7 ways to enjoy Bryce Canyon as it enters its second century

While Bryce Canyon National Park is Utah's smallest national park, it still boasts an astounding collection of natural wonders.

While Bryce Canyon National Park is Utah's smallest national park, it still boasts an astounding collection of natural wonders. (Grant Olsen)


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PANGUITCH, Garfield County — Bryce Canyon National Park recently celebrated 100 years since United States President Warren G. Harding designated it as a national monument, paving the way for it to become Utah's second national park just a few years later.

Since that time, tens of millions of people have visited the park. It's a unique experience, as Bryce Canyon is the state's smallest national park but still boasts an astounding collection of natural wonders. The main attraction is the Bryce Amphitheater, a bowl-shaped slope featuring the world's greatest concentration of hoodoos. Viewing areas such as Bryce Point, Sunset Point and Inspiration Point provide the opportunity to take in the magnificent sights from the safety of the rim.

While the centennial celebrations of 2023 have passed, there are plenty of great ways to experience the park as it ushers in the next century. To get the ball rolling, here are seven ideas for your next trip to the Bryce Canyon area.

1. Hit the trails

While the view from the rim is undeniably beautiful, you'll be able to get up close and personal with some of the park's unique features on a hike. The most popular option is the Queens Garden/Navajo Combination. One of our family's favorites is the Mossy Cave Trail, while more ambitious hikers might prefer Hat Shop or the Fairyland Loop.

2. Bryce Canyon ranger programs

From recurring weekly events to special occasions like the Astronomy Festival and Geology Festival, there are always lots of fun things to do in the park. Check out the official calendar to find the best matches for your trip.

3. Horseback tour

Horseback riding is another great way to experience the park. With the area's western legacy, it almost feels like stepping back in time. There is a wide range of options to can choose a ride that matches up with your skill level.

4. Do some stargazing

As an accredited International Dark Sky Park, Bryce Canyon is absolutely stunning once the sun goes down. Not only can you see the Milky Way on a clear night, but Venus and Jupiter might also make an appearance. It's an unforgettable experience for those of us who live in areas where the night sky is obscured by light pollution.

5. Go to a rodeo

During the summer months you can watch some rodeo action every Wednesday through Saturday evening. The Bryce Canyon Country Rodeo starts at 7 p.m. and features various events. If you've had some experience in the past and feel like participating, you can even sign up to be in the rodeo.

6. Strap on some snowshoes

If you visit Bryce Canyon in the winter, snowshoeing lets you experience greater solitude and see the sights from a whole new perspective. If you don't have snowshoes, there are still many trails that are groomed through the snowy months. And cross-country skiing is another fun option for winter adventures.

7. Bryce Canyon Wranglers concert

If you're a fan of live music, you should attend one of this local band's performances at Ebenezer's Barn and Grill. The venue is big and comfortable, and I was totally impressed by the sound quality. My kids are still talking about how much they loved this concert.

Where to stay

Camp in the park: There are a couple of excellent campgrounds in Bryce Canyon, which can accommodate both RVs and tent camping. Spots go quickly, so if you're planning on visiting the park, you should make it a priority to secure your campground as soon as possible.

Ruby's Inn: This historic hotel actually predates the designation of Bryce Canyon National Park. In 1919, Ruby Syrett built a lodge near the canyon's rim. When the national monument status came in 1923, his family relocated to the hotel's current location just a short distance from the park's entrance. With hundreds of rooms and a large swimming pool, it's a great option for families.

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Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book “Rhino Trouble.”

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