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The best way to enjoy and experience Bryce Canyon with kids is out on the trail. While the views are spectacular from up along the rim, make sure to take some time to hike down into the canyon and get up close with the hoodoos that make Bryce Canyon so fun with kids.
Best Time To Hike Bryce Canyon With Kids
The best time of year to hike in Bryce Canyon is from April to November. This is when the weather is best and the snow is hopefully all gone (yes, Bryce canyon gets a good amount of winter snow even though it’s in the desert). In the summer, the temperatures are warmer, but rarely does it get over 85 degrees, so hiking here is great even in the heat of summer. In the winter, plan on bringing snowshoes for hiking in Bryce Canyon with kids, or even cross country skis to explore the trails above the rim.
Best Family Friendly Places to Stay at Bryce Canyon
We visit Bryce Canyon A LOT and have stayed at so many different places over the years. Here are some of the best family friendly places to stay at Bryce Canyon:
Ruby’s Inn: This is always our favorite place to stay with kids at Bryce Canyon. The rooms are basic, but the atmosphere of Ruby’s Inn is just so fun. Of course, it indoor pool is always a hit and our kids visit daily whenever we stay there. Ruby’s Inn books up FAR in advance to make reservations ASAP.
Bryce Canyon Resort: We love staying here because it’s close to the park, affordable, and they have rooms that sleep 6. The kitchenettes are handy too for making lunch and dinner (breakfast is included and pretty good).
Bryce Glamp and Camp: This new glamping resort at Bryce Canyon is amazing. The glamping domes are super cool, and we love that inside it’s basically like a little domed house. This is one of the few glamping options in Utah that sleeps 4 (most only sleep 2), so it’s great for families!
What To Wear Hiking In Bryce Canyon
If you are hiking in Bryce Canyon with kids, what you wear can really impact how well your day goes. Here are our essentials that you need to wear, regardless of the weather to help eliminate whining on the trail:
Hydration Pack: These are a lifesaver when hiking because it gets kids (and adults) to drink so much more water, which is so important. Check out our review of the best hydration packs for kids.
Note: on our most recent trip to Bryce, one of our kids didn’t have their hydration pack and just used a water bottle. He drank less than ½ of what his siblings did and the dehydration was really showing in his energy levels by the end of the day.
Good Hiking Shoes: The trails at Bryce Canyon are often steep and have lots of sand and loose rock on them, making them an easy place to slip. Make sure that your kids have good hiking shoes with lots of traction to give them a better footing as you hike into the canyon. Check out our review of the best hiking shoes for kids.
Hat: Whether you prefer sun hats or baseball caps, the fact is that you need to be wearing a hat here for sun protection. Check out our favorite kids hats here.
Sunscreen: Although Bryce Canyon doesn’t get blazing hot, you are at a very high altitude and your risks of sun exposure are VERY HIGH. We like this sunscreen for kids since it rubs in easily and doesn’t sting kids eyes.
Also Read: What To Pack For Southern Utah
“I Hiked The Hoodoos” Medallion Program for Hiking Kids
To encourage family hiking in Bryce Canyon, the Parks service created the “I Hiked The Hoodoos” program. It’s basically a big hiking treasure hunt and worked wonders for getting our kids to hike just a little more when they started to complain.
There are 9 medallions that you can find throughout the park on different hikes. If you hike to 3 or more medallions, you can get a prize at the visitors center. Simply take a photo of the medallion or bring a pencil and paper and create a pencil rubbing and show that to the rangers for proof that you visited them (there is a spot in the junior ranger books for this).
Best Hiking Trails In Bryce Canyon For Kids
Hiking Bryce Canyon with kids is seriously so much fun. The geology is so unique that it’s truly fascinating and really captivates the kids attention and helps motivate them to hike more, because you never know what the view is going to be like just around the next corner.
Queens Garden Trail
Distance: 1.8 Miles
The Queens Garden Trail is a popular Bryce Canyon Trail that takes you off of the rim at Sunrise Point and down into the canyon. This is one of the best trails into Bryce Canyon since it has a more moderate incline than some of the other trails that are much steeper. We like the Queens Garden trail for kids because it gives a great view of the canyon as you descend so that you can see various canyons, towers, and lots of hoodoos.
For a little bit longer hike, we recommend combining this hike with Navajo loop and connecting the two trails at the bottom, and starting at Navajo loop and ending at Queens Garden for the easiest hike out of Bryce Canyon. We almost always do this hike as the full loop with both hikes combined since it’s just so incredibly beautiful, and not much harder for the kids. Once you get them down into the canyon, it’s more shaded so the hiking is easier – either way you go, it’s a long, usually hot, hike out.
Tower Bridge Trail
Distance: 3 miles round trip
The Tower Bridge Trail starts at Sunrise point, but will give you a different view than the nearby Queens Trail. When hiking to Tower Bridge in Bryce Canyon with kids you’ll hike through orange, yellow, and white layers of rock, on a trail that winds around several small canyons. The trail down has a gradual slope the entire way, which means that the whole hike up is uphill, but the slope isn’t too difficult for kids. Well, I should say, most kids – that cute little 3-year-old needed a shoulder ride on the way back.
At the end, hang out and have a snack at Tower Bridge in the shade of the ponderosa pines. We like this Bryce Canyon hiking trail for kids because it has ponderosa pines all along the sides of the trail and our kids love to smell the bark (it smells like vanilla or butterscotch).
Distance: 1.3 miles
The Navajo Loop is the most popular hiking trail in Bryce Canyon and is a must do hike with kids. This kid friendly hike starts with a steep downhill section with lots of switchbacks. We recommend going down Wall Street for the most dramatic views. On your way down, hike past Thor’s Hammer and enjoy hiking through several small tunnels that connect different canyons. The hike is steep getting into and out of the canyon, and with loose rock and sand, it can be slippery. Remember to walk and not run here, so you have better footing on the loose rocks. While the hike is steep, our 4-year-old did it with no problems.
The entire Navajo loop is pretty impressive, though we do recommend that you hike just a little bit farther and combine this hike with the Queens Garden trail at the bottom of the canyon. As a bonus, the hike out of the Queens Garden is much less steep than the Navajo Loop (more trail details next).
Navajo and Queens Combination Trail
Distance: 2.9 miles
This is our top pick for the best hike with kids in Bryce Canyon. It’s not an easy hike, but it’s totally doable with kids as long as you are okay hiking for a while. I did this hike with our kids and even our 4-year-old did it with no problems. The best way to do this hike is to start at Sunset Point and hike DOWN the Najavo Trail (steep) and then connect with the Queens trail at the bottom and hike UP the Queens trail (less steep exit). I like to combine these two trails better than doing each loop individually since it gives you more time exploring Bryce Canyon below the rim and less time climbing in and out (which is the difficult part with kids).
Mossy Cave – best Bryce Canyon hike on a HOT DAY
Distance: 0.8 miles round trip
The Mossy Cave trail is located in the eastern area of Bryce Canyon and is about 10 minutes east of Ruby’s Inn on highway 12. The trail is relatively flat and easy, but the best part of this hike is that is goes alongside a little stream called Tropic Ditch the entire way. This is the best place to play in the water in Bryce Canyon and the best hike on a hot day in Bryce Canyon since you can stop and play in the water. The hike up to the top is really easy and quick, and once you’re there, plan on staying for a while and playing in the stream. This is a good hike to have kids wear some of these outdoor sandals so that they can hike and play in the water in the same pair of shoes for the whole day.
Distance: 1 mile
This easy hiking trail for kids in Bryce Canyon is located at the southern part of the park at Rainbow Point. This is a great way to get the kids out onto the trail, and to let them see some of the ancient bristlecone pines in southern Utah. This is a good hike to take if you want to get to the viewpoints of Bryce Canyon. This is one of the easiest hikes in Bryce Canyon for kids.
Sunrise to Sunset Rim Trail
Distance: 1 mile
This is the best accessible trail in Bryce Canyon and is the best trail for strollers in Bryce Canyon as well. This easy hiking trail takes you along the rim of the canyon from the Sunrise lookout to the sunset lookout and will give you some of the best views of Bryce Canyon. This is an easy hiking trail for kids in Bryce who may need a break from all the dirt trails – this trail is paved for the entire section here. Make sure to spend a little bit of time admiring the views at both Sunrise and Sunset Point lookouts along the trail.
Distance: 1 mile to 11 miles
This is the easiest long trail in Bryce Canyon and has the best views of Bryce from the rim of the canyon. Just like the name suggests, this trail goes all along the rim of Bryce Canyon and is relatively easy the entire way. The trail from Sunrise to Sunset is a paved trail and the rest of the trail is a dirt hiking trail in Bryce Canyon. While the views from the Rim Trail are good, I highly recommend going inside the canyon to really experience the hoodoos and canyons up close. If you are just looking for an ebay Bryce Canyon hike that you can customize to the length you want, this is the best option.
Best Hikes With Kids in Red Canyon
Red Canyon is just east of Bryce Canyon and is located along scenic highway 12. Just like in Bryce Canyon, you’ll get to see some stunning desert scenery, but unlike Bryce, you won’t have do deal with major crowds. We consider these hikes in Red Canyon the best hikes for kids around Bryce Canyon without crowds.
Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Birdseye is a good easy trail for kids around Bryce Canyon that takes you up close to some really spectacular red rock formations. This is a great place to let kids warm up their hiking legs and also to explore a little bit as well. This is also one of the best photography hikes around Bryce Canyon since you’re right next to the rocks. This trail begins at the parking lot just to the west of the visitors center.
Distance: 0.3 miles
The Hoodoo trail starts at the Red Canyon visitors center and does a short loop to take you just up to some nearby Hoodoos. This trail is short and easy and is the best Bryce Canyon hike for toddlers anywhere in the area. If you have kids who want to hike, but can’t make it very far, this is the hike to take them on.
Pink Ledges Trail
Distance: 1 mile
This hike also starts at the Red Canyon visitors center and takes you around to several rock formations. Grab a pamphlet at the visitors center where you can take a self-guided walk along the trail where there are several stops along the trail to teach you about local history and geology. This is the best educational hike around Bryce Canyon for kids.
Golden Wall and Castle Bridge Trail
Distance: 2.1 miles round trip
The Golden Wall and Castle Bridge Trail starts just to the west of the Red Canyon visitors center, but is a more challenging and longer hike than most of the other beginner Bryce Canyon hikes in the immediate area. The views from this hike are stunning and it’s considered the best place to watch sunset in Bryce Canyon from outside of the national park. The trail does have a little bit of exposure in some areas so use caution if hiking with small children.
Distance: 0.3 miles
This short Red Canyon hike will take you up to the top of some rock formations where you can get views of the Sevier Valley to the west and Red Canyon to the east. This hike starts around the Birdseye trail, so if you have a little bit of time, I recommend hiking both of these trails while you’re there.
Tips For Hiking Bryce Canyon With Kids
Want to have a more successful Bryce Canyon family hiking trip? Here are a few tips for success:
- Avoid hiking in the heat of the day. Try and be off the trail between 11-2:30 when it’s the hottest outside.
- Bring along healthy snacks. We love these snacks since the give the kids energy without as much sugar.
- Keep hiking interesting by playing games and telling stories along the trail.
- Get a hydration pack to help kids drink more and stay hydrated better.
- Participate in the junior ranger program. This program for kids is great and gives them an incentive to discover new things on the trail.
Check out our top trail suggestions for Biking With Kids at Bryce Canyon.
Where to Stay At Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is a relatively small National Park, so choosing where to stay is pretty easy. If you’re visiting several different National Parks besides Bryce Canyon, I would save your money for a stay inside a bigger National Park that’s harder to access, like Grand Teton, Yellowstone, or Glacier (where you have to drive over an hour to really get INTO the park). Bryce Canyon is so small that you can stay outside of the park, for a fraction of the price of National Park lodging, but you can get into the heart of the park within 5 minutes.
We stayed at Ruby’s Inn on our last visit to Bryce Canyon and absolutely LOVED IT. The prices were about 1/2 of what we found for lodging inside of the park, and we were literally only 5 minutes away from the Lodge at Bryce Canyon. Ruby’s Inn is great for families with their interconnecting rooms and overall family friendly atmosphere. Out kids spent their time swimming and playing games and we were especially grateful for their well stocked store when we forgot a few essentials.
Ruby’s Inn is set up to be a destination (at an affordable price for families), so you can find everything you need for Bryce Canyon family fun all in one spot. Here you’ll find 3 places to eat (Ebaneezers, Canyon Dinner and Cowboy Buffet – details on all below), ATV Rides, bike rentals, Horseback Rides, and the Soaring Utah experience.
Where to Camp at Bryce Canyon
North Campground Bryce Canyon
This campground in Bryce Canyon has 99 sites and all are first come first served. When we were there mid-week in July, only about 1/3 of the campsites were occupied, so you do have a good chance of getting a campsite there.
Bryce Canyon Sunset Campground
This Bryce Canyon Campground has 100 sites that are all reservable in advance. If you are visiting Bryce Canyon during peak times, plan ahead to get reservations here.
Ruby’s Inn Campground
This campground is right outside of Bryce Canyon and has a great location for camping at Bryce Canyon City. This is a large campground and RV park with full hookups, tents sties and even cabins and teepees for rent. Prices start at around $30 for tent sites.
While you could to the highlights of a couple of hikes in 1 day, we recommend at least 2 days in Bryce Canyon with kids. If you spend 3 days there, you’ll have time to do some of the fun activities just outside of the park as well.
We always recommend Bryce Canyon over Zion. It’s significantly less crowded and there are more kid friendly hikes. Zion requires visitors to use their shuttle during most of the year which can also be particularly difficult for families with kids.
Bryce Canyon is great all year round. It’s at a significantly higher altitude than any of the other Utah National Parks, so it’s typically 10-15 degrees cooler. Even when the heat is incredibly hot in Arches, Canyonlands, or Zion, Bryce Canyon is often cool enough to hike in.
The best toddler hikes at Bryce Canyon are the Rim Hike and The Mossy Cave Hike. If mom and dad are willing to carry them a bit, try the Queens Garden Trail. If you want a hike that they can do on their own and explore around the Hoodoos, head just down the road to Red Canyon and do a few of the short hikes behind the visitors center.
If you encounter wildlife, keep a safe distance and do not feed or attempt to touch the animals. Most animals in the park are not dangerous if left alone, but remember that they are wild. Teach children to respect wildlife and their habitat.
Pets are not allowed on most trails in Bryce Canyon, to protect the park’s wildlife and other visitors. They are permitted on the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, and in the campground, but must be kept on a leash.
Always stay on marked trails to protect both the park’s delicate ecosystem and your own safety. Bring plenty of water, especially in summer, as the dry climate can lead to dehydration, and also dress appropriately for the weather. The weather can shift quickly, so having layers available is always a good idea. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer, and trails can become slick and dangerous when wet.