Planning a Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park: 7 Mistakes to Avoid

There is plenty of information around about planning a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park.  For all sorts of information about what to know before going to Bryce National Park, check out my Bryce Canyon Guide.

The thing is that most of it focuses on what you should do when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. 

This guide is different. I will share with you what you should AVOID doing on your Bryce Canyon visit.  This isn’t meant to scare you.  I think that it’s helpful to be aware of mistakes to avoid when you visit Bryce Canyon National Park.

I’m a national park expert and have extensive knowledge of Bryce Canyon National Park.  I’ve seen many people make mistakes (and I’ll admit I made a few myself!) that have impacted their trip.  So now I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from their (and my) experiences so that you can avoid these common pitfalls.

Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes to avoid when planning a vacation to Bryce Canyon National Park.

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“7 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park”

#1 Only visiting the Bryce Amphitheater

Rock mountains and hoodoos surrounded by trees in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sure, the Bryce Amphitheater is one of the best views in the park, but this is just scratching the surface of what Bryce Canyon National Park has to offer. If you are looking for other places in the park that will give you just as good, if not better views, then I would suggest you head to Fairyland. 

In Fairyland, you will find secluded lookouts, deserted hiking trails, and the epic Tower Bridge, all while avoiding the crowds at the Amphitheater. 

One of the best things to do in this section of the park is Fairyland Point. The shuttle bus doesn’t come to this viewpoint, so it’s a lot more secluded than the ones that give you a view of the Bryce Amphitheater. Here you’ll see Fairyland Canyon, which also has the famous rock formations that Bryce Canyon is famous for.

Another location that you won’t find near the Amphitheater is Mossy Cave. It’s in the northernmost part of the park and has stunning views of the hoodoos (the famous rock formations in Bryce Canyon) and a waterfall that you can hike to. 

Another thing that you can do is to drive the scenic road. Sure, there are plenty of hikes and viewpoints to see, but the scenic road has several key viewpoints away from the main section of the canyon.  I recommend driving all the way to the end of the road and then stopping at the viewpoints on your way back so you don’t need to cross the road.


The Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
The 10 Best Bryce Canyon Viewpoints

#2 Not visiting Zion National Park on the same trip

Road under the tunnel and besides are trees and bushes and red rock cliffs in Zion National Park

I know this article is about Bryce Canyon, but you can drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park in 1.5 hours – they are just 75 miles apart.  So, you should definitely spend at least two days exploring Bryce Canyon, but it would be a shame not to include Zion on your trip, too, since you’re so close.  I recommend 3-4 days in Zion if you have the time, but even one day is worth it.  

Zion has iconic hikes to Angels Landing and through the Narrows, but many other spectacular views, hikes and activities. 


Zion National Park Guide
1-4 – day Itineraries for Zion National Park

#3 Expecting the weather in Bryce Canyon to be the same as in Zion

Red rock formations and below are trees in Bryce Canyon National Park

Speaking of different climates, if you are thinking that Bryce Canyon and Zion are going to have the same weather, then think again. Bryce Canyon has an average elevation of 8,000 feet and gets up to 9,000 feet in some parts of the park.

Zion’s average elevation is just 4,000 feet, which makes it about 10 degrees warmer here year-round. During the winter, Bryce Canyon has an average temperature of about 40 degrees, while Zion’s is around 50. Then in the summer, Bryce Canyon can reach temperatures of about 80 degrees while Zion will reach around 90 degrees.

So, when you are packing for Bryce, make sure that you are packing for the cold because even in the hottest months of the year, it can still get down to freezing temperatures at night.

READ MORE: When Is The Best Time To Visit Bryce Canyon National Park?

#4 Sticking to the rim

Rock mountains and hoodoos surrounded by trees in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Another mistake that a lot of people make is only sticking only to the Rim Trail. There are so many more hikes than just the Rim. If you are able, I really recommend hiking down into the canyon.  Seeing the hoodoos up close and all around you gives you a whole other perspective and appreciation of this incredible place.  It also allows you to see some of the more famous formations, which can’t all be seen from the rim.

My favorite hike is the Queens Garden & Navajo Combination Loop Trail, which will take you into the heart of the canyon so that you can see the hoodoos up close. The total distance of this hike is only 3 miles and has just a few hundred feet of elevation gain. 

Pro tip: this hiking loop in the clockwise direction, which will give you the best views.

Also, keep in mind that hiking down into the canyon means that you are going to have to come back up, so make sure you are prepared to do so! 

Mossy Cave Trail is another trail that I talked about earlier that gives you amazing views from a different perspective.


Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
Best Things To Do In Bryce Canyon National Park

#5 Staying too far away

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon

A problem that a lot of people have at many national parks is not knowing where to book accommodation. You need to book accommodation not just near the national park, but near the main entrance to the national park.

The best place to stay while visiting Bryce Canyon National Park is either inside the park or in Bryce Canyon City, which lies just outside the one and only entrance.

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon is inside the park itself, wand is an amazing place to stay. 

Bryce Canyon City is only a 5-minute drive to the park’s only entrance and Tropic is just a 20-minute drive. The most popular place to stay is Ruby’s Inn (a Best Western), which has motel-style accommodations as well as cabins and a campground. Make sure to book your hotel at least 3-6 months in advance because they fill up quickly.

To get in and around the park, you can either take the free seasonal shuttle bus that has over 15 stops or you can drive around and see the park yourself. The shuttle bus has stops in Bryce Canyon City so it’s super convenient and I recommend this in the busy summer months.


#6 Not having a detailed (and flexible) plan

White Bus passing through the rock tunnel in Arches National Park

With Bryce Canyon being so popular and having so many things to do, having a plan is essential. This is not a park to wing it. There are so many lookout spots and hikes to do here that doing some research ahead of time is crucial. I’ve made the perfect itinerary for your trip that will keep you entertained and busy the whole day, so make sure to check that out.

Another thing to remember is that you need to be flexible with your plan and have backups in case trails are closed or if there is some kind of extreme weather that blocks off a part of the park. This way, you will get the most out of your trip while being able to relax and not just fly by the seat of your pants. 

Check out my detailed Bryce Canyon National Park Itineraries if you want some help with your itinerary planning. They have detailed hour-by-hour schedules with different options for different activity levels.

#7 Not getting travel insurance

A woman and man, and in front of them are piles of rocks surrounded by small trees in Bryce Canyon.

Good travel insurance also covers things like medical expenses, lost or stolen property, trip cancellation, and emergency repatriation. 

Of course, not all insurance coverage is equal and you need to check the policy very carefully to see what is – and isn’t – covered.  If you want to learn more about all this, check out my Guide to Buying Travel Insurance (on my other website) before getting your insurance.

A great insurance option is Travelex.  You can compare Travel Insurance plans here or get a quote right now:

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Additional Planning Resources for Bryce Canyon National Park

Detailed Itineraries for Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park Guide
The Best Hikes In Bryce Canyon National Park
What’s the Closest Airport To Bryce Canyon National Park?
How To Get To Bryce Canyon National Park
How Long Do You Need in Bryce Canyon?
10 Fun Facts About Bryce Canyon National Park
Guide to the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
The 10 Best Bryce Canyon Viewpoints
Best Things To Do In Bryce Canyon National Park
The Best Time To Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

Subscribe to regular updates with tips for planning, travel inspiration and trip ideas and get instant access to the free PDF of this guide:
“7 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park”

Enjoy your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park? Do you have any other mistakes to avoid when planning trip to Bryce Canyon? I’d love to hear about them.  Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more). 

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About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.

He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and most of the national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks. 

Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.

As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including USA Today, Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.

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