Be one of the 2 million people that come to Bryce National Park each year to experience the sensational concentration of hoodoos. My kids called them drippy castles, because they looked like the wet sand that they make drippy castles with at the beach. I just couldn’t believe how many of them there were in such a relatively small space and the stunning pink and orange rock colors were absolutely mesmerizing. Check out our favorite family friendly trails, the perfect golden hour lookout spots, where we stayed and more when visiting Bryce National Park.
Our Families Favorite Hikes
We always stop at the visitor center when we arrive at a National Park and confirm our research matches what the Rangers feel are the best trails for families. In terms of Bryce Canyon there are two major trails that take you down into the canyon. Based on the Ranger’s advice we started at Sunrise Point to head down into the Canyon via Queens Garden Trail. We thought we were going to take Wall Street down into the canyon, but the ranger suggested we don’t do that route with our children. We will definitely do that route next time when our kids our a little older.
- Queen’s Garden Trail via Sunrise Point– This trail is not for the faint of heart, but with snacks, lots of water and some stops along the way; you and your family will be able to hike down to the bottom of Bryce Canyon and back up. Along this trail you will see both two bridges and Thor’s Hammer. The trail is not very long, it is only 2.3 miles. But you go down fairly quickly an then you have to come back up some steep switch backs. I was huffing and puffing coming back up the trail and my 8 year old wanted to quit the entire time. But with many motivational talks and lots of water, we conquered this stunning trail. Would I do it again you ask, absolutely, but next time we will do Wallstreet from the other way.
- Navajo Loop Trail via Sunset Point – This is the other main trail that will take you down into Bryce Canyon. This trail will take you through the Wallstreet section of the canyon, with very dense hoodoos. The trail down is .7 miles and then you have two choices of coming back up via a .6 mile route by two bridges or 1.7 mile route via Queens Garden trail. The length of this trip will be determined by the skillset of your family. If you have littles with you, I highly suggest the shorter route. If you have some big kids with you, they can probably handle the longer route. Either way it will be a stunning hike no matter which route you take back up out of the canyon.
- Rim Trail – This is a short and easy paved trail that will walk you around the rim of the canyon. The hike is only 1 mile round trip from Sunrise to Sunset point and back. There are many benches along the route and a great way to look down into the canyon
- Natural Bridge – This is merely a look out spot, but certainly worth the cool view, with close parking and a short walk.
- Rainbow Point – this location takes you to the end of the park. We hiked Bristlecone Loop around Rainbow Point. This end of Bryce Canyon is the highest point in the whole National Park, about 9,100 feet in elevation
Best Golden Hour Lookout Spots
- Bryce Point – was by far our favorite Golden Hour look out spot. I highly suggest getting there at least an hour before sunset. The angle of the sun and depths of the canyon require more sunlight to truly photograph Bryce Canyon during golden hour. It was so spectacular we went to this spot two nights in a row.
- Inspiration Point – this is a lovely location to take in golden hour, there are two different stops along the trail to watch the sunset. If your kids had a long day on the trails they will only make it to the first stop on the trail. It is a straight up hike the remainder of the trail to get up to the top of Inspiration Point.
- Paria View Point – Easy park and walk to this lovely view spot. There are some caps in the fence, so keep a watchful eye on your little ones.
- Sunset Point – you can drive right up to this location and then it will be a short walk to the look out point. This location wasn’t my favorite for golden hour and you need to be here at least 2 hours before sunset to really get any good glow off of the rock formations.
Activities Around Bryce National Park
- Horseback Riding – We choose to go on the horseback riding tour that took you on the rim of Bryce Canyon. Thankfully the horses know not to go to close to the canyon edge. But that doesn’t mean that I was a little scared during this adventure
- Guided ATV Tours – Want to see the landscape and have some dirty fun to, than this is the activity for you and your family. I suggest going early in the morning or late in the evening to beat the summer heat.
- Rodeo – Wednesday through Sunday there is a wonderful local Rodeo. Certainly worth checking out if you are in the area on one of these nights during the summer months.
- Horseback Riding within the National Park – If you don’t plan on hiking down into Bryce Canyon this is a lovely alternative. They have different hourly packages that will take you and your family down into the canyon floor on horseback.
Waterfall Hikes Outside of Bryce National Park(Mossy Cave Trail)
This is a must stop for the family and will really help cool everyone off in the warmer months. Mossy Cave trail is outside of the National Park, but not too far outside of Bryce. It was about a 10/15 minute drive from the Bryce National Park entrance. Once you arrive there will be a small parking lot, if you don’t find a spot you can drive down the road a little further for overflow parking. This is a heavily trafficked 1 mile trail out and back There are two things to see on this hike, first being Mossy Cave and the second being a lovely secret 10 foot waterfall. I would start first by going to check out Mossy Cave, it is a quick out and back. Once you return to the bridge crossing head up to the secret water fall via the stream. I highly suggest water shoes for this hike. When it is really hot out walking up the stream to get to the water fall is fun for the kids and keeps everyone cool. Once you get to the waterfall you can stand under the falls or climb behind them for another special experience.
Where We Stayed
- Bryce Country Cabins – Radiance Retreat – This amazing 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom house is ideally located just 10 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park, allowing you to take full advantage of everything the area has to offer. Invite all your friends and family, as this property has enough accommodations to comfortably sleep 6 guests. Offering a large family room, theater room- game room, as well as expansive outdoor space, this residence is especially ideal for multiple families and groups who like to relax in privacy.
Anytime we are in a National Park, we always stop at the visitor center and request a Range Program book. Every National Park has one and they are all slightly different. They provide a booklet for you to complete that helps the kids learn more about the National Park, the animals and the plants around them. Some parks request that you return with the completed book and they will give your kids a National Park badge, some give you the badge on the spot and some actually quiz the kids on the booklet that they completed. Either way it is a win win and the kids will love it.
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