Someone once told me, the Colorado Plateau in the southwestern America is a paradise for photography enthusiasts, because this is where the most magical light and the most majestic scenery meet. Indeed it is. As the years have passed, my mind has filled with memories of many lands, but when I look back, the glorious images of a wild southwest are still clear and unmistakable. One of those places is Bryce Canyon. So, is Bryce National Park worth visiting and how to spend a day in Bryce Canyon? Let’s check out my Bryce Canyon itinerary 1 day with the suggested things to do in Bryce Canyon in one day (Bryce Canyon in a day) to help you have an overview of this spectacular land!
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On my long, borderless journeys across the US states, I passed from one national park to another, like Bryce Canyon, Arches, Grand Canyon…, and also passed through even arid but beautiful lands, belong to the Navajo Indians such as Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley… When I was a child, I often imagined the desert as sand dunes spreading endless to the horizon. After coming here, I know that the desert is full of different shapes and shades, there’s no place like another place.
The 3-week roadtrip itinerary here: 3-week roadtrip itinerary in the Southwest USA.
Sunrise at Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is not the beginning or the end point of the journey, it hovers somewhere in the middle. But in my memory, it holds a special place. With me, Bryce Canyon are stunning sunrises, forests of towering stone pillars, as if they were built from an invisible force. Bright orange stone pillars, which often called hoodoos. These are the result of millions of years of water freezing on the surface of the rocks, forming cracks. Rainwater crept into those cracks, and over the years, eroded into stone columns tens of meters high. The stone pillars stand close together, creating the unmistakable beauty of one of the most famous national parks in the United States. I still remember the moment when the sun had just risen, the first rays of light hit the cliff. In a split second, the surrounding scenery that was silent in the night suddenly woke up, extremely vivid.
The legend of the sandstone pillars
Then, my companion told me the legend of the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Before Americans of European descent came to this land, the Paiute Indians lived here for hundreds of years. In Paiute lore, the dazzling hoodoos are the ancient “Legend People”. “Legend People” – people in legend, living from the beginning of time, together with the gods. They do not know how to save natural resources, exploit more than they need, eat all the pine nuts, drink all the water, leaving nothing for all species. Because of those sins, they were punished by the gods, turned to stone pillars and had to stand there forever with heaven and earth.
Hiking down Bryce Canyon
Contrary to the name “Canyon”, Bryce Canyon is not a canyon, but a series of giant natural stands, located on the eastern part of Paunsaugunt Plateau, the state of Utah. A paved road runs along the highest slopes of Bryce Canyon, at elevations between 2,400 m and 2,700 m. Right on this road is a series of beautiful view points, close to the parking lots for tourists. From these view points, when the sun has just risen in the East, you can enjoy watching the hoodoos glow in orange-yellow color, the early morning light is as cold as a needle pricking into the skin, weaving between the forest of sandstone pillars.
View points are clearly marked on the map, and these are usually the beginning and end of short hikes going down the valley floor. The hiking trails in Bryce Canyon are not too long and easy to hike. Most only need a few hours to half a day, suitable for both young people and families with young children.
The deeper you go below, straight into the forest of stone pillars, the more enchanting Bryce Canyon is. Here, the space is calm and too quiet. Many times I wonder, if I stood still for a moment and listened, would I be able to recognize the whispers of the ancients in the legend?
A map of Bryce Canyon’s hiking trails is available for free at the visitor information counter right in the national park. If you want to prepare in advance, you can refer here: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK HIKING TRAILS.
Bryce Canyon itinerary: How to visit Bryce Canyon in a day (Bryce Canyon in one day)?
Watching sunrise at Sunset Point or Inspiration Point
As I said above, you definitely can’t miss the sunrise at Bryce Canyon. It’s the most beautiful time of the day here. Of all 13 view points on Route 63 running along Bryce Canyon, Sunrise, Sunset or Inspiration Point will give you the most glorious sunrise. From Sunset Point, you can look to the left to see Sunrise Point and Queen Garden trail. Look to the right to see the Navajo Loop Trail and Silent City, further to the right are Inspiration Point and Bryce Point.
Bryce Canyon in one day: Hiking Queen’s Garden Trail & Navajo Loop Trail
After watching the sunrise at Sunset Point, you should try a short hike to get close to the hoodoos and feel, admire their beauty. Among Bryce’s hiking trails, the Queens Garden trail (more than 2 km) and the Navajo loop trail (3.5 km) are the easiest.
If you have more time, you can combine both routes, forming a circle, 4.5 km long, it takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to hike.
If you combine Queens Garden trail and Navajo loop trail, you can start at Sunrise Point or Sunset Point. But in my opinion, it is easier to go in the direction starting from Sunrise Point.
The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon followed one another into winding paths like in a jungle or a maze. That’s probably why Ebenezer Bryce, who gave Bryce Canyon his name, said: “It would be miserable to lose your cow here.” Hiking in the desert is very hot and dry. As always, don’t forget to bring enough water and some food.
Bryce Canyon in a day: Driving along Panoramic Road
It would be a pity to come to Bryce Canyon without going to see all the view points here, especially when they are located on the main road, can drive to the place. The distance of 18 miles (25 km) from Fairyland Point to Yovimpa Point is very beautiful, with breathtaking views, you should not miss it.
Because the view points are on the left side of the road if you come from the entrance, so it will be much more convenient if you drive all the way to Yovimpa Point and then stop to admire the view on the way out.
It is difficult to use words to describe the beauty of Bryce Canyon. Sunset is also a magical moment here. Viewed from Sunset Point, in front is the silent forest of Hoodoos, beyond is the Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship.
Read more US guide here.