Bryce Canyon is a world-renowned destination for good reason. The hoodoos, canyon views, and hiking trails are truly unlike any other place on Earth! People plan visits to the canyon all throughout the year but when is really optimal time?
Short answer: May–September is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park.
Long answer: Though May–September is the optimal season, it's not the only time that's good for visiting the canyon. Bryce and Zion tours are beautiful any time of year; the best time to visit depends on what you want to see and do while you're there. No matter when you visit Bryce Canyon National Park, there's something special to see and do!
Why Should You Visit Bryce Canyon National Park?
Regardless of the season, why should you visit Bryce Canyon National Park in the first place?
Bryce Canyon is quite unique in the world of canyons. It is not carved by a river but, rather, by wind, rain, and ice. Over time, the elements have slowly worn away the rock.
This erosion has created incredible, almost mystical-looking hoodoos and other geological formations, arranged in natural amphitheaters. You can find hoodoos (tall, irregular rock spires) in a range of places but Bryce Canyon has the largest and most impressive cluster of them in the world!
The national park is not just a wonder to look at — there's plenty to do there, too. One of the most popular things to do at Bryce Canyon is to hike the trails to the lookout points. The views are simply breathtaking, giving you the chance to see just how impressive the geology is.
Bryce Canyon offers several other activities for visitors, including camping, horseback riding, skiing, and stargazing. The canyon is also home to many plants and animals, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.
Whether you're looking for an adventure or want to quietly be awed by the beauty of nature, Bryce Canyon is worth a visit!
When Is the Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon?
Knowing the best time to visit can be just as important as knowing how to visit Bryce Canyon. The canyon is open year-round but many argue that it's only worth visiting from May to September. While that is the optimal time to visit, there's beauty in coming back during different seasons and experiencing it differently.
Spring: March to May
Spring is a great time to visit Bryce Canyon as the temperatures are mild and comfortable. Some trails and roads may still be closed due to snow, even into April, thanks to the high elevation of the canyon. The wildflowers slowly begin to bloom, though, adding a splash of color to the Canyon's red rocks!
The crowds are smaller during this time of year (though they start to pick up in May) so you can enjoy the canyon at your own pace!
Summer: June to August
From June to August, the park's trails and roads are all open so that you can access the whole area. Plus, the warmer weather is ideal for activities like hiking and horseback riding. It's no surprise that the canyon is most crowded at this time of year!
You should, however, be aware that the heat can be intense. Temperatures often reach 80–100°F (27–38°C) in July. It's essential to drink plenty of water and take breaks often. You'll also want to avoid being out in the midday sun as much as possible.
Luckily, plenty of ranger-led programs are offered during the evening hours, so you can still enjoy all that Bryce Canyon has to offer without putting yourself at risk!
Fall: September to November
Along with spring, fall is arguably the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. The cooler temperatures make for more comfortable hiking, the smaller crowds mean you can enjoy the solitude of nature, and the changing leaves create a wondrous landscape.
While some trails and roads may be closed due to weather conditions, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore the park and enjoy its natural beauty.
Winter: December to February
Bryce Canyon in winter is a sight to behold. The snow transforms the canyon into a winter wonderland. The crowds are smaller this time of year, as most people don't think of visiting a desert in the winter — it's a real shame!
That said, some trails and roads will be closed due to weather conditions, though cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ranger-led programs are still possible. Plus, you can see the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival and Christmas Bird Count.
Though it's a desert, it can get very cold, with temperatures averaging at about 20–40°F (-7 to 4°C). Make sure you dress warmly!
When Is the Best Time to Visit Zion National Park?
Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park are often visited together as sort of a package deal. With 72 miles (115 km) between them, it doesn't take too long to visit them both.
Is the best time to visit Zion the same as Bryce, though? The optimal May–September window for Bryce widens a bit to April–October for Zion. This is thanks to the difference in temperature. Despite their proximity, the elevation of Bryce Canyon means it can get up to 20˚F (7˚C) cooler than Zion National Park.
Like Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park is worth visiting any time of the year, with a different charm to it throughout the seasons. Regardless of the "best" times, if you're planning to visit one, you should definitely visit the other!
Can You Do a Day Trip from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon?
It will take a bit of planning and efficiency but you can absolutely do a day trip from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon! The distance from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon makes it just suitable enough. The same goes for Zion National Park, too.
You can drive yourself there or, alternatively, you can take a shuttle, charter helicopter, or guided tour from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon.
To really pack some attractions into a tight schedule, consider a tour of Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley, all in just 3 days!
The Bottom Line
For most people, May–September fits the bill for the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. Really, however, it comes down to what you're interested in and which trails are open.
- Want to visit at a time when all the activities are available and trails are open? Visit the canyon in the summer.
- Hate crowds but still want to see and do lots of what the canyon has to offer? Plan your trip for spring or fall.
- Interested in seeing the canyon in a unique way while trying out snow activities? The best season for you is winter.
Keep in mind that temperatures in the canyon can vary widely depending on the season, so make sure to dress and plan appropriately.
Whether you're looking for a winter wonderland or a chance to see the leaves changing color, Bryce Canyon is worth a visit any time of year!