Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most stunning national parks in Utah’s Mighty 5. Sitting at an elevation of 8,000 feet, the Park experiences the full swing of all four seasons, which means your experience will be shaped by the time of year you visit.

Each season in Bryce Canyon National Park has its perks, including various seasonal programs and opportunities to try different outdoor activities. Whether you want to snowshoe among the hoodoos, photograph the night sky, camp inside the Park, or cruise the bike paths, you’ll want to consider your priorities when choosing the best time to visit Bryce Canyon.

As a Utah resident, I’ve been lucky to visit Bryce Canyon a number of times. My personal preference is to visit Bryce Canyon in late Spring before it gets too hot and summer crowds descend on the Park. I also love late fall when there’s a chance of snow dusting the hoodoos, but the trails are still generally hike-able.

Regardless of your priorities, in this post, I cover the best time to visit Bryce Canyon and all of the things to do in the different seasons to help you decide when to plan your trip.

The Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
The beginning of the Fairyland Loop in early summer

Important Reminder: As it goes in all of the destinations we share, please practice good trail etiquette and remember to Leave No Trace. This means packing out all of your garbage (including toilet paper), being respectful to others, and following the established rules.


Weather in Bryce Canyon National Park

Since the park is between 7,000-8,000 feet in elevation, it is important to pack the appropriate items for weather conditions when experiencing all of the things that Bryce Canyon has to offer. The weather at Bryce Canyon National Park can change quickly and unexpectedly.

No matter the time of year you visit, I recommend wearing functional and comfortable hiking apparel including layers and a jacket. For winter, fall, and spring, bring snow apparel and traction devices just in case, especially if you plan to check out some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon.

The chart below can help you plan your visit around the average temperature and precipitation for each month.

Chart showing the average temperature and precipitation for each month in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Average temperatures and precipitation levels in Bryce Canyon / Source: Bryce Canyon National Park
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    Visiting Bryce Canyon in Spring

    With blooming flowers and mild temperatures, the spring is a refreshing time of year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. The average daily high temperature is 55-65 degrees, while the average low is 30-40 degrees.

    Depending on when you visit in the spring, you may still get to see snow on the red hoodoos. There is usually a chance of snow from March to the end of April, and Bryce Canyon also averages a couple of inches of snow in May. You will still want to dress in warm layers, bring traction devices, and wear waterproof hiking boots that are good in the mud.

    BFT contributor Kaylin first visited Bryce Canyon National Park during a snowstorm over Memorial Day weekend in 2019. She only had time to drive through the park for a quick visit, and it was so foggy that she could not even see the hoodoos from Sunset Point! If you plan to visit Bryce Canyon in the spring, try to give yourself a couple of days in case of unexpected weather conditions.

    Landscape high angle aerial view from Sunset Point Overlook cliff edge at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah with yellow flowers in foreground during day
    Flowers blooming at Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

    Things to do in Spring in Bryce Canyon National Park

    • Attend a daily ranger-led geology talk to learn more about the incredible geology of the park. There are also night sky programs on Saturday nights.
    • Hike the 7.9-mile Fairyland Loop to see the hoodoos up close with snow. The Fairyland Loop combines hiking along the plateau rim near Boat Mesa with views of the hoodoos in the Bryce Amphitheater. You may need snowshoes if you visit in early spring right after a big storm. Otherwise, the snow tends to be well-packed due to other hikers, but microspikes still may come in handy. By mid-April, things should be thawed out.
    • Check out the Visitor Center Museum. The museum has exhibits on geological, ecological, and human impacts, along with special night sky and air quality exhibits. While you are at the Visitor Center, you can also watch the 30-minute film, A Song of Seasons, to learn more about the park.
    • Visit the Bryce Canyon Lodge, restaurant, and gift shop, which reopens on April 1st. On this same date, you can begin utilizing the public showers and laundry facilities for the season at the General Store near Sunrise Point (a great perk for van lifers visiting the park).
    • Go horseback riding in the park. Once the snow and ice melt around April 1st, Canyon Trail Rides offer horseback rides in Bryce Canyon. You can pay for a 2-hour guided horse or mule ride into the Bryce Amphitheater along a horse trail and the Peekaboo Loop Trail.
    Beautiful bright golden hoodoos illuminated during sunset in Bryce Canyon National Park.
    Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

    Visiting Bryce Canyon in Summer

    The summer months (June through September) are the busiest time of year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. The average high temperatures are between 70-80 degrees (much cooler than the other National Parks in Utah), and the low temperatures tend to fall around 40-50 degrees.

    Because it gets hot during the daytime in the summer months, I recommend waking up early for the activities you have planned. This way, you can beat the afternoon sun and the crowds.

    Bring plenty of sunscreen and water for your adventures. I recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hiking hat and sun protection at all times. The high elevation combined with hot conditions could lead to mild altitude sickness, so know how to prevent altitude sickness before you visit.

    Me hiking the Fairyland Loop in early summer. A sun hat was clutch!

    Things to do in Summer in Bryce Canyon National Park

    • Attend annual events such as the astronomy festival in June or the geology festival in mid-July. Both festivals are free and include family-friendly activities during the daytime and evening hours.
    • Backpack in Bryce Canyon’s forested backcountry. You must obtain a permit from the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center or on Recreation.gov and camp in designated sites. You can backpack the 22.9-mile Under-the-Rim Trail (7 campsites) or the shorter 8.8-mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail (3 campsites). Both trails are considered strenuous and have a total elevation gain of over 2,500 feet. There are natural water sources along the trails (except if you are backpacking in drought conditions). Bring a water filter to purify for drinking.
    • Go birdwatching in the park. Bird breeding season in Bryce Canyon occurs from May through July. Bring some lightweight hiking binoculars, and you will likely see an abundance of hummingbirds, including the black-chinned, broad-tailed, and rufous. You can also find hermit thrushes, western tanagers, green-tailed towhees, wood-pewees, flycatchers, violet-green swallows, and cliff swallows in the summertime.
    • Ride your bike in the park. A 5-mile Shared-Use Path begins at the shuttle center north of Bryce Canyon National Park and ends at Inspiration Point. You can also hop on the path from the Visitor Center, Sunrise Point, or Sunset Point. The Historic Service Station in the park offers standard bike and e-bike rentals.
    A paved trail with pine trees surrounding it in Bryce Canyon National Park.
    There are views of pine trees along the 5-mile Shared-Use Path that runs through the park / Photo Credit: Kaylin Zittergruen @katekeepswild

    Visiting Bryce Canyon in Fall

    While Southern Utah isn’t a leaf peeping hot spot, with pleasant temperatures and colorful foliage, the fall (end of September through early December) is an excellent time of year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. The average high temperature tends to fall between 40-60 degrees, while low temperatures dip to 20-40 degrees.

    On BFT contributor Kaylin’s most recent trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, she visited in her van during the last week of October. The daily temperatures felt comfortable, and she wore fall hiking apparel including hiking pants and long-sleeve shirts.

    Although the park is open every day year-round, there are changes to hours and closures during the fall months. Check the Bryce Canyon National Park website for updated Visitor Center hours, which change in early November.

    The horseback and mule rides offered within the park stop at the end of October, along with the free shuttle service. The Lodge at Bryce Canyon and the General Store at Sunrise Point close at the end of November.

    Bryce Canyon's Natural Bridge with autumn foliage in the foreground
    Bryce Canyon’s Natural Bridge at fall

    Things to do in Fall in Bryce Canyon National Park

    • Hike the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Trail. The Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Trail is a moderate 3-mile trail and the most popular hike in the park. Doing this hike in the fall means you won’t have to share it with as many people as in peak summer. This hike is an excellent way to see the Bryce Amphitheater up close. You will also see the famous Thor’s Hammer hoodoo and Queen Victoria hoodoo.
    • Drive the Southern Scenic Drive. This 15-mile stretch of the main park road starts after the initial 3-mile Bryce Amphitheater area. There are nine scenic overlooks along the Southern Scenic Drive, and the elevation increases from 7,894 feet to over 9,000 feet as you make your way up the road. It is about a 40-minute drive from the Visitor Center to the end of the Southern Scenic Drive, but give yourself 2-3 hours to drive and stop at the viewpoints.
    • Walk your dog along the Rim Trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. It is the only paved walking trail (besides the Shared-Used Path) in the park where you can walk your dog. It is a 1-mile out-and-back walk to enjoy the hoodoos with your furry friend. Dogs must be leashed in the park at all times.
    • Watch for wildlife. Animals are abundant in Bryce Canyon, including hummingbirds, Peregrine Falcon, Rocky Mountain Elk, and Pronghorn. It’s not uncommon to spot them throughout the park along the main road. At Bryce Amphitheater, look for chipmunks, ground squirrels, mule deer, and ringtails near the Sunset Point parking lot at night. You can find Utah prairie dog colonies near the Visitor Center and Sunrise Point. Although mountain lions and black bears are present in the park, they are uncommon to see.
    Hoodoos along the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park with a tunnel inside of a fin.
    A tunnel within the hoodoos along the Queens Garden Trail in fall after the summer crowds have departed / Photo Credit: Kaylin Zittergruen @katekeepswild

    Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

    With fewer people and views of beautiful white snow contrasting against the iconic orange hoodoos, there are definite advantages to visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter months. Although some trails and roads may close seasonally, the park has year-round access to the Bryce Amphitheater.

    Bryce Canyon Winter Tips

    Since visiting Bryce Canyon in winter requires a bit more preparation than other seasons, here are a bunch of helpful tips to make sure you’re ready for variable conditions.

    • Average Temperatures: Prepare for average temperatures of 35-40 degrees during the day and lows of 10-20 degrees at night. There is usually 10-20 inches of snowfall each month from November to April.
    • What to Bring: I recommend bringing warm winter layers, snowshoes (if you plan to hike immediately after a snowfall), trekking poles with baskets, and microspikes to prevent slipping and falling on the trails and paved areas. If you forget traction devices, you can purchase them at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center.
    • Trail and Road Closures: Keep an eye on the current conditions of Bryce Canyon National Park for updates on road or trail closures. The roads leading to Fairyland Point and Paria View are closed for the entire winter season. After a big snowstorm, the main road through the park closes after mile marker 3 to allow for snow removal. Regarding trail closures, the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail and the Rim Trail between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point are closed for winter.
    • Icy Road Conditions: Remember that even if the roads are open, they can be icy as you drive to and from the park. Winter driving conditions are unpredictable and sometimes dangerous. Drive slowly and carefully both in and out of the park if you visit in the wintertime.
    • Campground Closures: Campgrounds and dispersed camping areas near Bryce Canyon are often closed or tend to be inaccessible, so make plans for lodging accommodations in Bryce Canyon City. Another option is to camp closer to Zion which is lower in elevation. Though the weather is still cold near Zion with freezing temperatures in the winter, this could be an option if you have a van or proper setup for winter camping.
    • Allowable Activities: Park rules forbid skiing, snowboarding, sledding, etc. off the rim or within the canyon. These activities can damage the hoodoos and cause slides and rockfalls.
    A view of a red rock and trees covered in snow along the Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
    Bryce Canyon after a snowstorm / Photo Credit: Kaylin Zittergruen @katekeepswild

    Things to do in Winter in Bryce Canyon National Park

    • Drive to Inspiration Point and photograph the Bryce Amphitheater to see the valley of hoodoos with snow. You can see an incredible view of the Bryce Amphitheater by walking less than 0.1 miles from the Inspiration Point parking lot. You can also hike up the steep trail to the higher overlook, but it is often icy.
    • Snowshoe or cross-country ski on the park trails. You can rent these from Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City if you did not bring your own. You can snowshoe on all the trails of the park, and the most popular routes are the Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, Fairyland Road, and Paria Road. There are also ranger-led snowshoe hikes in the park, and you can stop by the Visitor Center to learn about upcoming events. For cross-country skiing, you can go on some of the areas above the rim, including sections of the Rim Trail along the edge of the Main Amphitheater, the Bristlecone Loop Trail, Paria Ski Loop, and the unplowed Paria View and Fairyland Point roads.
    • Attend annual events like the Christmas Bird Count in the park in December or the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival in February. Both of these events are free to attend, with the Winter Festival featuring ski tours, photography clinics, morning yoga classes, crafts for kids, and more.
    • Stargaze in the clear winter skies and experience the magic of the Milky Way galaxy. I recommend parking at Sunset Point or Inspiration Point so you don’t have to walk far to get to and from your vehicle in the cold.
    Bryce Canyon Rim covered in snow
    The view from my winter trip to Bryce Canyon
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    Have you been to Bryce Canyon National Park? In your opinion, when is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon? Let me know in a comment below.

    The post Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park appeared first on Bearfoot Theory.

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