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Bryce Canyon Trip - Highlights & Thoughts

Kannapolis NC
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Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Mule Ride – Highly recommend the ½ day mule ride, the highlight of our Bryce visit. The 2 hour ride does not include the Peekaboo Loop, which is the best part. Getting down in the canyon with the Hoodoos towering above is a whole different perspective from looking down from the rim. The ½ day ride covers 8 miles of trails, all the way across the canyon from Sunrise Point to Bryce Point and back. Our guide Hank was lots of fun. We also did the ½ day mule ride at GC North Rim, which was fun. However if you can only do one ride, the Bryce one is the best bet.

They take a picture of each person on the way down and have an 8x10 print available for $6 (cash only) at the end of the ride, which is a nice souvenir. I took lots of pictures, but theirs was the best of each of us on our mount.

(When I called ahead to make the mule ride reservation, I was told they take payment in cash or personal check only, but when we checked in for the ride at their desk in the lodge, they accepted credit card for payment. But take some cash to tip the guide.)

Trails – The only trail we hiked (with 11 year old daughter) was the 1.3 mile Navajo Loop. It only took one hour and even if you only have a partial day at Bryce, it is definitely worthwhile doing this trail to get down in the canyon among the Hoodoos and rocks. I would also recommend the Peekaboo Loop if you have the time and energy (and are not on a mule). The Queen’s Garden trail is supposed to be one of the easier trails, but I don’t think has as many dramatic formations and vistas as the Navajo and Peekaboo trails do.

Overlooks – All of the main amphitheater overlooks are awesome. It is especially worthwhile to make the short hike up to the main overlooks at Inspiration Point and Bryce Point (don’t just stay at the parking lot level). After these overlooks of the amphitheater, I thought the overlooks back from Rainbow Point drive were a bit of a disappointment. Just go down as far to see the Natural Bridge, as there really isn’t anything in the main canyon like it.

Lodging – We stayed two nights in the park at Bryce Canyon Lodge in the Sunrise motel unit with a second floor balcony. It was actually much better than I expected, not as small or rustic as I thought it might be. No cabins were available, but I was very satisfied with the location and size of the motel room with 2 queen beds. All accommodations are set back from the rim, so there are none with a view of the canyon itself, but the views are nice and woodsy. The Sunset motel unit is set back a bit farther so is more of a walk to the rim or the dining lodge. Sunrise unit is closest to the mule corral.

Dining – Thought the food in the dining room at the Bryce Lodge was better than the food at the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge (see that report). Had a nice salmon with sun-dried tomato pesto, not overcooked (important!), for dinner. The breakfast buffet was good. However, more casual food is extremely lacking in the Park at Bryce. The General Store has chili and hot dogs at lunch and refrigerated “egg-mcmuffins” that you put in the microwave for breakfast, but there is no equivalent of the Deli at GCNR. Something like that would be a big help. We ate at Clarke’s in Tropic for lunch and at the Bryce Canyon Pines for dinner. Both were adequate casual food. Did not eat at any of Ruby’s establishments.

I enjoyed all the parks we visited, but overall I think Bryce was my favorite because it is so unique and its smaller size makes it feel more intimate.

North Carolina
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1. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Thanks for the thorough report. I'm sure a lot of travelers who haven't yet been to Bryce Canyon will benefit from it.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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for Utah
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2. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

It is always good to get a first timers opinion. Thanks for sharing your experience. Great report.

St. Louis, MO
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3. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Thanks for posting. I apprecite all the detail. We'll be visiting Bryce for the first time next summer and staying in the hotel units in the partk for three nights. We have five in our party and just the hotel units have room for a roll away bed, so that's why were doing these. It was great seeing a trip report from someone staying the same place we'll be staying and hearing about the difference between the two hour and four hour mule ride (We were debating between the two and now we have more information to go on).

Youngstown, Ohio
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4. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Was your mule ride from "Canyon Trail Rides"? I was looking at that & it looks like a lot of fun.

pgh,pa
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5. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

We are going next summer and I was wondering about the mule ride. We were at GC south rim and the mule ride there was too intimidating for us with the mules so close to the edge. Is it the same way at Bryce? Thanks for your info, it is a great help to us

New England
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for Ogunquit
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6. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Thanks for the trip report. It's great to get other perspectives. We are debating between the Lodge inside the park and the Bryce Canyon Inn, which is located about 8 miles from the main entrance to Bryce. They also offer a mule ride experience, but that is for Grand Staircase in Escalante.

I am wondering as well if there are height issues with the trails the mules take in Bryce itself, that you took. I am not a fan of steep drop offs, but if doable for sissies like me, I might opt for the NP mule ride.

Thanks

Mesa, AZ
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7. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

The mule ride at Bryce is the way to go, especially in the heat of the summer. Let the mule do the work! The "edge" at Bryce is nothing like the edge at the South Rim, IMO. I have ridden the mules at the North Rim, the South Rim and Bryce, and the mule ride at Bryce is not intimidating nor are the views from atop the mule. The walls of the Grand Canyon are daunting. There really is nothing like that at Bryce.

Lodging in the park is in forested areas. Lodging outside of the park is not. Plus, if you stay in the area of Ruby's Inn you will feel as if you are at the state fairgrounds for the demolition derby. Lots of people, lots going on, lots of traffic.

Kannapolis NC
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8. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

I don't have a fear of heights, but still did not feel that we were towering above the edge of the rim. The trails have a lot of switchbacks, so you can often see the trail below you. The mules are very sure footed and know the trails well. Our guide said that mules have a self-preservation sense (moreso than horses) and are not going to step off the edge. The Bryce Canyon 1/2 day mule ride is definitely worth doing. Don't miss it!

The North Rim mule ride is generally steeper and also has a lot of switchbacks, but it is more forested, so much of the downhill side has brush and trees that protect the edge of the trail. Most of the views are of the sheer cliffs rising above, with a few panarama of the canyon valley below, but not from right on the edge.

Kannapolis NC
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9. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Forgot to confirm that we did use the Canyon Trail Rides. They have a desk in the lobby of each of the park's lodges. I had called them before we arrived to reserve a spot, then checked at the desk the afternoon before our ride the next morning. You have to sign a waiver and pay at that time. It seemed that you could probably go directly to the desk to sign up without a prior reservation, but I would probably give them a half day advance so that they can make sure to have a good variety of mules. They do bring more mules than they need so that they can fit mules to people's size and experience.

Youngstown, Ohio
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10. Re: Bryce Canyon Trip – Highlights & Thoughts

Sounds like a lot of fun. We have put the ride at Bryce Canyon on the list to do in August. Thanks for the feedback.

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