image of bryce canyon

by Matt, Nov 2021

Planning a trip to the national parks these days can be a little stressful because they are so crowded! Many national parks are setting visitation records each year.

You may have heard that many popular national parks are moving to ticketed entry or reservations systems. So, is Bryce one of those parks?

Bryce Canyon does NOT require reservations or an advance ticket to enter the park, but you still need to pay a fee or have a national park pass to enter the park. Also, it has a shuttle system, so keep on reading for more details you need to know to have a great trip!

Does Bryce Canyon require reservations?

Some other national parks, like Glacier, Zion, and Yosemite, are experimenting with an advanced reservation system — or “ticketed entry” — to handle the increasing crowds flooding these popular places.

Bryce Canyon is NOT one of these parks. It does not require reservations or an advanced ticketed entry to enjoy this incredible natural wonder!

Do I have to pay to enter?

Yes, you still need a pass to enter the park. You’ll have to pay for this pass unless you meet one of the qualifications for a free pass.

Passes that cost money:

Free passes:

Additionally, the National Park Service has some Fee-Free Days throughout the year.

Where can I purchase a pass for Bryce Canyon?

image of entry booth to bryce canyon
Entry booth

In-Person

The simplest way to get your pass is to purchase it upon arrival at the park. Ordering online might result in extra processing fees or your pass might not arrive before your trip.

At Bryce Canyon, there are two places to purchase or claim your pass upon arrival:

BE PREPARED to show documentation for the following passes:

Online

Online passes are sold on two different websites, depending on the pass you’re buying or claiming.

Which pass should you purchase?

If you’re visiting Bryce, you’re most likely doing it in conjunction with other national parks, such as Zion, the Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, Cedar Breaks, or Arches.

So it makes the most sense to get the America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

How far in advance should I book lodging or camping?

Very quick overview of Bryce Canyon Lodge

While not quite as crazy as other national parks, places around Bryce Canyon still book up early because there aren’t as many accommodations as say, Zion National Park (St. George is located nearby and has tons of hotels).

The two mainstays of Bryce Canyon — Ruby’s Inn and the Bryce Canyon Lodge — start filling up about 8-10 months in advance of the busy summer season (winter, not so much).

If you can’t get a place at one of these popular locations, there are still plenty of places nearby. Also, you can stay in between Zion and Bryce and visit both parks from one location (although we recommend changing hotels and staying near the parks, rather than in between).

For more details, see The Best Places to Stay at Bryce.

Do I need tickets or reservations for the Bryce Canyon shuttle?

image of bryce canyon shuttle

No, you do not need any tickets or reservations for the Bryce Canyon shuttle. The shuttle is free for anyone. Just hop on and hop off.

But, because the shuttle travels both inside and outside the park, you must have your park pass in order to board the shuttle if you’re boarding it outside the park and entering the park on the shuttle.

While not complicated, you still need to know about the shuttle before you go.

Can I drive into Bryce Canyon?

Yes, you can drive into Bryce Canyon. Most people enter the park in their vehicles.

But the parking spots can fill up around the amphitheater, so you may need to use the shuttle to access that section of the park.

Make sure to read our article about how to get around Bryce Canyon before you visit!

Do I need reservations for any of the hikes?

image of hikers in bryce canyon
Queens Garden Trail

No! You might have heard that Zion National Park may require tickets or reservations to hike Angels Landing.

But Bryce Canyon does not require reservations for any of its hikes.

Do I need restaurant reservations?

Typically, do you NOT need reservations for restaurants in and around Bryce Canyon. It’s possible you can use them at the Bryce Canyon Lodge if you decide to eat there, but currently, they are only doing take-out due to COVID. That may change in the future.

Make sure to read our article about the best places to eat at Bryce Canyon.

Are there other activities I should book in advance?

image of people riding horse in bryce

Yes, there are a few popular activities you should consider booking in advance.

image of family riding bikes
We really enjoyed riding eBikes at Bryce!

Can you help me with a game plan for all this?

Yes! Want to know ALL the best sites to see at Bryce Canyon, and have a step-by-step guide for seeing them?

Then check out our itinerary! Not only is this perfect for the first-time visitor, but it includes an audio guide created by me to tell you all about the park! I’m a history professor and love telling the best stories about the parks.

The itinerary will tell you where to go (and how to do it), and you’ll listen to the audio guide while driving to the park and while driving along the Scenic Drive — it’s just like having a tour guide with you in your car.

Check it out today!