September 21, 2018

Don’t count fall out if you are planning a trip to Bryce Canyon Country. Fall is a great time to take advantage of the end-of-season rates and experience the trails with fewer day-trippers. Approximately 60 percent of Bryce Canyon visitors come to the park in the warmer, summer months. During autumn, you can enjoy the stunning, natural beauty of the park with cooler weather.

Don’t count fall out if you are planning a trip to Bryce Canyon Country. Fall is a great time to take advantage of the end-of-season rates and experience the trails with fewer day-trippers. Approximately 60 percent of Bryce Canyon visitors come to the park in the warmer, summer months. During autumn, you can enjoy the stunning, natural beauty of the park with cooler weather.

Here is a list to five planning tips to jump start your fall trip to Bryce Canyon.

1. Getting there

Although, Bryce Canyon Country has its own small airport, the area is also readily accessible by Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and McCarran International (LAS) in Las Vegas. These two hubs are serviced by major international and domestic carriers.

Nearby St. George, which is a few hours south of Bryce Canyon Country, has a regional airport (SGU). Direct flights to and from Los Angeles International (LAX), Denver International (DEN) and Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) airports are operated daily and year round.

Bryce Canyon tour operators provide diverse packages that allow you to see the park as part of a small group. Some tour companies depart from LAS or SLC and have accommodation packages.

If you are planning on driving, expect to use Utah’s Highway 12: The primary road to Bryce Canyon Country. The All American Highway, as it’s also known, runs through the the area taking travelers along Red Canyon, by Bryce Canyon National Park, through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park and up into Dixie National Forest.

Highway 63 veers south from Highway 12 giving you access to most parts of the national park. A shuttle service in Bryce Canyon City operates through October. This travel options is encouraged in the busier summer months. Although optional, using the free shuttle services is the best way to access the park as parking is limited at the overlooks. You can catch a ride at the shuttle station near Ruby’s Inn, just outside the park. There are multiple stops along the park rim where you can hop on or off.

2. Staying there

Cabins. Yurts. Lodges. Luxury hotel rooms. Bryce Canyon Country has lodging options as diverse as the travelers that cross its threshold. Visitors in fall have an abundance of choices that can be found in the smaller communities and towns in Garfield County. After a long day of adventuring, these towns make great basecamps for stays spanning multiple days. The town of Panguitch is close Dixie National Forest and offers a variety of lodging choice including shared housing. A bonus to travelers who stay in Panguitch is the many registered historic places.

History buffs, however, will appreciate staying at Bryce Canyon Lodge and Deluxe Cabins, just a short walk from the iconic Bryce Amphitheater. Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed the lodge to look rustic. The original structure still stands and dates back to 1925, when tourism was first developing in the area.

Antimony Mercantile RV Park located in the town of Antimony is open year-round. The town is located in-between Dixie National Forest and is appreciated for its Old West feel. Quaint and romantic, Rockin R Ranch is surrounded by rolling hills, ponds and meadows. The 1,000-acre working dude ranch is right by the East Fork Canal.

3. What to eat

A variety of dining options are available near the park and in the surrounding towns. With food options for everyone, there is little excuse for poor eating during the vacation. Bryce Canyon Country is a great opportunity for your inner foodie to explore mom-and-pop diners, fine dining, coffee shops, wood-fired pizzas and cowboy campsite menus.

Fine dining aficionados can appreciate the thought Stone Hearth Grille in Tropic, places on the ambiance and its menu. Open from March 15 until October 31, the dinner-only restaurant serves grass-fed steaks sourced from cattle and other options. Guest can have an intimate setting inside the dining room near the fireplace or enjoy outdoor dining with panoramic views of the mountains.

IDK Barbecue started out as a food truck, but now also has a storefront in Tropic. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., this BBQ restaurant serves slow roasted meats including pulled pork, beef brisket and chicken thigh. It also offers a variety of sides featuring macaroni and cheese, potato salad, baked beans, creamed corn and coleslaw. This is delicious barbecue food at its finest.

This year marks the second year in a row for Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder to be named James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist. Opened from March through November, this award winning restaurant sources its ingredients from the owner’s garden. Hell’s Backbone offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as many vegetarian and vegan specialties. Expect a doggy or two as the restaurant is pet-friendly.

4. Pack warmly

At elevations of 1,000 to 8,000 feet, the end-of-summer weather in Bryce Canyon Country equates to crisp, cool air and a blue, clear sky. Tranquil weather during this time of the year in Bryce Canyon can mean snow or frost at night time. For the fall of 2018, expect the average temperature in Bryce Canyon to be between 70℉ to 38℉.

Check the weather before but a mix of summer wear with warmer pieces for layering can help combat the diurnal temperature shifts. A basic pack list for fall weather should include hiking boots, socks, sweaters for layering, pants and waterproof outerwear. Refillable water containers and a few snacks are always good items to pack just in case you decide on an impromptu stop or hike.

5. What to do

Fall Equinox No vacation is complete without stargazing. September 22 is the fall equinox, which is the start of autumn. Fall officially begins when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. The sky is so dark in Bryce Canyon Country that you experience both the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy, which is more than 2 million light years away.

Clear nights in Kodachrome State Park can give photographers spectacular images of the night sky with the sandstone and sandpipe columns in the foreground. Capitol Reef National Park was designated an “International Dark Sky Park.” The designation comes from the park being free from artificial light. For those seeking to sleep under the stars, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is the place to be. What’s more, you get to experience the sky the way many did before light pollution made our galaxy difficult to see for two thirds of Americans.

Running

The maze of spires, fins and pinnacles make Bryce Canyon Country a boon for runners and walkers alike. Sage and ponderosa pine trees dot the trails of Fairyland Canyon, a trail for moderate runners. The 5.5-mile loop is located inside the northern part of the park. Most of the trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Runners and walkers can bask in the colors of the changing leaves during fall.

Nature

Although nature’s magnum opus exists in the spires, pinnacles and eroded sand clusters, the Bryce Canyon flora and fauna stagger the imagination and are not to be missed. Some plants in the region are among the oldest living organisms on this side of the American Continental Divide. Bristlecone pine trees in the region have been known to live for 4,500 years. The oldest documented tree in Bryce Canyon was conservatively estimated to be 1,600 years old.

Bryce Canyon Country has much to offer if you are planning on enjoying serenity and adventure during fall. Rates are low and overviews that were busier a few weeks ago are now more empty. The trees are getting ready to bring out their brilliant hues and the weather is perfect, so don’t miss your “Day Trips for Days” and come to Bryce Canyon Country.

Categories: Bryce Canyon Camping Night Skies Scenic Byway 12