Bryce Canyon National Park features gorgeous vermilion canyons, unique Hoodoo rock formations, and many wonderful hiking trails. I’ve been to Bryce Canyon to hike in both the Winter and Summer and both were completely different experiences in a good way. With such drastic differences between the seasons, its common to wonder what the best month to visit Bryce Canyon is.The best month to visit Bryce Canyon is either October or January. In October the crowds from busy season have thinned out and you can enjoy the park with cooler weather just before the snow begins falling and in January you’ll enjoy snow capped Hoodoos and a wonderful winter wonderland.
Visiting Bryce Canyon is an absolute treat to be able to hike along the canyon rim to see the amphitheater of hoodoos and then make your way deep down into the canyon to see the Hoodoos towering above you. Being able to see the park before snowfall to take in the beautiful red and orange rock formations is a sight to remember. If you get the opportunity to visit the park in the winter months, seeing the red and orange hoodoos sprinkled with the white powdery snow completely changes the atmosphere and one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.If you can’t visit the park during October or January, there are also other great months to visit the park where you can still have a great experience. With some planning, you can see the best of Bryce Canyon with great weather and smaller crowds.
What is the weather like throughout the year in Bryce Canyon?
Bryce Canyon is located in a remote area of Utah on a high plateau with an average elevation at the canyon’s rim around 8,000 feet high. The high elevation of the park means that temperatures will be much lower on average and vary significantly from season to season. The high elevation also means that snow will fall much sooner generally starting around the end of fall all the way through Spring. Don’t let the snow and lower temperatures scare you away from Bryce Canyon as it is amazing to see the park with the snow covered Hoodoos and way smaller crowds.
The weather throughout the year in Bryce Canyon is as follows:
- January: Hi: 36 / Lo: 11
- February: Hi: 38 / Lo: 13
- March:Hi: 44 / Lo: 19
- April: Hi: 52 / Lo: 24
- May: Hi: 62 / Lo: 32
- June: Hi: 74 / Lo: 40
- July: Hi: 79 / Lo: 47
- August: Hi: 76 / Lo: 45
- September: Hi: 69 / Lo: 37
- October: Hi: 57 / Lo: 37
- November: Hi: 44 / Lo: 18
- December: Hi: 36 / Lo: 12
As you can see the temperatures are as expected in the Summer months of June, July, and August in the high 70’s, but start in October, temperatures drop dramatically. Snow typically begins to fall in the late Fall months and into the Spring. It can get very hot in the canyon in the summer months, but there is plenty of shade throughout most of the hikes due to the towering hoodoos. I’ve also visited Bryce in January before and while temperatures were very low, if you layer up with a base layer and down jacket the cold weather is not to bad. You will forget about the cold as you soak in the beautiful views of the snow-covered Bryce Canyon trails.
How busy is Bryce Canyon in the Summer?
Bryce Canyon is incredibly popular in the summer months, so its natural to wonder just how busy is Bryce Canyon in the summer. Bryce Canyon is at peak busy season for the park with an average of over 380,000 park visitors per month between June and August. These three months alone account for over 40% of the parks annual visitors. As a reference the colder months only see between 30,000 and 80,000 park visitors a month.
When I went to Bryce Canyon in the Summer the trails were very busy and the parking lots had many cars. Hiking around in the canyon it was also very hot with temperatures in the 80’s when I went.
If you visit Bryce Canyon in the summer and want to avoid the crowds, I highly recommend starting your hikes very early. This will give you the feeling of having the trails to yourself as you will see significantly less people during your hikes. This will also allow you to hike during the cooler part of the day. As you are finishing your hikes, you will be hiking out of the canyon and back to the canyon rim. Summer time is a great time to visit the park, but another option you should consider in the future is the Winter.
Is it crowded in Bryce Canyon in the Winter?
Despite the snowfall and cold weather, Bryce Canyon National Park is open during the winter. You might be wondering if Bryce Canyon is such a great place to see in the winter, is it crowded in the winter? Bryce Canyon is not crowded in the winter and sees the least amount of visitors during this time. Bryce Canyon only sees on average 37,000 monthly visitors, nearly 350,000 less visitors or just 10% of the average number of visitors during the Summer.
With such a small number of visitors to Bryce Canyon, it is a great time to visit the park. You can hike the trails and see the snow. Be sure to bring multiple layers for your clothes such as a base layer shirt, a down shirt, and a rain jacket. I would also recommend buying micro-spikes to get traction as some of the trails can get icy as you’re hiking around the canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a magical place to visit at any point in the year, but the best months are October or January as it feels like two completely different places. Visiting the park in October you get to see the park as most people picture it, a gorgeous red and orange hoodoo filled canyon with much cooler weather. If you head to the park in January you get the same red and orange rock formations, but amazingly covered in the powdery white Utah snow with much smaller crowds. With some planning you can get the best of both worlds, a great outdoor experience, smaller crowds, and great weather.