Bryce Canyon was pretty high up on my bucket list after I did some research for our big road trip. The landscape looked unreal.
We ended up in Bryce Canyon for about a day and a half, just after we visited Zion National Park. Many people do both parks in the same trip because they are so close together. I would recommend that you definitely do not miss out on Bryce Canyon if you are planning a Zion visit (or even if you’re not!)
If you’re looking for the best Bryce Canyon National Park hikes to do with kids in tow, I have them for you! I also include some options for camping in and near Bryce Canyon!
A little bit about Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is one of the “Big 5” or “Mighty 5” in Utah. The others are Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in south central Utah, about a 90-minute drive to the west of Zion National Park.
The biggest draw to Bryce Canyon is the hoodoos. A hoodoo is a tall, thin column of weathered rock. The Bryce Canyon Ampitheater has the largest collection of hoodoos on earth, and let me tell you – it is unreal.
Basically, people flock to Bryce Canyon National Park to do the hikes throughout these incredible hoodoos.
Technically, Bryce Canyon is not a canyon at all. Because it wasn’t formed by erosion from a central stream, it’s actually a series of natural ampitheaters (or bowls.)
The weather at Bryce Canyon National Park
It was July when we visited the park. The day we arrived, there was a thunderstorm earlier that morning, causing major flash flooding in some areas. July and August are considered the rainy season, but also have the most pleasant temperatures.
In summer, the average highs range from 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, with average lows of 45-50 degrees. Fall can be highs anywhere from 45-70 degrees with lows in the 20’s. Winter weather has average highs up to 38, with lows in the teens. And spring brings highs ranging from 45 to 65 and lows in the 20’s and 30’s.
December through February are typically the coldest and snowiest months, but snow storms in March and April still produce heavy snowfall. Snow storms are also not unusual in October.
Being at a high elevation, Bryce Canyon weather can be variable. You can check current weather conditions and closures on the NPS website.
The best time of year to do Bryce Canyon National Park hikes can depend. Summer has pretty ideal weather, but the biggest crowds.
Fall or spring months can bring decent hiking weather with less of the crowds.
So, how long does it take to see Bryce Canyon National Park?
Most people spend at least one full day here. That’s really all you need to get in a couple of the amazing Bryce Canyon National Park hikes, and do a little sight-seeing.
A 2-day trip would really be an ideal amount of time. However, when you see the amazing views, you might want a few extra days!
Best Bryce Canyon National Park hikes with kids
Bryce Canyon has many day-hike trails in the park, ranging from easy to moderate. Many of the trails are in the Bryce Ampitheater area and several are interconnected.
The following are our top recommendations for the best Bryce Canyon National Park hikes with kids.
Rim Trail from Sunset to Sunrise Points
0.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy | out-and-back trail
This is the easiest hike in Bryce Canyon National Park – perfect for little kids. This section of the Rim Trail connects the viewpoints of Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. Elevation gain is only 34 feet. Walk from one point and back, making this a 1 mile round-trip hike.
This is a paved section of trail, so bring your dog, bring the stroller, bring the whole family! The views are incredible!
Note that the parking area here fills up quickly. There is a seasonal shuttle service available.
Mossy Cave Trail
0.4 miles | Difficulty: Easy | out-and-back trail
The Mossy Cave Trail has an elevation gain of 300 feet. The trail starts with the climb and ends with the descent.
The trail will fork, and the left fork will take you to Mossy Cave – a shelter cave, which depending on the season, will be filled with either moss or icicles.
The fork to the right will take you to the top of a small waterfall.
Note that the park is currently stating that it’s not recommended to hike Mossy Cave Trail between 10am-6pm because of high congestion of visitors. If you decide to do this hike, hike early and stay on the trail to respect the delicate vegetation and rocks.
Queen’s Garden & Navajo Loop Combination
2.9 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | loop trail
Queen’s Garden and the Navajo Loop Trails can be done separately, but make a good combination. It’s the most popular hike in the park, and for good reason!
It takes under 2 hours to complete this hike.
It’s recommended to hike this loop in a clockwise direction. You can start the trail at either Sunrise or Sunset Point. The elevation gain is 600 feet.
If you have toddlers, I would definitely advise wearing them in a carrier for this hike. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken us to get down into, and then back out of, the canyon without wearing her.
The Queen’s Garden section of the trail features unique hoodoos and open views. The Navajo Loop section features switchbacks and tall limestone walls. The combination gives you the best of all the scenery in the park.
In the Queen’s Garden section, you can see the “Wall Street”, “Thor’s Hammer”, and “Two Bridges” formations.
Remember, before you opt for this hike, that it will take a lot more time to go back up the canyon than it took to get down. Make sure you have plenty of water, because the hike back up is a real workout! Take plenty of breaks on your way back up!
Things to know before hiking at Bryce Canyon
- You must stay on the trails at Bryce Canyon National Park.
- Climbing the hoodoos is not allowed.
- Carry 1 quart of water per 2 hours of hiking, per person.
- Leashed pets are allowed only on paved trails. The only paved trails are the section of the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points, and the bike path.
- Be aware of the elevation changes on your hike. Less oxygen at higher elevations can cause light-headedness and nausea, even when not exerting a lot of energy. Elevations at Bryce Canyon reach over 9000 feet.
- Do not feed the wildlife.
- Follow Leave No Trace principles.
Other things to do at Bryce Canyon with kids
The main activity at Bryce Canyon is obviously to see and walk among all the amazing hoodoos. However, there are some other fun activities you can do at Bryce Canyon with kids.
Stargaze into one of the darkest night skies
Bryce Canyon National Park is designated as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park. You can join a Night Sky ranger program, or just get out a blanket and gaze up at the sky on your own.
Become a Junior Ranger
As with all the National Parks, kids can get their Junior Ranger badge. Grab your Junior Ranger activity book from the Visitor Center and find out the requirements that need to be completed!
Go for a bike ride
Get the family out on the shared-use bike path. The 18-mile path connects Red Canyon with Inspiration Point. It also goes by Sunrise and Sunset Points and the Visitor Center.
The path is for non-motorized transportation only, with the exception of wheelchairs and e-bikes with motors of less than 750 watts. Leashed pets are allowed on the paved path.
If you don’t bring your bikes, you can find rentals at nearby vendors.
Snowshoe or cross-country ski
If you’re visiting during the snowy months, you can rent snowshoes or cross-country skis in Bryce Canyon City.
Snowshoeing is allowed on all the Bryce Canyon National Park hiking trails, but it is a strenuous activity. With kids, it might be best to snowshoe just along the Rim Trail.
Visit nearby Red Canyon
Red Canyon has some of the same amazing rock formations but with less crowds.
Red Canyon also offers ATV riding, where Bryce Canyon does not. You can schedule a guided tour at nearby outfitters. Just one of the options is through Ruby Inn.
Where to Camp
Inside Bryce Canyon National Park
There are two campgrounds inside Bryce Canyon National Park. North Campground is open year-round. Sunset Campground is closed for winter.
North Campground is across the road from the Visitor Center and takes reservations from mid-May through the beginning of October. The rest of the year is first-come, first-served. It has 2 loops for RV’s, and 2 loops for tent camping.
There are no electric hook-ups, or water or sewer hook-ups. There’s a dump station available only during the summer. Water is available near the dump station.
This campground is near the Fairyland Loop Trail, Rim Trail, Visitor Center, and General Store.
This is the campground we stayed at in our Suburban, the “Wander Wagon.”
Campsites are gravel and include a picnic table and fire ring. There’s a bathroom with flush toilets. Showers and laundry are nearby at the General Store, only during the summer months.
Sunset Campground is west of Sunset Point. April 15th to October 31st, it is first-come, first-served, with a self-pay system. It’s a mile and a half to the Visitor Center. Loop A is for RV’s, and loop B & C are for tent camping only.
Like the North Campground, there are no electric, water, or sewer hook-ups.
Again, campsites are gravel, with a picnic table and a fire ring. There is a bathroom with flush toilets. Showers and laundry are at the General Store, in the summer months only.
Campgrounds outside Bryce Canyon National Park
King Creek Campground is in the Dixie National Forest, 9 miles from the park. In the summer, there is vault toilets and water.
Red Canyon Campground is 6 miles from Bryce Canyon. The campground has all the amenities and has hiking trails leading right into Bryce Canyon National Park. Reservations are first-come, first-served, and self-pay.
Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground is 1 mile away from the entrance to Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon Pines Campground is 8 miles away.
These are just a handful of the many options available!
Free camping near Bryce Canyon National Park
You can find free, dispersed camping in Dixie National Forest. Corral Hollow has spots close to the Red Canyon. Dave’s Hollow has 26 marked spots and is very close to Bryce Canyon.
These dispersed camping areas don’t have toilets and water. If staying at Dave’s Hollow, the closest bathrooms and water would be at Red Canyon Visitor Center. At Corral Hollow, the closest toilets and water is at the Bryce Canyon Shuttle Station.
To help find free camping, there are several sites and apps that help us. You can find Bureau of Land Management dispersed camping on their website.
On the free FreeRoam app, you can browse the map to find free dispersed camping and reviews.
iOverlander is another very helpful free app. You can browse the map for locations and also filter by amenities.
The Dyrt and Campendium are two more apps – both offer a free and a paid version.
Even though Bryce Canyon is a relatively small National Park that the majority of people spend about 1 day in, it is not to be missed! If you’re wondering where to go next, check out our list of the 20 best National Parks for families.
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