Last Updated on January 22, 2024 by Kelly
Bryce Canyon National Park has dozens of hikes, so you might be asking yourself, “Which hike at Bryce Canyon is the best?” or “What trail do I absolutely have to complete when I’m at Bryce Canyon?” If you’re planning a visit to Bryce Canyon, you absolutely have to walk the portion of the Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. This trail has excellent views of the amphitheater and it’s the most accessible. You’ll see a full view of the canyon, you’ll be able to see tons of hoodoos, and you’ll be close to services and facilities.
This trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point is suitable for most ability levels, and there are options to branch out on longer hikes if you are looking for something more strenuous. If you only have time for one trail at Bryce Canyon National Park, though, we highly recommend walking from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point! In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to visit Sunrise Point and Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Sunrise Point to Sunset Point: Complete Trail Description
The hike from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point is technically along the Rim Trail. The full Rim Trail is 5.5 miles long, but the portion from Sunrise point to Sunset Point is .5 miles long one way, and about 1.1 miles round-trip. The trail is mostly flat, with an 82 foot elevation gain. It should take between 30-60 minutes to walk the trail. (It took us about an hour because we were constantly stopping to take photos.)
You can also hike from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point (in reverse). This might be the ideal option based on whichever parking lot you happen to land a spot in! So if the Sunrise Point parking lot is full, try to park at the Sunset Point park lot instead.
If you’re using the park’s shuttle, you’ll probably want to hop off at Sunset Point, as the shuttle stops there first.
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The trail is paved so in hindsight we could have brought our jogger stroller. This portion of the Rim Trail is ADA accessible, so you can use a wheelchair, except in extreme weather conditions. The trail is also dog-friendly, but dogs must be leashed.
Branching off from the main trail there’s several gravel trails that lead closer to the rim. There’s plenty of benches along the way to soak in the view or take a rest.
One reason why we think this is the best trail is because it is accessible for everyone.
Trail Access and Parking at Sunrise and Sunset Points
You can park in either the Sunrise Point parking lot or the Sunset Point parking lot. We parked at Sunrise, and it was just a very quick walk to the canyon rim and the main trail.
You can also take the free shuttle within Bryce Canyon National Park. If you’re using the shuttle, it will probably make the most sense to disembark at Sunset Point, hike to Sunrise Point, and then take the shuttle again from Sunrise Point to your next destination. The shuttle is a great option for the busy season, so you don’t have to circle around waiting for a parking spot. (Definitely not what you want to be doing on your vacation!) The first shuttle leaves at 8am each morning during the busy season.
If you do take your car, we recommend that you get an early start to beat the crowds. We arrived to the park a little before 9am in June and we had no trouble finding a parking spot at Sunrise Point. Later in the day, however, we saw that the parking lots were full.
View from Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon
Sunrise Point is one of 4 points that provide an overlook of the main amphitheater at Bryce Canyon. Although it’s called Sunrise Point, it’s also a beautiful spot to watch the sunset. The actual viewing deck at Sunrise Point is a little higher than the rest of the Rim Trail, so you have an expansive view of the canyon. In the center of the canyon, you’ll be able to see Bristlecone Point, which is a large rock formation in the shape of a crown.
View from Sunset Point at Bryce Canyon
At Sunset Point, you’ll see even more tightly-packed hoodoos beneath you. You’ll also see the most vibrant colors of Bryce Canyon thanks to the Claron Formation (primarily limestone deposits in bright colors). It’s definitely worth spending some time here and and seeing what shapes you see in the maze of hoodoos. It’s also a good idea to bring a pair of binoculars!
Facilities Near Sunrise and Sunset Points
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon is located right between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. It’s a great place to stop by for a snack or a meal. The Lodge at Bryce Canyon Restaurant offers sit-down meals. They also have a General Store which is a great place to grab a quick meal on the go. You can also dine at Valhalla Pizzeria at the lodge. (We wrote a full post on hotels near Bryce Canyon, and covered this lodge in-depth.)
Adjacent to the lodge are separate restroom facilities for park guests with flushing toilets. These restroom facilities are probably the nicest in the park, so it’s a good place to stop for a break.
Additional Hikes Near Sunrise and Sunset Points
If you have a little extra time, there are two additional hikes that are located within this same area. (No need to hop on the shuttle or re-park the car!)
The Queens Garden Trailhead access is located at Sunrise Point. If you want to check out this hike, you’ll descend 320 feet into the canyon to get an up-close-and personal view of the hoodoos. The trail is 1.8 miles long and will take you through a “garden” of hoodoos. If you want to hike within the canyon, this is the easiest trail that goes into the canyon. It will take approximately 1.5-2 hours to complete the Queens Garden Trail.
The Navajo Loop Trailhead is located at Sunset Point. The trail is 1.3 miles long and will take you through many switchbacks down into the canyon. (What goes down must come back up!) There’s also the option to make a combination loop with other hikes within Bryce Canyon National Park if you want to expand this hike.
Looking for a hotel near Bryce Canyon? We stayed at the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, and we would recommend it to others!
What to Bring With You to Sunrise and Sunset Points
As mentioned before, it’s nice to have a pair of binoculars to see some of the rock formations that are further out. We also recommend carrying a first aid kit with you just in case. Bring plenty of water. (Especially if it’s hot!) Use an insulated water bottle to keep your water nice and cool. Make sure your cell phone doesn’t run out of battery with this portable charger. Finally, be prepared to take photos with the entire canyon behind you with a selfie stick.
If you don’t already have a daypack, you’ll want to purchase a comfortable one to store all your things. We recommend this one.
If you haven’t seen our post on the 10 Essentials, be sure to check it out so you know what to pack with you anytime you go out hiking!
Summary: The Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point
The trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point was one of our highlights at Bryce Canyon National Park! Make sure that you walk this portion of the Rim Trail when you visit Bryce Canyon.
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