What to Do When Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter

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After visiting during almost every season, I’ve found that nothing quite compares to Bryce Canyon in winter.

With so many people visiting in the summer, most people don’t even think about taking a trip to Bryce Canyon in the cold. However, it can be a great way to avoid the crowds and see the park covered in a blanket of snow.

Even though some parts of the park are closed in winter, like the Wall Street portion of the Navajo Loop Trail, one of the best Bryce Canyon National Park hiking trails, there are still many spots open to the public. Plus, Bryce Canyon City, Utah, even has its own winter festival!

Below, learn all about what it’s like to visit Bryce Canyon in winter.

What to Bring for Bryce Canyon in Winter

Aerial view of Bryce Canyon National Park, showcasing the intricate, snow-dusted red rock formations contrasting with the expansive green valley and mountain range in the distance.
The hoodoos look magical covered in snow!

When visiting Bryce Canyon in winter, you have to pack differently than you would if you were visiting in the summer. Because it’s colder, the hiking trails will also be a lot icier, meaning you’ll have to pack a lot more to stay safe.

The first thing you’ll want to be sure to pack is traction devices. You can easily buy spikes to put on the bottom of your shoes at a place like Amazon. These will ensure that you’re less likely to slip on the trails if they happen to be icy. Spikes/YakTrax are the singlehanded best purchase I’ve ever made for hiking.

If you want to be extra careful, a pair of hiking poles can also go a long way on the ice!

A solitary raven perched atop a snow-capped stone pillar, with a backdrop of dense, evergreen trees in a winter landscape.
You may even see some birds and other wildlife in the park in winter!

You’ll also want to pack many layers because it can get freezing in the mornings, only to warm up by mid-day. Think jackets, sweatshirts, hats, and gloves; articles of clothing that you can take off as the day goes on.

Lastly, make sure you bring hiking boots. You can buy hiking boots pretty much anywhere, but my favorite boots are from The North Face. You can purchase a similar pair to the ones that I have here!

Of course, also make sure you bring the basics, like a water bottle (this Hydro Flask is my fave!), snacks, a portable charger, and sunscreen.

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    Bryce Canyon in December Weather

    On average, the weather in Bryce Canyon in winter is around 36°F each day, but of course, that fluctuates. It only rains a few days each month in the winter, but you can definitely expect snow.

    In fact, the park starts to get snowy as early as October!

    Close up of snow on hoodoos.
    Don’t miss out on all of the different viewpoints.

    The altitude is also something you’ll have to get used to, as the park is 7,664 feet up in elevation. If you’re not from a high altitude, then it definitely can take a bit for you to get used to it.

    Don’t rush into activities, and don’t force yourself to do too much in one day in Bryce Canyon to be safe.

    A great way to get an overall idea of what the park is like (as far as snow and ice goes) is to go to the Visitor Center when you first get to the park. The rangers are always super helpful, and they’ll let you know what’s going on. Be sure also to grab a Bryce Canyon map while you’re there!

    Snowy lodge surrounded by snow.
    The visitor center is near the entrance and is open year-round.

    Bryce Canyon Winter Lodging

    There are so many great places to stay near Bryce Canyon, but in winter, you’ll definitely want to just stay in either Tropic or Bryce Canyon City because of their proximity to the park. It’s best to stay as close as possible because of the snow!

    You could also consider booking a Utah cabin for the night. Here are some of the best places to stay during your visit!

    Snow-covered walking path leading through a wooden fence line with evergreen trees on the side, against the backdrop of a cloudy sky, offering a quiet winter landscape at Bryce Canyon.
    So few people visit during the winter, allowing for serenity.

    Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn

    The absolute best place to stay while visiting is Ruby’s Inn. Not only is it affordable, but there are snowshoes and cross-country ski rentals available right at the hotel as well.

    This is the most accessible place to stay if that’s a concern to you, as it’s right near the entrance of the park!

    I stayed here during a trip to the park in January 2024 and was amazed at everything there. The rooms are great; there’s a supermarket/convenience store, on-site restaurant, and breakfast buffet.

    North Campground

    If you have an RV or want to camp in a tent, you can easily consider staying right at the North Campground. It usually requires a reservation, but in the winter, no reservation is necessary, and instead, it’s first-come-first-serve.

    There are about 50 spots for tents only and another 50 for RVs only. The campground is in a great location right near the Visitor Center, the popular Fairyland Loop Trail, and even the General Store. Note that there aren’t any electric hookups.

    Be sure to learn all about successful winter camping tips before braving the cold!

    Dramatic red sandstone hoodoos capped with snow, standing out against the white-covered slopes of Bryce Canyon, with green conifers dotting the rugged landscape.
    Be on the lookout for Thor’s Hammer!

    Bryce Country Cabins

    The Bryce Country Cabins is where I stayed during my trip to Bryce Canyon, and I loved it. You’ll have your own log cabin, which is nice and toasty in the winter. Plus, there’s a little kitchenette area with a table and chairs, a refrigerator, and a microwave.

    While technically located in Tropic, the Bryce Country Cabins are only a short drive away from the entrance to the national park. There are also tons of great local restaurants right near the cabins that you could easily walk to if you wanted.

    Best Things to Do in Bryce Canyon in Winter

    Wondering what to do in Bryce Canyon? Winter activities are a bit different than those that you can enjoy the rest of the year, so keep reading.

    Visit Popular Viewpoints

    Sign that says Sunrise Point.
    Sunrise Point is one of the best viewpoints!

    The viewpoints in Bryce in winter are unlike the rest of the year because you can see the hoodoos covered in snow! The great thing about the views is that, for the most part, you can just drive to a parking lot and take a short walk to get to the spot.

    Popular spots worth checking out include Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Point, and Inspiration Point.

    Bryce Point is definitely one of the more underrated spots to see, while Sunrise Point is incredibly popular. If you want to see Sunrise Point, visit it right in the morning!

    Snowshoe to Take in the Scenery

    When visiting Bryce Canyon in January or any of the other winter months, definitely look into snowshoeing! This is one of the most unique things to do in Bryce Canyon, and it provides a great way to explore the area while also getting some exercise.

    There are a few ways to do this! You can rent snowshoes at a place like Ruby’s Inn Winter Activity Center or bring your own.

    Another way to do this is to go on one of the full-moon snowshoe hikes with the park rangers! They offer these from November to March, but the snow levels must be higher than 16”. 

    Stargaze at a Popular Viewpoint

    Stars in the night sky.
    I’m not the best at taking photos of stars, but Bryce Canyon’s stars are beautiful.

    Stargazing in Bryce Canyon in winter is an experience unlike any other. Sure, you can stargaze any other time of the year, but the whole canyon lights up differently at night when it’s covered in snow.

    There are ranger-led stargazing programs, but a great way to do stargazing in the park is to find your favorite viewpoint (like Bryce Point or Sunrise Point) and park in the parking lot there until the sun is down. Then, walk out to the point and take in the marvelous view.

    If you want to visit and take photos, be sure to set your camera to the proper night sky settings or risk your photos not coming out well.

    Hike in the Park

    Visitors walking along a snow-covered trail winding along the edge of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater, with striking red rock formations and evergreen trees under a vast sky.
    Hiking in winter is totally possible – just make sure you bring the proper hiking gear.

    Arguably, the best thing to do when visiting Bryce Canyon in February or any other winter month is to go hiking. Some of the best Bryce Canyon winter hikes offer great views of the Bryce Amphitheater, the main attraction in the canyon.

    If you’re interested in Bryce Canyon winter hiking, just know that there are a few different trails that close, including part of the Rim Trail that goes from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point and the Wall Street portion of the Navajo Loop Trail.

    Here are a few of the best hikes to do in winter:

    • Sunrise Point to Sunset Point (Easy trail, 1.1 miles)
    • Queens Garden Trail (Easy, 1.8 miles)
    • Mossy Cave Trail (Easy, 0.8 miles)

    🥾 Check out this post to see more great Bryce Canyon hikes.

    Drive the Scenic Route

    Driver's perspective of a wintery road trip, with a view through the car's windshield showing a road flanked by snow-covered ground and evergreen trees under a cloudy sky.
    Be sure to drive carefully, as there could be ice on the roads.

    If it’s super cold during your visit, drive the scenic road! This only takes a few hours and allows you to go all the way through the park. You can even pull off and check out some of the best viewpoints along the way.

    The road you’ll want to follow is Highway 12, which will bring you through glorious red sandy areas with red rocks. At one point, you’ll even go through a super short red tunnel right over the road. This is a popular spot to stop and take a photo.

    Go Cross Country Skiing

    Yes, when visiting Bryce Canyon in December, you can absolutely go cross-country skiing! Many people don’t even know that this is an option. You can’t ski right into the canyon, but there are some fantastic routes higher up that you can enjoy. The best place to rent cross-country skis is right at Ruby’s Inn.

    If you’re staying at Ruby’s Inn, there are trails right nearby that you can enjoy throughout Bryce Canyon City. Or, you can go to the park and enjoy the Bristlecone Loop Trail, Fairyland Point Road, or certain parts of the Rim Trail.

    View through a natural frame of evergreen trees, overlooking the snow-dusted red rock formations of Bryce Canyon that lead into a vast valley with mountainous horizons.
    Bryce Canyon gets more snow than you might think.

    Snowmobile For Fun

    While you aren’t allowed to snowmobile directly in Bryce Canyon National Park in winter, there are tons of trails nearby that are super fun and open to the public!

    A lot of the trails are well-maintained, too, which makes the experience even better. The majority of the trails are free to use.

    Duck Creek Village is one of the best places to snowmobile, as well as the ones that start right near Ruby’s Inn. There are quite a few spots in the area where you can rent snowmobiles, too, or you could book a tour.

    A serene winter view from the rim of Bryce Canyon, with a foreground of a snow-covered ground and scattered pine trees, leading to the iconic red rock formations and vast plateaus in the distance.
    You’ll want to take a photo at every viewpoint. No, I’m not exaggerating!

    Attend Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

    Last but not least, you have to attend the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival! It usually takes place in February (over Presidents’ Day Weekend) and is hosted for the community.

    During the event, there are tours, fun outdoor activities, and even free classes. Plus, it occurs over three days, so even if you can’t go one day, you can go the next. The schedule changes each year, but usually, there are photography clinics, art classes, guest speakers, yoga, archery, ski clinics, and more.

    Sometimes, Ruby’s Inn even offers ice skating too as part of the fun!

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    1. Wow what a gorgeous park! The red rocks covered in snow is so beautiful. I love to hike and snowshoe, so that would be a really fun activity to do. I especially like the idea of staying in a cabin too!

    2. Wow!! I have only ever visited Bryce Canyon in the summer, but it is so incredibly gorgeous in the winter! I had no idea you could cross country ski there, that sounds like so much fun!

    3. I’ve never thought about visiting Bryce in the winter. After reading your post, I am considering visiting in the winter to take advantage of the cool activities you mentioned.

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