Updated: Jan 12
There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world – Bryce Canyon is truly a place of unique beauty. Hundreds of thousands come to this National Park every year to admire the scenic vistas and hike its many trails. Most people visit Bryce in the spring and summer, few venture to Bryce in the winter. But if you ask me this is the most beautiful times of the year to visit Bryce – It is also the coldest.
The cold weather keeps most visitors away, so it feels almost like you have the whole park to yourself. You can walk the trails and visit the scenic over views almost in complete solitude. The winter sun is great for photography and you can take your time to get that perfect shot without having to fight crowds of tourists or wait for people to move out of frame.
One of my favorite things to do in winter at Bryce is to cross country ski along the rim. Cross country skis can be rented near by at Ruby’s inn, and there are a few groomed trails near Ruby’s Inn that go around and to the park entrance. Once you enter the park however, the groomed trails stop and this is where the fun of cross country skiing really begins.
Another thing not to miss out on is watching the sunrise and sunset over the canyon during the winter. With the contrast of the snow, the reds of the canyon are brighter than any other time of year and they seem to put off a subtle glow during twilight hours. The Bryce Amphitheater is a great place to go at dusk and dawn. Sunrise and Sunset Point, aptly named, are some of my favorite place to go to watch the sun rise and set over the park.
You can ski along the rim for several miles, getting great views of the park that you wouldn’t see during the summer unless you did a lot of bush wacking. This is truly one of the best ways to enjoy all the scenery that Bryce Canyon has to offer. You can also snowshoe along the rim, but cross country skiing let’s you cover a little more ground as you glide across the snow.
Be prepared for the cold however, as it is bitterly cold during sunrise and sunset, especially if there is a wind blowing. Make sure to dress in layers and bring something warm to drink.
Most of the trails are still accessible during the winter months with either snow shoes or Yak Trax. Often times the snow isn’t deep and Yak Trak or some other device that will add some traction to your shoe will work just great. It is a little bit more slowing moving with the ice and snow, so plan accordingly. Especially sense the sun sets must faster and much earlier in winter. For even more ideas of winter activities in Byrce check out the parks website for winter activities.
Getting to Bryce
Bryce is in the south western part of Utah. If coming from Northern Utah you can take I-15 until you get to the exit for the town of Panguitch, at which point you’ll get off the interstate and follow the signs to park. Bryce Canyon is about 20 miles southeast of Panguitch Utah. If you are coming from the South you can take I-15 to the Panguitch exit or you can take the more scenic way via Highway 89. One of my favorite drives is going out the East entrance of Zion National Park and taking Highway 89 to Bryce. This takes a little longer, but gives you the chance to see two very beautiful and very different National Parks. On one of my trips I heard that the bottom layer of Bryce Canyon is the top layer of rock at Zion National Park and that the bottom layer of Zions is the top layer of rock of the Gran Canyon. I never did fact check it, but pretty interesting if it is true.
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