Be aware, whatever you do in Bryce Canyon, that all is located on a relatively high altitude ! Also, due to the location or positioning, weather forces are quite strong – wouldn’t they, as they did what they did with the rocks to “make” Bryce Canyon ?
Winds can be strong and gusty even in summer – mainly if you are on exposed view points. So take warm clothing with you, even if it’s summer. You might want to sit at the view points for a while and breathe the whole atmosphere in.
Also, take enough of water, water, water – the winds and the altitude may dry you out.
In addition, I would recommend to take skin lotion, as again the dry weather dries out your skin also.
To show the forces of wind and weather, I placed this picture here, where the (Ponderosa) Pine has strechted out her roots to stand firm and not be blown off by the wind. Look at the thick roots – she seems to need firm stand !
Hope, the officials don’t mind that I place Smokey Bear here to warn of forest fires. But, during all my travels in US I was fascinated of the successful campaign of creating the bear as a “living figure” to give the message to prevent forest fires.
So: wherever you are in Bryce Canyon (and of course also outside of it) – be careful when lighting a fire.
Don’t throw away cigarettes or matches, don’t cook with open fire when not protecting it against wind – the best of all would even be not to light a fire at all.
It is said that 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans.
A bit off-topic, but nevertheless interesting: Smokey Bear is actually based on an orphan baby black bear, who was found after a big forest fire in 1950.
You can read more about this, and also about wildfires, what they do, and how to prevent them on Smokey Bears Website
The pic here is a 1954 poster from Smokey Bear campaigns.
One doesn't think slot canyons when one thinks of Bryce. We had just come from the slot canyon capitol of Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument so had learned a few things about them. Slot canyons should never be entered when rain is imminent and you should pay attention to changes in the weather. Rain can flood these narrow canyons quickly and getting to higher ground is your only escape. The Navajo Loop features an incredible slot canyon going into Wall Street with an array of colors that will make you forget any danger is remotely possible.
Some of you that don't have a fear of heights may think I am being a bit too cautious. However, I must tell you to please be careful when hiking in Bryce. There are some steep drop offs, and a fall from one of these would definitely be harmful, if not fatal. Just use common sense, and you will be fine.
Bryce Canyon is high country. At 8,000 feet, the weather here is VERY different from nearby parks like Zion or Arches. The only time you can be reasonably assured to have nice weather is from June thru September. At other times of the year, the average evening temperature is well below freezing, and road closures due to heavy snowfall are always a possibility.
If you really have your heart set on seeing Bryce Canyon, then go in the summer! If you don't believe me, take a look at these pictures - all taken on the 9th of May!
They are in a corral at Ruby's, and ready for tourists to come and ride.
The sad part is I wanted to let the horses loose out of the corral they were penned up in. There were about 20 horses, and you could tell from them having to stand up and not able to walk or graze, they are "stir crazy". They have been in this state so long, they do not even have their own identity and spirit of pride, most horses do.
They also have to reside in their own excrement. It is a sad matter. Maybe some animal protection group should look into a better way to keep the horses sane; like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary?
There is no shade throughout the park.
Good idea to wear a hat or cap or umbrella. Bring along and drink sufficient water even if you do not feel thirsty to prevent dehydration or heat stroke.
Apply ample sun block to avoid sun burn.
Also better to hike with someone else or another traveller than by yourself.
This is a general good rule of thumb.
Visitor Center: 435-834-5322
Steep dropoff's abound in the park - watch children closely and stay away from cliff edges. During thunderstorms, remain in your vehicle and avoid isolated trees and open areas. Watch for mule deer and other animals while driving, especially after dark. Feeding wildlife harms them and is illegal but it can also make you sick. Rodents in the area including chipmunks, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs can be carriers of bubonic plague. This is a contagious disease caused by a bacterium and characterized by swelling, fever, complete exhaustion, and delirium : fleas from infected animals are carriers.
During the summer, Bryce can be hot, dry and dusty so hikers, always take along plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. If sensitive to heat, hike earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon when it's cooler. Sunstroke or acute dehydration is no joke and no fun at all: by the time one of them hits you, it's too late for a quick fix.
Drink and drink some more!
I saw so many people come to the parks and some barely prepared to walk to the living room, while others are in full gear like they are going out on the trail for a week for a one hour hike. What a variety. It is interesting to take note of all the differences between them. It is advisable to be prepared for the appropriate hike and trail you are on.
Like my title says...it is wise to stay out of the desert in the mid-day sun. Some of the hikes in Bryce are very long & might take longer than you planned. So, either leave very early in the morning for you hike, or in the late afternoon.
Bring lots of water, too. A camera & sunscreen, of course!
Remember that there are steep drop-offs in the park, so if you travel with children be especially cautious and watch them closely. Do not wonder too close to the edge, and stay on the trails. Watch for mule deer and other animals on the road and note that feeding wildlife is not allowed in the park. Pets must be on a leash at all times, and are not allowed on the trails.
This natural bridge almost begs to be climbed but it, like most others of the park's formations, is more fragile than it looks. Close encounters with loose, crumbling rock or unstable rim edges can land you in the emergency room or worse so stay on marked paths and off the pinnacles and whatnot, OK?
It's also illegal to climb the formations: resulting fines would do serious damage to your beer budget and THAT would be just sad.
Most of Bryce sits at 8000 feet above sea level with even higher points - such as Bristlecone Loop - over 9100. Flatlanders are going to feel the thinner air if they haven't had time to adjust, and the altitude is particularly important to note if you have breathing problems. Go slow, drink lots of water and don't go running off to a strenuous trail before you know if you have the stamina to handle it.
I had the classic high-altitude headache here our first day.
See over-exertion warning #4 in the park newspaper.
There were hundreds of acres of forest fires in the park. What a shame. Everyone needs to be diligent and conscious of the dry region and why throw out a cigarette anyhow to start a fire? These were not just lightening strikes