When Is the Best Time
Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. However, there are a lot of things to consider if you’d like to make this a visit you’ll remember forever. We wrote this guide to give you the best tips for Bryce Canyon in terms of the best time (months), weather, busy times, best hikes, personal hotel tips, and more. Use our quick navigation:
- Monthly Weather and Busy Times
- Avoiding Tourist Crowds (IMPORTANT!)
- Opening Hours and Shuttle Service
- Best Hotels
- 5 Must-Do Hikes and Walks
The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park in terms of weather is from May until September. The temperatures are usually mild between 63°F and 80°F (17°C – 27°C). However, it’s peak season. If you want to avoid busy times and still experience mostly pleasant weather, go in April or October.
Guide-Book Tip: Check out the best and latest (2019 edition) guidebook for Bryce and Zion which is available. This is a must-read before you go: Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks.
Tour Tip: This one is unforgettable: You spend three days with the best tour guides you can imagine and explore stunning Zion and Bryce National Parks, Monument Valley, as well as Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. You ride with a 4×4 jeep through Monument Valley and get world class photo opportunities on this once in a lifetime tour. Hassle-free with with everything taken care of! Read the reviews: Bryce, Antelope, Grand Canyons, Zion & Monument Valley – Exclusive Tour
Bryce Canyon Access (Health Update)
For Bryce Canyon National Park no reservations are required (2021). That’s why our ‘Avoiding the Crowds‘ Tips became even more important. The visitor center, roads, and trails are open and accessible.
Monthly Weather and Busy Times
Sitting at a relatively high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, Bryce Canyon National Park is colder than any national park in Utah including Zion, Canyonlands, and Arches. Summer temperature is pleasant and mild with little fluctuations.
Night time in spring and fall is chilly but winter is the coldest with plenty of snowfall. Remember to pack your warm clothes when planning your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park any time of the year. Monthly average maximum temperatures:
More details: Bryce Canyon Climate
Spring (March – May): Weather during spring transition from cold to mildly warm. Nonetheless, visitors still need a jacket, particularly in March and April. This is the time to see snowmelt from the higher elevation mountains surrounding this spectacular park. However, especially March is still considered a ‘winter month’ with snow and often unpleasant temps.
April is the time when most Bryce experts consider going: The snow is melting and it’s the first ‘warmer’ month as temperatures are getting more pleasant in April. It doesn’t matter that the trails are still muddy and that’s it’s unlikely to see flowers. Also, keep in mind that nights in April and May are chilly.
Summer (June – August): Experience pleasant days and cool nights during summer. The best weather is in July, the warmest month. Rainfall during mid to late summer comes as afternoon thundershowers. These are also the peak tourist months with heavy crowds.
Fall (September – October): Especially September is a great month with pleasant temperatures, blue sky, clear and crisp air. However, weather can be unpredictable and fall nights can be relatively chilly. It is possible to experience some snowfall in October.
Winter (November – February): Winter is the coldest time to visit Bryce Canyon. One will experience lots of snow between January and February, making it an ideal time to enjoy snow activities such as skiing and sledging. Much of the area experience the occasional snowstorm from October through April. The coldest month is December.
Few facilities and amenities will either remain closed or reduce their operating hours. The shuttle won’t operate in winter. However, it’s still worth visiting in the colder months! Why?
- No crowds, you have the park almost to yourself.
- It’s cold but definitely not freezing cold during the day.
- Accommodation prices are at their lowest with great discounts (check our hotel tips below).
There are also a lot of amazing things to do in the winter. We loved the ‘Ranger Guided Snowshoe Hike’. Check the official park website for more information: NPS – Bryce Canyon Winter Visit
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
The park is attracting over 2.6 million people annually. Summertime is the peak tourist season and very busy. Quieter times are winter, early spring, and late fall. In September, the crowds start to thin out slightly after Labor Day (the first Monday in September). However, not on weekends, as they are still packed in September. June, July, and August bring the heaviest crowds. In May it already starts to get busy, especially on weekends.
To avoid the crowds, start your day’s exploration early and go mid-week if possible. Finding the perfect parking space can sometimes be challenging especially at the viewpoints along the scenic drive. However, you can find a nice parking spot just a few kilometers away from the more packed ones. Special
Tip: If you want to park your car at Sunset Point (limited parking only), arrive there around 7 a.m. A park ranger even suggested 6 a.m.! Otherwise, it’s better to use the shuttle (see below).
Hiking enthusiasts should also start very early as most hiking trails will be packed later. The family-friendly and moderate trails are packed in high season: Rim Trail, Queens Garden Loop, Navajo Loop, …
You can find solitude, even in peak season, on the more strenuous day hikes like Fairyland Loop and Peekaboo Loop. Especially if you start early. Looking for very easy, short hikes or walks? Read our guide with the 5 best hikes and walks at the end of this article.
Opening Hours and Shuttle
The park is open 24 hours throughout the year. The Visitor center is modern, with everything you need. No restaurant though. Visitor Center Operating Hours . Shuttle service for the Bryce Canyon stops in late October and resumes with the start of spring in mid-April.
Shuttle Schedule: Bryce Canyon Park Shuttle Is the shuttle free? Yes, there is no additional fee. You can use the shuttle as often as you like. It’s all included in the entrance fee to Bryce Canyon.
Tip: Park at the Shuttle Station (Google Maps Location) in Bryce Canyon City and then board the shuttle. It brings you to all viewpoints and trailheads within the area.
Best Hotels (Personal Tips!)
Whether you’re planning for adventurous hiking or enjoying one of the stunning viewpoints after an easy hike/walk (read more below), there is one thing you should always do: Stay at least one night even if you have limited time!! Why?
- Staying at a very close hotel or inn allows you to start early and dodge the crowds. That way you’ll enjoy Bryce Canyon so much more. You also prevent stress as you don’t have to drive a long way right before getting to the awesome spots.
- You can take awesome photos like the above one at sunrise and sunset without any stress. Getting up early, eating breakfast, and then driving for 8-10 minutes only (or taking the shuttle) to take gorgeous photos at the amazing viewpoints is much better than every other option with the annoying crowds.
Where to stay? The best place we know is definitely Best Western Ruby’s Inn (Tip: Book well in advance as it’s in high demand! If you don’t book now: Bookmark the link!). 4 reasons why we always stay at Ruby’s Inn:
- Fantastic: From the moment you walk through the door, you see this magical fireplace. The helpful and extremely friendly front desk agent greets you and helps you with everything. Quote from a visitor: ‘The staff goes out of their way to make you feel like a king!’
- Comfortable: The rooms are perfect, clean large, and with everything you need. The breakfast is included and really excellent!
- Very close: It is the closest hotel to Bryce Canyon! Only 8 minutes drive to Sunrise Point, even less to the Visitor Center. Other viewpoints are also close and very easy to visit from the Ruby’s Inn
- Very convenient: It gets even better, as the official shuttle also stops right at the Inn. It takes you to Sunrise Point or Sunset Point as well as other great viewpoints
More lodging options? In case you don’t mind driving slightly longer, use the map below to find another hotel nearby. Hint: Zoom out first with the minus button! If you don’t see the map use this link: Bryce Canyon Hotels and Lodges Bookmark it in case you’re not booking now, as you can save money by comparing prices later.
More Tips and Hiking
Bryce Canyon National Park boasts the most beautiful sandstone scenery in the American West. Here is the largest collection of hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) in the world! Descriptions fail. Photographs and words can not do justice.
Review by user Ray Downs: Great hiking everywhere, tons of trails and guides can show you around. Can be VERY crowded in the peak summer months. I like it best in the winter but it can be very cold…but the snow on the red rocks makes the best photos. Sunset and sunrise are the best times to be on the rim…mid day in the bottoms allow light to filter down. Be safe and take lots of water in the summer.
5 Must-Do Easy Hikes and Walks
Do you have limited time only and still want to experience the most stunning views? The great thing about Bryce Canyon National Parks is that you don’t have to hike for a couple of hours to view the most dramatic sceneries. There are super short hikes or walks which are less than 1 mile (or 2 miles), where you can experience the most stunning views.
It often takes only a few minutes to half an hour driving between the best easy trails and viewpoints. It gets better: The first 3 hikes/walks below all start at Sunset/Sunrise Point or nearby and can be combined easily without driving on a single day.
We highly suggest staying one night, even if you have limited time only. That way you can start very early (see above) and beat the crowds at the most popular spots and trails. Also taking stunning photos at sunset the evening before and at sunrise with the crowds is amazing.
Read our hotel tips above and choose either the Best Western Ruby’s Inn (our top tip, bookmark it!) or one of the others. Now: Below are the easiest hikes and walks with amazing views you can easily do all in one day. Looking for more? Check the official NPS website: Bryce Canyon Day Hikes You can reach most other hikes/trails via the shuttle as well.
1. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
Bryce Canyon – Sunset Point
- Views: Impressive
- Distance: 1 mile / 1.6 km (round trip)
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Trailhead – Google Maps
- Description and Reviews – Sunset – Sunrise – AllTrails
This is a small section of the longer Rim Trail. The best thing here: If you stay right there or nearby (see above) you can just walk in a few minutes to the trailhead. A lookout over the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater which is one of the most impressive views in the whole of Utah. You can see the famous hoodoos, sections of Queen’s Garden Trail, and even Navajo Mountain on a clear day. The path is also wheelchair accessible and pets are allowed. Get here first thing in the morning!
2. Queen’s Garden Trail
Bryce Canyon – Queens Garden Hoodoos
- Views: Incredibly scenic
- Distance: 1.8 miles / 3 km (round trip)
- Difficulty: Easy
- Queen’s Garden – Google Maps
- Trailhead – Google Maps
- TripAdvisor Queen’s Garden Trail
This short hike starts at Sunrise Point. That means you can do it right after ‘Sunset to Sunrise Point’ if you like. Although you hike down then up again, the views in each direction are completely different. This is such a scenic hike with many opportunities for stunning photos. At the end of the trail, you see a hoodoo that looks like Queen Victoria overseeing the garden. A must-do hike/walk.
3. Navajo Trail
- Views: Stunning like Queen’s Garden
- Distance: 1.3 miles / 2.16 km
- Difficulty: Easy-moderate
- Trailhead – Google Maps
- Description and Reviews – Navajo Trail – AllTrails
This short hike starts also at Sunset Point and has a scenery like Queen’s Garden with many impressive hoodoos. You can even combine it with Queen’s Garden if you like. However, it’s a little steeper with greater elevation gain. That’s why it’s officially rated as moderate by NPS. However, it’s still an easy one if you don’t try to rush through. Please be extra careful of loose rocks which can roll on this hike beneath your feet.
4. Mossy Cave Trail
- Views: Intriguing
- Distance: 0.9 miles / 1.5 km
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead – Google Maps
- Mossy Cave Trail – NPS Info
This one is outside the park, but only an 18 minutes drive from Sunrise Point (Bryce Canyon Lodge). For an additional hike on one day besides hikes #1-3, you might choose this one or #5 (Bristlecone Loop). In case you’d like to visit Capital Reef National Park after Bryce Canyon, this one is just on your way. You’ll also spot the intriguing hoodoos and mostly follow a river, see a waterfall, cross a bridge and finally hike up to a fascinating shelter cave. It’s an easy, but very nice and interesting hike.
5. Bristlecone Loop
- Views: Very scenic with impressive trees
- Distance: 1.0 miles / 1.6 km
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead – Google Maps
- Bristlecone Loop Trail – AllTrails
You start from the southern end of Bryce Canyon National park at Rainbow Point. It’s a 30 minutes drive from Sunset/Sunrise Point. This trail runs through a forest, the highest part of the park with elevations over 9100 feet (2800 m). On the trail, you can spot those impressive ancient bristlecone pines. Some of them are 1800 years old! The canyon view is truly stunning and on this trail, you can also spot wildlife. In winter this hike may be impossible because of snow.