February 1, 2018
Visiting Bryce Canyon during the summer months is fun; however, there is nothing like experiencing a Bryce Canyon winter. The world seems to change under the blanket of sparkling, white snow. Not only does the winter decrease the number of visitors, but it also provides many adventures that may not be available during the summer months. These activities range from snowshoeing to cross-country skiing to ice fishing and beyond.
Although the snow brings new activities, hiking through the areas found in Bryce Canyon Country’s six-day Hiking Itinerary during the winter is amazing. Every place in the itinerary has its own beauty and majesty. Don’t miss out on any of them!
The itinerary provides five reasons to visit Bryce Canyon Country in the winter:
Reason One: Red Canyon
Located just 9 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, Red Canyon will enchant you as the snow shimmers on the red sandstone rocks. The canyon is nestled in Dixie National Forest, which sweeps along red rock hoodoos before wandering up to the lush snow-filled woodlands of the Cedar Mountain forest.
One of the most famous views of Red Canyon is seen from a ridge located on the 7-mile Thunder Mountain Trail. This trail boasts some of the most spectacular red rock formations in all of Utah, passing tree-covered washes to the pink and white limestone cliffs of the Claron Formation. From the top of the trail, you have amazing views of the distinguished snow among the red cliffs below.
Reason Two: Bryce Canyon National Park
The most popular trail in Bryce Canyon is Navajo Loop Trail, which spans 1.3 miles round trip. The hike for Navajo Loop begins at the rim of Bryce Amphitheater and travels down 800 feet through its narrow walls. Navajo Loop intersects Queens Garden and Peekaboo Loop, providing the opportunity to add onto the snow-capped scenic adventure. Another favorite hike is the Rim Trail, which is roughly 4.7 miles one way. The trail begins at the rim of Fairyland Point, passes Bryce Canyon Lodge and ends at Bryce Point. The trail will allow you to take in the snow-sprouting hoodoo towers as they stand majestically and brightly in contrast to the white, powder snow.
The vivid orange hoodoos, frosted by the crystalized snow, present great opportunities to ponder and meditate as you look over Bryce Canyon’s many picturesque viewpoints. Remember, Bryce is open year-round with groomed trails for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Having a blanket of snow on orange hoodoos enhances the grandeur of the area.
Reason Three: Slot Canyons
Experience the colorful Willis Creek and Bull Valley Gorge slot canyons during the off season when people are scarce. These slot canyons were formed by the pressure of water rushing through rock, making the canyons significantly deeper than they are wide. If the area has received a lot of rain, it may be wise to choose a different activity because of flooding in the slot canyons.
Reason Four: Escalante Canyons
Winter is a great time to experience the many hikes found along the Hole-in-the Rock Road because there are less crowds, which is especially nice when you are travailing tummy-sucking tight slot canyons. The towns of Escalante and Boulder have many guides and outfitters to choose from to help you experience the stunning and diverse canyons. Dry Fork Trailhead accesses both Spooky and Peek-a-Boo slot canyons, two of the most popular canyons in the area. Before arriving, take a short side trip to Devils Garden, hike around the unique hoodoos and enjoy Metate Arch.
Reason Five: Lower/Upper Calf Creek Falls
Lower Calf Creek Falls is located in the vast canyons of Utah’s desert landscapes. The Calf Creek Falls trailhead is situated off Utah’s All-American Road Scenic Byway 12 and is a moderate, 6-mile round-trip hike to the Lower Falls. Winter is the best time to visit because the air is refreshingly brisk and the crowds are practically non-existent. As you hike, look for the petroglyph art on the canyon walls before admiring the pool that lies 130 feet below the falls.
Upper Calf Creek Falls is a much different adventure, as this trail is steep and requires some rock scrambling. This short, 2-mile round-trip hike offers sweeping views of the pink cliffs and the Kaiparowits Plateau. The sandy trail splits with one option to go to the head of the falls and the other to a small pool at the foot of the falls. This is a beautiful hike in the winter with less crowds and cool, crisp air. Plus, the exposed sun will not hinder you like it often does in the summer.
Bryce Canyon Country is full of natural wonders that stand even more beautiful in the wintertime. Experience the small crowds and bright red rock in a snow-covered terrain for an optimal adventure, especially within tight slot canyon walls. Come, take your time, and enjoy the off-season months in majestic Bryce Canyon Country. To learn more about hiking in Bryce Canyon Country, read our Hiking Itinerary.