It is spectacular and it is simply breathtaking! And yet, it is serene and spiritual in its depth and powerful beauty. A visit to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is an experience of a lifetime; a memorable experience that can actually change your perspective on life!
When visitors gaze down on Bryce Amphitheater, as old Sol descends at Sunset Point, conversations are whispered and children kept silent. The brilliantly colored and uniquely shaped spires, fins and pinnacles of stone (called Hoodoos) are a gift of nature’s erosive power–a treasure from the ages, to be savored and enjoyed as fine wine.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located about 85 miles northeast of Zion National Park in southwestern Utah. Entering from the west via U.S. 89, it is off Utah Highway 12, on Utah Highway 63. Driving from the east, take Utah 24 to Utah 12, then south on Utah 63. The park’s elevation ranges between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. It is open year round. The erosion of Claron limestones, sandstones and mudstones over the eons has produced the awesome and beautifully colored Hoodoos and mystical canyon. Ponderosa pines, fir-spruce forests and aspen serve as rich green framework for the magnificent rocks. Bryce is the top step of the Grand Staircase and one of the five national parks that form the Grand Circle. It is a fabulous park and a wonderful place to tour and camp.
Park Attractions And Activities
There is much to see and lots to do in Bryce Canyon National Park. Sightseeing, of course, heads the popularity list. Mule deer and prairie dogs graze and play in the meadows, while during the night, skunks visit the campgrounds. Less obvious are the fox, black bear, elk and many other mammals that roam the nearby forests. There are 160 species of birds about the park, and gentian, bellflower and manzanita are but a few of the lovely wildflowers growing here. The park is a photographer’s dream!
The 18-mile Scenic Drive is the most popular attraction at Bryce Canyon. It provides 18 viewpoints and spur roads between Fairyland Point and Rainbow Point. Sunrise and Sunset Points should be viewed at their specified time of day for maximum effect.
The park has 50 miles of hiking and walking trails. From dayhikes (such as easy 1/2 mile Rim Trail) to horseback riding on Peekaboo Loop Trail, the trails wind down through the fascinating rock formations. For backcountry hiking, the 23-mile Under-the-Rim Trail has eight campsites between Bryce and Rainbow Point.
Some of us that visit/camp at Bryce go there for its beauty and tranquil atmosphere. Camping under the tall ponderosa pines and smelling nature’s sweet aromas while relaxing in a lawn chair is itself a worthy attraction of the park. Also, a trip to Bryce Lodge for an ice cream and a browse through the gift shop is an enjoyable activity. Late spring or early fall is the best times to appreciate the park’s quiet solitude and mystical qualities. A shuttle system is soon to be implemented to cut down on summer traffic and pollution.
Park Campgrounds And Facilities
Bryce Canyon offers two very nice campgrounds (no reservations). The North Campground (125 sites) is our favorite. It is located on Rim Trail and near Bryce Amphitheater, has 20 pull-thrus, a shower, dump station and small store. Sunset Campground (161 sites) offers 50 pull-thrus, restrooms and a dump station. It is located across the road from the Amphitheater in a lovely meadow. Both are full during the peak months and may require a wait for a campsite to open. We had no trouble, however, in the spring.
Private RV Parks And Campgrounds
The region around Bryce Canyon National Park contains many good private — fullservice — parks. The web site of Xpressweb.com has a good listing for the Bryce Canyon area. Ruby’s Inn, located six miles west of the park entrance, is the most popular campground. Rustic Lodge RV Campground is on Panguitch Lake and the Bryce Canyon KOA is near Panguitch (about 25 miles northwest). The Red Canyon RV Park is on Utah Highway 12, some 15 miles from the park. Also, the Broken Bow RV Camp is about 47 miles east of Bryce, on Utah 12 near Escalante, Utah. There is a number of other nice RV parks in the general vicinity.
The State of Utah offers a diversity of landforms and exquisite natural beauty. The Dixie National Forest to the northeast and west of Bryce, covers nearly 2 million acres (170 miles) and provides all sorts of outdoors activities. It has 26 campgrounds and 641 miles of hiking trails. Its forested mountains, lakes and waterfalls are some of nature’s finest.
There are two state parks east of Bryce Canyon. Escalantes State Park (1350 acres/22 sites) is about 45 miles east of the park, on Utah 12. A lovely park, it has 16 pull-thrus, restrooms, showers and a dump station. Boating is available on the lake. Kodachrome Basin State Park (2240 acres/27 sites) is only 15 miles east of Bryce, near Cannonville, Utah. It has 24 RV sites, 24 tent sites, restrooms, shower and dump station.
Finally, a word about Highway 12. It is ranked as a Scenic Byway — as well it should be! Running from U.S. 89 in the west, to Utah Highway 24, in the northeast, the road passes through Bryce Canyon and traverses large sections of the Dixie National Forest. It is a beautiful drive and a well-maintained road. It climbs summits as high as 9,200 feet! If you are in this area, it is worth the drive.
We have twice camped and toured Bryce National Park — and long for another visit. Viewing nature’s magical works here is truly an unforgettable experience. It is really like being in another world! I know the Hoodoos cast their spell on us, and they will do the same for you.
For more in depth information on Bryce and its surrounding area, consult the resources listed below:
For a fine assortment of Tents, click here.