Bryce Canyon in Spring: Things to do, Tips, & More! (2023)

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There’s no place on earth quite like Bryce Canyon in spring.

This spectacular natural amphitheater (not a canyon—you’ll find there’s no opposite wall) is lined with hoodoos, and fantastical natural rock formations carved by the forces of frost and wind into sculptures rivaling Michelangelo.

Here you’ll see the lovely Queen Victoria, her stony skirt full and beauteous; the Sinking Ship, forever sinking into a sea of the ground; and Thor’s Hammer, a giant boulder perched precariously atop a narrow spindle of rock, powerful and delicate all in one.

Keep reading to learn all about what to do in Bryce Canyon in spring.

Are you planning a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park & you don’t have time to read this whole post? Here are some of our top recommendations to save you time.

Best Hotels Near Bryce Canyon

Best Restaurants Near Bryce Canyon

Best Guided Tours of Bryce Canyon

Transportation in Bryce Canyon

Why visit Bryce Canyon National Park in spring?

View of orange rocks jutting out of the earth

Bryce Canyon is beautiful any time of the year, but in our opinion, spring is the best time of the year to visit. As it is a high desert ecosystem, Bryce Canyon receives very little rain—all those canyons and dry washes you see were carved over eons by each summer downpour.

This means Bryce Canon is decidedly lacking in waterfalls—at least permanent ones. But in the winter, all that changes. The precipitation that it does get stays on the ground in the form of snow, and when it melts in the spring, Bryce Canyon comes alive with waterfalls.

Spring brings other gifts as well. All the water from the winter snowmelt brings to life beautiful wildflowers, from the delicate yellow Western Wallflowers to the vibrant Blue Flax and everything in between.

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    The best part of going in spring, though? You’ll manage to avoid the crowds. Bryce Canyon turns into Grand Central Station between July and August—visit in April or May to beat the crowds.

    In our opinion, Bryce Canyon in spring might just be the best time of the year to visit, and is certainly a hidden seasonal gem.

    Spring in Bryce Canyon National Park Packing List

    Orange rocks jutting out of a cliff

    Bryce Canyon in spring comes with a couple of extra things to pack that aren’t always necessary at other times of the year. Here’s what we recommend packing.

    Layers. Bryce Canyon can be very cold at certain times so the year, and that includes the spring. However, it’s not winter-cold anymore, so it’ll most likely be comfortable—or sometimes even downright warm—during the peak of the day, and especially on sunny days.

    The solution? Layers. If you dress in a variety of layers, e.g a short-sleeved shirt, hoodie, and outer jacket, you’ll be that much more comfortable when you’re out and about on the trails. Obviously, check the forecast.

    Waterproof/quick-drying hiking boots and socks. The high water of springtime that creates the lovely waterfalls also means seasonal streams will be flowing and permanent rivers and creeks will be at their height.

    Some of those cross trails. You do the math. It’s no fun to walk around with soggy shoes all day, and it can even cause blisters. If you have some water-resistant boots, you’ll be able to ford streams with that much more ease.

    Hiking stick. On the note of fording streams, you’ll want a good, solid hiking stick to help keep your balance. Even outside of fording, a hiking stick is very useful for going up—or down!—loose slick rock or rocky slopes.

    Bug spray. All that melting snow means plentiful habitats for mosquitoes, biting flies, and gnats. To ensure a hiking experience free of unwanted pests, you will probably want to bring plentiful insect repellant. Bryce Canyon is too far north to have mosquitos that carry serious illnesses, but who wants to spend their vacation an itchy mess?

    Bryce Canyon in Spring Best Things to do

    Go on one of the best Bryce Canyon National Park spring hikes

    There are great Bryce Canyon hikes in spring. Here are some of our best recommendations!

    Trail winding back and forth into a canyon in the desert

    Navajo/Queen’s Garden Combination Loop. We wouldn’t say this is an original pick, but it’s the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon for a reason. This three-mile look showcases the best of Bryce, starting off with sweeping views over the rim of the amphitheater before taking you right down into the midst of the fabulous hoodoos.

    You’ll see Thor’s Hammer, a massive boulder balanced death-defyingly on a delicate spire of stone; Wall Street, a narrow slot between walls of rock and the only slot canyon in Bryce; and Queen Victoria, the titular queen of the garden, standing proud and elegant at the skyline.

    The Queen’s Garden Trail exits the amphitheater at Sunrise Point, and the Navajo Loop Trail exits the amphitheater at Sunset Point; you’ll need to walk a half-mile on the Rim Trail to link the two.

    The Navajo Loop portion of the trail is steeper; the Park Service recommends descending via Queen’s Garden and ascending via Navajo, due to the increased risk of injuries descending a steeper slope, while many guidebooks recommend going the opposite way, as the climb is less daunting ascending via Queen’s Garden.

    Sheep Creek/Swamp Canyon. We’ve gone from the most popular Bryce Canyon hike to perhaps its biggest hidden gem. This 4.5-mile loop, which includes a section of the Under-the-Rim Trail, takes you through Bryce’s quieter, less crowded side.

    It’s also incredible in spring—the meadows along the creekside explode into a riotous kaleidoscope of wildflowers. It’s also a good place for spotting wildlife, too—as this is a less popular trail, elk, and mule deer come closer to the trail than on many others, and who doesn’t love sweet little fawns?

    It’s recommended to hike this path in a counterclockwise direction, as that lets you start with the steep descent into the canyon first and then climb out gradually, rather than saving the steepest climb of the trail for the end once you’re already exhausted.

    As this trail walks along one of the only permanent creeks in Bryce Canyon, expect to have a very wet hike—you’ll see (and get bit by) ample flies. Bring bug spray!

    Girl standing and looking out at orange rocks at a national park

    Drive the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

    So you don’t like hiking. That’s okay. You can still see Bryce Canyon from your car. The scenic drive that runs through the park provides beautiful views of the many spectacular rock formations, and vistas Bryce Canyon has to offer by driving the 18-mile main scenic drive.

    This will let you see sweeping views over the main amphitheater and on clear days, the cliffs of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, many miles away.

    Stargaze in the Evening

    Starry night sky over orange hoodoos

    Bryce Canyon, as deep in the wilderness of Utah as it is, is a great place to stargaze. The lack of light pollution means darker skies than anywhere in the United States. In the spring, you’ll see such recognizable constellations as the Big Dipper, Cancer, Leo, and Hydra.

    Have a picnic in the park

    There are many picnics stops along the main park road, and any one of them is a great place to have a picnic in the springtime. Beware of hungry birds!

    Stop by the Visitor Center

    The visitor center of Bryce provides ample information on the park and its geology and history. You’ll learn how the spectacular hoodoos are formed and get valuable information on the park, its trails, and its flora and fauna.

    Catch the sunset or sunrise

    Sun peeking out over orange hoodoos

    Sunrise in Bryce Canyon is lovely. As most of the main overlooks face east, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the morning sun slipping over the horizon and painting the hoodoos in spectacular shades of red and gold.

    Sunset options, however, are more limited; only Paria View, just south of the main amphitheater and on the same spur road as Bryce Point, is the only real sunset view in the park.

    Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon During Springtime

    Orange rocky landscape with green trees and snow

    Pack a snack & a lunch

    There’s nothing worse than hiking on an empty stomach. Pack a lunch and a snack to give yourself the fuel to take full advantage of what Bryce has to offer.

    Start your day early

    Sunrise is the best time of day to get to Bryce Canyon; you’ll get to see the golden light of the sun’s rays, and you’ll beat the crowds. Remember to set your alarm!

    Best Springtime Hotels Near Bryce Canyon National Park

    Lastly, we are going to give a few hotel recommendations on where to stay near Bryce!

    Orange rocks jutting out of an orange rocky landscape in the desert

    Rodeway Inn

    This hotel is basic and comfortable. It’s suitable for budget travelers but doesn’t feature many amenities. Each room has a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker but no full kitchen. It’s pet friendly. There is no pool. Rooms start from $47 a night.

    Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn

    This is the hotel in Bryce Canyon City. It’s the unofficial basecamp for Bryce. What Grand Central Station is to New York City, Best Western Ruby’s is to Bryce.

    No one goes to the hotel for anything other than exploring Bryce, and this hotel is perfectly set up to be the base for your Bryce adventure. There are pet-friendly rooms, a mountain bike rental, and a pool. Rooms start at $84 a night.

    Bryce Pioneer Village

    This sleek, western-themed hotel and campground has motel rooms (with an interior entrance, too), cabins, large separate houses, and an RV park. It features a pool, hot tub, and two separate restaurants. Tent sites are $30; prices go all the way up to $300 a night for their single-family houses.

    And there you have it, our rundown on Bryce Canyon in spring. Happy trails!

    FAQs: Bryce Canyon in Spring

    Why is Bryce Canyon not a real canyon?

    Because it wasn’t formed from erosion (from a stream), Bryce is technically not considered to be a real canyon! That’s why it’s often referred to as an amphitheater.

    When does the snow melt in Bryce Canyon?

    The snow usually melts in Bryce Canyon in spring.

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