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Bryce Canyon is one of the best Utah National Parks for families. Not only is the landscape completely unique, but there is literally so much to do close by, without the massive crowds that you’ll often find at Arches and Zion. Bryce Canyon with kids is a great vacation because the park is relatively small and really easy to get around and can easily be visited in a long weekend from Salt Lake City.
This guide to Bryce Canyon with kids will break down exactly what you need to know before visiting this Utah National Park so that you don’t miss any of the best things to do at Bryce Canyon on your Southern Utah trip.
- Best Activities At Bryce Canyon
- Ranger Led Programs at Bryce Canyon
- Best Hikes With Kids in Bryce Canyon National Park
- Best Hikes With Kids Outside of Bryce Canyon
- Bike Trails in Bryce Canyon
- Biking Near Bryce Canyon
- Where to Stay At Bryce Canyon
- Where is Bryce Canyon Located?
- What Is The Weather In Bryce Canyon Like?
- What To Pack For Bryce Canyon
- Where to Camp at Bryce Canyon
- Best Places to Eat At Bryce Canyon
How Long To Spend In Bryce Canyon With Kids?
Choosing the right length of time for your Bryce Canyon family trip is the first thing that you should decide. While you can do just one day in Bryce Canyon with kids, you’ll miss out on a lot of the amazing things the area has to offer. With 2 days in Bryce Canyon with kids, you’re getting more, but what we recommend more is spending 3 days in Bryce Canyon with kids. We’ve put together a 1, 2 and 3 day itinerary for Bryce Canyon with kids so you can plan a trip that’s perfect for your family.
Best Activities At Bryce Canyon
There are so many things to do at Bryce Canyon National Park, that the big challenge may be choosing what to do. Our kids range in ages from 4-14, and there was so much to do with all of the kids so we feel like Bryce Canyon is perfect for all ages!
I Hiked The Hoodoos Program
This fun hiking activity at Bryce Canyon for kids will get them out on the trail and excited to explore the canyon country. Throughout the park there are several different “I Hiked The Hoodoos” Medallions for kids to find and it makes hiking feel like a treasure hunt for the kids. There are 9 different medallions hidden in the park for kids to find and if they discover 3 of them, they can get a prize at the visitors center. Learn more about the Hike the Hoodoos program here.
Bryce Canyon Junior Ranger Program
The Junior Ranger Program at Bryce Canyon is an excellent program, and our kids loved participating in it. With their junior ranger books, our kids were learning about local geology, native plants, and lots about wildlife. I also love that the junior ranger program teaches kids to be good stewards of the environment and to really protect and take care of our parks. We’ve traveled to lots of National Parks in the western United States and the junior ranger programs and collecting badges is one of our kids favorite activities. This is one of the best free things to do at Bryce Canyon with kids.
We took our kids on a guided ATV tour at Bryce Canyon and they absolutely loved it. This was located just outside of the park boundaries, but we still got some amazing views of inside the canyon rim and it was so cool. We also got to see a whole herd of antelope (including some babies), and also to enjoy some fun off-roading in our ATV. The kids favorite part was when we got to drive through a river at the end and we went really fast and got completely SOAKED. This was one of our family favorite Bryce Canyon activities of our last trip.
While these type of tours are known for being really expensive, we were thrilled that we were charged by the ATV, and not per person, so for our family of 6, it only cost $160 since we could fit into one ATV.
If you want to experience the wild west, what better way than on the back of a horse? Our kids love horses so we were thrilled to learn that you can go on a horseback ride from Ruby’s Inn to the north rim of Bryce Canyon. If you have an animal lover in your family, this is a must-do!
Soaring Southern Utah, Virtual Reality
This was actually one of the coolest activities at Bryce Canyon and only took 10 minutes and $10, so I highly recommend it. Soaring Southern Utah is a virtual reality ride that will take you on a virtual helicopter tour all over southern Utah. As Utah natives, we’ve been to most of the places that they showed on the video and were amazed by how different everything looked from the air. Whether you’re well traveled throughout Southern Utah or not, this is an awesome experience that made us love the area even more.
Note: We also did the Monezumas Treasure VR simulation. It was pretty intense and both my husband and I got motion sick, and it was too scary for young or sensitive kids. Opt for the Southern Utah experience instead.
The Bryce Canyon Rodeo is held from Memorial Day to Labor Day every Wednesday through Saturday at 7pm. If you want to experience a true western event, this is the thing to do. Tickets are $14 for adults and $9 for kids.
Ranger Led Programs at Bryce Canyon
If you really want to learn about Bryce Canyon, then consider learning from the experts, the Bryce Canyon Park Rangers. The park has several programs set up and led by rangers who are experts in the local geology, land formations, wildlife, and conservation. Here are some of the best ranger programs for kids at Bryce Canyon:
Hoodoo Geology Talks
Location: Sunset Point
Time: 11am and 2pm
Meet a Bryce Canyon ranger to learn all about hoodoos and how and why they were formed. This program is great for kids because it teaches a lot about the unique rock formations that kids will see in Bryce Canyon, but it’s also only 20 minutes, so it’s the perfect length to keep their attention.
Grand Staircase Geology Talks
Location: Yovimpa Point
Time: 12:30 and 1:30 daily
This is a great chance to learn from a ranger all about Bryce Canyon and also the entire Grand Staircase that begins here in Bryce Canyon’s walls. If you are doing any other travels in southern Utah, this is a great introduction to the area’s geology. This Bryce Canyon ranger program for kids and families is the perfect length at only 20 minutes.
Time: 10pm, 10:30pm and 11pm Thursday-Sunday
Bryce Canyon is one of the best places to go for stargazing in the western US because there is almost no light pollution in the national park. This ranger led program will give you an in depth look at what you are seeing in the night sky and teach you about major constellations from Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon has international dark sky status, so this is a program that’s worth keeping the kids up late for. Advance reservations are required and the program lasts about 20 minutes.
Best Hikes With Kids in Bryce Canyon National Park
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. Below, we you’ll find a brief overview of family friendly hikes in Bryce Canyon, but for more details, make sure to check out our detailed Bryce Canyon Hiking Guide for all of our favorite Bryce Canyon National Park hikes, and find more hikes in Bryce here.
Distance: 1.8 Miles
Queens Garden Trail
Highlights: Popular trail starting at Sunrise Point and descending into the canyon. Moderately steep slope, good when combined with Navajo Loop. One of the best trails in Bryce Canyon. Get all the details about hiking the Queens Garden Trail here.
Tower Bridge Trail
Distance: 3 miles round trip
Highlights: Downhill for 1.5 miles and then back up the same trail. Hike through several different layers of color in the canyon to reach Tower Bridge. Make sure to check out and smell the ponderosa pines along the way.
Distance: 1.3 miles
Highlights: Most popular Bryce Canyon hiking trail, with steep switchbacks to enter the canyon. Check out Wall street, Thor’s hammer, Two Bridges Trails. Great to hike down and then combine with Queens Garden for the hike up. This is one of the best Bryce Canyon hikes.
Mossy Cave – best Bryce Canyon hike on a HOT DAY
Distance: 0.8 miles round trip
Highlights: Short hike following the Tropic Ditch, with a small cave at the end. Stop and play in the water here on this Bryce Canyon hike for kids on a hot day. Best water hike in Bryce Canyon. Best Bryce Canyon hike for toddlers and preschoolers. Here you can see a Bryce Canyon Waterfall as the water cascades over a cliff. Read More about the Mossy Cave Trail.
Distance: 1 mile
Highlights: Short hike through lots of pine trees giving you views of Bryce Canyon from several lookout viewpoints. This is a great kid friendly hike in Bryce Canyon and one of the most easy hikes in Bryce Canyon.
Sunrise to Sunset Rim Trail
Distance: 1 mile
Highlights: Best Bryce Canyon accessible trail for wheelchairs and strollers. Paved during this section with amazing views of the canyon. Easy hike in Bryce Canyon for kids and adults. This trail has some of the best views in Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon Rim Trail
Distance: 1 mile to 11 miles
Highlights: this Bryce Canyon hiking trail goes along the rim with great views of the hoodoos from above the canyon walls. The Rim Trail Bryce Canyon is offers some of the best views and easy hiking.
Best Hikes With Kids Outside of Bryce 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 hiking in Red Canyon Utah to be some of the best hikes for kids to explore on and enjoy the Utah desert, without the major climbs that are required for many of the hikes into Bryce Canyon. Check out our Bryce Canyon Hiking Article for all of our top hike suggestions that are just outside of Bryce Canyon.
Bike Trails in Bryce Canyon
Biking is one of the best ways to see a lot of Bryce Canyon quickly, and there are lots of great places to enjoy biking as a family in the area. Bikes are allowed on the road, but there is little to no shoulder in many places, so unless you are an experienced road biker, stick to the multi-use bike path. Here are some of our favorite places to bike with kids at Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park Multi-use Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Inside of Bryce Canyon, bikes are only allowed on roads and designated pathways and cannot be taken on any of the dirt trails. The best place to bike in Bryce Canyon is along the trail that leads from Bryce Canyon City up to Inspiration Point. The ride will be slightly uphill for most of the trail, so if you want a downhill ride, start at Inspiration Point and bike down. The Bryce Canyon Shuttles can each carry 2 bikes, so this is an easy and free way to get your bike shuttle taken care of.
Biking Near Bryce Canyon
While bike trails in Bryce Canyon are limited and there is no mountain biking allowed on dirt trails inside of the park, just right outside of the park are some great biking trails that are great for both road biking on paved trails and mountain biking.
Red Canyon Paved Bike Trail
Distance: 15 miles
Highlights: Nice scenic bike trail along Highway 12. Great asphalt. Connects from Thunder Mountain trailhead to Rubys Inn. Nice downhill slope from east to west. Excellent place to bike with kids near Bryce Canyon.
Thunder Mountain, Mountain Bike Trail
Distance: 8 miles
Difficulty: Advanced Riders
Highlights: Difficult trail with incredible views. Great for advanced mountain bikers. One of the best mountain bike trails in Southern Utah.
Cassidy + Rich Loop Mountain Bike Trail
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Highlights: Mellow trail with easy access. Good for advanced beginners who already have some mountain bike experience. If conditions are really dry, be careful on all the loose dirt and sand.
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 Resort 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, 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.
Our family favorite way to wind down after a day of exploring Bryce Canyon with the kids was to head to Old Bryce Town where they had a rock shop, gift store, bakery, and an ice cream shop. Outside there were fun things for the kids to enjoy like wooden horses, a pretend jail and photo props, so if gave my husband and I a chance to relax while the kids stayed entertained.
The lodge at Bryce Canyon is the only place to stay inside of Bryce Canyon if you’re looking for lodging that’s not at a campground. The location here is spectacular as the lodge is located right between Sunrise and Sunset Points, and is just a short walk to the rim of the canyon. If you want the experience of staying inside a National Park, this is the place to go.
Where is Bryce Canyon Located?
Bryce Canyon is really in the middle of nowhere in Southern Utah. It is located 4 hours south of Salt Lake City and 2.5 hours away from St George Utah. If you are visiting all of Utah’s National Parks it can easily be visited from other Utah National Parks. Bryce Canyon is 1.5 hours away from the east entrance of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon is 2 hours away from Capitol Reef National Park.
What Is The Weather In Bryce Canyon Like?
Unlike most of southern Utah, Bryce Canyon is not as hot, thanks to the higher elevation. Expect that if you come in the winter there will be snow on the ground, and in the summer, temperatures are often 20-25 degrees cooler than you will find in Moab or St George. In the summer, the temperatures in Bryce Canyon are often in the high 70’s and 80’s, which make Bryce Canyon the best Utah National Park to visit during the summer.
What To Pack For Bryce Canyon
If you are exploring Bryce Canyon with kids, what you wear can really impact how well your day goes. Here are our essentials that you need to bring with you, regardless of the weather:
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.
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.
Best Places to Eat At Bryce Canyon
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
If you’re looking for fine dining, the best food you’ll find is at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. Their dinner menu is packed full of amazing food like Buffalo Sirloin, Chicken Picatta, and Local Rainbow Trout. The food here is really fantastic, and entrees are around $25-$37/ plate.
Cowboys Buffet and Steak House at Ruby’s Inn
The Cowboys Buffet is the main restaurant at Ruby’s Inn and is one of the best values for your money in the area. The food is pretty good and the portions are generous, which is a major bonus if you’ve worked up an appetite after a long day of adventures. Best of all the prices are the most reasonable around, with kids meals around $6 and entrees starting at $11. If you want a good meal at an affordable price, Ruby’s Inn Cowboy Buffet is the place to go.
Canyon Diner at Ruby’s Inn
The Canyon Diner is a fast food restaurant at Ruby’s Inn and is great if you need something to grab and go, or just want some quick kid friendly food. The food here was fine, but the prices were higher than we would have expected. Kids meals started at $11. For a better value, go next door to the Cowboy’s Buffet.
Dinner and a Show at Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill
If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon and want some evening entertainment, the best place to go is to Ebenezers. Here they put on a nightly dinner and show for local visitors which is the perfect family friendly night out at Bryce Canyon. There are a few options for food including steak, salmon, pulled pork, and chicken, all with your typical BBQ sides of beans, potatoes and coleslaw. While the dinner was good, the true highlight of Ebenezers for families is the entertainment. The Bryce Canyon Wranglers band puts on a big musical performance and show which is great for the whole family. It was a combination of country music, local history and a whole lot of fun. Dinner at Ebenezer can get expensive for a large group ($28-32 per person for dinner and a show), so if you’re wanting to save some money, there is an option to go just for the show.
Whether you decide that you want to go hiking in Bryce Canyon, biking in Bryce Canyon or just enjoy some adventures in Bryce Canyon, one thing is certain – there is no shortage of fun things to do at Bryce Canyon.