navajo loop bryce canyon

Visiting Bryce Canyon: The Best Things To Do That Aren’t Hiking

Next up in my “things to do that aren’t hiking” series is Bryce Canyon!  I think Bryce Canyon is a park that a lot of people either skip in favor of nearby Zion National Park or just drive through and don’t hike into.  If you’re limited on time and will just be doing a park drive-through or you don’t like to hike or don’t feel like it or can’t, then look no further.  This is the guide for you.  These are the best things to do in Bryce Canyon that aren’t hiking.

As usual, most of these things don’t involve much walking and if they do, they’re easy and under a mile round trip.  Most of the pictures in this guide won’t match up with the spot because I won’t lie, I can’t always tell which is from where.  The ones I know though, I’ll put where they belong.

Waterfall bryce canyon national park mossy cave

Mossy Cave Trail

The Mossy Cave Trail is outside of the main scenic drive in Bryce Canyon but it’s super easy to get to.  If you came from the Escalante area, you probably passed it.  There is a small parking area on the side of the road with a short trail (0.8 miles round trip) to get to the Mossy Cave.  The cave is more of an alcove and not that exciting, but the waterfall is worth the short, easy trek to see.  If you’re planning a trip to Kodachrome Basin State Park, this is a great stop on your way there.

v2_IMG_1895

Try horseback riding

I have not done this because horses freak me out, but if you like horses and want to get among the hoodoos, try a horseback trip into Bryce Canyon.  This could be a great way to see a lot of the park below the rim without having to walk.  I do remember seeing some evidence of horses on the Peekaboo Loop Trail, the part we went on, and think that would be an awesome area to explore by horse.  If you’ve done this, let me know how it was!

35474911423_351142b1b4_b
Photo by Barton Davis Smith Flickr

Go stargazing

Bryce Canyon is officially an International Dark Sky Park now making it the perfect stargazing destination.  They offer night sky ranger programs that you can join, just check at the visitor center for availability.  If that’s not your thing, head up to one of the overlooks and set up shop for a while to enjoy the milky way in all its glory.  I promise it’s worth it.  They also offer moonlight hikes (when the moon is full) if you are interested in doing some hiking.  I think this would be cool to try.

v2_IMG_1876

Bristlecone Loop

This is a 1-mile loop that will take you to a Bristlecone Grove.  There are 200 feet of elevation gain taking you through sub-alpine forests with stunning views.  This trail is at the end of the scenic drive, so make sure you stop at all of the overlooks on your way there (or back.)  I haven’t don’t this trail but would like to next time I’m there.

navajo loop bryce canyonv2_IMG_1748

Admire Bryce Amphitheater

There are quite a few overlooks to stop at in the Bryce Amphitheater area and you should stop at all of them.  This is also where you’ll find some of the most popular hiking trails in Bryce Canyon and it’s where you’ll leave from if you’re doing a horseback trip.  Take a peek in the Bryce Canyon Lodge while you’re here to get a break from the heat.

v2_img_0928V2_IMG_9363

Stop at the Natural Bridge

Arches and Natural Bridges aren’t the only places to find arches in Utah.  Right along the 18-mile scenic drive, you’ll find a pull-off for the Natural Bridge.  And that’s just what it’s called, Natural Bridge.  There isn’t a way to get under the bridge but it’s cool to see one made out of something other than the usual sandstone.

v2_img_0954v2_img_1000

Sunset to Sunrise Point

This is a great, easy hike in Bryce Canyon.  It’s a one-mile round trip and actually the easiest hike in Bryce Canyon according to Park Service.  I’ve done this hike and it was a really nice walk along the rim of Bryce Amphitheater.  As you can tell by the names, this would be a great place to watch the sunset or rise.  Part of the trail is paved, but a lot is not.

navajo loop bryce canyon

Rainbow Point

This is another really popular overlook in Bryce Canyon along the scenic drive, but instead of mostly seeing hoodoos here, you’ll get a splash of hoodoos among a sea of pine trees.  This is almost at the end of the scenic drive but the views are definitely worth at least a quick stop.

navajo loop bryce canyon

Fairyland Point

Finally, Fairyland Point.  I think this overlook gets overlooked (hah) a lot because people want to get to the good stuff, but this view is still really awesome.  It’s the start of the Fairyland Loop trail (which is strenuous and long) but the views are just as stunning.  It was a lot less busy in this area compared to everywhere in the amphitheater, so if you want to escape the crowds a bit, consider this.

I didn’t want to list every overlook as things to do because that feels like cheating but just know that I think you should stop at all of them.  There are ranger walks and talks available every day, just stop into the visitor to see what is when.  These are a great way to learn about the park and I would definitely recommend one, especially if it’s a topic you’re actually interested in.

Have you been to Bryce Canyon?  What was your favorite thing about it?  Do you want to go?

4 thoughts on “Visiting Bryce Canyon: The Best Things To Do That Aren’t Hiking

  1. This is a great guide to a stunning park. We visited Bryce on a chilly and very windy autumn day, and drove the scenic road to the end, stopping at almost every overlook. We also hiked (cannot remember the trail, Queen’s something?) from one of the first overlooks. It seems like 99% of the visitors to the park do not drive beyond the second overlook, which means the rest of the park was wonderfully uncrowded – a good thing to know (along with your tips) to make the most of our second visit one day. It was so cold at night that we didn’t camp there, and cloudy during our visit anyway so we wouldn’t have been able to see that starry sky. But one day I will be back to do some stargazing there!

    1. My first visit was really cold and foggy and I totally agree about most people not going all the way into the park! I bet it was teh Queen’s Garden Trail, which is an awesome one! I need to go back to do some stargazing there.

  2. Of all the activities, I’d like the stargazing the best, if I ever reach the location! Until such time, thanks for experiencing it though your wonderful photos!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.