Looking For The Perfect Winter Itinerary For Bryce Canyon?
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Utah is home to 4 of the 50 US National Parks, and 3 of them are located in the South. I’m talking about Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. Although each of them has their own individualistic landscape, Bryce Canyon remains to be unmatched. What makes it so unique are the red rocks, pink cliffs and something they call – Hoodoos. These Hoodoos are nothing but irregular columns of rock formed over thousands, and, probably, millions of years due to the expansion of the snow in the cavities, rainfall, and wind. An interesting fact, even though the park is named Bryce Canyon, technically, it isn’t a Canyon – since a Canyon is formed by a river.
Reasons To Visit Bryce Canyon In Winter
Bryce Canyon is one of those places that is beautiful regardless of what time of the year you visit in. As I follow numerous Instagram accounts, most of which have posted pictures of Bryce Canyon at least once, I was instantly attracted to the beauty of this landscape. Having seen pictures of Bryce, both, in Summer and in Winter, I immediately added ‘Visiting Bryce in Winter’ to my bucket list. Here’s a list why,
- Snow makes the Hoodoos look even more beautiful. There’s a nice contrast between the Red Rocks, the White Snow and the Blue Sky (on a good weather day).
- Bryce Canyon is one of the few National Parks where roads are plowed regularly in winter. Which makes the park Winter-ready.
- During Winter, a few areas of the park are closed for winter activities – snow-tubing, sledding or even skiing – if you bring your own equipment.
- The landscape around the road leading to the park is so picturesque during winter – due to the snow.
The Perfect Weekend Plan For Bryce Canyon
Thank you for being patient until this point. Let’s begin with the purpose of this post – The perfect winter weekend at Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Since due to the reasons previously mentioned, I had decided to visit Bryce Canyon in winter, we targeted two main things – explore the park and winter activities. To wrap up both of these things without being overwhelmed here is how we planned our visit on the weekend before Christmas.
- Landed in Las Vegas, NV on a Thursday night. Checked into our hotel and slept well for a long and exciting weekend ahead
- Picked up our rental car next morning (Friday), had a good breakfast, picked up a few groceries, and started driving to Bryce, UT by 11:00 AM
- At this point, the destination we set was our hotel, Quality Inn, 3800 South, US-89, Panguitch, UT 84759 – Stayed at this hotel during our entire stay of 3 nights as its really close to Bryce Canyon and a Winter Resort. Plus it was really cheap, had a free breakfast and close to grocery and liquor stores
- On our way to the hotel, we drove through the town of St. George where we had lunch at an Asian restaurant and Dixie National Forest – the views were magnificent and would definitely recommend driving through here
- Reached Quality Inn for our night 1 at around 6 PM, bought some wine and groceries, ate our lunch leftovers with some wine, and went to bed
- The next morning, Saturday, we started driving to Bryce Canyon sometime around 9:00 AM and reached the visitor center by 10:00 AM. After speaking to the lady at the information center we decided on a hiking trail – Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail – approx. 3-mile loop (recommend buying snow chains for your boots)
- By 1:00 PM we were done with our hike. Decided to get lunch at Bryce Canyon Pines, 2476 W, UT-12, Bryce Canyon City, UT 84764 and got back to the park by 3:00 PM
- Following the instructions from the lady at the information center, we drove through the park road and covered all the points on the map – DO NOT skip Bryce point
- By 5:00 PM we were done visiting all the points and started to drive back to our hotel. On our way back we packed some to-go food from the same restaurant. By 7:00 PM we were back at our hotel for night 2
- For our day 2, we had planned some winter activities – Snowmobile tour and Skiing
- On Sunday, day 2, we started our day very early as we had to reach Thunder Mountain Motorsports, for our 8:45 AM Snowmobile Tour. We decided to get our individual Snowmobiles (which cost a little extra). The tour lasted 1 and a half hours which took us on a few different trails on the mountain. We were done with the tour by 10:30 AM
- After the tour, we went to Brian Head Ski Resort. Rented our ski gear, got the lift tickets for the second half of the day
- After an intense 3 hours of skiing, we decided to call it a day
- We packed some food from a restaurant next to the ski resort and started driving back by 5 PM. Unfortunately, the road condition had gotten worse, but we survived(obviously)
- We reached our hotel by 7:00 PM for our last night of the trip
- The next morning we started to drive back to Vegas by 10:00 AM for our flight at 6:00 PM. And thus ended our most exciting winter weekend
- Make sure to visit the NPS website for Bryce Canyon. You can find tonnes of information w.r.t to the activities you are interested in – they offer full moon hikes and a ranger-led tour of the Bryce Canyon for free
- Buy good hiking boots (and snow chains) as there’s plenty of snow and ice on the trails
- Spend a little extra and rent a good car – Intermediate/Standard size SUV. We had booked a sedan but ended up upgrading it for a discounted price based on the suggestions of the lady at the rental car counter. It ended up being the best decision we took as the roads can often be icy at higher elevations
After spending a weekend in Bryce Canyon, I was really satisfied that I took this trip. The place is more beautiful to see in person than it is in the pictures.