Bryce Canyon NP For Families: 27 BEST Things To Do

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Bryce Canyon National Park is a fantastic park for families. Not only are there lots of other parks, national monuments, and things to do nearby, but Bryce is fairly small and easy to get around. This guide will show you exactly what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park on a family trip!

Planning a trip to Bryce Canyon will involve lots of hiking trails and spectacular viewpoints around Bryce Amphitheater which has the largest concentration of hoodoos on earth! There’s also lots of interesting wildlife to spot and opportunities for cycling, horseback riding, stargazing, and so much more.

It’s one of the best national parks to visit on long weekends from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas or as a highlight on a Utah family road trip. There are lots of awesome things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park year-round so there’s never a bad time to visit.

This is the ultimate guide to what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park including how to get there, where to stay, road trip stops, top viewpoints, and the best hikes for kids.

three kids standing at the Bryce Canyon National Park sign in UtahPin

What To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park: Family Activities

1. Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

Also known as Bryce Canyon Road or Highway 63, the scenic byway is the main road running for 18 miles through Bryce Canyon National Park to Rainbow Point. It’s one of the highest roads in any United States National Park as it averages at a high altitude of 7,100 ft.

Driving along this road is ideal for anyone traveling with babies, elderly relatives, or anyone with limited mobility. There are lots of incredible views you can witness from this road (lots of canyons like Swamp Canyon and rock formations like Natural Bridge) and it’s a great way to get acquainted with the park.

family standing at the Bryce Canyon National Park sign in UtahPin

2. Join the Junior Ranger Program

If you’re keen to get your kids excited about hiking and national parks and are wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park to help, join the Junior Ranger Program! Ranger programs are designed to teach kids about the responsibilities of park rangers in a fun way.

Stop by the visitor center and pick up an age-appropriate activity booklet, explore the museum, and watch a talk by a park ranger for your kid to secure a special ranger badge. There’s even a pledge and a ceremony with a park ranger which makes for an adorable photo op!

junior rangers with Yellowstone Ranger after taking the pledgePin
Fun Fact: this picture is after the Thibodeau clan took the Junior Ranger pledge in Yellowstone NP with Ranger Bob. He’s a Yellowstone legend, and is the ranger depicted in the children’s book “Scout Moore Junior Ranger” which I highly recommend!

3. Or the ‘I Hiked the Hoodoos’ Program

Bryce Canyon has another program that specifically gets kids excited about all the cool hoodoos to spot on the hiking trails at the national park. There are nine benchmarks/medallions dotted around eight Bryce trails and if you collect three (with a photo or an etching), your kids can get a reward!

Completing three miles of hiking also counts. You’ll find the medallions next to particularly special rock formations on these trails: Mossy Cave, Bristlecone Loop, Queen’s Garden, Navajo Loop, Tower Bridge, Swamp Canyon Loop, Peekaboo Loop, and Fairyland Loop.

what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park: collect the medallions for the "I hiked the hoodoos" program - showing trail sign for Navajo loop trailPin
Trail sign at Navajo Loop instructing visitors how to take part in the medallion program for I Hiked the Hoodoos (Peter Maiwald, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

4. Check out Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

One of the best things to do at any national park is to check out the visitor center. Bryce Canyon only has one, but there’s a park museum, ranger help desk, exhibits, gift shop, and a special movie.

If you’re concerned about weather and park conditions, particularly during the winter months, it’s the best way to receive up-to-date safety information.

what to do in bryce canyon national park: head to the visitor center (showing exterior of park's visitor center)Pin
Dsdugan, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. Join a Stargazing Tour

In 2019, Bryce Canyon was designated as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park. There’s little to no light pollution in the heart of the park so it’s a great place to gaze at the night sky.

Since the park is open 24 hours a day, you can travel to a secluded spot as a family at any time of night or join a tour.

Check the Bryce Canyon National Park Service website to see if they are running stargazing tours during your trip.

Bryce Canyon runs an Annual Astronomy Festival in June so that’s the perfect time to visit and it’s also the best time to see the Milky Way. However, the days are longer so you’ll have to stay up later or wake up early for total darkness!

The best places to stargaze in the park are Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point, Whiteman Bench Picnic Area, and Yovimpa Point.

If there are no park programs scheduled, check out Dark Ranger Telescope Tours for a private tour.

man looking at stars/milky wayPin
Stargazing programs offered by the NPS can’t be beat. If they are offered during your trip, definitely take advantage of them! They are great for all ages!

6. Listen to a Geology Talk

Head to Sunset Point at 11 am, any time of year, and you should find a park ranger waiting to tell you and your family all about the unique geology on display at Bryce Canyon.

Learn about the different types of rocks that make up the layers in the canyon walls, the formation of the hoodoos, and the people who once called this national park home.

These talks last around 20 – 30 minutes. You don’t need to reserve a spot, just show up on the day!

NPS park ranger giving a geology talk at a US National ParkPin
An interpretation ranger gives a visitor geology program. NPS Photo (CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

7. Join a Full Moon Hike

Does your trip coincide with a full moon and wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park that’s special during these nights? You can take full moon hikes every 29 to 30 days when the moon is at its brightest and fullest.

Typically, these hikes are over-subscribed so arrive a few minutes before 4 pm at the visitor center on the day of a full moon to be included in the lottery. There’s a more strenuous hike and an easier hike for families.

You can get the schedule and more information about this program here.

two people hiking at night under the starsPin
Full Moon Hikes are very popular at Bryce

8. Go Horseback Riding

One of the favorite things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park for families is to take horseback rides through the incredibly scenic landscape. It’s your family’s opportunity to pretend to be cowboys back when the only way to explore this national park (before it was even a park!) was by horse.

Head to Canyon Trail Rides (the official NPS concessioner for trail rides in the park) in the small city of Tropic where you can explore over four miles of horse riding trails in Bryce. The best time to visit this national park for horse riding is from late spring to late fall as the stables close during the snowy months. It’s open to children aged seven and up and don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a house before.

Ruby’s Horseback Adventures is another company to check out in Bryce Canyon City if Canyon Trail Rides are fully booked. Set aside two to four hours for an experience your kids will never forget!

family horseback riding in Bryce Canyon NPPin
U.S. Department of the Interior, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

9. Ride in an ATV

If horses aren’t your speed, ATVs are another option if you’re looking for what to do around Bryce Canyon National Park. While you can’t operate ATV’s inside the park, there are lots of developed trails for this activity in the neighboring national forest, and can get up close to the rim with many of these companies/trails.

kids getting ready for an ATV ride at Bryce Canyon NPPin
Thibodeau kids getting geared up for their ATV ridge at Bryce

There are lots of private companies in Bryce Canyon City like Ruby’s ATV Tours, Bryce Canyon ATV Adventures, and Bryce Canyon Off-Road Rentals. There’s one ATV rental company, Grand Staircase ATV/UTV Tours, in the city of Tropic too.

family in an ATV near Bryce Canyon NPPin
The Thibodeau clan at the Bryce Canyon ridge on their guided ATV tour with Ruby’s ATV Tours

If you don’t know Bryce well (or ATV’s), definitely book an ATV guide for safety and to show you the best trails. Driving laws are different in every state but for ATVs, it’s strongly recommended that children under 16 don’t operate All-Terrain Vehicles and children under eight don’t ride them at all.

Although only children aged eight to 15 need to wear helmets, the entire family should for safety! As long as you drive slowly and follow your guide, you will enjoy the ride and your passengers (i.e. your kids) will enjoy the views.

family in an ATV near Bryce Canyon NPPin
Thibodeau family heading toward the Bryce Canyon park boundary during an ATV tour

10. Watch Bryce Canyon Rodeo

Yes, when deciding what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park with your family, add ‘attend a rodeo’ to your list! Ruby’s Inn Rodeo Grounds in Bryce Canyon City hosts a rodeo four nights a week, Wednesday to Saturday, from late May to late August (with a few days off in between).

Watch the Cowboys display their talent and the Broncos share their skills. You can buy tickets online or in person at Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn Lobby or the Rodeo Entrance Gate.

11. Cycle Bryce Canyon’s Bike Trails

If you don’t have a lot of time to explore Bryce Canyon, one of the great things about this park is that there are five miles of shared-use trails. It’s a two-lane path starting at the shuttle station north of the park and continuing to the visitor center, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point. There is no mountain biking or riding on dirt roads allowed in Bryce Canyon.

You can rent bikes for up to eight hours and e-bikes for up to four hours at the Historic Service Station on Lodge Loop Road. Or, rent them from Ruby’s Inn RV Park & Campground in Bryce Canyon City.

Elevation gain runs from north to south, so it’s better to choose Inspiration Point as a starting point for a smooth, downhill ride. Shuttle buses can store two bikes on their front rack, so that’s a great idea if your kids are too tired to cycle back.

12. Spot Local Wildlife

Around 59 mammals, 175 bird species, 11 reptiles, and various insects call Bryce Canyon National Park their home. One of the best things to do in this park is try and spot as many as possible!

As a general rule, it’s better to spot animals at food and water sources around dusk and dawn when the weather is cooler and the park isn’t as busy. Hummingbirds, peregrine falcons, Rocky Mountain Elk, and mule deer are just some examples of the wildlife you can spot here.

Check out the Prairie Dog Colony along one of the back roads near Bryce Canyon in the municipality of Hatch. They’re extremely social creatures so it’s highly likely you’ll spot some if you drive up during the day.

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prairie dogs

13. Try Cross-Country Skiing

While horseback riding and cycling aren’t options if you’re wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park during the winter months, the weather brings new opportunities. Thanks to Bryce’s high elevation, you can enjoy snow sports when there is at least 12 inches of snowfall.

Cross-country skiing is one of the best winter activities for families in Bryce although ski rentals are not available inside the national park. Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City is the closest rental company and you can then drive to the park and check in at the visitor center where you can find the best and safest trails to explore on skis.

14. Or Snowshoeing

Another winter sport alternative to cross-country skiing is snowshoeing. When the snow is thick enough, every trail in Bryce Canyon is open to snowshoe-ers. Bryce Canyon even hosts ranger-led hikes when the snowfall is between 12 to 14 inches and it’s suitable for children ages eight and up. Since up at the visitor center in the morning ASAP as these are popular hikes.

Snowshoeing ranger-led hikes last around two hours and the trail is approximately one mile long. One of the rarest hikes organized at Bryce Canyon is a full moon snowshoe trail as the weather has to be absolutely perfect!

If you want to go snowshoeing as a family without a guide, you can. While snowshoe rental is free when you sign up for a ranger-led hike, you can also rent them from Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City. The Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, Fairyland Road, and Paria Road are the most popular trails for snowshoeing.

15. Soaring Southern Utah VR Experience

Have some extra time or wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park in unexpected bad weather? Check out the Soaring Southern Utah Virtual Reality Experience!

Via the power of a motion-simulated helicopter seat and VR headset, you’ll be transported to the clouds. You and your kids can soar above Southern Utah’s most spectacular scenery like Bryce Canyon, Zion, and more. It’s a bargain at approximately $10 per ticket and you’ll find the experience at Ruby’s Inn.

What To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park: Family-Friendly Hikes

If you’re interested in hikes for families in Bryce, be sure to check out our article with the best 15 options!

16. Mossy Cave Trail

This is a short hike of less than one mile which should take you and your kids under an hour to hike out and back. You can see Tropic Ditch Falls as well as a small canyon with a creek running through the middle and bridges to cross over.

family on the Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon NPPin
Thibodeau clan on the Mossy Cave Trail

17. Bristlecone Loop Trail

Bristlecone Loop Trail is another fantastic hike for families if you’re looking for what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s a one-mile, short walk through a woodland full of bristlecone pine trees which is very well maintained.

scenes from along the bristlecone loop trail, bryce canyon national parkPin
Scenes along the Bristlecone Loop Trail

18. Queen’s Garden Trail

One of the most popular hikes in Bryce Canyon, Queens Garden Trail is named after a hoodoo that resembles Queen Victoria. It’s a 1.8-mile-long hiking trail with switchbacks into Peekaboo Canyon but the garden of hoodoos at the bottom is worth the climb back up.

trailhead sign for Queen's Garden Trail, Bryce Canyon NPPin
Trailhead for Queen’s Garden Trail (Fabio Achilli from Milano, Italy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

19. Navajo Loop Trail

Many families join the Queen’s Garden Trail with one side of the Navajo Loop Trail (either Two Bridges or Wall Street) for an epic hike that takes in most of Bryce Canyon’s best sites and hoodoos. On the Navajo Trail, you can see Thor’s Hammer and Wall Street and the epic sight of the switchback trails as you descend into Bryce Amphitheater.

It’s a moderate 1.3-mile trail but as long as you take lots of breaks, many kids will enjoy this route. Note that the Wall Street side of the trail is usually closed in winter.

Wall Street, Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin
Wall Street

20. Rim Trail

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll hike the entire Rim Trail (it’s 11 miles!) but you can easily hike a section of it. The most southerly point of the Rim Trail is Bryce Point, then heading north you’ll reach Inspiration Point, then Sunset Point, then Sunrise Point, and finally Fairyland Point.

Bryce Ampitheater view from Bryce Point in the snow, Bryce Canyon NP UtahPin
Bryce Point with overview of Bryce Ampitheater in the snow

Families will find the hike between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point the smoothest, safest, and most accessible for kids. It offers awesome views of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater with its towering hoodoos.

You’ll figure out why people call it the ‘Silent City’ as the rocks really do look like natural skyscrapers!

view into ampitheater from the sunset point, Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin
View into the Ampitheater from Sunset Point

You can use either Sunset Point or Sunrise Point parking lot or use the shuttle bus to get around. Fairyland Loop Trail is another popular hike as it’s where you can spot the Tower Bridge rock formation, but it’s too tough for most kids.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin
Another view of Sunset Point as seen along the Rim Trail

What To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park: Best Viewpoints by Car

21. Rainbow Point

With an elevation of 9,115 ft, Rainbow Point is one of the best vantage points in Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s on the park’s north side overlooking miles of canyons and spruce tree forests.

Rainbow Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin

22. Paria View

There’s a very short, accessible walk from Paria View Road to this spectacular view with a fence over the canyon. You can see Yellow Creek meandering through the canyons and the opposite side of the Bryce Amphitheater.

sign for Paria View, Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin

23. Farview and Piracy Point

Two viewpoints for the price of one! The Farview Overlook is accessible from the parking lot just off Bryce Canyon Road so it’s super easy to reach.

Farview Point Lookout Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin
Farview Point

Continue along the Farview Point Walkways and you’ll soon reach Piracy Point, another incredible vantage point of a different side of the canyon.

Piracy Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin
Piracy Point

What To Do Near Bryce Canyon: Other Hot Spots

24. Red Canyon

Only 20 minutes from the visitor center, Red Canyon (a section of the Dixie National Forest) is somewhere you’ll no doubt pass on your way to Bryce Canyon.

A tunnel carved along the highway leading from Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest toward nearby Bryce Canyon NPPin
This tunnel is along the route from Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest to Bryce Canyon NP

Definitely don’t miss the opportunity to stop and spend some time here.

Thibodeau family at the Dixie National Forest sign in Utah, Red Canyon areaPin

Its deep red rock arches and landscape are a must-see and there are several fun hiking trails. Fun fact for Disney fans: Did you know that Big Thunder Mountain was created by an imagineer who based the design on views of Bryce Canyon?

kids hiking in Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, UtahPin

Personally, I think Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest looks even more similar to that iconic roller coaster.

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, UtahPin
View from Arches Trail, Red Canyon

The Pink Ledges Trail, or Arches Trail are perfect for families!

three kids standing by the Arches trail sign in Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, UtahPin
The Thibodeau clan loved the Arches Trail in Red Canyon. It was a family-favorite.

25. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Utah has eight national monuments, but one of the best and closest to Bryce Canyon is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

sign at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument UtahPin

It covers 1.7 million acres of rugged mountainous landscape including waterfalls, forests, and canyons.

view at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument UtahPin
beautiful view at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

26. Kodachrome Basin State Park

This state park is only 35 minutes away from Bryce Canyon Visitor Entrance. Like Bryce and Red Canyon, Kodachrome Basin State Park has sandy red scenery and is known for its 67 monolithic spire-shaped rock formations.

view at Kodachrome Basin State ParkPin

27. Zion National Park

Many families are looking for what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park as part of an epic national park road trip.

family next to the Zion National Park Kolob Canyon sign in UtahPin
Zion National Park is a family favorite

Why just visit one when Utah alone has five?! Zion National Park is only 90 minutes away from Bryce Canyon and it’s the most visited national park in Utah for good reason.

Couple hiking the Narrows at Zion National ParkPin
Thibodeaus hiking the famous “Narrows” at Zion National Park

How To Get To Bryce Canyon National Park

Unless you live in Utah or a neighboring state, you are probably flying to the area and then renting a car. It would be extremely difficult to visit the park without a car!

These are the closest airports to Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center in order of distance:

  • Cedar City Regional Airport: 93 miles/90-minute drive
  • St. George Regional Airport: 157 miles/2 hour and 30-minute drive
  • Las Vegas International Airport: 271 miles/4 hour and 15-minute drive
  • Salt Lake City International Airport: 274 miles/4 hour and 10-minute drive

All of these airports have car rental facilities. Bryce Canyon City isn’t far off Route 89, so it’s easy to reach. Consider flying to Las Vegas if you’re also visiting the Grand Canyon on this road trip.

little boy looking out window at Salt Lake City airport with trusty moose stuffed animal companion next to himPin
Hudson, the youngest of the Thibodeau clan, and trusty Hubert the moose at the airport prepping for their next adventure

Where To Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park for Families

Two of the best places to stay when exploring what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park are within the park itself or in Bryce Canyon City. Staying in the park might be more convenient but it is more expensive so accommodation gets booked up fast.

Bryce Canyon City is only a short drive north of the national park (around three miles/10 minutes) and is connected to the park via shuttle. Note that some accommodation options (and the shuttle) aren’t open year-round, but accommodation is usually cheaper.

Bryce Canyon National Park Accommodations

  • North Campground: Within walking distance to the visitor center, this campground has 107 spots for tents and RVs with shower and laundry facilities at the General Store. It’s reservable between specific dates in the summer, but the rest of the year is first come, first serve.
  • Sunset Campground: Slightly further away, Sunset Campground has 99 tent and RV camping sites and is only open from April to October, with reservable spots available in the summer months.
  • Bryce Canyon Lodge: This is the only non-camping accommodation available inside the park, so it’s a great place to stay for families who need more facilities! The Lodge is a rustic yet comfortable and cozy building with dining options perfect for families. It’s closed during the off-season from October to April.
Bryce Canyon LodgePin
Bryce Canyon Lodge (via NPS)

Bryce Canyon City Accommodations

  • Ruby’s Inn RV Park & Campground: If you are keen on camping while enjoying what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park but can’t get into the other campsites, this is the next best place. It may even be better for your family as there are way more amenities including a pool, activities, showers, and RV hookups. It’s open seasonally from March to October/November.
  • Ruby’s Inn Resort: Not to be confused with the campground, Ruby’s Inn Resort is a classic budget family accommodation option that has all the facilities you need including a free buffet breakfast and large family suites. *Personally, we highly recommend this option because of the proximity to the park as well as the WIDE breadth of activities available at Ruby’s, many of which we have mentioned in this article! Having stayed there twice in the past, I can tell you from personal experience, this is a highly convenient option with lots of plusses!!
  • Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel: This option is one of the two Best Westerns in Bryce Canyon City. It’s a three-star, modern hotel with a pool, buffet dining hall, and large well-decorated rooms.
exterior of Ruby's Inn, near Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahPin
Ruby’s Inn: my top recommendation for lodging OUTSIDE the park (Photo credit: Fabio Achilli from Milano, Italy, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

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27 Family-Friendly Bryce Canyon National Park ActivitiesPin
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About Rebecca Sharp

Rebecca Sharp is a freelance writer who splits her time between Utah and the UK where she’s from. When not writing about or exploring national parks, she likes to write about and explore filming locations and film festivals on her blog, Almost Ginger.

She has a master’s in Creative Writing and her work has been featured in Hostelworld, Mashable, BBC Radio, and the Zero to Travel Podcast. Rebecca wants to encourage armchair travelers to get off the couch and turn their silver screen dreams into reality.

1 thought on “Bryce Canyon NP For Families: 27 BEST Things To Do”

  1. My family really loves Bryce. The hoodoos are magical. The views are stunning. I think we’ll return soon for more exploration.

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