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If you’ve only got enough time to see Bryce Canyon in one day, thankfully it’s still enough time to see all the beautiful views and get a good feel for this beautiful National Park! Below is a short overview of what you can manage to see and do in a day there.
We made Bryce a stop on our 2 week road trip of the Grand Circle, arriving in the afternoon after driving from Capitol Reef, and then spent the next morning there as well. So for us our visit to Bryce consisted of 2 half days, split up.
For a one day itinerary and overview of the park I suggest the following:
- Stop at the Visitor’s Center
- Have a picnic lunch in one of the designated areas with tables
- Drive the park road, or take the shuttle, and stop at all the viewpoints
- Take a short hike or walk
- Visit the gift shop and restaurants just outside the park entrance
If you need some more information on places to stay, best times to go, etc. I’ve put more details to that in my Guide to Visiting Bryce.
Visitor’s Center & Lunch
We always stop at the visitor’s center for every park. It’s good to collect maps and get your bearings. Check out the little museums inside, pick up any souvenir’s from the gift shop. See if there are any ranger talks you want to attend-although with only having one day it’s up to you if you think you’ll have for that or not. If you’re not interested in hiking, then you probably could fit it in!
We arrived in the park a little before lunch time, so we were pretty hungry and just stopped at one of the first picnic table site we found, which was right next to the General Store where you can buy some food. It was a nice wooded spot, and some birds said hello to us in the nearby trees. Be careful of the little critters! They will steal food if you’re not paying attention!
Best Viewpoints along Scenic Drive
You can definitely drive the entire park road, called Scenic Drive, and stop at all the viewpoints with one day.
But, what are the best ones to see if you’re really limited on time? They would be the views of Bryce Amphitheater at Inspiration Point & Bryce Point.
Don’t get me wrong, every viewpoint in Bryce is worth stopping at and all have incredible scenery. But these are the iconic Bryce scenes you want to see!
Bryce Amphitheater is filled with tall limestone and sandstone rock formations called “Hoodoos”. Hoodoos are rock spires that vary in undulating shapes from top to bottom, kind of like a totem pole. They are formed from acid rain slowly dissolving the limestone layers, and also by ice that gets into small cracks when snow melts. The ice expands and causes the cracks to widen over time.
The highest concentration of hoodoos in the world are located right here, in Bryce Canyon National Park!
The Native American people who originally lived in the area had stories about the hoodoos, saying that there used to be a race called the “Legend People” that lived there. They were eventually turned to stone however for doing something very bad…
Best Hiking Trails for One Day
First thing to mention, if you’re not into hiking and want to just take an easy walk, there’s 11 miles of trail on top of the rim! The easiest section of that to walk is the 1 mile, paved stretch between Sunrise and Sunset points.
If you want to see more of the canyon however, then you have time for a short hike down into it! I recommend one of the follow:
- Queen’s Garden Trail: 3.6 miles round trip. This trail is the easiest decent into the canyon.
- Navajo Loop Trail: 1.3 miles round trip. On this short hike into the canyon you’ll see formations like Thor’s Hammer, Wall Street, and Two Bridges.
- Fairyland Loop trail down to Tower Bridge: 3 miles round trip. This is the trail we went on. It was so beautiful, like from another world! You get to stand right next to these otherworldly rock formations; hoodoos towering above you!
Fairyland trail took us down to the bottom of the canyon where there were more trees, vegetation, and a dried up stream bed before seeing the fairy tower and bridge. It was a really neat formation high above us!
Shops & Restaurants outside the park
As you’re leaving the park, if you’re wanting to get some dinner or do a bit more shopping there are a few places, like Ruby’s General Store and Diner, where you can shop and get something to eat. Across the street are some cute horses too; say hello to if they’re in their pen!
I’d love to come back one day with more time and take a horse ride into the canyon 🙂
I hope this little guide is enough to get you started, or if you need more info you can read my more detailed article on Visiting Bryce!
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