May 15, 2014
There are only great views at Bryce Canyon National Park, but did you know that these already spectacular vistas are even better when you’re in the right place at the right time? There are four main viewpoints in Bryce amphitheater.
Sunrise Point: Start your morning at Sunrise Point for one of the most breathtaking views of Bryce Canyon. The viewing point is just off the scenic road, along the canyon rim, about a mile from the visitor center. Sunrise Point offers incredibly colorful vistas at sunrise—hence the name—as the sun casts an early morning glow on the red rock hoodoos. Cast your gaze northeast to see the Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship, incredible rock formations set against the majestic Pink Cliffs and the backdrop of the Aquarius Plateau. Boat Mesa is especially notable, rising 8,073 feet above the Fairyland Canyon floor. The Sinking Ship tips in a precarious reminder of 15 million years of tectonic shifts. Also take note of the Limber Pine’s elegant balancing act on exposed roots on the eroding rim. The early morning light is exceptional at Sunrise Point, making it the ideal location for photography or just enjoying dawn’s peace and quiet. After sunrise, descend the Queen’s Garden Trail 320 feet into the main amphitheater. The 1.7-mile trail is ruled by royal formations such as Queen Victoria and Queen’s Castle, and connects with the Navajo Loop Trail which leads to Sunset Point. Along the rim, it’s just a half-mile walk to Sunset Point and 0.7 miles to Inspiration Point.
Sunset Point: At 8,000 feet, Sunset Point offers dramatic views of Bryce Canyon’s main amphitheater. Stunning any time of day, the hoodoos seem to come alive in a rainbow of color as twilight sets in and shadows wash over the Claron Formation rock. Thor’s Hammer—one of the most well-known formations in Bryce Canyon National Park—towers over the “Silent City” from Sunset Point’s vista. Ancient Douglas fir trees accent the landscape, making it a popular spot also for birds and bird watchers. Sunset Point is located about a mile from the Visitor Center between Sunrise Point and Inspiration Point. The Navajo Loop Trail starts here, descending 550 feet into Bryce Canyon.
Inspiration Point: Three-quarters of a mile south of Sunset Point, Inspiration Point beckons Bryce Canyon National Park’s visitors throughout the day. Beautiful from sunrise to sunset, Inspiration Point was named by early Utah settlers, and it’s easy to see why. From here, the view stretches seemingly forever, as light catches the fins, spires, hoodoos and ever-eroding canyon walls. It’s like Bryce Canyon’s main amphitheater is on fire, glowing with reds, oranges, pinks and more. The Claron Formations Pink and White members are clearly evident here, and Boat Mesa is easily viewed. Bristlecone pine trees of mixed ages dot the red rock cliffs and slopes. Afternoon and evening views are particularly rewarding, as the clear, crisp sky fills with more twinkling stars than you ever dreamed possible. Inspiration Point doesn’t just appeal to humans—animals flock here, too, making it a great spot for wildlife and bird watching.
Bryce Point: At 8,300 feet, Bryce Point offers one of the most sweeping views of the hoodoo-filled red rock amphitheater. Famous for its astonishing sunrise as the sunlight floods the top of the hoodoos with a brilliant burst of light and then works its way down into all but the deepest crevices, this north-facing viewpoint is also beautiful throughout the day. Catch a great view of Boat Mesa and the rich colors of the Claron Formation. Bryce Point is the trailhead for Peek-a-Boo Loop, a strenuous 5.5-mile trail which winds among the majestic red rock hoodoos such as the Wall of the Windows and Three Wise Men formations. Bryce Point is also a popular birding spot; keep an eye out for a rare glimpse of the California condor. The viewpoint is named for Ebenezer Bryce, who settled the area in 1870.
Read more about Bryce Canyon National Park