by Matt, Oct 2021
We’ve been to Bryce Canyon many times and we want to help you enjoy your trip to Bryce. In this article, we’ll help you understand how to get around Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon is a small national park and is very easy to navigate. There are two main areas of Bryce: 1) The Amphitheater, which contains the highest concentration of hoodoos (rock formations), and 2) the Scenic Drive, a north-south road traversing the entire length of the park and has 7 viewpoints along the way. You can drive both sections. You can also use the free shuttle in the Amphitheater section.
Keep on reading to find out more details about getting around at Bryce.
Does Bryce Canyon have a shuttle?
Yes, Bryce Canyon has a shuttle system, just like Zion and the Grand Canyon. It’s a very nice system that has been in place for over 20 years.
The Bryce shuttle system is like the Zion shuttle system in that there is only ONE LINE, so you never have to transfer to another shuttle. The Grand Canyon, on the other hand, covers a much larger area and has multiple shuttle lines.
Does it cost anything to use the shuttle?
No! The Bryce Canyon shuttle system is free to use.
Do I still need to pay the park entrance fee if I take the shuttle?
Yes! You still need to pay the park entrance fee, which is $35 and is good for a week. You can also buy an annual pass — recommended if you’re visiting multiple parks on your trip — for $80 and it’s good for a year.
If you board the shuttle outside the park, they’ll ask to see your park pass before you board.
How often do the shuttles run?
The Bryce Canyon shuttles run every 15 minutes. So you never have to wait very long for the next one to come.
And you know what is cool? They have a shuttle tracker you can pull up on your phone to see how far away the next shuttle is!
Does it service the entire park?
No! The shuttle begins in Bryce Canyon City (outside the park), enters the park, and services the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. The Amphitheater is the central portion of the park with the most rock formations (called hoodoos).
The Bryce Canyon shuttle does NOT service the 18-mile Scenic Drive.
HOWEVER, the park offers a free Rainbow Bus Tour twice daily at 9:00 am and 1:30 pm. The drive out and back is about 3 hours long and you need to call them to reserve your spot 48 hours in advance at 435-834-5290.
How many shuttle stops are there?
There are 15 shuttle stops. Notice that the route goes inside and outside of the park, in Bryce Canyon City. There are shuttle stops at the two major hotels and the one major campground in Bryce Canyon City.
Where do I park to get on the shuttle?
Park in Bryce Canyon City right next to the Shuttle Station (#1), or you can drive into the national park and park at the parking lot across from the Visitor Center (NOT the Visitor Center parking lot).
Again, if you’re staying at Ruby’s Inn or Best Western Plus Grand Hotel in Bryce Canyon City, you can just leave your car at the hotel and catch the shuttle out front.
Can I drive into Bryce Canyon National Park?
Yes! You can drive into the canyon, and most people do. However, the park encourages you to take the shuttle if you’re visiting the Amphitheater section of the park, for two reasons:
- To reduce air pollution (Bryce is in a very remote area and has some of the best air quality in the country).
- Parking lots near the Amphitheater fill up early.
Should I drive or take the shuttle?
The shuttle is a breeze! If you’re visiting the amphitheater, take the shuttle because parking will be difficult to find.
But if you’re watching a sunrise, you’ll need to drive and park by the Amphitheater because the shuttle doesn’t start running until 8:00 am.
For the Scenic Drive, you’ll need to drive your car. You can take the Rainbow Bus Tour mentioned above but I’ve never done it so I can’t rate the experience.
Where can I park at Bryce Canyon?
Park anywhere on the Amphitheater loop if you can find open spots. It typically fills up by 8:00 am during the busy season.
While on the Scenic Drive, there are pullouts at each viewpoint, and spots are typically available, or will be available shortly because people don’t stop for long.
There is a parking lot at the Visitor Center, but it’s only for those visiting the Visitor Center, so it has a time limit (I think it’s one hour).
Does it cost any money to park?
No, it does not cost to park anywhere in the park or in Bryce Canyon City, including the shuttle stop.
How long is the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive?
The Scenic Drive is 18 miles from the Visitor Center to Rainbow Point. Bryce Canyon is a one-way in, one-way out park, so you must turn around at Rainbow Point.
How long does it take to drive the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive?
It takes about 30 minutes to drive the 18-mile Scenic Drive from the Visitor Center to Rainbow Point. Adding stops at the scenic viewpoints and the drive back, allot 2-3 hours for the Scenic Drive.
Lean towards 3 hours if you hike the 1-mile Bristlecone Loop at Rainbow Point.
TIP: Drive to the end (Rainbow Point) first, then hit the viewpoints on the way back. That way, you’re turning right into the viewpoints, rather than left across traffic.
What can I see on the scenic drive?
There are 7 scenic viewpoints along the drive. Mostly these are spots to get out of your car and look at forested areas mixed with hoodoo rock formations.
Each one is like a mini-amphitheater, and you’ll see formations like Natural Bridge, the Hunter, and the Rabbit.
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.