If Salvador Dali and Dr. Seuss created a place together, it would look like Bryce Canyon National Park. We think that everyone should experience it at least once in their life. Bryce is part whimsy, part eerie, and part stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning. Plus you get to say hoodoos a lot, which is just fun.
What the Heck are Hoodoos?
The native inhabitants of the area thought that hoodoos were people who had been turned to stone by the trickster coyote. It’s clear where they got this idea. We saw faces and shapes in many formations—there’s even one that looks like the Queen of England.
Hoodoos are rock formations that have been weathered and eroded to look like bulbous spires. They’re ancient sedimentary layers that were covered by other rock for many millions of years. The natural process of hoodoo creation is constant. As some hoodoos are eroded down into small mounds of clay, others are uncovered by the elements and time. Hoodoos are found on every continent, but Bryce Canyon contains more than anywhere else in the world.
We’ve rounded up our list of “best” adventures in Bryce.
Peekaboo Loop Trail
Bryce Amphitheater has the highest concentration of hoodoos. It’s the area where shuttles run and not surprisingly the busiest part of the park. There are multiple trails in Bryce Amphitheater that circle above, below, and through the hoodoos. The Peekaboo Trail was our very favorite. You must take other trails to access this loop so the shortest way to hike it is in a 5 mile loop. We opted for the Figure 8 Combination hike that covers three different trails—Queen’s Garden, Navajo, and Peekaboo Loop. Each trail had spectacular sights but the Peekaboo Trail lets you get up close and personal with hoodoos and other awesome formations. You’ll see fins, windows, and bridges. You hike literally through some rock walls via tunnels. It feels like walking through Oh, The Places You’ll Go.
During the day, Bryce has a more minimal color scheme than the many-toned Zion. However, at sunrise the park puts on an extraordinary light show. We left our campsite in the dark and got to Sunrise Point shortly before the sun made its appearance. With coffee in hand and wearing many layers, we watched the sun’s rays dance across the hoodoos, lighting them up in a wave of color. The landscape seems to change before your eyes as shadows are cast on the formations. The contrast of light on the multi-colored rock is surreal. It takes your breath away. Or maybe that was just the cold air.
We think that Inspiration Point may be an even better place to take in the sunrise because it has a plethora of hoodoos for the light to tango on. We plan to check-out this alternate sunrise location on our next visit. Wherever you watch the sunrise from in Bryce it’s 100% worth the early wake-up and numb fingers.
Scenic Drive to End of HWY 63
While we love hikes because you can see so much more than an overlook, there are incredible views right off the main road at Bryce. Park shuttles will take you to the main viewpoints in the amphitheater area, but the drive to the southern end of the park is something you don’t want to miss. It’s an additional 15 miles to the end of HWY 63. There are viewpoints and lookouts all along the drive with names like Swamp Canyon, Piracy Point, and Natural Bridge. Each turnout has different incredible formations and expansive views of the canyons below.
Rainbow and Yovimpa Points are the last two lookouts and the highest areas of the park. You can walk the 1 mile Bristlecone Loop Trail which has some of the longest views in North America. You can see all the way to the rim of the Grand Canyon from the lookouts on the trail. Just make sure to dress for the weather. It can be cold and super windy (like actually blew us around a bit windy).
Best Add-On Adventure
This one isn’t part of the park, but it’s really close and really cool so totally worth checking out if you’re in the area. If traveling from the west, you’ll drive right through Red Canyon on your way to Bryce. As you can probably guess, the rocks here are very red. There are hoodoos, pinnacles, columns, and spires just like in the park. What you won’t find here are crowds so it’s easy to get lost in nature. Figuratively of course, don’t actually get lost, that would suck. There are tons of hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, and ATVing opportunities. We hiked a short trail near the visitor center, but could’ve easily spent a week exploring this area.
So are you convinced to visit Bryce? Or have you been there? Which “best” adventure would you like to try?