We stayed just a mile outside of Bryce Canyon National Park at free National Forest land there. Our spot was within walking distance to town, there were a few other RVs and tents around, we saw a few pronghorn around our site, and there were some trails nearby as well.
We started our visit to Bryce like we start most National Park visits these days, with a visit to the Visitor’s Center to check out the history of the park, learn a few things, pick up Jr Ranger booklets, and watch as much of the movie about the park as our kids can sit through.
We then hopped on the shuttle and caught some views of the park. Bryce is interesting, because from the main road, it just looks like normal forest land, then when you head to the lookout points, that is where the magic happens. Bryce has many cool hoodoo rock formations that look like crowns, or natural castles. It is also an accessible park, in that it takes a short hike to make it down to the floor of the canyon and walk among the hoodoos.
Our first hike on this trip was supposed to be the Navajo loop trail, which is a popular hike from Sunset to Sunrise point. We walked the switchbacks down to the Canyon floor, and enjoyed the sights along the way. When we got to the point where we would head back up the mountain on the loop, we saw a sign that that side of the loop was closed. Ty decided he wanted to take the longer Queen’s trail instead of walking back the way we came, so we of course obliged. This hike all together was about 2.5 miles, but with the steep climb at the end of this trail, it was challenging for me and the kids, and El had to be carried up the mountain for extra work for David as well. This trails was a great one though, and after being at the Grand Canyon, it was a lot of fun to be at Bryce where the canyon floor was accessible to us, and others hiking with kids. We saw lots of families on this trail too, so we weren’t the only crazy ones out there that day. Walking the rim trail from Sunrise to Sunset point is also a beautiful, and easier, walk!
That night, we splurged, and ate at Ruby’s Inn (the epicenter of activity and all you need in Bryce) at the Cowboy Buffet. The food and dessert at the buffet was pretty good, and after dinner, we walked down the street to the rodeo that you can buy tickets for Wednesdays through Saturdays. It felt like an authentic country experience, and the kids really enjoyed it. We were a little conflicted about the treatment of animals at the rodeo (all normal for a rodeo I am sure), and the many kids that were riding the animals as one was thrown from a horse, and another appeared to be very hurt after riding a small cow. I know this is a way of life for these cowboys and cowgirls, though it was all new to us. Overall, it was a fun night and a cool experience.
Ruby’s Inn is about a mile and a half outside of the entrance to the park, and has a hotel, campground with RV, tent, and teepee sites, laundromat, small souvenir and grocery store, small old town across the street, and multiple restaurants. There is also a general store, campgrounds, coin operated laundromat and showers, and a pizza shop that operates seasonally in Bryce National Park as well.
On our 2nd day at Bryce, David hiked the Fairyland loop trail for a longer hike early in the morning. Since it was Sunday, we all then headed into the park to enjoy a nice, small church service in the lodge where there is also a restaurant. After that, drove north in the park stopping at almost all of the view points along the drive. In the afternoon, we headed outside of the park to an area that is still part of the park, yet outside the entrance right off of 12. We hiked the Mossy Cave Trail there, and it is a short hike that is not to be missed. The mix of colors there was amazing, and the clear creek, waterfall, and sections of hoodoos outshine the small mossy “cave” by far. We hiked down behind the waterfall a bit as well. We loved this hike and definitely recommend it (pics below)!
We wrapped up our short visit to Bryce by seeing the Prairie Dog field where a deer was visiting, and visiting Fairyland Point, and Sunset Point to take in the colors of the sunset over the hoodoos. The sun sets on the other side of the park though, so there may be a better place to catch that!
We definitely agreed after these few short days that it is true what they say, “There is no where in the world quite like Bryce!”