Tips for visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter

Tips for visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter

An undated photo of Bryce Canyon in the winter.

An undated photo of Bryce Canyon in the winter.

Devon Dewey,

There’s no doubt that Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in Utah.

The characteristic red rock with stunning canyon views makes this area a popular tourist destination. Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is only about a hour and a half away from Zion National Park.

It’s possible to visit Bryce Canyon during the winter, but there are a few precautions that you might consider taking.

If it’s too cold outside to hike, don’t worry — there are other activities that you can do around the area while you wait for temperatures to heat up.

Where to stay at Bryce Canyon during the winter

Let’s talk accommodations.

There are hotels in Bryce Canyon City, Panguitch and other areas that you can stay at if you’re unprepared or not ecstatic about winter camping.

There’s also limited space at Bryce Canyon for winter camping. According to the National Parks Service, “North Campground’s A Loop is open all winter long for first-come, first-served camping. There are 30 sites in this loop, and it is rare for the campground to fill in winter other than around major holidays. As happens every year when overnight temperatures fall below freezing, Loops C and D of North Campground have closed. Loop B typically closes in late fall unless demand for winter campsites is high enough to justify its remaining open.”

When you visit in the winter, it’s best to be prepared for cold temperatures. Visit Utah said that Bryce in the winter usually doesn’t get warmer than 40 degrees and temperatures may drop below freezing.

If you plan on camping outside, you need more equipment than you would for summer camping. REI provides expert tips for winter camping:

  • Use two sleeping pads.
  • Make sure you have the right gear such as appropriate winter jackets, gloves and sleeping bags, especially those designed for below freezing temperatures.
  • Bring layers to wear under your clothes.
  • Think about wind protection when pitching your tent.

Be sure to do research before you do winter camping.

What to do at Bryce Canyon during the winter

There are some hikes available during the winter. Be sure to check the National Parks Service for the latest information, as weather can cause changes.

Here are some hikes that National Parks Service said are available during the winter:

  • Hiking around the Bryce Amphitheater, which is the first three miles of the park.
  • Visiting Inspiration Point (beware of ice).
  • The Navajo Loop.
  • Queen’s Garden Trails.
  • Consider driving Southern Scenic Drive to Rainbow Point (may be closed during winter storms).

Some roads in the park are closed during the winter. Be sure to check before you leave and when you arrive, as weather can cause changes.

If the weather is keeping you inside, here are a couple of options:

  • Visit downtown Panguitch. It’s a historic downtown area with shops that may be of interest to visit.
  • Consider visiting the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor’s center.
  • Drive to Butch Cassidy’s childhood home in Panguitch.
  • Visit the Bryce Wildlife Adventure Museum.
  • Check out the Western Arts Gallery.
  • Dine at Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm (note: this does require a drive, but consider stopping in Escalante during the day and heading there in the evening, check website for reservation details).
  • Visit the Escalante Heritage Center.

Where to eat in Bryce Canyon National Park

When visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, you may want to check out these restaurants.

  • Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm.
  • Route 12 Grill.
  • The Lodge.
  • The Pizza Place.
  • Arriba Mexican Grill.
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