As St. George residents, you and your family have probably visited Zion National Park a time or two—maybe even more than a dozen times. You love the hikes and views Zion provides you, but since you’ve toured and hiked the area so often, you feel like you’ve seen everything.
With the weekend or holidays approaching, you want to take your loved ones on a new adventure. You crave excitement and grandeur, but where to look for something new?
If you don’t mind a slightly longer drive, head about an hour past Zion and visit Bryce Canyon National Park for a one-of-a-kind vacation. Below, we’ll tell you which activities you and your family can participate in during your next outing.
Take a Hike
Like Zion, Bryce Canyon boasts a number of gorgeous hiking trails that enthrall both novice and experienced hikers. Whether you prefer a casual stroll or an exhilarating trek, consider the following options.
Queen’s Garden Trail
This trail adjoins the Navajo Loop and is less than two miles round trip. On this hike, you follow a path of inclined switchbacks into the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Just remember to wear good hiking shoes and bring a hat with you, since the trail provides little to no shade.
One of the more popular trails, Navajo Loop takes hikers through a 1.5-mile loop. You’ll start at the Wall Street trailhead and work your way to the hoodoos as well. Additionally, you can visit Two Bridges Arch before you head out of the canyon rim.
Scenic Rim Trail
This 5.5-mile hike lets you climb almost 1,800 feet, and it features the only paved trail in Bryce Canyon. Take this path to get an overview of the entire park. You’ll also pass multicolored rock formations throughout the hike. Though this is a relatively easy hike, make sure to keep a good pace to avoid overexerting yourself.
See unique hoodoos from a different angle when you try this hike. This trail lets you journey to different viewpoints where you can see Bryce Canyon’s renowned Top Hat formations. Each of these hoodos has rocks on top that look like top hats.
This trail lies in the southernmost part of Bryce Canyon. You’ll only walk one mile and climb no more than 200 feet to reach your final destination, so this hike is perfect for younger children and inexperienced hikers who still want to partake of the park’s views.
This trip guides you through the forest found in this area of Bryce Canyon. Here, you’ll view sturdy pine trees and other beautiful flora.
Mossy Cave Trail
A nine-mile hike, this trail runs from the Sevier River past Paunsaugunt Plateau. Along the way, you’ll see different types of foliage and maybe even some animal life. And once you make it to the end of the trail, you’ll spot small grottoes and a spectacular rushing waterfall in the middle of the Utah desert.
Drive to Splendid Viewpoints
If you prefer to take the scenic route, consider driving to various viewpoints within this national park. Whether you choose Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, or Rainbow Point, you’ll pass through various overlooks that let you appreciate Bryce Canyon in all its natural glory.
Experience Horseback Riding
Expand your activity repertoire and saddle up. If you’d prefer a different activity to hiking and driving, why not try horseback riding? When you visit Bryce Canyon, sign up for horseback tours such as:
- Red Canyon Trail Rides
- The Red Rock Ride
- Escalante Ledges
- Ruby’s Inn Horseback Rides
For more diverse views, ask the visitor’s center about the Canyon Rides. This tour takes you to the North Rim of Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, so you can view the breathtaking sights of three distinct locations in one trip.
Camp Beneath the Stars
Unpack your tent and sleeping bags from storage and prepare for a magnificent camping trip. When you arrive at Bryce Canyon, you can choose from two campgrounds: the North and the Sunset. But don’t worry. You’ll find these locations close to the visitor’s center, so you won’t have to travel far into the park to reach them.
Since this area is so isolated from big cities—and smog and lights—you and your family can experience stargazing in all its brilliance. Bring a star chart with you and identify constellations in the sky. Don’t forget to pack all the ingredients for a small bonfire and tinfoil dinners as well.
Try Bryce Canyon’s Unique Activities
If any of the excursions listed above don’t appeal to you and your family, consider the following alternatives:
- Scenic tours
- Fishing and hunting
- Helicopter and ATV tours
- Rock climbing and repelling
Rather than settle for a typical family outing to Zion, try something new and adventurous. Spend some extra time in the car and travel to Bryce Canyon National Park to experience some of the scenic routes and unique activities you can only find here.