7 Breathtaking Spots to Enjoy Sunrise in Bryce Canyon
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Where should you see sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park? We’ve rounded up the best spots!
Bryce Canyon is a scenery like no other on earth. With its fairytale-like rock sculptures, canyons cut into the landscape like a lace pattern, and the beautiful high desert environment with some of the oldest living trees on earth, you’ll never want to leave this magical place.
And what better way to spend it than by waking up early to watch the sunrise? Sunrise in Bryce Canyon is a magical experience, and in this article, we’ve listed our favorite spots for sunset-watching.
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.
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Transportation in Bryce Canyon
Well, with a name like that, you know you’re in for a treat—it’s as if Sunrise Point was made for watching the sunrise in Bryce Canyon. Here, you’ll gaze eastward over the beautiful bowl-shaped Bryce Canyon, and watch as the light of the rising sun dyes the natural sculpture garden in hues of pink and gold.
Sunrise Point is very easily accessible; just drive up and gawk. It’s also the starting point for the popular Queen’s Garden Trail, which leads down into the valley and provides a view of the lovely Queen Victoria hoodoo, so named because of its full, stony hoop skirt.
The sun will slowly peek like a jewel over the cliffs in the far distance as you meander through this shaded, woody trail, the chill of the night still in the air as birds sing to greet the sun.
Much as its name suggests, the Rim Trail runs along the upper rim of the canyon, from the Fairyland Point overlook to the Bryce Point overlook. It’s 5.5 miles one-way, but if you can’t arrange a shuttle to drive between Fairyland and Bryce Points, you’ll have to hike back—making the trail 11 miles.
Nothing says you have to start at either end, though; you can just as easily hike the short stretch from Sunset to Sunrise points. It’s a flat, easy trail, but not for those afraid of heights. The majority of animals come out during the Bryce Canyon Sunrise, so you might get to see some peak wildlife you might not see at other, busier times of the day.
A short while down the Rim Trail lies another beautiful view of the canyon—and, despite the name, it doesn’t face west. From here, you’ll see the rays of the rising—or setting!—sun sets the hoodoos aflame. If you get there early enough, you’ll beat the crowds.
Navajo Loop Trail
Directly beneath the Sunset Point overlook, this popular, moderate trail called Navajo Loop leads down into the canyon from the rim, taking you directly into the hoodoos.
Here, watching the sunrise is different from the way you watch it on the rim; instead of watching the sunrise directly you’ll get to see the rays of the sun creep into the shadows of the hoodoos—first painting the tops golden with their light, then the middles, the bottoms, and finally, you.
On the way down you’ll see Thor’s Hammer, a giant boulder perched delicately atop a sandstone spire and looking for all the world like the titular god’s hammer.
One popular option for this trail is, instead of completing the loop, combining it with the adjoining Queen’s Garden Loop trail for a longer—though less strenuous—hike that truly takes in the best that Bryce Canyon has to offer.
This combined Najavo/Queen’s Garden Loop is the Bryce Canyon hike; if you’re only going to do one hike in Bryce, let this be your hike of choice.
Here, you’ll see some of the most famous hoodoos in the park. The trail is moderately strenuous, and should take you about three hours to complete.
You’ll descend into the canyon at Sunset Point, and ascend at Sunrise, so you’ll have to walk a half mile on the Rim Trail to return to your car (that, or get someone to shuttle you between the two points, but really, it’s just a half mile.) You could also park at Sunrise, walk the Rim Trail portion of the loop first, and then descend.
General tips for the trail: it can be chilly in the morning, so make sure to dress in layers. The trail is moderately strenuous (though easier if you choose to go up Queens Garden Trail instead of returning via Najavo Loop), so wear closed-toed shoes. Make sure to bring water in the summer.
Rainbow and Yovimpa Points
Stand at this scenic overlook, the highest in the park, and you’ll immediately see why it’s called Rainbow Point—the red, orange, pink, and gold of the rock formations, the deep green of the trees, and the rich, ethereal blue of the sky all combine to create a rainbow of land and air.
At sunrise, though, it’s mostly the pinks you’ll be seeing as if you’ve been dropped inside a giant pearl with the light of the rising sun gleaming like its gold fastenings.
This neat pair of overlooks, sitting at the end of the road like conjoined twins, provide a pair of stunning-but-opposite views to the intrepid visitors. Rainbow Point looks north, providing a view of the entire length of Bryce Canyon.
You’ll see the spectacular hoodoos unfolding like rolling waves of rock, with the park road draped delicately across the canyon rim. Yovimpa Point, however, looks south.
Here, you’ll gaze far into the distance, across the majestic cliffs of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and, on a clear day, into Arizona, which lies more than 100 miles away. Both locations are beautiful and on our list for the best sunrise in Bryce Canyon.
A short distance away is the Bristlecone Loop, a lovely trail that showcases a special feature—the oldest living trees in the world. The bristlecone pines which line this trail are five thousand, five hundred years old—old enough to have seen the pyramids when they were only saplings, older than Charlemagne, older than Cleopatra, and older than Jesus Christ.
Of all the major overlooks at Bryce Canyon, these are the most exposed. It’s high, windy, and can be cold at times, especially if you’re seeing the sunrise from this pair of majestic overlooks. Rainbow and Yovimpa Points lie right at the end of the road—start your journey there and come back.
The road to the overlooks is closed in winter due to heavy snow, so if you visit anytime from (usually) October through March, you will have to look for another location to view your (chilly) sunrise.
We’ve saved the best for last. If you’ve been looking up photos of Bryce Canyon in anticipation of your trip to this beautiful park, then you’ve stumbled upon a treat. This is truly one of our best spots for sunrise in Bryce Canyon, and certainly well worth getting up early to see the majestic hoodoos be lit up like tongues of flame by the waking sun.
This point is right by Sunrise and Sunset points but is a bit more of a drive from the main park road and is also less popular than either overlook. If you don’t want to drive, it’s a simple, short walk along the Rim Trail from either of the two points mentioned above.
Any Pull-Offs Along the Scenic Drive
So, the official overlooks are too crowded. Well, the good news is you don’t have to stop at the main amphitheater, and you don’t have to head straight for Rainbow Point, either.
There are plenty of overlooks along the way where you can see the light of the rising sun on the spectacular natural sculpture garden that is Bryce Canyon national park. Truly, the best sunrise in Bryce Canyon can be found almost anywhere within the park.
South of the main amphitheater, several overlooks look out onto a vastly different landscape. Gone are the fantastic hoodoos of the main amphitheater, and in their place are dizzyingly steep cliffs, red rock buttes, and sandy canyons. It’s still a wonderful place—or shall we say, a series of places—to see the sunrise in Bryce Canyon.
One thing that many people overlook is that Bryce Canyon has a second park road. The main road is UT-62, but UT-12 runs through the undeveloped northern corner of the park. There’s really only one attraction here, but it’s a nice place to spend the sunrise anyway—Mossy Cave falls is a serene little waterfall where you can watch the sunrise ahead of you, painting the sky from back to blue, then red, and finally, gold.
And that’s our list of the best places to watch the sunrise in Bryce Canyon. Have a wonderful adventure, and happy trails.
Read more about Bryce Canyon National Park:
- Bryce Canyon in Spring: Things to do, Tips, & More!
- Bryce Canyon Photography: 13 Best Photo Spots in Bryce Canyon National Park
- When is the Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park?
- 9 Fun Bryce Canyon Tours for an Unforgettable Trip
- 11 Best Spots to See Bryce Canyon Hoodoos That You Can’t Miss
- Camping in Bryce Canyon: Campgrounds, Tips, & More!