Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Visit Bryce Canyon


The contrast of snow and red rock is breathtaking and not something you can see just anywhere. The sight of orange hoodoos and ponderosa pines clashing against blue skies is only enhanced by a dusting of white snow. 

The Bryce Canyon Scenic drive boasts some of the most amazing rock formations from the Visitors Center to Rainbow Point. We drove directly to Rainbow Point at the end of the road then spent an entire morning along the 19 mile route back. We took our time gaping at these towering spires and hoodoos. My favorite view was Natural Bridge veiled in sparkling snow. 


Other than the snow, hitting the trails in Bryce is more pleasant this time of year mainly because there are fewer crowds to cramp your style.  Plus, in the off season, certain trails become even more secluded.


 This is one of those lesser known hikes, and it is definitely worth your time!  Somehow there is always another incredible view around every turn. And if you find yourself exploring the park at midday, this trail is a sure way to escape the crowds and see some especially cool scenery. 

Starting from Bryce Point the hike takes about 3-4 hours. We were able to go a bit quicker than that because we had bought chains for our shoes at the Visitor Center. They made hiking on the ice and snow much easier. You can buy them at pretty much any sporting goods store or online.

The National Park Service has rated this hike as difficult, but I would definitely mark it as moderate. It's not very strenuous and often after an ascent the trail flattens out or turns downhill giving hikers a bit of a break. 

Be sure to take plenty of water and a snack. There is a bathroom part way up the trail. And apparently you are supposed to hike the loop clockwise which we didn't know. Oops. 


This was my second favorite excursion. Queen's Garden is very popular partly because it is pretty, and also partly because it is easy. The route from Sunset Point is about 2.5 miles and takes only about an hour. The path takes you down into the canyon and winding through hoodoos. These rock formations with their varying shades of orange and red are even more magical up close. 

The return trip gets a bit challenging when climbing the switchbacks but it wasn't a problem for us thanks to the late afternoon shade of the canyon. And even when we were trekking in the sunlight we were comfortable thanks to the winter temperatures. This brings me to my next reason why winter is the best time to tour Bryce.  


Bryce in winter means it's not so hot that you want to call it quits after only an hour of exploring. While it gets very cold at night, Bryce is very pleasant in the sunshine and snow. We were perfectly comfortable hiking in our shirtsleeves for several hours. Temperatures in the low 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10° C) may sound cold, but combined with sunshine and exercise, it feels wonderful.  All day, the late winter sun warmed us (don't forget sunscreen like we did) while the snow all around helped to cool us. My husband and I had fun in the sunshine throwing snow at each other. I had my jacket tied around my waist most of the day, and it really only got cold at night.


Not only is the park more beautiful in the winter, but accommodations are less expensive.
The cost of our hotel with breakfast included was 25% less than in peak season. Most of the campgrounds were closed this time of year. We didn't mind because even though we hiked comfortably in our T-shirts during the day, temperatures dropped well below freezing at night. The cozy hotel room with a decent breakfast buffet and hot tub suited us just fine. 

Bryce Canyon was a much needed winter get away. January and February are usually so dull and gloomy but this weekend trip brightened my mood. Plus it is only a few hours' drive from home for us. And I want to go back again soon because apparently there are free guided snowshoe hikes that I didn't know about. The rangers provide the snowshoes and everything! There are also stargazing parties and ice skating! 

Check out the Bryce Canyon page on the National Parks website so you can plan your winter visit! 

Which National Park is your favorite? 

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog. 


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