Bryce Canyon National Park Scenic Driving Overview

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Thor's Hammer, Bryce Canyon National Park.
Thor's Hammer, Bryce Canyon National Park. (Ray Mathis/courtesy, National Park Service)

Bryce Canyon National Park Highlights

  • To get a nice overview of Bryce Canyon National Park, drive the 18-mile main park road. On this paved route, you will have many chances to stop and admire the view from various overlooks. The main road takes you by Fairview Point, the Natural Bridge Arch, and Aqua Canyon. It ends at Rainbow and Yovimpa Points.
  • Consider taking a detour from the main park road at Inspiration Point Road. A quick two-mile stretch will take you to Bryce Point and some of the best views including the main amphitheater, the Black Mountains, and the Navajo Mountain. You can pick up some hiking trails in this area as well, including the Rim Trail, Under-the-Rim Trail, and the Peekaboo Trail.
  • Make sure to stop at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, which was built in 1924 by Gilbert Stanley Underwood for the Union Pacific Railroad. A National Historic Landmark, the lodge has been fully restored. Information on the park and activities, a gift shop, and restaurant in addition to guest rooms and cabins are on the premises.
  • Highway 12 Scenic Byway is one of the most picturesque stretches of road in the Southwest and possibly in the entire United States. Starting at the intersection of US 89 west of Bryce National Park, you will be going through Escalante, passing through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and onto Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Located in the Escalante region is the infamous 44-mile Hell's Backbone Road from Escalante to Boulder. Great for mountain bikers, this route is also recommended for drivers with four-wheel-drive vehicles. The views are spectacular, but check road conditions first before heading out since they can become treacherous.

The 18-mile main park road winds along the edge of the plateau, terminating at the south end of the park. Return to the entrance via the same road. Spur roads and pullouts offer opportunities for viewing and trailhead parking. Park speed limits range from 25 to 35 miles per hour and are strictly enforced.

Because all of Bryce Canyon's viewpoints are east of the main park road, we recommend that you drive the 18-mile road to the southern end of the park, start with Rainbow Point, then stopping at the remaining viewpoints on your way back to the park entrance. This will help you to avoid making left turns in front of oncoming traffic.

Fifty-six kilometers (35 miles) of paved road go to a number of viewpoints in the park. The park's famous badland pinnacles, spikes, and monuments can be seen best from Fairyland view, Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce Points, and Paria View. Overlooks along the road south of Paria offer panoramic views of Paria valley to the east. Yovimpa Point provides a panoramic view of the plateau and canyon country to the south. No trailers are allowed beyond Sunset Campground; day visitors must park their trailers in the visitor center lot.

In summer, parking at most viewpoints is extremely congested. Your best chance of finding a parking space at Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, Bryce, and Paria Viewpoints is in the morning before 10 a.m. and in the evening after 5 p.m.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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