Our 4,750 mile road trip route for our Utah National Parks and Grand Canyon Adventure is here if you’d like to see our full itinerary.
The route from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to Bryce Canyon is about 6 hours so we arrived in Bryce Canyon City in the afternoon. The route actually took us right past the Jacob Lake Inn where Dave had stayed the night before. If you remember, when we drove to the North Rim on our way to Grand Canyon we stopped at the Jacob Lake Bakery and bought several varieties of cookies. We stopped again on the way out and decided to buy one of each cookie (I think there were 14 varieties!) to share during the drive. Oh my goodness these cookies are awesome! They have all kinds of unique flavors in addition to regular favorites like chocolate chip and oatmeal. The gingerbread one the prize of being our favorite- it was absolutely delicious, slightly spicy and not too sweet. Stop here for cookies if you are ever driving in the area. SO good! The drive itself was very pretty and took us past beautiful Utah scenery.
Best Western Bryce Canyon and Ruby’s Inn
After arriving in town, we checked into the Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. Located right on the border of Bryce Canyon National Park, we really enjoyed our stay here. We had booked a Queen Suite room which felt very luxurious after all the camping we had been doing and the room was very comfortable and nice. After checking in we walked across the street to the Best Western Ruby’s Inn which is a tourist mecca in the area with a hotel, restaurants, large grocery store, campground and gas station. Here we ate dinner at the Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room which was a somewhat of a splurge but a welcome indulgence with good food and a large salad and sides bar. Once full we walked back to our hotel and went right to bed since we planned to spend the next day exploring beautiful Bryce Canyon.
We all slept well in the comfortable room and woke up rested and happy. Also included was a free breakfast buffet which was much better than a typical hotel breakfast with many hot items and tons of other items such as fresh fruit and pastries. There was outdoor seating for breakfast which overlooked the pretty pool area and we enjoyed sitting there in the cool morning air. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you are in the area.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Filled up from the delicious breakfast, we climbed into the car and headed to the park entrance. Because we had a America the Beautiful National Park Pass, we did not need to pay an entrance fee as we drove into the park. Our first stop was the Visitor Center to watch the park information video, pick up Junior Ranger packets for the kids and to get advice from the rangers about possible day hikes. The twins did not want to take a long hike and Dave was still pretty sore from his Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike the day before so they decided to take a leisurely hike around the canyon rim on the Rim Trail and enjoy the views while the older girls and I would take a longer hike into the canyon.
Fairyland Loop Trail
The park rangers recommended we take the 8 mile Fairyland Loop Trail so we had Dave drop us off at the trailhead and we planned to hike the loop and then walk the Rim Trail to meet up with Dave and the twins. We were so glad we took this hike! Bryce Canyon has some amazing formations and this trail showcased some of the more interesting ones. It is also not very crowded, in fact we only saw 4 or 5 people the entire morning of our hike. Compared with the Rim Trail crowded with people the Fairyland Trail felt isolated and quiet. The beginning of the trail descends about a thousand feet and then levels off for most of the way until the end where you climb back to the trailhead. Seeing the rock formations from inside the canyon is a completely different perspective than looking over it and we really enjoyed the scenic views. This park is just unbelievably beautiful.
Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
When we finished the Fairyland Trail, we headed down the Rim Trail so we could meet up with Dave and the twins. The views overlooking Bryce Canyon are breathtaking along this paved and even trail and we took our time to soak it all in stopping at the various overlooks before we finally found Dave and the twins at Bryce Point. They had been having a great time hanging out on the Rim Trail and finishing up their Junior Ranger packets. After stopping for a few more pictures at Bryce Point, we headed to our car to take us back to the hotel to eat dinner before the Bryce Canyon Rodeo.
Bryce Canyon Rodeo
After leaving the park we headed back to the hotel where we swam in the outdoor pool for a couple of hours before walking to Ruby’s Inn to eat dinner at Piccadilly Pizza which we enjoyed. We then bought tickets to go watch the Bryce Canyon Rodeo. We’ve only been to one other rodeo before in Cody, Wyoming while visiting Yellowstone so we weren’t sure what to expect but we were somewhat disappointed and even felt a little bit swindled since the rodeo was very short and had very few participants. Those who did participate were mostly teenagers or even pre-teens and it felt almost like we were paying to watch them practice. It wasn’t a bad experience, just expensive for what it was.
Our trip to this amazing National Park was really fantastic. It was the perfect mix of rest and relaxation combined with hiking and exploring and we all really enjoyed the park. We were coming to the conclusion that Utah has some of the most unusual and beautiful landscapes possible and we were having a blast exploring them!
If you go to Bryce Canyon National Park:
On our road trips, we like to bring books for the kids about our destination to help pass the long car ride and help them learn about where we are going. Some of our favorites that cover many of the National Parks we have visited include National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.: The Most Amazing Sights, Scenes, and Cool Activities from Coast to Coast! and for younger kids National Parks Coloring Book is wonderful. A cute book about camping in general that mentions Bryce Canyon is S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet.
To help plan our trip, we used the National Park website and also read Frommer’s Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks which provided great information about both parks. Two of my favorite books that cover all of the western National Parks and I have used for several roadtrips areNational Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States and Fodor’s The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West. Both are excellent resources. For hiking we carried National Geographic Maps Bryce Canyon National Park, UT which fit our needs nicely. Even with our phone GPS apps, I always carry a paper map to cover for dead batteries, etc. and I also like the kids to use it to help direct our route.
Have you been to Bryce Canyon? Wasn’t it amazing?