Travel around the US generally means doing it by car. Mass transit is not exactly its strong suit. When it comes to traveling around to the National Parks of the West, it is pretty much essential. Some parks have decent shuttle service and you may not need the car while at the park. In season, Bryce is such a place. But getting to the park is something you'll need a car for.
Bryce National Park is about sixty miles and two hours from Zion, 45 miles and two hours from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 155 miles and four and a half hours to Arches National Park, and a 100 miles and four hours to Capitol Reef National Park. Tired of the parks? It's four and a half hours to Las Vegas or six hours to Salt Lake City. Pick your sins. ;)
We did this six month trip in a 1005 Toyota Camry and had no problems whatsoever. You don't need a jeep or four-wheel drive SUV to do a road trip around the US. Spend your money on the trip, not the vehicle.
Parking can be tricky during peak season and Bryce is, as are many of the National Parks, also suffering from environmental problems caused by vehicle emissions and road wear. While taking a park shuttle at Bryce isn't mandatory, it is advised if at all possible.
Shuttles can be picked up at the staging area at Ruby's Inn or the campgrounds during high season. They run to overlooks and trailheads every 10 - 30 minutes, depending on time of day, and are free with your park entrance fee.
The park also offers a free, guided 3.5 hour shuttle tour twice a day that is a good option for visitors short of time. It stops at 8 scenic points in the park and you can reserve your spot in advance.
For a great little overview of what you'll see at the shuttle stops, take this etour:
The park has made it convenient to use the shuttle to mitigate the vehicles coming into the park. They begin at Ruby's Inn area to pick up people, and go throughout the park to pick up/drop off. The best place to get the bus is before you enter the park. There is a building just past Ruby's complex and behind that is plenty of parking spots. They check you park pass, or collect the fees and you show the driver you paid to get in.
If you drive into the park and then get the bus, finding a parking place may be difficult. Ruby's has two pick up points, but I do not think they want non-patrons to park in those places they own
Highway 12 runs east and west and provides access to the park at its junction with Hwy 63. From the west, highway 12 passes through Red Canyon before the junction with the road leading to Bryce. Hwy 12 continues past Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, another of Utah's must see activities.
Bryce Canyon National Park has also instituted a shuttle system to reduce the number of cars in the park. This shuttle is voluntary. Unlike Zion, you can still drive through the park in your own car during the months the shuttle is in operation (approximately May through Octover)
You can use the Bryce Canyon Shuttle to visit Bryce Canyon National Park from May - September. You can also drive your own vehicle into the park (speed limit 35 miles per hour), however the park offers the shuttle option as it decreases the number of vehicles and emissions within the park during this busy time of the year. If you wish to take advantage of this service, leave your car at the park Shuttle Parking and Boarding Area outside the park at the intersection of Hwy 12 & Hwy 63, or Ruby's Inn business area, located on Hwy 63 just north of the park. The bus will take you into the park to the Visitor Center and to the viewpoints and scenic trailheads. It operates from 9 am to 6pm daily. You can even use this bus to access backcountry drop off points. Check the schedule for these drop off points.
By car (though on horseback would be quiet nice too - just outside the National Park some ranges offer this possibility)
The scenic drive connects various outlookpoints, but to really see the Bryce Canyon splendour you have to use your feet to descent and ascent along the wonderful trails on the mountainside.
From the North take I-15 South to Highway 89 South to state road 12 East to state road 63 South to the park. From the East take state road 12 West to Stateroad 63 South to the park. From the South travel to I-15 North to state road 9 East and then take Highway 89 North to state road 12 East to state road 63 South to the park.
From the visitor center you should take the main road all the way through the park. The road is 18 miles long. It´s a dead end road. All overlooks lie east of the road. To avoid crossing traffic to reach them, drive to the southern end of the park and stop at the view points like Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point, Rainbow Point and Bryce Point on your return.
The park provides shuttle bus service to everyone, which I think is a great idea. This saves you from having to park & repark you own car all the time.
And even more important - when you finish your hike you may be very far from your car! And too tired to try to find it, perhaps!
Ecologically, less gas is burned, which equals less pollution, too. And less traffic in the park, right?
The moment that you're realizing that you're getting near the place you want to be is always a great thrill. When we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park and we saw the signs that it was only 12 km far we had a true moment of silence. Just the fact that we were about to visit a place we always wanted to visit made us a bit emotional.
The last few kilometers we drove very slowly and already enjoyed the scene, not knowing what was waiting for us out there. But anyway ... Highway 12 offered us already the beautiful red landscape we dreamed about.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located 24 miles southeast of Panguitch, in the south central Utah. Here are some directions to get there (click map to enlarge):
From north or south on U.S. 89, turn east on Utah 12 (seven miles south of Panguitch, Utah) and travel to the junction of Utah 12 and 63. Turn south (right) on Utah 63 and travel three miles to reach the park entrance.
From the east, travel west on Utah 12 to the intersection of Utah 63. Turn south (left) to reach the park entrance.
There is a $10 entrance fee per vehicle for a seven day pass, $5 per person on buses and a $25 annual pass is available. No charge for National Park Pass holders.
The visitor center is open daily from 8 to 8 during the summer, 8 to 6 in spring and fall and 8 to 4:30 in winter. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and
New Years Day.
The park itself never closes.
More info: Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon 84717, Phone 435-834-5322.
Some approx. distances from Bryce Canyon:
Salt Lake City, UT: 270 miles;
St. George, UT: 150 miles;
Cedar City, UT: 87 miles;
Las Vegas, NV: 270 miles.
Now come on, plan your trip! :)
there are many workers now in bryce and all kind of road works and there is a shuttle
u dont have to use it but if u want u can leave ur car at the visitor center or somewhere and use this service
probebly in the near future it will be like in Zion np or grand canyon where u have to use the shuttle.
Bryce Canyon National Park is approximately 6 hours from Las Vegas and 7 hours from Salt Lake City. Bryce is located about 15 miles to the east of US Highway 89 off State Route 12. It is approximately 45 miles to the east of I-15. It is also in close proximety to Zion National Park. They are about 50 miles apart. There are also many bus tours, mainly based in Las Vegas and Southern California that offer packages to Bryce Canyon National Park.
These are some of the more unique modes of transportation I noted along the 5,000 miles trip. There were a great deal more, but these stood out