Bryce Canyon National Park is one of Utah’s crown jewels along with Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef. As a kid I drove through Bryce Canyon and looked at all the overlooks with my parents, but that was all we had time to do. This time, I found much more to do including a waterfall, museums, stargazing, and hiking. We also created a Bingo Sheet for our boys to use while we explore Bryc Canyon and the surrounding area,
Bryce Canyon has a small visitor center, but it’s definitely worth spending some time in. There is a cave for the kids to crawl through and there are telephones for the kids to listen to info about the park. Our boys found this fascinating. There was also a neat exhibit about the night sky and how light affects our ability to see the stars.
Hike the Hoodoos
There are some great family hikes in Bryce, and you can get our recommendations by reading our Bryce Kid Hikes post. One of the cool things we discovered in Bryce Canyon is a special challenge called Hike the Hoodoos. The park has set up special markers halfway through many of the hikes to encourage people to get out of their cars and do some healthy walking. All you have to do to participate in the challenge is find the sign with the marker and make a rubbing on the Junior Ranger booklet or any paper, or simply take a photo of you standing next to the marker. The markers are not hard to find if you’re a sign reader, but make sure to keep your eyes open. If you hike three trails and find markers, you can take your rubbings or photos to the Visitor’s Center for a prize. Our boys, who also participated in the Junior Ranger Program enjoyed looking for these markers, and it made hiking a little easier.
Scenic Drive with Pullouts
One thing you should plan on doing is driving to the far end of Bryce Canyon and stopping at all of the overlooks. This takes close to two hours if you spend a little time at every pullout, and we actually prefer to do it backwards, meaning we drive to the end (which is Rainbow Point) and then make the stops on the way back. This way all the stops are on the right hand side of the road, which makes for easy pulling out. We noticed some pretty unique things as we took our time searching each vista, including an arch down below the hoodoos at one point of interest.
The most popular viewpoints are Sunrise and Sunset Point. These viewpoints are easy to drive to, although parking is usually more difficult to find later in the day. You can easily look at the amazing Bryce Canyon amphitheater without doing any hiking.
Astronomy in the Park
Bryce Canyon is also a dark sky park, which means that the park is great for viewing the stars. One of the nights that we were in the park was the annual Astronomy festival, and volunteers from around the world had set up around 60 telescopes and trained them on many different night sky objects. We rode the shuttle into the park and looked at night sky objects like the Cigar Galaxy, the moon, Mars and Jupiter, and Mizar’s double star. If you aren’t in Bryce Canyon for the Astronomy Festival, that’s okay, too. They have stargazing nights on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the summer. (Learn more about Stargazing and how to find constellations using our links.)
Bryce Canyon is a must visit for all Utahns at some point in their life. And if you’re in the area, check out some of the other exciting things to see along Scenic Highway 12 in southern Utah.