With an elevation of up to 9,000 feet above sea level, Bryce Canyon National Park receives a great deal of snow in winter. You might think that makes winter a poor time to visit, but exactly the opposite is true. The colorful hoodoos are even more spectacular when they are dusted in glistening snow and the best part is there are no crowds in Bryce Canyon in winter. In summer, you have to take a shuttle bus to get around this popular park, whereas in winter, you can drive your own vehicle.
Related: Watch our YouTube video below and check out our post about the best hikes in Bryce Canyon.
Gear Up for Winter Hiking
Winter hiking can be wonderful – if you’re properly equipped. Make sure you dress in warm layers and wear good boots when you’re exploring Bryce Canyon in winter. Ice cleats can be invaluable on slippery trails. We use these ice cleats for winter hiking and they work well. Hiking poles can also provide increased stability when you are travelling down steeper trails. An inexpensive collapsible pair of hiking poles are useful for summer hikes too. There are plenty of ways to explore. For extra fun, consider bringing snowshoes or cross country skis on your next winter visit to Bryce Canyon.
Winter Hikes in Bryce Canyon
If you visit Bryce Canyon in winter, some parts of the park might be closed during your visit. My favorite short hike, the Navajo Loop trail, was closed during our February visit. The part of the Fairyland Loop Trail that includes the Rim Trail was open, so we could look over Fairyland and the views were great. We have visited Bryce Canyon twice in the off-season. Once in November and most recently in mid-February. Most of the trails were open in November, but it was snowing during our February visit and many trails were closed for safety reasons. That said, the fluffy snow made for fantastic photo-ops of Bryce Canyon in winter.
Where to Stay – Bryce Canyon in Winter
Accommodations in Bryce Canyon are less expensive in the off season, therefore, you usually don’t have to book far in advance when you visit Bryce Canyon in winter. We booked America’s Best Value Inn Bryce Canyon during our most recent stay. The hotel was about half the cost of hotels in Bryce Canyon City and it is less than 5 miles away in Tropic, Utah. It takes less than 15 minutes to drive from this hotel to the park. The room was spacious, clean and comfortable. A simple breakfast was included – cereal, milk, toast, bagels, juice and coffee. We thought it was a great value and would stay there again.
Where to eat near Bryce Canyon
If you’re looking for dinner near Bryce Canyon, we recommend Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room at Ruby’s Inn. Located in Bryce Canyon City, it is right outside the park gates. The buffet has a great salad bar and a wide variety of entrees. We eat there every time we visit Bryce Canyon.
Where to shop near Bryce Canyon
We always stop at Ruby’s Inn General Store when we’re visiting Bryce Canyon. The gift shop is huge and they have groceries and camping supplies too. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it’s fun to explore the gift shop.
You’ll need a park pass to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. If you plan on visiting nearby Zion Canyon National Park or any of the nearby national monuments, a US Park Pass will save you money. It’s valid for one year. Annual passes and day passes can be purchased at the park gates.
More Information on Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter or Summer
There’s an excellent Visitor Centre at Bryce Canyon National Park and onsite rangers can answer questions and make recommendations to help you plan your visit. You’ll find more information about visiting Bryce Canyon on the official national park website or the Visit Utah website. You can ask us questions by commenting below.