Planning a hiking trip to Bryce National Park can be something of a difficult task because it is farther from major airports than its flashy neighbor, Zion. Because of this, Bryce Canyon is less traveled but no less spectacular, making it the perfect destination for adventurous travelers. The park is nestled in Utah’s high country: an alpine land of tall pines, cool breezes, and the colorful geology of the enormous Colorado Plateau. Bryce Canyon is most famed for its unique rock pillars, or “hoodoos,” formed from the limestone of an ancient lake bed and exposed slowly by millennia of uplift and erosion. Often described as alien or fairy-like, the park’s trails are some of Utah’s most intriguing. A hiking and camping trip to Bryce is one you simply can’t pass up when traveling through the Southwest.
A four-hour drive from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, hiking in Bryce is a great way to get off the beaten path and experience the wilder side of Southern Utah. Because of the driving distance from major airports, you should carefully plan out the travel logistics before your trip. No matter which airport you choose to fly into, it will be necessary to rent a car. If you also hope to visit Zion National Park on the same trip, Las Vegas or St. George are the closest airports. If you are interested in visiting the Grand Canyon or Lake Powell during your trip, you may want to consider flying into Flagstaff, or even Phoenix.
The small town of Bryce borders the park, providing a good selection of dining, lodging, and entertainment options. For those seeking a more secluded experience, the town of Tropic lies 20 minutes past Bryce and offers cozy B&Bs or rustic cabins. Our top picks for places to stay near Bryce are Ruby’s at the park entrance and Stone Canyon Inn in Tropic. In the park, the historic Bryce Lodge is a mere few hundred feet from the rim of the canyon itself, making the high demand for rooms easy to understand. Book as early as possible to stay here.
To take your vehicle, the entrance fee to Bryce Canyon National Park is $30 per private vehicle. If you’re staying outside the park in Bryce and opt to just take the shuttle in, the fee for each individual entering is $15 per person. Admission is for seven days and includes unlimited use of the park shuttle during its operating season. There is no shortage of things to do in Bryce Canyon Country, so staying nearby is a great way to maximize all of them.
The free park shuttle is a great way to free yourself up to sight see and avoid the hassle of parking. It operates through the end of April to mid-November, and offers service from the town of Bryce to the main stops around Bryce Canyon Amphitheater every 15-20 minutes throughout the day.
For a scenic 3.5-hour guided tour of the park’s entire high plateau, the park-provided Rainbow Point shuttle departs twice daily from the town of Bryce. It covers 40 miles and makes frequent stops at all major viewpoints. It is also free of charge, but requires advance reservations. Call the shuttle office at 435-834-5290 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM. Reservations can be made up to 24 hours in advance.