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.