Bryce Canyon National Park apparently has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world! Hoodoos (also called fairy chimneys) are typically formed in sedimentary rock and their shapes are affected by the erosional patterns of alternating hard and softer rock layers. I loved the contrast between those bizarre rock formations and the blue sky, it was amazing! Another delicacy to observe is the night sky. The high elevation of the park and its distance from city lights makes it one of the best places for stargazing.
I planned to make a solo road trip in Utah, but one week before I left, my dad decided to come with me! Bryce Canyon National Parks was the second National Park we visited during our road trip (the first being Zion National Park). Click here to see our road trip route.
Navajo Loop – Queen’s Garden Combinaison (Difficulty: moderate; duration: 2.5-3 hrs; round-trip distance: 2.9 miles/4.7 km; elevation change: 521 ft/159 m).
We parked the car at the Visitor Center and then took the shuttle to Sunset Point. We started our hike at Sunset Point and followed Navajo Trail, down into Bryce Canyon’s main amphitheater. Instead of finishing with the loop (which would have made the hike too short), we combined that trail with the Queens Garden Trail which created a longer and more varied loop. The trail ends at Sunrise Point.
If you left your car at Sunset Point, you can follow a small trail over the edge of the canyon, that connects Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. There are numerous beautiful viewpoints from that trail, along with a few benches, which are the perfect spots to have a snack.
Best spot to watch sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park
The next morning, we were up at 6 a.m., but it was raining, so we thought we could not see the sunrise. We decided to go anyway to Sunset Point and, lucky us, the weather cleared out! While Sunrise Point is the closest to private campgrounds and hotels, I preferred Sunset Point because there were more angles to shoot (which is ironic considering the name). I heard that Bryce Point is the best place to see the sunrise, but it was closed to visitors on that day (in September 2016).
National Park Service offers all the information you need to know about Bryce Canyon on its website (directions, fees*, shuttle service shedules, trails, free maps, etc). You should definitely check the website before going, so you’ll know if something happened and might disrupt your plans. As I said earlier, I couldn’t go to Bryce Point because it was closed to visitors while I was there in September 2016, but at least I knew it before, thanks to National Park Service!
*If you’re road tripping through Utah or the United States and plan to visit many National Parks, it might be better for you to buy the America the Beautiful annual pass (80 USD $).
Where we ate:
- Cowboy Ranch House at Bryce Canyon Resort (at the junction of Road 12 and Road 69): hamburgers were really good and served with a good portion of french fries. Service was okay, although we waited a long time for our meals (which was understundable because there was a big group of tourists). At least there were the western ambiance and the country music playing in loop to entertain us while we were waiting.
- Ruby’s Inn Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room (26 South Main Street, Bryce): we were so cold in the morning that we decided to eat indoor at the Ruby’s Inn Buffet for breakfast. The food was okay, service was great. You have the choice between: bacon, eggs, sausages, breakfast potatoes, fruits, muffins, oatmeal, pancakes and syrup, cherry or blueberry danish, etc. I was really excited about the ice cream machine, but it was out of service for breakfast.
- The rest of the time, we ate the meals and groceries we bought at Walmart at the begining of our road trip.
Other restaurants in the area:
- The Pizza Barn, on Highway 63, Bryce
- Foster’s Family Steak House, on Highway 12, Bryce
- Subway Restaurant, 139 W State Highway 12, Bryce
Where we stayed: Ruby’s Inn campground and RV Park (62 US $ for a tent site for two nights, tax included). Clean facilities, great camping spots. We pitched our tent in the area circled in pink on the campground map below. It is really the best spot; it’s close to the showers/bathrooms (but not too close), far enough from the main street of the campground (so you don’t hear cars or RVs all night long), and more surrounded by nature than most of Utah’s private camping sites. Early in the morning, we could see deers passing behing the campground’s fence. That was awesome! Bring warm clothes and a good sleeping bag though; it gets so cold at the end of September that I slept in the car the second night (32 F / 0° C)… (If you do sleep in your car, don’t keep heat turned on all night, that’s dangerous!)