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Camping World’s Guide to RVing Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a majestic destination in Southern Utah and is home to the highest concentration of hoodoos in the entire world. Many compare the canyon’s soaring spires and oddly-shaped hoodoos to huge, natural sandcastles.
RVing in Bryce Canyon National Park is an excellent way to explore the natural wonders of the canyon and surrounding desert. Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks are relatively close by, so why not make an epic road trip out of your visit?
Why Visit Bryce Canyon National Park in an RV?Photo by Alexander Lozitsky via Shutterstock
Traveling in an RV or with a travel trailer is a great option in Bryce Canyon National Park if you plan to camp at one of the park’s campgrounds or in the surrounding areas of Bryce Canyon City.
But, if you plan to take your trip to Bryce during the late spring through the fall, vehicle size restrictions are important to consider before deciding to bring your RV into the park. Vehicles over 20 feet are prohibited from parking at the Visitor Center and viewpoints in the popular Bryce Amphitheater area when the free park shuttle runs from April through October.
Alternative areas to park oversized vehicles are available in less busy areas of the park, the Shuttle Station in Bryce Canyon City, and the campgrounds. The campground and paved park roads can accommodate RVs up to 30+ feet, but parking is limited for any RVs or trailers over 20 feet during peak season.
When to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Over two million visitors enjoy Bryce Canyon each year, with a peak season running from May through September.
Bryce Canyon Park in the SpringPhoto by Kristi Blokhin via Shutterstock
After a quiet winter, many closed businesses for the off-season reopen for visitors. Spring is a great time to book tours and activities that are often fully booked in summer.
Expect cool mornings and relatively comfortable afternoons during the springtime in Bryce Canyon. Spring is considered Bryce’s wet season, so it’s possible that rain showers at lower elevations will produce significant snowfall at the highest elevations in the park.
If you are mindful of the changing weather, spring is an ideal season to explore Bryce Canyon before the more crowded and hot summer season.
Bryce Canyon Park in the SummerPhoto by Maridav via Shutterstock
Summer is the most popular time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, so consider taking the park shuttle to popular lookouts and trailheads in the Bryce Amphitheater. Plan to book any campsites well in advance.
Summer in Bryce Canyon is relatively warm, with temperatures in July and August regularly reaching the 80s. Bring plenty of water and sun protection for your hikes, as there is relatively little shade in many canyon areas.
There are frequent, and sometimes severe, thunder and lightning storms during summer afternoons. Be very careful of any signs of foul weather, and get inside a vehicle or building if you hear thunder or see lightning.
Bryce Canyon Park in the FallPhoto by Marina Taylor via Shutterstock
A fall visit brings cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, and the opportunity to see the foliage in the park and surrounding areas. Weather can vary considerably in the fall because of the high elevation and changing seasons.
It’s not unheard of for Bryce Canyon National Park to see snow accumulations as early as October at the highest elevations. Dress in layers and check the weather at the Visitor Center before heading out for a hike.
Bryce Canyon Park in the WinterPhoto by Ashley Hadzopoulos via Shutterstock
To avoid the crowds and heat of the summer, a visit to Bryce Canyon in the winter off-season may be perfect. Winter can bring heavy snow, especially at the highest elevations near the park’s southern end.
After significant snowfall, the park road may be closed for snow removal, so check the conditions. Visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter is a great opportunity to see the hoodoos covered in fresh snow.
Be sure to dress for the cold and bring foot traction like Yaktrax, microspikes, or snowshoes to aid in hiking. Ice can build up quickly with heavy foot traffic on the trails and pathways.
Where to StayNorth Campground Photo by NPS
Two campgrounds accommodate RVs in Bryce Canyon National Park. North Campground has 50 sites that accommodate RVs (Loops A & B) and is open all year round. There are an additional 46 tent-only sites in North Campground.
Reservations can be made from Memorial Day weekend (end of May) through mid-October. The rest of the year is first-come-first-served. There are no water, electrical, or sewer hookups at the sites, but a dump station is available (and included) during the summer months. Potable water can also be accessed near the dump station.
Sunset Campground is open from mid-April through October 31st on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. 50 sites accommodate RVs in Loop A, and an additional 49 sites are tent-only. There are no hookups in North Campground; however, you can use the dump station and collect potable water near North Campground during the summer months.
Staying Outside the ParkYonder Escalante Photo by Good Sam
If you cannot secure a campsite within Bryce Canyon National Park, check out these other nearby options:Bryce Zion Campground: Located in Glendale, UT, about a 45-minute drive to the park entrance.Yonder Escalante: Located in Escalante, UT, about an hour’s drive to the park entrance.Grand Plateau RV Resort: Located in Kanab, UT, about a 1.5-hour drive to the park entrance.Crazy Horse RV Resort: Located in Kanab, UT, about a 1.5-hour drive to the park entrance.
Invest in a Good Sam Membership and save 10% on nightly stays at Good Sam Campgrounds.
Tips for your Camping StaySunset Campground Photo by NPS Reserve sites in North Campground well in advance throughRecreation.gov. Or try your luck on first-come, first-served sites at Sunset Campground by arriving around checkout time (11:30 am) to claim a spot. You can stay up to 14 consecutive days in the park campgrounds, with a maximum of 30 days per calendar year. Generator hours are limited to 8-10 am and 6-8 pm.
How to Get Around Bryce Canyon National ParkPhoto by B Brown via Shutterstock
Bryce Canyon National Park is very popular, so there can be quite a bit of traffic congestion on the roads and overlooks during peak season. Most lots prohibit parking from April through October if you are traveling in an RV over 20 feet long. Fortunately, shuttle service is included with your park entrance fee.
You can hop on board in Bryce Canyon City or at designated stops within the park. The shuttle runs from April 1st through the end of October. The first shuttle leaves at 8 am, but the last shuttle time varies by season. The route overlooks the Bryce Amphitheater area and provides access to popular sites and hiking trails nearby.
There’s no need to book the shuttle ahead of time. Just hop on and be ready to show your National Park Pass or proof of admission. You can track the shuttle down to the minute with the Bryce Canyon Shuttle Tracker. So plan on leaving the RV at the campground or in Bryce Canyon City.
The 15 miles of park road beyond the Bryce Amphitheater is paved, but there is considerable elevation gain as the southernmost viewpoints are over 8,000 feet. During the winter, this section may be icy or even temporarily closed for snow removal.
Any time of year, you may notice that it’s a bit harder to exert yourself at this elevation, so be prepared to go slow and drink lots of water if you hike.
Places to Go
Discover some of the best destinations to put on your Bryce Canyon itinerary.
The Visitor CenterPhoto by Leonard Zhukovsky via Shutterstock
The Visitor Center is a natural first stop. You’ll find practical amenities such as restrooms, weather information, hiking guides, the ranger help desk, the schedule of ranger programs, and drinking water.
The Visitor Center also has a bookstore, museum exhibits, and an opportunity to view the 24-minute park film, “A Song of Seasons,” which chronicles the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park in all seasons. The visitor center is open daily at 8 am, but closing hours vary by season (8 pm summer, 6 pm fall/spring, 4:30 pm winter).
Bryce AmphitheaterPhoto by Sean Pavone via Shutterstock
Bryce Amphitheater area is the most popular section of the park and is located along the first 3 miles of the main park road. The lookouts along Bryce Amphitheater allow visitors to view Earth’s highest concentration of hoodoos (irregular rock spires).
The 3-mile Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop is the most popular hike in the park and allows you to descend into the canyon to get up-close views of the hoodoos. Remember that hiking into a canyon means you end the hike uphill.
Because of its popularity, RVs and vehicles over 20ft long are prohibited from parking at the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater lookout points when the park shuttle is running.
The Southern Scenic DrivePhoto by Ekaterina Pokrovsky via Shutterstock
The Southern Scenic Drive is 15 miles long and accessible to RVs over 20ft all year. It provides nine lookouts for viewing the often-overlooked beauty of less popular areas of Bryce Canyon National Park. All lookouts require getting out of your vehicle and walking to the railings to see the canyon. So be prepared to be in and out of your vehicle on this scenic drive.
Drive out to the southernmost lookouts at Rainbow and Yovimpa points, then make your way back by stopping at the rest of the lookouts. This drive gains nearly 2000 ft in elevation, so be prepared for changing weather and road conditions if you visit in the winter.
Mossy CavePhoto by GagliardiPhotography via Shutterstock
Mossy Cave is a popular, easy 1-mile hike to see a unique rock overhang where mosses grow in the summer and icicles hang in the winter. Only park if there is space in the designated lot, as parking along the road in this area could earn you a ticket.
Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park
Learn about the popular activities to enjoy at Bryce Canyon National Park.
HikingPhoto by Margaret.Wiktor via Shutterstock
The three-mile Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop is the most popular hike in the park due to its fantastic views and proximity to the hoodoos. Don’t miss out on hiking the beautiful switchbacks of Two Bridges Trail at Sunset Point – it’s an iconic Bryce Canyon photo opportunity.
Be aware that, at 8,000 feet, the air is thin, and even fit hikers may have difficulty breathing. Dehydration is also a concern at higher elevations. Take it easy, bring lots of water, and be realistic about your abilities and fitness as you head out for a hike.
Not sure where to hike? There is a special scavenger hunt program called “Hike the Hoodoos,” where hikers must hike at least 3 miles (but up to 18+ miles) to find and record medallions on popular hiking trails. A prize for completion is awarded in the Visitor Center.
Snowshoeing & Cross-Country SkiingPhoto by Rob Keller via Shutterstock
Because of the park’s high elevation, there is significant snowfall during the winter. Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the winter wonderland of Bryce Canyon.
There are free ranger-led snowshoe hikes (as staffing allows) that include snowshoe rentals. There are no advance sign-ups, so plan to visit the Visitors Center between 8 am to 12 pm to inquire about the day’s offerings.
If you want to explore on your own, snowshoes and cross-country skis are available for rent at Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City. Skiing or sledding into the canyon is strictly prohibited, but skiing and snowshoeing along the Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, Fairyland Road, and Paria Road are all permitted.
BikingPhoto by Sara Danielle via Shutterstock
There is a 3-mile, multi-use, no-vehicle path in Bryce Canyon National Park that starts at the Visitor Center and runs along the most popular areas of the Bryce Amphitheater.
Biking is also allowed on the rest of the main park road; however, the shoulders are narrow, and you share the lane with traffic. Pedal bikes and e-bikes are available for rent at Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City, just three miles outside of the park.
Horseback RidingPhoto by Brookie Cookie via Shutterstock
Horseback riding is a truly unique way to explore Bryce Canyon. The most popular way to explore Bryce by horse is to book a private tour with Canyon Trail Rides. Tours run from April 1 to October 31st each year, so book early.
It is possible to bring your own horse (there are restrictions), but camping with livestock is not allowed within the park, so alternative campsites in Red Canyon or surrounding areas must be secured.
Bird & Wildlife WatchingPhoto by Ruslan Kalnitsky via Shutterstock
Over 175 bird species call Bryce Canyon National Park home for at least part of the year. Peregrine falcons, hummingbirds, and ravens are exciting species to catch a glimpse of in the park.
StargazingPhoto by Colin D Young via Shutterstock
Bryce Canyon is a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park where thousands of stars are visible on clear nights. Over 100 astronomy programs are offered throughout the year, and each summer, a four-day astronomy festival is held in the park and features speakers and stargazing events.
Ranger ProgramsPhoto by Wes Lund via Shutterstock
Bryce offers free ranger-led programs, such as geology talks, snowshoe hikes, and astronomy programs. Check-in with the Visitor Center to see the day’s offerings, and remember that programs are subject to staff availability and weather.
What to Bring and How to PreparePhoto by My Good Images via Shutterstock The Bryce Canyon General Store is located near North Campground and has a variety of “grab-and-go” foods like pizza, soup, and sandwiches. You can also purchase drinks like coffee, soda, water to ice down in yourYETI cooler. The general store has restrooms and showers, as well as firewood and souvenirs for purchase. The General Store is typically closed between January and March, so loading up acamping cooleroutside the park is necessary if you visit during winter. Ruby’s Inn General Store is located only 3 miles from the Visitor’s Center and has a full grocery store, RV supplies, souvenirs, a gas station to fill yourportable gas can, and bike rentals. It is also a stop on the Park Shuttle route.Generator usein the campgrounds is restricted, so if you need electricity for extended periods of time, plan to have access to a power stationor a solar setup. Because of Bryce Canyon’s high elevation, weather can be unpredictable and severe. Pack layers andrain gearto make the most of your visit during any season.
Brief History of Bryce Canyon National ParkPhoto by NPS
The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon have formed over millions of years through continuous erosion, melting, freezing, and flash floods. The hoodoos are comprised of limestone, siltstone, dolomite, and mudstone, which erode at different rates and create unique and undulating formations.
There is evidence dating back 12,000 years of the Anasazi and Fremont people around Bryce Canyon and the surrounding lower-lying areas of the Colorado Plateau. The Paiutes lived in the Bryce Canyon area when Euro-American settlers arrived in Southern Utah in the 1800s.
Bryce Canyon is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Scottish immigrant and Mormon pioneer who settled in the area in 1875. Although he moved his family to Arizona in 1880, the name for the canyon stuck.
J.W. Humphrey was a U. S. Forest Service Supervisor stationed nearby Panguitch, Utah, in 1915. He traveled to what is now known as Sunset Point and envisioned making the canyon and its wonders accessible to all.
By 1919, people from Salt Lake regularly visited Bryce Canyon and stayed in the lodging houses established by Ruby and Minnie Syrett. Ruby’s Inn is still a popular attraction right outside of the park to this day.
In 1923, President Warren G. Harding proclaimed Bryce Canyon a national monument. In 1924, Congress passed a bill to acquire the national monument property for the United States. Finally, on February 25th, 1928, Bryce Canyon was officially established as a National Park.
In 1931, President Hoover expanded Bryce Canyon to its current 35,835 acres by President Herbert Hoover. The 1930s brought improvement projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and many of the trails and campgrounds built during this time are still in use today.
Have you experienced RVing Bryce Canyon National Park? Share your tips in the comments below!