Sunrise At Bryce Canyon

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon is a truly magical experience. I’ve been to Bryce Canyon National Park many times, especially now that I travel full-time, and watching the sunrise at Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite activities in the park.

Imagine standing amidst a natural amphitheater of towering hoodoos, their spires glowing in hues of orange, pink, and red as the first light of day breaks the horizon. This is the magic of a sunrise at Bryce Canyon, a spectacle that transforms the park into a canvas of light and shadow, painting a picture so surreal, it feels like stepping into another world.

In this guide, I’ll take you through the best viewpoints to witness sunrise at Bryce Canyon, from the popular Sunrise Point to the less-traveled trails that offer unique perspectives of the canyon’s beauty.


Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit Bryce Canyon is April-May or September-October when the weather is still warm during the day and the crowds are smaller. It’s also possible to visit during the summer, but expect more crowds and warm afternoons.


Where To Stay: There are several options for lodging inside of the park, including two campgrounds and Bryce Canyon Lodge. There’s also several options for places to stay in Bryce Canyon National Park just beyond the park’s entrance, including hotels and vacation rentals.


How To Get There: The closest airports to Bryce Canyon are either Salt Lake City (SLC) or Las Vegas (LAS), both are just 4 hours from the park. I find Las Vegas typically has cheaper airfare and car rentals than Salt Lake City.


How To Get Around: You can drive your own vehicle in the park or utilize the free shuttle service. The shuttle can be picked up inside the park entrance at the visitor center or, if parking is limited, there are also pickup locations outside of the park in town. The shuttle operates April-October.


Reservation System: Bryce Canyon has no reservation system for park entry. Reservations for camping and backpacking are required.


Safety: Bryce Canyon sits at 9,000 feet of elevation so it’s not uncommon for hikers to feel tired and become dehydrated more easily. Make sure to pack lots of water – the park recommends at least 1 liter of water every two hours. 

The elevation also means temperatures can fluctuate quickly, as much as a 40℉ difference in a few hours. Always wear layers, even in the summer months. 

Additionally, Bryce Canyon is home to Mountain lion and Great Basin rattlesnake, so be sure to stay alert while hiking.

Be cautious of lightning. Summer storms are common in the afternoons. If you hear any thunder make sure you are away from the plateau rim (the most dangerous spot during a storm).


Entrance Fees: The Bryce Canyon entrance fee is $20 per person, or $35 per vehicle. An Annual Entrance pass is available for $70, or you can purchase an annual American The Beautiful National Park Pass for $80 which will get you into all National Parks.
P.S There are 6 free National Park Days in 2024!

Headed to Bryce Canyon National Park? Check out my articles on the best Bryce Canyon Hikes, a one day in Bryce Canyon itinerary or how to get from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon.

Why Bryce Canyon Sunrises Are Special

Living on the road full-time means I’ve witnessed sunrises in many places, but there’s something truly magical about the sunrises at Bryce Canyon. It’s not just the unobstructed view of the horizon or the crisp, clean air at this elevation. It’s the way the first rays of the sun interact with the unique geology of Bryce Canyon that makes these sunrises extraordinary.

As the sun peeks over the horizon, it illuminates the amphitheater of hoodoos – those tall, thin spires of rock that Bryce is famous for. The light plays off each hoodoo, casting intricate shadows and bathing the rock formations in a warm, golden glow. The colors are phenomenal; it’s like watching the canyon come alive with hues of pink, orange, and red, changing every minute as the sun rises higher.

Thors Hammer sunrise at Bryce Canyon

But it’s not just about the visual spectacle. The quiet of the morning, often with just the sounds of nature as a backdrop, adds to the serenity and awe of the experience. It’s a moment of peace and beauty, a reminder of the wonders of the natural world. For me, watching a sunrise at Bryce Canyon is a grounding experience, a perfect start to a day of exploration and adventure in this incredible park.

Best Viewpoints To Watch Sunrise At Bryce Canyon

Personally, I think sunrise at Bryce Canyon is better than sunset. The way the park is oriented means a majority of the scenic overlooks face East and look out over the canyon. This makes for an epic sunrise.

However, Bryce Canyon sunsets are harder to find a good viewpoint for, because most of the locations in the park do not have a Western facing view – but I’ll get to that later.

Sunrise Point

Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon offers an unparalleled view of the park’s famous amphitheater, making it a prime spot for witnessing the day’s first light. Located at an elevation of about 8,000 feet, this viewpoint provides a panoramic view of the hoodoos and spires that Bryce Canyon is renowned for.

As the sun begins to rise, it illuminates the amphitheater, revealing a stunning array of colors. The geological formations, known as hoodoos, are the main attraction here. These spire-shaped rock formations are the result of erosion and are particularly striking at dawn when the angle of the light accentuates their shapes and textures.

Accessibility is a key feature of Sunrise Point. It’s easily reachable from the nearby parking area, making it an ideal spot for visitors of all ages and abilities. The viewpoint is also the starting point of the Rim Trail, a relatively flat and easy hike in Bryce Canyon that offers extended views of the amphitheater. This trail is perfect for those who wish to enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace.

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Easily Accessible
✅ Good View Of Sunrise

Cons:

❌ Crowds

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon

While Sunrise Point offers a direct encounter with the morning’s first light, Sunset Point at Bryce Canyon presents a contrasting, yet equally mesmerizing, sunrise experience in Bryce Canyon. This viewpoint, known for its evening allure, reveals a different facet of the park’s beauty at dawn. While Sunrise Point looks more towards the South, Sunset Point faces the East.

Perched at the edge of the Bryce Amphitheater, Sunset Point allows you to witness the sunrise from a unique vantage point. As the sun ascends, it illuminates the amphitheater from a different angle compared to Sunrise Point, casting a warm glow that gradually reveals the intricate details of the hoodoos and spires.

One of the highlights here is the view of the Silent City, a dense collection of hoodoos below the point. The morning light accentuates the textures and layers of these formations, offering a visual feast that evolves as the sun rises higher.

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Easily Accessible
✅ Good View Of Sunrise

Cons:

❌ Crowds

Inspiration Point

A little farther along the Bryce Canyon amphitheater is Inspiration Point. This location is less popular for sunrise and has fewer crowds. It faces mostly East-Northeast. 

Inspiration Point, true to its name, offers a broader perspective of the park compared to Sunrise or Sunset Points. Here, you’re treated to a sweeping view that encompasses the Silent City – a dense collection of hoodoos that appear to be frozen in time. The elevation at this point provides a unique vantage that allows you to see the intricate layers and colors of the rocks, offering a deeper appreciation of the geological history and beauty of Bryce Canyon.

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Easily Accessible
✅ Less Crowded

Cons:

❌ More Restricted View Of Sunrise

Bryce Point

Bryce Point is an exceptional spot for viewing sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park. Standing at one of the highest elevations accessible to visitors, it offers a broad and elevated perspective of the park’s famous amphitheater.

As the sun rises, the light illuminates the hoodoos, casting long shadows and highlighting their unique shapes and textures. This elevation provides a comprehensive view of the amphitheater, allowing you to see the full extent of the hoodoos and the surrounding landscape. The changing light conditions during sunrise create a dynamic scene, with the colors of the rocks shifting from deep oranges to vibrant reds.

If you’re a photographer you’ll particularly favor Bryce Point at sunrise for its panoramic views and the dramatic lighting. The high vantage point offers a wide-angle view of the park, ideal for capturing the majesty of the landscape.

While Bryce Point is a popular spot, it’s typically less crowded than Sunrise or Sunset Points, especially in the early morning. This can offer a more relaxed and less hurried experience for you.

Bryce Point is easily accessible, with a parking area and viewing platform. I recommend you arrive early to find a good spot, as the best views are just as the sun begins to rise.

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Easily Accessible
✅ Less Crowded
✅ High Elevation Makes For Great Views

Cons:

❌ Faces North

Rim Trail

If you’re looking for a more active sunrise experience, consider hiking Rim Trail. The Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon offers a unique sunrise experience, blending accessibility with a dynamic view of the park’s famous amphitheater. Stretching for about 11 miles along the rim of the amphitheater, this trail provides multiple vantage points for sunrise watchers.

Because the path runs along the rim of the amphitheater it’s a great mix of morning sunrise views along with an easy to navigate, mostly flat, hike. While the full hike is 11 miles long, most visitors hike it in smaller sections.

For sunrise, the best section of the Rim Trail is between Sunrise and Sunset Point.

Pros:

✅ Easily Accessible
✅ Less Crowded
✅ Can Do As Much Or Little As Desired

Cons:

❌ None!

Scenic Drive Viewpoints

The viewpoints mentioned so far have been along the Bryce Canyon amphitheater, but there are still some great views to see along the Southern Scenic Drive. This drive follows the canyon away from Bryce Amphitheater and towards Rainbow Point.

There are many viewpoints along the Southern Scenic Drive, including Swamp Canyon, Piracy Point, Farview Point, Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, and Black Birch Canyon. In my opinion, the best viewpoints are Natural Bridge and Agua Canyon.

Parking at the viewpoints can be limited, but as long as you arrive before sunrise you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot.

Pros:

✅ Easily Accessible
✅ Less Crowded

Cons:

❌ Limited Parking
❌ Not Along Main Amphitheater

Queens Garden Trail

While I highly recommend watching sunrise from the canyon rim, if you’re spending more than one day in Bryce Canyon I recommend catching a second sunrise below the rim. Queens Garden Trail is one of my favorites and a great way to view sunrise while hiking among the hoodoos.

Queens Garden Trail is the easiest trail from the canyon rim down into the belly of the canyon. It’s an out and back, but I recommend combining it with Navajo Loop Trail (this is what I did), so it forms a loop from the rim down into the canyon and back.

The ascent on the Navajo Loop side is steeper, so I have found it better to start from the Navajo Loop trailhead (and descend the switchbacks), then hike counterclockwise, ending with the gentler Queens Garden trail ascent.

Pros:

✅ Less Crowded

Cons:

❌ Less Accessible
❌ Not Along Canyon Rim

Best Viewpoints to Watch A Bryce Canyon Sunset

Bryce Canyon sunsets are infamously not as incredible as the sun rises due to the geography of the park. The primary (and only) road in Bryce Canyon runs North to South, with the canyon (Bryce Amphitheater) running along the Eastern side of the road.

This means all of the overlooks and viewpoints along this road face East – which is why they are so fantastic for watching the sunrise. Unfortunately, very little faces West, which means your view at sunset is a parking lot or roadway and a very unimpressive horizon for most locations within Bryce Canyon National Park.

All of that said, there are still a few good spots to catch the sunset.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon

Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon is typically the first on everyone’s list of best places to catch the sunrise. Probably due to its name more than anything else. I’m not trashing on Sunset Point, but this location is more about the orange sunset glow than actually watching the sun dip below the horizon.

The viewpoint here faces mostly South, so you won’t see the sun dip below the hoodoos in the canyon. However, the glow of the sun as its setting casts a magical glowy orange light across the canyon which is worth seeing.

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Easily Accessible

Cons:

❌ Crowded
❌ Obstructed Views

Paria View

Paria View is situated similarly to Sunset Point – it faces South/Southeast. Like Sunset Point, you won’t catch the sun dipping below a horizon of hoodoos, but you will see the orange haze cast across the hoodoos as the sunset colors bounce around the amphitheater.

Unlike Sunset Point, Paria View will be far less crowded which, in my opinion, makes sunset much more enjoyable.

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Less Crowded
✅ Easily Accessible

Cons:

❌ Obstructed Views

Yovimpa Point

Yovimpa Point is one of the southern most viewpoints in Bryce Canyon National Park. While it faces mostly South, the canyon opens up to the West of it slightly so you’ll have a better view of the sunset.

Yovimpa Point is along the Southern Scenic Drive, which is past where the park shuttle runs, so only people who are driving their own vehicles in the park can reach this area for sunset – making it a bit less crowded than anything along the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. 

Pros:

✅ Ample Parking
✅ Less Crowded
✅ Easily Accessible

Cons:

❌ Obstructed Views

Preparing For Sunrise At Bryce Canyon

Check Sunrise Time

Before your visit, check the local sunrise time. Sunrise times vary throughout the year, so it’s important to know when to be there. Time And Date is a good resource to check for daily sunrise and sunset times at Bryce Canyon.

Arrive Early

Aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before sunrise. This gives you time to find a parking spot and walk to your chosen viewpoint. The early arrival also allows you to experience the pre-dawn light, which is often as beautiful as the sunrise itself. Personally, I find that 10-15 minutes before sunrise is when the sky glows the best.

Choose the Right Spot

Bryce Canyon offers several great viewpoints for sunrise, like Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Bryce Point. Each offers a unique perspective, so choose one that suits your interests, whether it’s photography or simply enjoying the view.

Dress Appropriately

Mornings in Bryce Canyon can be quite chilly, even in summer. Dress in layers and bring a jacket. Gloves and a hat can also be helpful. Bryce Canyon sits at high elevation so it’s always colder than the lower surrounding areas.

Bring a Flashlight or Headlamp

It will be dark when you arrive, so a flashlight or headlamp is essential for safely navigating the trails and viewpoints.

Photography Gear

If you’re planning to take photos, bring a tripod for stability, especially in the low light conditions of early morning. Also, consider extra batteries and memory cards.

Stay on Designated Paths

For your safety and the preservation of the park, always stay on designated paths and viewpoints.

Pack Snacks and Water

Having a small snack and water can enhance your experience, especially if you plan to stay for a while or hike after sunrise.

Respect the Silence

Many people come to enjoy the tranquility of sunrise. Be mindful of your noise levels to maintain a peaceful atmosphere for everyone.

Plan for Crowds

Some viewpoints can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. Be prepared for this and be respectful of others trying to enjoy the sunrise.

Check Weather Conditions

Weather can change rapidly, so check the forecast and be prepared for possible changes.

Stick Around After Sunrise

The sky continues to change color for up to an hour after sunrise. While most of the crowd will leave right after sunrise, I have found that the best part of sunrise is watching the sky change colors after the sun has popped up over the horizon.

Photography Tips For Capturing Bryce Canyon Sunset or Sunrise

Scout Your Location

Visit your chosen viewpoint the day before if possible. This helps you plan your composition and understand the landscape’s layout. This will also save you time in the morning because you’ll know exactly where to set up.

Arrive Early

Get to your spot at least 30 minutes before sunrise. This gives you time to set up and capture the beautiful pre-dawn colors. Many professional photographers get to Bryce Canyon 45-minutes before sunrise due to its popularity and the crowds which form.

Use a Tripod

Early morning light can be dim, and a tripod will help you avoid camera shake, especially for long exposures.

Camera Settings

Start with a low ISO to reduce noise. Use a small to medium aperture (around f/8 to f/16) for a greater depth of field, ensuring that both the foreground and the distant rocks are in focus.

Bracket Your Exposures

Light conditions change rapidly during sunrise. Bracketing exposures allows you to capture a range of light and merge them later for the perfect shot.

Use a Wide-Angle Lens

A wide-angle lens is great for capturing the expansive landscapes and the vast sky.

Focus on Composition

Look for interesting foreground elements to add depth to your photos. The hoodoos and rock formations can create stunning silhouettes against the rising sun. Some of my favorite photos of Bryce Canyon have a tree branch of another green element in the foreground which composes nicely against the orange and red background.

Capture the Colors

The sky’s colors change quickly during sunrise. Be ready to capture the varying hues from deep blues to vibrant oranges and pinks.

Experiment with Shutter Speed

Play with different shutter speeds to capture varying effects, like a smooth, dreamy sky or sharp, crisp clouds.

Watch Your Histogram

Keep an eye on your camera’s histogram to ensure you’re not overexposing the sky or underexposing the landscape.

Be Patient and Keep Shooting

The light and colors can change dramatically in a matter of minutes. Keep shooting to capture the full range of the sunrise. The light in the canyon can continue to change for an hour after the sunrises, so I recommend sticking around to capture the full range of beauty.

Post-Processing

Use photo editing software to enhance your images. Adjusting exposure, contrast, and saturation can bring out the best in your sunrise photos.

FAQs – Sunrise At Bryce Canyon

Is Sunrise At Bryce Canyon Worth It?

Yes – sunrise at Bryce Canyon is worth it. It’s an incredible sunrise to watch over the hoodoos in Bryce Amphitheater and there’s nothing else like it.

Where Is The Best Sunrise At Bryce Canyon?

The best sunrise at Bryce Canyon is Sunrise Point. It’s easily accessible, has plenty of parking, and if you’re looking to get away from the crowds you can walk along the Rim Trail a bit to get to a quieter spot.

Where Is The Best Place To See The Sunset At Bryce Canyon?

The best place to see a Bryce Canyon sunset is Yovimpa Point. This viewpoint is less crowded than Sunset Point Bryce Canyon but still has a great view of the glowing canyon at sunset.

How Early Should You Get To Bryce Canyon?

Bryce Canyon is open 24-hours a day, so you can arrive as early as you’d like. If you’re planning to watch the sunrise, I recommend getting to the park at least 30 minutes before sunrise (but preferably 45, especially if you’re driving further south from the entrance gate). This will give you time to get parked, walk to the viewpoint, and find a good location to view the sunrise from.

Note: The free Bryce Canyon Shuttle does not begin running until 8 a.m, and only runs during the summer.

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