes

    Tower Bridge rock formation in Bryce Canyon National Park
    • Tower Bridge, 3.0 miles
    • Sheep Creek/Swamp Canyon, 4.0 miles
    • Queens/Navajo Loop, 2.9 miles

    Strenuous Hikes

    • The “Figure-8”, 6.4 miles
    • Navajo/Peekaboo Loop, 4.9 miles
    • Bryce Amphitheater Traverse, 4.7 miles
    • Peekaboo Loop, 5.5 miles
    • Fairyland Loop, 8.0 miles
    • Hat Shop, 4.0 miles
    • Under-the Rim, 22.9 miles
    • Riggs Spring Loop, 8.8 miles

    How Many Days Do You Need at Bryce Canyon National Park?

    Bryce Canyon One-Day Itinerary

    • Beat the crowds, head out to Bryce Point as early as possible for your crew
    • Visit Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points
    • Hike Rim Trail to all Bryce Amphitheater viewpoints
    • Explore the Navajo Loop
    • Trek up Queens Garden Trail
    • Explore the Scenic Drive during the heat of the day from Yovimpa Point to the Visitor Center
    • Stop at the Visitors Center

    Bryce Canyon Two-Day Itinerary

    After completing the day one activities, add the following for your second day visit.

    • Relax and take the Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour (remember that reservations are required)
    • Hike Mossy Cave Trail
    • Hike Bristlecone Loop

    Additional activities to fill your itinerary

    • Horseback Riding Adventures – rides are available for all ages and skill levels
    • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing – Snowshoe programs are offered at the Visitor Center and are limited to 25 people ages 8+.
    • Stargazing – Annual Astronomy Festival in early June

    Entrance Fees for Bryce Canyon National Park

    We highly recommend buying an America the Beautiful pass for $80. The pass is good for one calendar year and is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Having a pass will allow you to pop in for a few hours in the evening and again the next morning.

    If you have a 4th grader, check out the FREE Annual 4th Grade pass which is good for the duration of the school year through the following summer (September-August).

    Current U.S. military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, qualify for a free annual pass.

    Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon

    The most popular months to visit the park are may through September. We visited mid-May and found the crowds to be light. The park is open 24 hours and the Vistor Center and Fee Booths are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. During winter months there may be temporary road closures due to winter snow storms.

    The area holds annual events that you may want to either avoid because of increased crowds or join in the fun. Bryce Canyon Winter Festival occurs during Presidents Day Weekend. Bryce Canyon 1/2 Marathon is held the third Saturday in July. Late August is time for the Canyon 2 Canyon Bike Ride.

    Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon with Kids

    • Don’t let the warning signs scare you away from visiting. Set rules and expectations with your kids before heading to the overlooks and trails.
    • Check out the Visitor Center to obtain driving and hiking directions, weather forecasts, a current schedule of Park Ranger-guided programs, and Junior Ranger booklets
    • Follow the park on Twitter. Any increase in bear activity near backcountry campsites can temporarily close those sites.
    • The Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive has several parking lots, not all lots have vault restrooms and not all restrooms are open all year. Available at the Visitor Center, North Campground, Mossy Cave, Sunset, Fairview, Rainbow Points. During summer at Inspirations Point and Peekaboo Loop.
    • Wear layers. While early morning temperatures will be chilly, afternoon heat will require fewer layers.
    • Drive to Yovimpa Point, the end of the Scenic Drive, before stopping at any viewpoint, on the way back the pullouts will be an easy pullover to your right without crossing any traffic.
    • Pack plenty of water and snacks for your crew.
    • Stop at the Visitor Center to have your kids earn their badges as part of the Junior Ranger Program
    • Visit the park site for tips on planning a winter visit.
    • It is suggested to hike down the Navajo Trail and take the less steep Queens Garden Trail up.
    • Get to the park as early as your family allows. We visited at 8 am in mid-May and almost had Bryce Point to ourselves. The park is open 24 hours so you can visit at the first peak of daylight.
    • Visitors from lower elevations should remember that Bryce Canyon’s elevation is 7664′. Take breaks when hiking and be sure to hydrate.
    • Check out the “Hike the Hoodoos!” Program – incorporate a bit of a scavenger hunt on specially marked trails to earn a reward.
    • Bryce Canyon has oversized vehicle parking restrictions for vehicles 20 feet and longer. Check them out before visiting the park.
    • The Shared-Use Path offers a 5-mile section connecting the Shuttle Statin in Bryce Canyon City to the Visitor Center, Sunrise Point, Lodge, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point. The path is pedestrian, stroller, wheelchair, bicycle-friendly.

    Where to Eat in the Park

    • The dining room at Bryce Canyon Lodge is open seasonly. Chicken tenders off the kids’ menu is $9.
    • The General Store serves grab-and-go items such as pizza, soup, sandwiches, and ice cream.
    • Valhalla Pizzera & Coffee Shop offers pizza, saldas, pastries, and coffee.

    Where to Stay

    Hotel

    Although Bryce Canyon offers lodging inside the park, none of the rooms accommodate big families. View our list of nearby Bryce Canyon big family friendly hotels.

    Camping

    Inside the Park – North and Sunset Campgrounds

    North Campground is located east of the Visitor Center with 99 sites. Sunset Campground is located west of Sunset Point with 100 sites. Both campgrounds accommodate tent and RV campers. A dump station is available in summer for a fee. Picnic tables, fire rings, and grills are provided at each campsite. Flush toilets and drinking water are available. During the summer months, laundry and shower facilities are available at the general store nearby. The Bryce Canyon Shuttle makes a stop at the Visitor Center and Sunset Campground’s entrance.

    Camping Outside the Park

    There are many options for camping and RVing outside of Bryce Canyon. Suggested locales include Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground and Dixie National Forest.

    Vacation Rentals

    To find more space, check out nearby vacation rentals.

    You might also like:

    Zion National Park Guide with Kids – Where to Hike and 10 Tips for Visiting + Map

    Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim Guide With Kids Plus 15 Tips to Help You Plan Your Visit

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    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa is the mother of four including twins. She is the owner of SixSuitcaseTravel, a travel site for big families of 5, 6, 7, 8. She enjoys helping other big families build life-long travel memories. Her family's travel bucket list includes Yellowstone, London, and anywhere in the Caribbean.