One of our secondary hikes that we took on our Utah road trip journey was to head out to Bryce Canyon, a place that had been on my bucket list of places to hit in my lifetime. Even if it was sullied by the presence of social media followers, it’s still a place worth visiting at least once because the canyons themselves are just gorgeous and so breathtaking. Especially during the winter time and the canyon is covered in snow and you get that contrast of white and orange. But hiking it during winter does take extra precautions and rules to which I highly recommend you do your due diligence and research.
The house that we were staying at in La Verkin was about 2 hours away from Bryce Canyon City, we had to wake up even earlier if we wanted to try and get there early as our goal was to beat the crowd). My original plan was to get there by 7AM if we woke up at 4AM, prepped and ate breakfast and left the house by 5AM, but alas, waking up early was a tad bit difficult for our group so we ended up lagging about an hour behind the scheduled plans. When we headed out, it was actually pretty chilly at 45-50 degrees (please, we’re Southern Cali kids so yes, 50 degrees to us is cold LOL), I ended up being worried that it actually might be too cold in just compression and leggings. I hadn’t packed for cold weather so I didn’t have any jackets with me. I was freezing (please note, cool weather will be harder for those that have less body fat to help hold in heat) and the weather probably wasn’t going to warm up until 10-11AM, so we had 2-3 hours of hiking in the cold (probably even colder down in the canyons that get no sun). Luckily one of the gas stations we stopped at ended up being a souvenir shop as well that sold Bryce Canyon sweaters, I ended up purchasing one. But yes, you ought to bring a light jacket if you plan on hiking in the morning.
It’s also good to note another pro of getting there early, we were able to get prime parking spots in the main parking lot because nobody was there yet. If and when the main parking lot gets full, they will close it off and ask you to park off lot and shuttle your way to the main parking lot to be dropped off. We parked and made our way to Sunrise Point (which also had an equestrian trail) to start our hike into Bryce Canyon. We started at Sunrise and made our way to Navajo Loop. This trail was stunning, it dipped into the canyon via a switchback trail that takes you to the ground of the canyon. You then cross a narrow walkway before you come out into the opened area of the canyon. You then get to pass through many delightful and colorful rocks shaded in different hues of orange (we even nicknamed Bryce #ThaiTeaCanyon lmao). When the sun rises and hits the canyons, they’re in the most stunning of orange color. Their jaggedness was astounding that mother nature herself made it all happen, did you know the rock spires are called “hoodoos”?
“The chaotic destructive force of water, not wind, is responsible for the fantastic shapes in Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon Hoodoos formed over thousands of years by the same processes that form the features of surrounding parks.
Water, ice and gravity are the forces at work in Bryce Canyon National Park. These three forces coupled with the differential erosion of the Claron Formation produces a different morphology than that of any other area in the world.
10-15 million years ago the Paunsaugunt Plateau was caught and lifted by the Colorado Plateau. Breaks, called joints, formed in the plateau during the uplift. Joints allowed water to flow into the rock and, as water flowed through, erosion widened them into rivulets and gullies. Over time, deep slot canyons formed in the sides of the plateau.”
That was how Bryce Canyon was formed! Fascinating isn’t it?
Our original route was to do Sunrise to Navajo Loop to Inspiration and Bryce Point, back down to Queen’s Garden then up Sunset trail, but since we had just done Angels Landing the day before, we opted to cut this hike short and took out Inspiration and Bryce Point. It dropped us down to 3.3 miles(ish) round trip for the remaining hike.
If you choose to do this during the summer months, I definitely advise bringing 1.5+ liters of water. It does get hot, it easily hit 3 digit temperatures when we were there, thankfully since we started early, we ended around 11AM just before the heat started to set in. Also bring snacks and lunch as well if you choose to do more than 3+ miles, some of the areas are very steep in elevation and height– you’ll def get hungry by the afternoon. It’s definitely worth a visit, but I highly advise coming early. It got really crowded when we finished our hike at 11AM, the parking lot was closed off as well.
I can’t wait until the day I can come back, maybe in the winter when Bryce is covered in snow so you can see the amazing contrasted color of white and orange!