Bryce National Park is located in Utah. It is only a two-hour drive from Zion to Bryce. If you are planning a trip to Zion, then you should plan one day at Bryce. You can drive there and back, while also having enough time to hike in the park all in one day. We drove to Bryce from Zion, hiked three miles, drove the scenic route within the park, stopped into the visitors center to watch the video and shop, the kids completed the Junior Ranger Program, and we drove back to Zion all in one day.
There is a scenic drive in Bryce National Park. It is not a loop or a through roadway. It is a down and back scenic drive. The drive is 20 miles and has 13 viewpoints. You can get out at each of these viewpoints to walk to the rim and take photos and there are some hikes located at some of these stops. I will tell you about the best hiking spot in a moment. AllTrails.com recommends 3 hours for the scenic drive if you plan to make all 13 stops. We made 5 stops and did the entire drive in about and an hour and 15 minutes. The road tends to have other cars on it doing the same scenic drive, so expect it to get crowded in tourist season. The line of cars never got completely backed up at any time, but it wasn’t like we had the park or road to ourselves.
Take your time to enjoy the views. We saw pronghorns twice on this scenic drive. Our favorite stop was the Natural Bridge (besides our hiking destination stop).
Incredible Views to See on a Hike
The best views in this park are seen by foot. Therefore, you are going to have to park and get out and do some walking. I recommend parking at the Sunrise Point parking lot. I recommend getting there before 9 am, as the parking lot does become full. We arrived at 8:40 am and there were only 4-5 parking spots left in this lot. This is where you will find the best hikes though, so if you can get parking here do so.
From the parking lot you will walk up to Sunrise Point. This point is on the rim of Bryce Canyon. You will be able to see hoodoos and other amazing rock formations. The most popular hike is Queens Garden. You will get on this trail from the Sunrise Point Trail. Queens Garden is not a loop, but you can continue onto other trails to make your hike a loop back to your starting point. We went from Queens Garden to Navajo Loop Trail and then finished on the Rim Trail back to Sunrise Point. This entire hike is one of the most popular and it is 2.9 miles. There are spots that are strenuous because the trails are quite steep. Bring more water than you think you will need. It is strenuous and many spots are completely exposed without any shelter from the sun. My iPhone app said that the after I completed this hike I had done the equivalent of 22 flights of stairs. How much water do you think you need after 2.9 miles and 22 flights of stairs in the hot sun?
Be aware that there are many drop off ledges and cliff sides you will walk along during this hike. Keep children closely supervised, as one step too far could be very dangerous.
What are hoodoos? Hoodoos are tall and slender-looking rock formations that were formed by ice and snow exposure over many years. The freezing, thawing, and subsequent fracturing of the rocks is what causes these hoodoos to form. Hoodoos are an incredible natural rock formation. Bryce National Park has the highest concentration of hoodoos in the entire world. As you can see from the photos it is a surreal location to hike and experience.