15 Things to Bring to Bryce Canyon National Park
We have been lucky enough to visit quite a few of our National Parks in our travels, and Bryce Canyon National Park is in the top 5! The stunning views, the hoodoos and the hikes transform you to another place- Bryce is unique in the entire world- there is no other place quite like it. I love that Bryce Canyon gets you out in the middle of nature When you drop down into the canyon on any one of the many hiking trails available, you are immersed in the place. Instead of looking down on the hoodoos like the casual observers above, the hoods now look down on you. You really get in and among them, and the experience is surreal and other-worldly.
Even for the casual visitor, this place is spectacular. Outside the awesome scenery, you may spot a prairie dog by the side of the road, or watch a herd of deer munching grass …right in front of you!
We spent an entire month exploring, hiking and biking through this magical park. If you have kids, check out the Junior Ranger program, it is awesome! There is also a program where you can earn gifts by locating several badges that are hidden throughout the park.
As a mom I want to keep my kids active during the day so at night they will sleep soundly. Bryce Canyon National Park makes that happen! This park is a hikers paradise- you getting out and walking for most of the day. We loved exploring Bryce Canyon National Park and all the area has to offer. If you are interested in which hikes to enjoy, here are our recommendations.
When going out to visit Bryce, you want to make sure you have the right supplies with you. Not only is the park unique- but so is the climate, so you want to be prepared for anything. Here is some useful information and a list of everything you should bring to Bryce National Park.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Bryce Canyon?
We were lucky enough to visit Bryce Canyon National Park in April so the crowds were non existent and the temperatures were only in the 60/’70’s so it was not too hot out when we hiked. Even in the summer, the elevation helps keep temperatures down – so it does not get quite as bad as, say Zion National Park. Crowds are smaller in the shoulder months of April and October- the summer is busiest. Winter in the park is quite beautiful but the weather can be a bit unpredictable.
No matter when you visit, we recommend hiking early in the morning. The crowds will be much smaller- plus you get the added benefit of watching the sun come up if you get there early enough- the sunrises are spectacular. We did it with the kids one morning and it was amazing, but cold! You definitely want to bundle up. We brought this handy picnic blanket so we weren’t sitting directly on the cold ground.
How Long Does It Take To Get Through Bryce Canyon?
Let me preface this by saying Bryce Canyon is NOT a place you should rush through. We stayed at Bryce for a whole month and still felt like there was stuff to see! Having said that if you don’t have a lot of time to spend at Bryce Canyon, it should take about 3 hours to drive through the park to check out the 13 viewpoints along the parks 38-mile scenic drive.
Again I recommend getting there early in the morning to by-pass the crowds and get a parking spot close to some of the hiking spots or the visitors center. The bus system at Bryce is really good, so parking at the bus stop or Visitors Center is a recommended. The parking at many of the viewpoints gets quite packed in summer.
What Should I Wear?
There is a lot of walking/hiking to be done at Bryce Canon so we would suggest comfortable clothes and walking shoes. The temperatures can get hot so we recommend hats for everyone in the family. We purchased these for our kids at the time and they worked great. Friends of ours used these for their younger kids and raved about them .
Please remember that if your plan is to be there from early morning to late at night, the temperatures will change. We recommend wearing a long pair of pants with shorts underneath so you can easily change and a fleece for the morning/evening time. We tried to park close to where we would hike so we could eat breakfast and then change our clothes to minimize hiking cargo. Bring along a couple of tumblers for hot coco or coffee of you are there in the morning.
I received this mug as a Christmas gift and it keeps my tea super warm for hours, to the point where I have to actually open the lid to allow it to cool so I can drink it. No kidding!
It works great for travel days as well and keeps the tea hot for hours. So when it gets to that point in the day where Frank and I need to recharge- we are all set. Thanks Contigo!
A list of Essentials You Will Need At Bryce Canyon
Allright so let’s get into what exactly you need to bring with you during your visit to Bryce Canyon National Park!
As you would expect at Bryce Canyon temperatures will rise through the day and it gets hot down in the canyon. You NEED lots of sunscreen. Did I mention how hot it gets! I like this one because it’s lightweight, water-resistant and oil-free. I always buy the 3 pack and re-order when I have one bottle left so I never run out.
2. Bug Spray
It’s summer, it’s hot and the mosquitoes are out, you will need bug spray. This is my favorite kind, the kids don’t hate it when we spray them so that works for us and so far it has been highly effective. Again I order the 3 pack so I never run out of these either. Mosquitoes LOVE Aine and I so we need to be sprayed anytime we set foot outdoors.
3. Hand Sanitizer
I always have hand sanitizer in the truck, the RV and my backpack because you just never know. My kids are always touching things so I like to have a bottle of hand sanitizer with me at all times. It is really nice to have on hikes because the kiddos touch everything and then want to eat…with their hands…you get the picture.
5. Water Hydration Packs For The Adults + Kids
We had regular back packs for years and carried multiple bottles of water, so you can imagine how heavy the backpacks were. I honestly don’t know why it took us so long to convert to a water hydration backpack!
Once we switched to the water hydration backpack for Frank, it made such a difference on our hikes that we went out and bought them for everyone. The kids loved being ‘in charge’ of their own water. It’s always a laugh to see Conor put his foot up on a rock, striking a manly pose, and drink from his water hose! Such a little MAN!
If you are carrying younger kids on your back, you would need one of these fanny packs instead. I like the idea of having easy access to snacks, so I may end up getting one of these packs for myself.
6. Cold Mugs For Water
As mentioned earlier we like to keep some tumblers back in the truck so when we get back from our hike, we know there is cold water waiting for us. I bought ours at Sams Club and I love them, they keep our drinks nice and cold. There is nothing better than arriving back at the truck knowing there is cold water waiting for you.
We always fill ours up with lots of ice so the water is still cold when we get done with our hike. This mug is very similar to the one we have, except this one has a straw which I like. It holds a LOT but still fits in the cup holder.
7. Snacks To Keep You Going
Purchasing snacks at most National Parks can be expensive therefore we recommend that you bring your own. I like to buy peanuts, in bulk I usually get mine at Sams Club but you can also get them on Amazon. Then I will purchase an additional packet of chocolate covered stuff (technical name) and put them together to make trail mix. Add raisins, other nuts, granola – whatever we choose. If you want to save yourself the hassle, you can get yours pre-mixed, like this Happy Belly mix.
I also bring a pack of gummi bears or something similar to motivate everyone on the way back. Some of the hikes are pretty steep, these worked great and kept everyone happy.
We tried to do too much on our early hikes until finally we learned to take our time and take breaks often, this worked much better with the kids. On the different breaks we enjoyed some snacks to keep everyone motivated. Cheeze-Its, crackers and cheese, hummus and chips and granola. Sometimes it seems like the kiddos look forward to the snack breaks more than the hikes!
8. Portable Charger So You Don't Miss A Thing
There is nothing worse than coming across a stunning view or your kid finally smiles. You know, an actual smile-and your battery dies! This portable charger will allow you to charge your phone or camera quickly and it fits right in your pocket or your can hang it from your backpack with a carabiner.
9. Notepads For The Kids
Watching my 6 year old (at the time) take our her little notebook and start making notes by a thermal in Yellowstone National Park was one of the greatest moments. She drew a picture and made notes about her observations. I was even more floored when big brother saw her doing this and did the same. I think I had picked up a set of small notebooks at a dollar store and she had found them in the truck. They ended up using several notebooks for all their observations. These are very similar to the ones I bought.
10. Junior Ranger Vests
Our kids love nothing more than doing the Junior Ranger programs at every single National Park we go to. They each received a junior ranger vest for their birthdays and loved attaching their badges to them. The “Official” vests are expensive $30, so these work great as an alternative.
11. Good Hiking Shoes
We drove up and parked at Inspiration Point when we first arrived at Bryce Canyon and planned to walk out a little bit. Within a few steps we realized that we needed hiking boots NOW. If you plan to do any kind of hiking around Bryce you will need the right shoes.
We bought these for our kids, they were super comfortable, as in no moaning on any of the hikes we did, so that’s a win in my opinion:
For me, I prefer more of a runner than a hiking shoe so I got these awesome trail runners from Asics. I absolutely LOVE them and they have really strong grips. They were light as anything and fit perfectly from the get-go.
Frank found this pair of Merrells on sale at a local sporting goods store in Utah. They are a little less traditional and he has also really enjoyed them. They are really lightweight and comfortable.
We tend to bring our own food with us when we visit places for several reasons. Food at the cafeterias is usually not the most healthy – burgers, chicken fingers, etc. (Blech) It also tends to be expensive and a bit hit-or-miss as far as taste goes, AND I have a picky eater! Packing lunch is easier all the way around.
We have two coolers – one that fits nicely between the seats of the truck, and a backpack style that we can take with us on the trails if we are going to be out a while.
This one fits in the truck and has lasted us for years now. It has been pulled in and out of the truck for the past four years and it’s still going strong. BONUS- while on the road it doubles as a dog bed for Gypsy!
We wanted something that we could throw over our shoulder and take with us if we weren’t going on too strenuous a hike. It has an insulated top pocket that I use for snacks and several other similar pockets that can be used for phones, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer etc.
I was shocked at how much food I was able to fit in this backpack. We used it at Jacksonville Zoo and I knew it would be a long day so I had a lot of food and drinks packed and it kept everything cool all day long. It was not a big deal to carry around either, which is a huge plus for us. Since then we have used it a lot, it’s nice not having to pull a cooler behind you.
When we planned our trip through Utah and Yellowstone, we decided to get binoculars for the kids so they would stop borrowing ours basically. During our first trip to Yellowstone, we came across a crowd watching a grizzly bear sleep (no kidding), by the time I got the binoculars back, he had moved on!
I was not going to let that happen again. These binoculars are awesome, the strap helps to make sure they stay on and the box keeps them safe in the RV. We had a couple of questions when we purchased them and I must say their customer service was phenomenal.
15. Camera + A Memory Card
You will want to take lots of photos on your hikes. LOTS of photos! Bryce Canyon is a series of one incredible view after another. You will need good zoom capability and high megapixels. We have had the earlier version of this camera for years and have absolutely love it. It is not the smallest camera out there – it is about the size of a VERY small SLR. But the zoom and resolution is so worth it. The camera we have has 32x zoom and 16 megapixels. This newer version had 40x zoom and the same megapixels. The pictures it takes are fantastic- without having to lug around all of those lenses.
We took this video of a grizzly bear while watching animals at Yellowstone National Park plus a ton of other pics. You can find them on our Facebook page. Most of the photos on our site were taken with this camera.
Above all take your time, if you’re traveling in the summer there will be crowds, be patient and if you see a traffic jam ahead, get your camera ready as it is likely there is an animal sighting ahead.
Be sure to check out our other Bryce Canyon article where we talk about awesome things you can do while at Bryce Canyon.
Have you visited Bryce Canyon, what else would you add to this list?