15+ Amazing National Parks near Las Vegas to explore now

Valley of Fire Scenic Drive

Las Vegas might be famous for its gambling and nightlife but the Sin City is also the perfect outdoor destination for nature lovers.

There are several amazing national parks near Las Vegas including Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Death Valley National Park.

Las Vegas makes the perfect base for planning a road trip around the American Southwest.

Whether you want to see the popular national parks or explore underrated attractions such as White Sands National Park and Four Corners Monument, Las Vegas is the perfect starting point.

Here’s an epic list of bucket list worthy national and state parks, national forests, stunning national recreation areas near Las Vegas to visit this summer.

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Best National Parks near Las Vegas

Here are the best national parks near Las Vegas to plan your next road trip.

Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park, located on the California Nevada border, has stark desert beauty and rich history.

This national park is the closest national park near Las Vegas and a perfect day trip away from Sin City.

Death Valley is also the largest national park in the lower 48 states.

Death Valley has an extreme environment: it is the hottest and driest place in North America.

The park is famous for its unique landscapes including the Badwater Basin, colorful Artists Palette drive, and the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes.

Learn about the mining operations at the Harmony Borax Works Trail, see the iconic salt flats, and spot the desert wildlife including the desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, jackrabbits, and a variety of reptiles.

In spring the park blooms with the wildflowers and is incredibly beautiful to visit. 

Death Valley is also an international dark sky park and a favorite for stargazing.

Best Place to Stay – Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel

Death Valley National Park superbloom in California
Death Valley National Park superbloom in California

Zion National Park, Utah

Looking for an incredible oasis in the middle of the Southern Utah desert? Head to Zion!

Zion National Park is, without a doubt, one of the most popular national parks to visit around Las Vegas.

Zion National Park is known for its wonderful hikes, beautiful landscapes, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife.

The famous Narrows Trail through the Virgin River and the vivid colors of the red sandstone canyon are what make Zion National Park stand out from the other national parks in America.

The Zion Narrows Trail takes you along the bed of the Virgin River to the narrowest and most colorful sections of the canyon.

Most of the time, you’ll be hiking in knee-deep water with tall sandstone walls closing in on you.

The Narrows is a truly unique experience.

Angel’s Landing is the most famous hike in Zion National Park and also the most crowded one.

This trail has many switchbacks and requires hikers to scramble over rocks.

In the final climb, you’ll be hiking along a narrow ridge perched high above the valley.

The trail passes too close to cliff edges however there are railings and chains in this challenging stretch to hold onto.

From the top of Angel’s Landing, you’ll get an incredible 360-degree panoramic view of all of Zion National Park.

Zion also has many great hikes that are popular with visitors including Observation Point trail, Emerald Pool trail, and more.

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Zion National Park View from top of the Angels Landing trail
Zion National Park View from top of the Angels Landing trail

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park, located just over 3 hours from Las Vegas, is one of the most unique California national parks.

It is known for its bare rock formations, stark landscapes, and the iconic Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree draws nature lovers from around the world to its desert habitats.

The park can be easily visited on a road trip from Las Vegas. 

There are many things to do in Joshua Tree for visitors.

You can go on a hike to see the rugged rock formations or the palm oases that grow in the desert.

Visitors also like to look at the twisting Joshua trees up close and photograph them in the backdrop of the bare desert.

The Cholla Cactus Garden and Ocotillo patches are also popular for their unique flora and fauna.

Barker Dam Trail in Joshua Tree National Park is an easy 1.5-mile track where you can spot wildlife at the namesake dam and see pictograms.

For something a little more challenging, try climbing Ryan Mountain.

This Joshua Tree National Park hike can take up to 3 hours but the views from the top are worthwhile.

Alternatively, drive to the panorama lookout at Keys View.

At 5185 feet tall, you’ll be spoiled by views of the Indio Hills, Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, and even Signal Mountain in Mexico from the top of Keys View.

You can also clearly see the San Andreas faultline from the viewpoint in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park also has a dark night sky and camping in the park is amazing.

One of the best campsites to stay in Joshua Tree National Park is the Indian Cove Campground.

The campsites are located next to the boulders and Joshua trees and have great views of the desert. 

Best Place to Stay – Indian Cove Campsite

By Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel

Campground with RVs at Joshua Tree National Park, California
Campground with RVs at Joshua Tree National Park, California

Grand Canyon National park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks near Las Vegas.

This natural wonder is on the bucket list of many visitors to the United States and the first one that comes to mind when you think of national parks close to Vegas.

The vast and deep canyon with its multitude of rock layers, geological formations, and hiking trails has been fascinating explorers for centuries.

The Grand Canyon National Park occupies a vast area – roughly about 1902 sq miles – and can be reached via two different entrances: the north rim and the south rim.

The south rim is located 252 miles away and can be reached by a 4.5 hrs drive.

Many viewpoints located along the south rim offer iconic views of the vast canyon carved by the Colorado River.

Visitors can find a variety of amenities at the Grand Canyon Village including dining, lodging, camping, museums, and visitor centers.

Also Read: Arizona Road Trip Itinerary

Grand Canyon Northern Rim is located about 268 miles from Las Vegas, so approximately a 5-hour drive one-way.

The north rim is visited by fewer people and looks significantly different than the south rim.

It has fewer amenities than the south rim and is inaccessible during winter. 

Visitors can experience the true ruggedness of the canyon at the north rim and it is a favorite with advanced hikers.

Best Place to Stay – Bright Angel Lodge, South Rim or Grand Canyon Lodge, North Rim 

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Photo of Grand Canyon National Park at sunset
Grand Canyon National Park at sunset

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a great place to visit from Las Vegas.

It is located just 4 hours away and is a fairy tale landscape of vivid red hoodoo rock formations.

These spire-shaped rocks were formed due to years and years of weathering due to wind, water, and snow.

The red sandstone looks even more vivid and bright crimson at sunrise and sunset making this the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. 

One of the top places to visit inside the National Park is Bryce amphitheater.

This vast depression is filled with hoodoos and is the best place to see their expanse.

You can hike along the Rim Trail to see the rock formations from above or hike down into the amphitheater to see the hoodoos up close from below.

Hike along the Navajo Loop Trail and the Queen’s Garden Trail to see the most interesting rock formations. 

During the winter Bryce Canyon National Park may be covered with snow, making late spring to fall the best time to visit the park.

Visitors can also drive along Highway 12 which is the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive to explore the National Park.

Many trailheads and 13 scenic overlooks are located along the 38-mile long drive.

Some of the best overlooks include Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. 

Best Place to Stay – Bryce Canyon Log Cabins

Also Read: Las Vegas Zion Bryce Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

Bryce Canyon National Park Thor’s Hammer (Photo Credit – Pixabay / skeeze)

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Great Basin National Park is located in eastern Nevada near the Utah state line.

It is the only national park in Nevada and one of the least visited in the country.

The drive to the park lasts four and a half hours on lonely roads but the journey is worth it.

Located in the Great Basin desert, the national park has a beautiful landscape of ancient conifers and abundant wildlife. 

The aromatic shrub, sagebrush, covers the low lying hills and stretches throughout the valley.

At higher elevations, you will find the tall trees of pines, mahogany, firs, and junipers while the aspens grow on the tallest peaks. 

Visitors to the park can drive the 12 miles long Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to Wheeler Peak.

This is the main scenic road in the park.

The mountainous road winds up the South Snake ranges and has amazing overlooks over the Great Basin desert.

Many trailheads are also located along the drive.

At the end is Wheeler Peak. With an altitude of 13,000 feet, this is one of the popular attractions of the park.

It is a great spot for adventure lovers that want to climb up the trail to the summit. 

When visiting Great Basin National Park, visitors can also tour the Lehman caves and see ancient bristlecone pine tree groves in the forests surrounding the park.

Besides the amazing scenery, the national park also has camping, photography, biking, fishing, and other interesting things to do and places to visit including Stellar Lake. 

Best Place to Stay – Stargazer Inn in Baker, Nevada

Wheeler Peak in Great Basin
Wheeler Peak in Great Basin

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem in the Utah desert. 

It is filled with unique geological features including monoliths, domes, and sandstone cliffs. 

The park has a unique rock formation with white sandstone domes that resembles the US Capitol building in Washington DC and earns the park its unique name. 

Getting to the park from Las Vegas takes about 5 hours and is possible throughout the year with the shortest route being through Interstate 15. 

The most accessible section of the park is the Fruita region which has orchards and a scenic drive. 

Capitol Reef Park’s several geological features make it an interesting park to explore whether you are visiting for a half-day or an entire weekend.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is very close to Las Vegas and is one of the most famous outdoor things to do in the city. 

The area comprises over 1.5 million acres and has a stunning landscape of the Nevada desert, mountains, valleys, and the blue lake. 

There are plenty of scenic drives and hiking trails all around the lake. 

Of course, water sports are the #1 popular activity in the region. 

Visitors can go swimming, launch their pontoons and boats, canoe, and kayak to hidden beaches, as well as fish for many species that call the lake home. 

Many campgrounds are also located around Lake Mead and camping is a popular activity.

Yosemite National Park, California

Many people plan a trip around Nevada and Eastern California by visiting the beautiful Yosemite National Park from Las Vegas.

This is one of the top-visited and most beautiful national parks in the country and the scenic route via Highway 395 is amazing to drive.

The time to drive this road is late spring through fall when the Lee Vinings Road to Yosemite is open. 

Since you will be entering the popular national park by its back door, you will encounter fewer crowds.

You will be treated to outstanding views of the crystal clear Mercer River and the wildflower-filled Tuolumne Meadows.

The park is also popular for its wildlife. You will also be able to spot bears, deer, and coyotes.

Enjoy hiking to far-flung places in the park and enjoy trails like Mirror Lake loop and the Mist Trail. 

However, Yosemite Valley is where the hub of tourist attractions within the National Park is located.

The valley has all kinds of amenities from a visitor center and ranger-led tours to scenic drives like the one to Glacier Point.

The valley is bounded by the granite peaks of Half Dome and El Capitan and is a fantastic place.

The park’s famous waterfall, the Yosemite Falls is located in the valley.

Beyond the valley, Yosemite is also famous for its Giant Sequoia tree groves. 

Best Place to Stay – The Pines Resort near Bass Lake

Also Read: Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, while 8 hours away from Las Vegas, is a pretty popular attraction.

The road to Mesa Verde passes through many attractions such as Zion National Park, Lake Powell, Antelope Canyons, Monument Valley, and Four Corners Monument making it a spectacular road trip.

The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for history and archeology buffs. 

The park is home to very well preserved cliff dwellings that belonged to the Ancestral Pueblo people.

The indigenous people built entire villages on the cliff faces at Mesa Verde to protect them from weather and enemies.

Archaeological sites at the national park consist of a total of 4,000+ cliff dwellings.

The on-site museum has several exhibits depicting the lifestyle of the native people.

One of the stunning dwelling structures is the Cliff Palace which has over 150 rooms, 23 kivas, and several towers.

Visitors can see the Cliff Palace on a guided tour.

For those up to the adventure, a must is the one-hour long ranger-led Balcony House Tour.

This cliff dwelling has 40 rooms and visitors need to climb up and down staircases, ladders, and stone steps, descend into a canyon, and crawl through a tunnel to see the entire abode.

After seeing the dwellings and the museum, explore the landscape of the national park.

Drive along the Mesa Top Loop Road to see cliff dwellings and overlooks including the panoramic Sun Point Overlook.

The park also contains petroglyphs; hike the Petroglyph point trail to see them. 

Best Place to Stay – Holiday Inn Express Mesa Verde / Cortez

Point Lookout at Mesa Verde National Park
Point Lookout at Mesa Verde National Park

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park offers a stunning natural landscape of vivid colors and unique landforms to its visitors.

Located in northwestern Utah, the park is known for its over 2000 naturally occurring arches.

The bright red sandstone arches stand out among other geological forms like giant bare boulders, majestic fins, windows, and pinnacles.

The road trip from Las Vegas to the park is about 530 miles but the drive passes along many other Utah parks and can be easily done as a multi-day road trip.

The famed red rock arches are as delightful to see up close as they look in the pictures.

The national park also has many trails of varying difficulties to see the most popular rock formations.

The park colors are most magnificent at sunset; partly because the red sandstone color looks even more bright at that time and partly because of the low pollution and great air quality within the park.

The night sky also looks amazing and capturing the galaxy against a natural arch is every photographer’s dream.

Some of the most famous arches and rock formations include Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch in Devil’s Garden, the Balanced Rock formation, Double Arch and Corona Arch.

Drive the scenic drives to enjoy views of the La Sal Mountains and the Window Section.

For a spectacular view of various arches connected by hiking trails within the park, go to the Devil’s Garden.

Camping in the park is one of the best ways to fully explore the park’s grounds.

Best Place to Stay – Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab

Double Arch in Arches National Park, Utah
Double Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Best State Parks near Las Vegas

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada 

Valley of Fire State Park is a recreation area and nature preserve 50 miles (about a one hour drive) northeast of Las Vegas.

The park is primarily known for its eye-catching red Aztec sandstone formations but is also home to a collection of ancient petroglyphs and petrified trees. 

Valley of Fire is best enjoyed by taking a scenic drive through the park.

There are two scenic drives in the park – the Valley of Fire Highway and the White Domes Road.

The latter is six miles long and more scenic than the main highway.

Along both the drives, there are trailheads, viewpoints, and colorful rock formations.

Some of the must-see rock formations are Elephant Rock and Balancing Rock.

Another great way to enjoy the colorful landscape and stunning vistas is by hiking through the state park.

There are several hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties that are worth exploring; most of the popular trails are located along the scenic routes.

Good short trails to complete on your first visit are White Domes Loop, Fire Wave Trail, Pink Canyon, and Mouse’s Tank.

On the Mouse’s Tank trail, you can see ancient Native American petroglyphs.

Camping is another popular activity at Valley of Fire State Park.

The park has two campgrounds and both have great views of the rock formations.

All campsites are first-come, first-served, and can often be full.

If you’re unable to get a campsite, you can still enjoy a day trip to the park.

Best Place to Stay- Atlatl Campground

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Valley of Fire Scenic Drive
Valley of Fire Scenic Drive

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Snow Canyon is one of the most beautiful state parks in Utah.

It’s known for its red and white sandstone cliffs, which provide a stunning backdrop to the green fields and trees below.

The park offers plenty of activities for visitors, including hiking, biking, camping, and horseback riding.

It’s also a great place to observe nature, with more than 300 species of plants and animals calling Snow Canyon home.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Snow Canyon is well worth your time!

Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona

Lake Havasu State Park is located near Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Comprising the scenic shoreline of Lake Havasu, there are plenty of things to do in this unique tourist attraction.

A highlight of the park is the white sand beach along the lakeshore that is at odds with the surrounding desert landscape.

The state park also has a grassy picnic area and has spectacular views of the mountain ranges and lake at sunset. 

The park has hiking trails and campgrounds for outdoor lovers.

The most popular hike is the Mojave Sunset Trail.

Water enthusiasts will enjoy swimming along the shores and launching boats in the lake.

Kayaking and canoeing are also popular here.

Another unique attraction located outside the state park is the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.

This is the Old London Bridge which when replaced by a new bridge was transported piece by piece from London to Lake Havasu City and rebuilt here.

It is a fun attraction to visit while nearby. 

Best Place to Stay – London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona
Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona

Best natural attractions other than national or state parks close to Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada 

If you have less time, then the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is your best bet for closest national parks near Las Vegas.

It is located just 30 minutes – 15 miles – away from the Las Vegas Strip and lies in Nevada’s Mojave desert.

Although the canyon is close to Las Vegas there is virtually no cell phone reception inside the park and you are instantly drawn into nature.

Outdoor lovers love Red Rock Canyon for many reasons.

The large red rock formations inside the park look stunning against the desert landscape.

Visitors are often taken aback by how beautiful the desert can really be.

It is oftentimes a forgotten part of our ecosystem, but a visit to the Red Rock Canyon will garner a new appreciation for the desert.

The visitor’s center has information about the desert and exhibits to learn more about the ecosystem and animals that survive there.

You can also see Desert Tortoises in their live habitats.

After enjoying the exhibits in the visitor’s center, it is time to drive the scenic loop road to see the beauty of the canyon.

If you do not plan to hike or make frequent stops, the 13-mile route will take 30 – 35 minutes.

If you plan to stop at the pullouts and trailheads, plan to spend at least 2 hours here.

For avid hikers, there are over 25 hiking trails of varying difficulty that explore the buttes, chimneys, and other features of the canyon.

Besides hiking trails and scenic drives, Red Rock Canyon is popular for biking and rock climbing.

Where to stay: Wyndham Desert Blue Las Vegas

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada

Tule Springs Fossil Bed National Monument, Nevada

Located just north of Sin City, the Tule Springs Fossil Bed National Monument is home to some of the best preserved Ice Age fossils in North America.

Visitors can see bones from mammoths, camels, horses and other extinct creatures that roamed the area over 10,000 years ago at Tule Springs Fossil Beds.

The monument is open year-round, and offers a variety of interpretive programs for visitors of all ages.

Skywalk glass observation bridge at Grand Canyon West Rim
Skywalk glass observation bridge at Grand Canyon West Rim

Antelope Canyons, Arizona

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is one of the best natural wonders in the world.

It’s a sandstone slot canyon located in Navajo Nation.

The slot canyon, formed due to weathering, is famous for the swirling patterns in red canyon walls.

Antelope Canyon is actually composed of two separate slot canyons – Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Though both the canyons are equally stunning, travelers mostly prefer Upper over Lower because of the unique light beams phenomenon seen in the Upper Antelope Canyon.

Visitors need to plan their visit to the Upper Antelope Canyon at the right time of the year and day to see the beautiful light beams stream through the canyon.

The light rays look incredible during April and October from 10 am to 12 pm.

Lower Antelope Canyon is more narrow than the upper canyon and the hike through the canyon is more strenuous.

The lower canyon also has unusual and beautiful patterns.

It is popular between 12 pm to 1 pm as it looks vivid and gorgeous in the afternoon light.

Navajo Nation manages Antelope Canyon and they can be seen via guided tours only.

There are separate tour operators for the Upper and Lower canyons.

Make sure to book in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the peak season.

Whichever slot canyon you choose to visit, you will be awe-struck by the vivid colors that change with the light.

The entire experience is other-worldly and makes Antelope Canyons one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas.

Best Places to Stay – Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Page Lake Powell

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Antelope Canyons in Page Arizona
Antelope Canyons in Page Arizona

Best Place to Stay – Hat Rock Inn

We hope you liked our epic guide to the best natural areas, scenic state parks, national monuments, attractions located on tribal reservations, and famous national parks to visit near Las Vegas.

Did we miss out on any famous natural attraction or hidden gem near Sin City?

Let us know in the comments.

Ultimate Texas to Colorado Road Trip Itinerary

Beautiful landscape near Estes Park, Colorado

For those living in Texas, Colorado is one of the most popular road trip destinations.

One of the best reasons for this is that Colorado is a year-round destination.

Live in Texas? Looking for local getaways, state parks, hidden gems, and weekend destinations in Texas?
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From dinosaur tracks in Texas to charming beach towns, plan your next Texas vacation with us!

Whether you plan to enjoy the mountain air in the summer, see the beautiful aspen leaves change color in fall, or want to go skiing in the winter, Colorado offers the ultimate family vacation for everyone. 

Colorado has a dramatic mountain scenery and offers a change from the flat grasslands and arid desert landscape of Texas.

The drive to Colorado has many spectacular attractions and natural areas and is prefect for families as well as couples.

Also Read: Texas to California Road Trip Planner

We have driven the distance from Houston to Colorado road trip several times and have found a variety of attractions to break the 15+ hours of Houston to Denver driving time.

While we have driven from Houston, we have made this trip planner pretty flexible. You can also use this itinerary to plan a Austin to Denver drive or Dallas to Colorado road trip.

The route is really interesting: you will be passing through the Texas Panhandle and then Southern Colorado.

You will come across a couple of Route 66 attractions near Amarillo.

One thing you can bet on: Texas is really huge and you will drive through the state for a really long time! 

Garden of the Gods vistas in Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods vistas in Colorado Springs

How far is Colorado from Texas?

Before planning the trip, you need to know how far is Texas from Colorado.

Houston to Colorado drive time, if you are planning to go all the way to Denver, is about 16 hours.

How many miles from Denver Colorado to Houston Texas is ~1050 miles.

San Antonio to Denver drive time is slightly more than 14 hours and the route is about 930 miles long.

Dallas to Denver drive time is 12 hours. How many miles from Denver to Dallas? The trip is about 795 miles long.

The distance from Fort Worth tx to Denver co is 11 hrs 30 mins and 768 miles.

Austin to Denver road trip is also a little under 14 hours while the Austin to Colorado trip distance is about 950 miles.

Considering the vast distances, we recommend at least 4 days to a week for this vacation.

Anything over 5 days is perfect for the Houston to Denver drive, keeping time to enjoy all the attractions in between.

Fun Fact – Did you know that measuring distances in hours is a totally Texas thing?

Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas
Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas

Essential Stops on Texas to Colorado Road Trip

Plan the best road trip using our Texas to Colorado road trip planner.

In this trip planner, we focus on a trip around Denver, Colorado Springs, and the Rocky Mountains.

Most of the roadside attractions are on the drive from Dallas to Denver so you can customize and use this itinerary, whether you are starting from Houston, Austin, or San Antonio.

You can also cover half of them on the Colorado to Texas return trip, to break the journey in interesting parts.

Or you can see them all while going and make the Denver to Houston drive back in a single day without stops.

In case you want to visit southwestern Colorado or northwestern part of the state, then use this planner together with our Colorado Road Trip Planner.

We have mentioned essential stops on your road trip as well as recommendations on things to do, where to eat, and places to stay in this guide. 

The Big Blue Bear in Denver, Colorado
The Big Blue Bear in Denver, Colorado


Yes, we know your final destination is Colorado!

But just in case you are driving from the south or west Texas and are looking for a great pitstop, then you can’t go wrong with Dallas!

The city has everything: intriguing history, art and culture, and foodie destinations! 

It is a great stop on the Colorado Texas road trip planner.

Start your visit at the iconic Sixth Floor Museum at the Dealey Plaza.

It was here that JFK was murdered and the museum pays homage to his legacy and the events that led to the tragic incident.

Also Read: Best Things to do in Dallas, Texas

Then visit the Dallas Museum of Art or Perot Museum of Nature Science, depending on whether you love the old masters or dinosaurs! 

See a panoramic view of Dallas from the Reunion Tower.

Visit the Dallas Farmers Market for some quick bites or sample some barbecue if you are hungry for more.

See the fantastic season displays at the Dallas Arboretum or enjoy the tranquil views of White Rock Lake. 

Reunion Tower and Dallas skyline in Texas
Reunion Tower and Dallas skyline in Texas

Enjoy your time in the city before you begin the drive across the Texas Panhandle. 

Or if you are beginning the trip in Dallas, then drive straight to the Panhandle and start the trip there.

Colorado is definitely one of the best driving vacation from Dallas and you are sure to have a great time.

Optional: Fort Worth

If you have the time, then explore Fort Worth in addition to Dallas.

This metro area has a host of impressive cultural attractions.

You can visit the Kimbell Art Museum or the Modern Art Museum or the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, depending on your interest.

If you like being outdoors, take a walk through the Botanical Gardens, which are the oldest in Texas. 

The most popular attraction in the city is, however, the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.

It celebrates the history and tradition of Texas’s livestock and cattle industry.

Here you can watch a mock shootout, ride a mechanical bull, drink in a saloon, and dance a two-step.

We can never get enough of the stockyards and their unique vibe! 

Rose garden in Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Texas
Rose garden in Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Texas

Optional: Grapevine

If you are doing the Texas Colorado road trip in the winter or during the holiday season, then you should definitely stop in Grapevine.

Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine has enough holiday spirit to make everyone happy! 

If your kids love trains, then take a ride on the Polar Express.

Operated by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, this holiday train takes kids to see Santa Claus and the North Pole.

Take a stroll on historic Main Street and see the holiday lights.  

Wichita Falls

Located on the banks of the Wichita River, Wichita Falls is a great pitstop on this road trip.

There are many fun, interesting, and fascinating things to do here.

You can visit cultural attractions and go antiquing in the town. 

You can visit the Museum of North Texas history and see a collection of historic artifacts including cowboy boots, hats, and rodeo items in Wichita Fall.

Also, you should visit Lucy Park to see the actual Wichita Falls waterfall.

The Wichita Falls Railroad Museum is a great place to take the kids.  


For Editorial purposes only - The Old Cowboy Motel on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas
For Editorial purposes only – The Old Cowboy Motel on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas

The real fun of this trip starts on the Amarillo TX to Denver CO route.

Visitors often ask, does Route 66 go through Colorado. It doesn’t but it does go through the Texas Panhandle!

Amarillo is one of the essential stops on the Texas section of Historic Route 66 and has many Route 66 themed attractions.

It has an entire Route 66 Historic District which is a must-visit. 

Amarillo is also almost midway between the destinations and hence, is perfect place to take a break.

The distance from Amarillo tx to Denver co is 6 hrs 40 mins and 435 miles.

Amarillo is the symbolic Old West.

Located in the Texan desert, Amarillo has cultural attractions, historic downtown, outdoor activities, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries.

There are lots of things to do in Amarillo for all types of visitors. 

For Editorial purposes only - Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
For Editorial purposes only – Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

Visit the Big Texan Steak Ranch Hotel and accept their steak challenge!

See the Route 66 memorial and many murals on the walls.

Take a photo with the Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch (see below).

See a show at the Amarillo Opera or symphony or Lone Star Ballet. 

Take the kids to the Don Harrington Discovery Center or the Zoo. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens.

See skeletons and historic artifacts at the Amarillo Historical Museum.

Visit the Cowboy and Cowgirls of the West Museum. 

There are honestly so many things to do in Amarillo that we definitely recommend stopping here for 2 to 3 days on your Colorado trip. 

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch is one of the most iconic Route 66 attractions and a great pit stop on Houston Colorado trip.

Located just a short distance away from downtown Amarillo, this unique attraction features ten Cadillacs half-buried in the ground.  

The cars are covered with spray paint and you can see fantastic art on each and every part of the cars, including their interior.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas closeup of cars

Cadillac Ranch is a must stop while in the Texas Panhandle.

On a visit, you will meet several other Route 66 trippers who have come to see the iconic ranch. 

Visitors can get spray paint and leave their own artistic vision on the cars.

You will see names, symbols, patterns, and more etched by other visitors. 

Optional: Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Located near Amarillo, Texas, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a must-visit when you are in the Texas Panhandle.

Palo Duro Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of Texas and it is very impressive.

It is the second-largest canyon in the country. 

The small town of Canyon is the gateway to the state park. 

Lighthouse Rock formation in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Lighthouse Rock formation in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

The best way to explore the Palo Duro Canyon is on a scenic drive through the park.

The route dips low into the canyon before rising again towards the rim.

On the route, you will have stunning views of the weathered rock layers and steep canyon walls.

You can also spot wildlife and hike inside the park. 

Some of the interesting geological formations to spot inside the canyon include hoodoos and canyons.

The Lighthouse rock formation is an iconic feature of the park.

Also must visit is the Visitor Center.

Here you can spot fossils of prehistoric animals found inside the park as well as learn about the indigenous people that lived in the area many years ago. 

Caprock Canyons State Park, Texas Panhandle
Caprock Canyons State Park, Texas Panhandle

Optional: Caprock Canyons State Park

Caprock Canyons State Park is located about 100 miles or 2 hours to the southeast of Amarillo and is a great place to visit if you have the time.

You can see the Texas bison herd as well as enjoy the stunning landscape of this remote state park.

After Amarillo, you can drive straight to Colorado Springs via US-87 N but we recommend the Mother Road aka Route 66!

You will pass through Adrian, the ghost town of Glenrio, and part of New Mexico Route 66 before crossing the border to Colorado.

Historic Route 66 Midpoint Sign in Adrian, Texas
Historic Route 66 Midpoint Sign in Adrian, Texas

Optional: Adrian 

Adrian, Texas is the midpoint of Route 66.

To reach Adrian, you will need to take a detour and drive along Route 66 for an hour or so but the reward is worth it! 

This small west Texas town is most famous for its Midpoint Cafe.

This cafe was the inspiration for Flo’s V8 Cafe in the famous Disney / Pixar movie Cars.

In addition to being a restaurant, the cafe also serves as a souvenir shop. 

Adrian also has many other attractions, most of them are located on the Historic Main Street.

See the Giles Hotel, one of the earliest hotels on Route 66, as well as three vintage gas stations. 

The midpoint of Route 66 signs in Adrian are worth the trip itself! These are some of the best photo ops on Route 66. 

Midpoint Cafe. Cafe. Adrian, Texas
Midpoint Cafe. Cafe. Adrian, Texas

Optional: Glenrio

Glenrio, once a booming town of Route 66, is one of the most famous ghost towns on the Mother Road today.

It is located juts across the border in New Mexico and is a great place to wander through.

On its dusty Main Street, you will see a collection of abandoned buildings – a motel, post office, and a diner.

Not a single soul lives in Glenrio today – and it is fascinating to see the abandoned relic.

Abandoned ghost town of Glenrio on Route 66, New Mexico
Abandoned ghost town of Glenrio on Route 66, New Mexico

Optional: Capulin Volcano National Monument

A very exceptional and unique detour on Houston Texas to Colorado trip.

If you have the time, definitely squeeze in a visit to Capulin Volcano National Monument, located about 3 hours away from Santa Fe in New Mexico.

Here you can actually explore an extinct cinder cone volcano! 

Located in northeastern New Mexico’s Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field, Capulin Volcano National Monument is a unique geological wonder.

You can drive up to the rim of its crater and even hike down into its mouth.

You can learn more about the area’s history and geology at the Visitor Center. 

The symmetrical cinder cone of the volcano rises above the surrounding plains.

From the top, you have stunning views of the panoramic field.

On a clear day, you can see areas of 5 states including Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and even Kansas!  

Other things to do at Capulin Volcano National Monument include seeing wildlife, hiking into lava tubes, and stay gazing. 

Landscape near Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico
Landscape near Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

Optional: Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park is a wonder in this part of the country.

It is as far removed from the Texas Grasslands or Colorado’s mountain ranges as it can be!

Here you will find an endless sea of sand dunes stretching in every direction.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and its gateway town of Alamosa are a destination in their own right. 

Inside the national park, you will find some of the tallest dunes in the country.

Star Dune, at 750 feet, easily towers above all others.

One of the best attractions in the park is to go sand sledding or sandboarding down the dunes.

You can rent the boards in Alamosa prior to your visit.

In spring, a creek flows through the park and provides some splashing fun for everyone. 

After a trip to the park, you can also enjoy the hot springs in Alamosa at Splashland, a popular family friendly resort.

Great Sand Dunes National Park wildflowers Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park with summer wildflowers in Colorado

Colorado Springs

Your next stop while on your way to Denver from Texas, should be Colorado Springs.

This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Colorado and very popular with tourists.

The city of Colorado Spring is located on the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, adjacent to Pikes National Forest. 

Colorado Springs is most famous for the Garden of the Gods park.

Here you can see stunning red sandstone formations.

Garden of the Gods is really photogenic and best enjoyed through the scenic drive and hiking. 

The other most popular attraction in Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak.

Located 12 miles from downtown, this is a famous fourteener peak and the views from the top are breathtaking.

You can either drive to the top or take the charming cog railway to the top. 

Between these two attractions, you will find the charming mountain town of Manitou Springs.

Visit the cliff dwellings or enjoy the art galleries and boutiques in downtown.

We recommend spending a minimum of 2 to 3 days in Colorado Springs to fully enjoy the area and its amazing attractions. 

Three Graces rock formation in Garden of the Gods Colorado
Three Graces rock formation in Garden of the Gods Colorado


You can’t really visit Colorado without spending some time in Denver.

The distance from Denver to Texas is really worth it for all the attractions the city has to offer.

Popularly known as the Mile High City, Denver is vibrant and full of culture.

It is a culinary destination and also has several places of interest for art lovers. 

We recommend starting your visit at the Colorado State Capitol.

Take a free tour of this beautiful building and see the famous view of Denver from up above the Capitol.

Then visit the nearby Denver Art Museum and appreciate a staggering collection of art pieces including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media artwork. 

Other popular attractions in Denver include the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, 16th Street Mall, Union Station, and Larimer Square.

For more information on things to do in Denver, read our post on Denver Travel Guide

Charming Larimer Square in Downtown Denver, Colorado
Charming Larimer Square in Downtown Denver, Colorado

Estes Park

The charming mountain town of Estes Park is the gateway to Colorado’s famous Rocky Mountain National Park and should definitely be on your trip itinerary.

The park entrance is located just a few miles away and in the town, you can rent all kinds of outdoor gear including snowshoes and ATVs. 

There are many historical buildings, museums, and art galleries in this charming town.

You will also find an abundance of shopping boutiques selling everything from Colorado themed sweatshirts to cowboy boots and hats.

Take a walk along the riverwalk and discover beautiful sculptures. 

For such a small town, Estes Park has a great variety of eateries and restaurants.

You can visit steakhouses and try an elk steak – a Colorado favorite!

Enter the candy and fudge stores to sample a variety of snacks such as popcorn, truffles, fudge, saltwater taffy, and more. 

Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado

There are also several things to do in Estes Park in the winter, read them here.

After spending your day in town, rest for an exciting day of adventure in the national park. 

Rocky Mountains National Park

Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado is one of our favorite national parks in the country.

The park is famous for its dramatic scenery, abundant wildlife, scenic drives, and outdoor recreation including hiking trails.

The best way to explore this beautiful park is by driving the many spectacular scenic drives inside the park.

These drives are beautiful year-round: from summer wildflowers to golden-colored aspens to snowy mountain peaks, you are sure to find something enchanting irrespective of when you go. 

Drive the Bear Lake Road to go deeper inside the park towards beautiful Bear Lake and to see enchanting views of the Continental Divide.

Take the short and easy Bear Lake hiking trail which is just 0.6 miles long and takes you around the lake.

Walk on a frozen lake in the Rockies, Colorado
Walk on a frozen lake in the Rockies, Colorado

Fall River Road is excellent to see the gigantic boulders in the Alluvial Fan area.

The aptly named Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide and offers majestic views.

It connects Estes Park to the western gateway of the Rockies, Grand Lake.

In the winter, the national park is a beautiful snowy wonderland with frozen lakes and sparkling trees.

The icy mountain scenery in winter is breathtaking and such a welcome break from Texas’s grasslands, making this one of our favorite times to visit. 

Lake at the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado
Dream Lake at the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Optional: Fort Collins

Consider a trip to Fort Collins, located just 1 hr 20 mins north of Denver.

This is the craft beer capital of the state and home to numerous breweries.

It is an amazing place to visit for beer lovers.

It also has many other charming attractions such as the Old Town Historic District, Horsetooth Mountain hiking area, and the Lory State Park.

Colorado State Capitol in Denver
Colorado State Capitol in Denver

Colorado to Texas Road Trip Drive

After seeing Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, you can either head back via the Denver to Dallas drive or continue to explore even more of Colorful Colorado using our Colorado Road Trip Itinerary.

Our detailed itinerary will take you to places such as Colorado National Monument, Crested Butte, and Mesa Verde National Park.

It will give all the information on hot springs including Pagosa Springs and Glenwood Springs.

You can use it to visit beautiful Buena Vista or plan a trip around San Juan Scenic Byway connecting Telluride, Durango, Silverton, and Ouray.

You can also head to Colorado Springs before driving back to Texas, if you haven’t seen it on your way to Denver.

The Denver to Colorado Springs drive time is 1 hr 15 mins or a little over 70 miles.

Or head for the ski towns of Breckenridge or Vail before making the drive to Texas if you are visiting in the winter.

Here’s a little information about these attractions.

Stunning blue mountain lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Stunning blue mountain lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Optional: Colorado Springs

As we mentioned before, Colorado Springs is located at the base of Rocky Mountains.

It has stunning mountain scenery and unique geological formations which attract visitors.

Pikes Peak, a fourteener located in the Pike National Forest, is a major attraction in Colorado Springs.

You can take a charming cog railway up to the top of the peak – this is a favorite with families.

Another popular attraction is the Garden of the Gods park.

Here you will find stunning red rock formations and plenty of hiking and biking trails as well as scenic drives.

After seeing Colorado Springs, you can head back directly to Amarillo via the Boise City, Texas route.

The distance from Colorado Springs to Amarillo, Texas is 360 miles while the time from Amarillo to Colorado Springs is 6 hours.

Pikes Peak as seen from Garden of the Gods in Colorado
Pikes Peak as seen from Garden of the Gods in Colorado

Optional: Breckenridge

Breckenridge has its origins as a booming mining town in the Rockies.

It has tons of Gold Rush history and Victorian-era buildings, which you can see in the Breckenridge National Historic District.

Walk along the mountain towns Main Street and you will find charming pastel-colored buildings.

Most of these are now home to spas, art galleries, boutique stores, cafes, restaurants, and bookstores. 

While everyone knows about Breckenridge’s winter attractions, including skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, the town is equally fun in the summer and fall.

You can go hiking, camping, on scenic drives.

Breckenridge also has plenty of water activities including white water rafting, kayaking, fishing, etc.

Frisco which is just half an hour away from Breckenridge is also a great town to check out while in the area. 

Ski Lodge at Breckenridge, Colorado
Ski Lodge at Breckenridge, Colorado

Optional: Vail

Vail, Colorado, has the reputation of being one of the top ski resorts in the country.

Vail is very European, big, and exquisite.

Unfortunately, it has the reputation of being one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country; however, visiting Vail is a must for ski lovers. 

Few people know that Vail is inspired by Bavarian mountain villages in South Germany.

Here you can find Austrian chalet-style architecture, restaurants serving Bavarian cuisine, and special events like Oktoberfest.

We recommend taking a stroll in Vail and enjoying the food even if you are not skiing here.

Try eating the bratwurst or pork schnitzel.

Wash it down with German beer and try apple strudel for dessert. 

Other snow activities in Vail include snowmobiling, snow tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and building a snowman!

If you happen to visit in the summer or fall, hike to one of the area’s waterfalls or take a scenic drive in the mountains.

Indoor activities include shopping, spa massages, fancy meals, and more. 

Mountain Plaza at Vail Ski Village, Colorado
Mountain Plaza at Vail Ski Village, Colorado

Vail is definitely worth the detour on your Texas Colorado road trip. 

Other Texas Colorado Road Trip Ideas

We have several recommendations to plan alternative Colorado road trips from Texas.

A great option is to explore the Rockies in the northwestern part of the state.

Enjoy skiing in winter at Steamboat Springs or hike the beautiful Hanging Lake trail in Glenwood Canyon in the summer.

Or take the kids to Dinosaur National Monument near the border with Utah.

Discover the majestic beasts that roamed here and take a ranger led hike to discover fossil and bones.

In the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall, you can see over 1500 fossils still embedded in stone!

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado
Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

If you don’t want to drive all the way north to Denver, then consider a trip around southwestern Colorado and Four Corners National Monument.

See the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, enjoy the San Juan Mountain landscape, ride the Durango Silverton railroad, and see the amazing archeological sites in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Then visit the Four Corners Monument and head back to Texas.

Or you can extend your trip from Four Corners to Monument Valley in Utah and Arizona or even to the Grand Canyon!

Then drive across the border to California and see Yosemite, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The options are really limitless!

San Juan Scenic Byway between Telluride and Durango, Colorado
San Juan Scenic Byway between Telluride and Durango, Colorado

Things to remember while planning the trip

If you are driving in winter, make sure to prep your car for the snow.

There is a lot of wildlife in Colorado including deer, elk, and mountain goats which comes out on the roads.

Be careful while driving, especially at night.

While coming back, remember to follow the speed limits which are lower in Texas.

We have frequently seen people being pulled over for speeding as soon as they cross the border.

Also, Colorado might have legalized weed but it’s not legal in Texas and is a punishable offense.

There is no doubt – Best way to travel to Colorado from Texas is really on an amazing road trip!

See amazing wildlife in the Texas to Colorado road trip

It will be one of your most memorable road trips and if you have kids, they will enjoy seeing the variety of geological landscapes and features.

We hope you liked our post on Texas to Colorado road trip planner.

Do you know of any other attractions on the road? Or any fantastic eateries that we should visit the next time we make this trip?

Let us know in the comments!

16 Best Things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park


Planning a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah? Popular among Utah’s Mighty 5, Bryce Canyon is known for its colorful rock formations and spectacular landscapes. Read our guide to explore the park’s best attractions including the Bryce amphitheater, scenic drive, Sunset Point, Rim Trail, and Rainbow Point. You might also like our post on Zion Bryce Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

Located in Southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its massive collection of natural spire-shaped rock formations known as hoodoos.

The park preserves the biggest concentration of these interesting eroded columns in the world. But the hoodoos are not the only attraction in the park.

Years of continuous erosion have shaped the red sandstone landscape into many geological structures and formations; most of which you can see at the area known as the Bryce Amphitheater. 

Covering an area of almost 36,000 acres, Bryce Canyon National Park is certainly worth the visit. You can enjoy outstanding vistas painted in vibrant shades of yellow, red, and brown at the park.

Read our other national parks & southwest USA posts:
30 Best National Parks to visit in the USA
27 Best State & National Parks near Las Vegas
Ultimate USA Itinerary Planner & Travel Guide
33 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon: Which to Visit?

Bryce Canyon National Park Main Amphitheater - View of hoodoo rock formations
Bryce Canyon National Park Amphitheater (Photo Credit – Pixabay / PDPhotos)

Tips for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park

Planning a trip to Bryce? Keep reading this post to learn more about the park, check our tips on visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, and explore our recommendations on the top things to do during your visit. 

Location, Direction & Accomodations

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah. While the nearest airport is located just 10 miles away from the park, it is a small regional one and the best way to visit the park is on a road trip. 

Most visitors see Bryce Canyon on a road trip from Las Vegas; with a stop in Springdale to see Zion National Park. We recommend the same and even have a detailed itinerary post, Zion Bryce Grand Canyon Road Trip

Thor's Hammer Rock formation inside Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park Thor’s Hammer (Photo Credit – Pixabay / skeeze)

The full address of the park is Bryce Canyon National Park, UT-63, Bryce, Utah 84764. You can also use the GPS coordinates to the Visitor Center: N 37° 38′ 24″ W 112° 10′ 12″

For accommodations, you can stay in nearby Bryce Canyon City which has a number of hotels, motels, and inns such as Ruby’s Inn and Bryce View Lodge. Some of these also offer free shuttle service directly to the park’s entrance. 

Park Entry Fees 

As with most of the American National Parks, visitors are required to pay an entrance fee to access the park. 

For visitors arriving by car, entry costs $35 per vehicle; individual tickets for pedestrians, hikers, or bikers are also available. Camping costs are extra. 

Or you can opt for the National Parks Pass which is valid for all parks in the country for one whole year.

Ponderosa pine trees growing among the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park
Ponderosa pine trees growing among the hoodoos (Photo Credit – Pixabay / DEZALB)

Park Amenities

Bryce Canyon National Park has a wide variety of park amenities. The park offers a shuttle service for all visitors. If arriving in peak season, we recommend using it to minimize traffic in the park, avoid full parking lots, and reduce the carbon footprint. 

From May to September, the shuttle is operational from 8 am until 8 pm, whereas during the rest of the year it runs between 8 am to 6 pm. The shuttle departs every 15 minutes.

For those who would like to stay overnight in the park, there are two available campgrounds – North and Sunset. The North site is a first-come, first-serve while the Sunset campsite accepts reservations during the peak season. 

You can also stay at the Lodge at Bryce Canyon located inside the park. The lodge gets booked well in advance so you need to plan/book your trip early on.  

The lodge also has a restaurant and a general store where you can get food or buy supplies. The Visitor Center has souvenirs, maps, and water. 

View of the trail from above at Bryce Canyon
View of the trail from above (Photo Credit – Pixabay / DesignXTravel)

What to bring

We recommend packing the below items while visiting Bryce Canyon. 

●       Lots of Water – Reusable Water Bottles

●       Snack Food

●       Sunscreen, Hats, Sunglasses

●       First Aid Kit

●       Hiking Gear – Trekking Poles

●       Clothing Layers – RainCoan Additional pair of sock

●       Flashlight

●       Map

●       Insect Repellent

You can add additional items in your backpack, but the above list contains the basics that you will need for a great and safe hiking day in the National Park.

Signposted trails Navajo Loop & two Bridges trail inside Bryce Canyon
Signposted trails (Photo Credit – Pixabay / Hans)

Best Time to Visit & Climate

The most popular season to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is from May to September. The temperatures are pleasant for hiking and enjoying the scenery. However, summer is the rainy season in the park, so you need waterproof jackets.

October is another great time to visit. It has great weather, you can see fall colors, and may experience an occasional snowfall towards the end of the month. 

Winter in Bryce is not really popular. The hoodoos look beautiful dusted with snow but the temperatures get well below freezing and roads are often closed due to snowstorms.

Bryce Canyon National Park covered in winter snow
Bryce Canyon National Park looks beautiful even in the winter snow (Photo Credit – Pixabay / mwil5150)

Things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a fascinating place. There are many things to do in the park including seeing the various rock formations, photographing them, hiking amongst them, going on scenic drives, and camping. Here’s an essential guide to attractions within the park. 

Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

Start exploring the national park at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. Here you can ask the park rangers for hiking recommendations, weather conditions, and wildlife sightings. 

You can also see exhibits and learn about the history and geography of Bryce Canyon. The center also has books, souvenirs, and products for purchase.

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center (Photo Credit – Wikipedia Commons / Adam Kliczek)

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

A great way to explore the highlights of the park in a short amount of time is to drive the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive. On the route, you get to experience impressive park scenery and the colorful hoodoo formations. 

The route has 13 different observation points with pullouts. The 38-mile scenic drive takes around 3 hours and is easily accessible from the Visitor Center.

View of stone arch on the road while driving Bryce Canyon National Park
Spectacular views on Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive (Photo Credit – Pixabay / nikolaus_bader)

Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point has some of the best views of Bryce Canyon National Park. Located at an altitude of 8,143 feet, the point has three different levels so you can admire the landscape from different elevations. 

The view from here is majestic and awe-inspiring – the hoodoos in the main amphitheater go on for miles and come in every shape and size. You can see bristlecone pine trees and different formations including the Claron Formation.

Bryce Point

If you can arrive at dawn or are camping in the park, then you must enjoy the truly spectacular sunrise at Bryce Point. When the first rays of the sun fall over the top of the rock formations, the entire landscape looks flaming red and is extremely photogenic. 

Even if you can’t arrive that early, it’s alright. The view from here looks spectacular no matter the time of the day. The Peek-A-Book Loop Trail that starts at Bryce Point is worth hiking and takes you deep within the canyon.

Spectacular view of hoodoos from Inspiration Point
Spectacular view of hoodoos from Inspiration Point (Photo Credit – Pixabay / gsedwar)

Peekaboo Loop Trail

Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail is a difficult and strenuous trail that begins at Bryce Point. The trail is very steep and descends 1555 feet to the bottom of the canyon. The views once you descend into the canyon are stunning. 

The trail is also open to mules and horse riders. The entire loop is 5.2 miles long and hikers need to carry plenty of water in the summer months. The trail can be often closed in winter due to snow accumulation.

Sunrise Point

Sunrise Point is located half a mile away from Bryce Canyon Visitor Center and is easily accessible, making it one of the most popular overlooks in the park. As you can guess from its name, this is another great place to catch beautiful early morning views of the canyon. 

From here, you can see some of the most popular rock formations including the Silent City and Thor’s Hammer. You have clear views of over 8,000 feet tall summits of Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship in the distance.

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park
Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park (Photo Credit – Pixabay / PicsByJana)

Queen’s Garden Trail

Queen’s Garden Trail is one of the easiest trails that enter the canyon and hence, very popular with visitors. The trail starts at Sunrise Point and descends 320 feet from the ridge into the amphitheater. The trail is 1.8 miles round trip.

Visitors can hike down the trail from April to November and fully experience the massive hoodoos towering above. At the end of the trail is the viewpoint known as the Queen’s Garden. 

From here you can see spectacular rock formations in a variety of colors ranging from brown, orange, red, and even yellow rising upwards from the canyon’s basin. The trail is named after one of the formations, known to resemble Queen Victoria. 

Navajo Loop Trail

The Navajo Loop Trail is 1.5 miles round trip and also descends down into the amphitheater. The popular trail begins at Sunset Point and can be hiked as an addition to Queen’s Graden Trail for a longer hike. 

View of hoodoos from below on the Navajo Loop Trail
View of hoodoos from below on the Navajo Loop Trail (Photo Credit – Flickr / andrewasmith)

The initial route of Navajo Loop Trail overlaps with the Queen’s Garden Trail; then it diverges to provide different perspectives and scenic views. Navajo Loop Trail is best to hike between June and October. 

During the winter months, the trail gets partially closed due to freezing temperatures and visitors need to return instead of completing the loop. The trail offers stunning views of the popular Thor’s Hammer formation.

Sunset Point

Despite its name, Sunset Point is worth visiting throughout the day! Similar to Sunrise Point, this viewpoint is located along the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive just a mile away from the Visitor Center. 

Located at an elevation of 8,000 feet, the overlook offers a stunning perspective of the canyon’s unique geological features. You can see the unusual maze of hoodoos, Silent City, Thor’s Hammer, and many other formations from the Sunset Point. 

The Thor’s Hammer formation stands to the northern side far away from the others and photographs really well from the overlook. 

Rim Trail

The Rim Trail goes around the amphitheater and is a great way to see the area from above. While the entire trail is 11 miles round trip, visitors can choose how much they want to walk along the route.

Bryce Canyon National Park_rim trail
Bryce Canyon National Park Rim Trail (Photo Credit – Pixabay / neufal54)

The trail begins at Fairyland Point and ends at Bryce Point. The trail has two main sections. The most popular one is a half a mile long easy hike along a flat paved road between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. This can be easily done by families and offers stunning views of the hoodoos from the top. 

The other section is unpaved and has several steep elevation changes. It is more for experienced hikers but the unique views are worth it.

Natural Bridge

Few visitors know that in addition to the hoodoos, there are numerous natural arches within the park. One of the most famous is the Natural Bridge arch formation. To access Natural Bridge, drive down the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive. The formation is located 12 miles south from the Visitor Center and there’s a small parking lot on the roadside to view it. 

Natural Bridge is formed in the vivid orange-red Claron formation and is truly spectacular due to the interesting color combinations. Under the bridge, far in the distance, you can see the dark green colors of the ponderosa pine trees contrasting with the arch’s red and orange shades. This is one of the most popular photo spots in the park.

Natural Bridge Bryce Canyon National Park
Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park (Photo Credit – Pixabay / 12019)

Mossy Cave Trail

While most attractions in Bryce are beyond the Visitor Center and accessible after paying the park entrance fee, the Mossy Cave Trail is located before and hence, free to visit. Consequently, it is also overlooked by many visitors.  

However, this easy 0.8 miles round trip trail in the park’s northern end is small but fun and should be on your list. The trail follows a small river stream and takes hikers up close to the hoodoos. In the end, you will find a small waterfall and the Mossy Cave. The trail is great for families with small children.

Small Waterfall on Mossy Cave Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
Small Waterfall on Mossy Cave Trail (Photo Credit – Flickr / Don Graham)

Fairyland Loop Trail

Also located outside the park entrance station, the Fairyland Loop Trail is 8 miles round trip strenuous hike. The trail route has several changes in elevation and better for experienced hikers. The trailhead is at Fairyland Point. Along with the hike, you can also admire views from the Fairyland Point located on the rim.

The path overlaps with the Rim Trail between Fairyland Point and Sunset Point; then it diverges to less visited areas of the canyon. This is a great trail to enjoy the dramatic scenery of the hoodoos. There is not much shade along the way, so bring lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat while hiking. The entire loop takes 4 to 5 hours to complete so plan accordingly.

Rainbow Point

Rainbow Point, located at the southern end of the park, is at the very end of the 17 miles long Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive. The vistas from here are simply breathtaking. You can see thousands and thousands of hoodoos spread out before you. Rainbow Point is located at an elevation of 9,100 feet and is one of the best places to photograph the vast expanse of the unique rock formations.

Bryce Canyon National Park_Rainbow point view
The view from Rainbow Point (Photo Credit – Pixabay / MikeGoad)

Yovimpa Point

Also located at the southern end of the scenic drive, Yovimpa Point can be reached by a short 0.3-mile hike from Rainbow Point. This point is worth visiting for a couple of reasons. From here, can see Utah’s Grand Staircase rock formation – preserved as a part of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument – spread out before you. 

You can easily see distinguishable rock layers of different colors including Grey Cliffs, White Cliffs, and Vermillion Cliffs. You yourself are standing on top of the Pink Cliffs, the topmost step. You can also see the northern rim of the Grand Canyon National Park far into the distance. 

You can also wildlife and birds at the point. As Rainbow Point is more popular and accessible, Yovimpa Point often gets overlooked by tourists. However, to fully experience the peace and quiet of Bryce Canyon as well as see the Grand Staircase, we would recommend not to skip Yovimpa Point. 

Camping at Bryce Canyon

To enjoy the park outside of normal hours, you should camp here for a few nights. There is nothing more refreshing than waking up to the vivid colors and crisp mountain air of Bryce Canyon. You can indulge in sunrise or sunset views and even attempt night photography. The two campgrounds are the North campground and Sunset campground. Backcountry camping is also permitted inside the park, to get the details, talk to a park ranger.

Bryce Canyon National Park_Night Sky photo
Bryce Canyon has a spectacular dark night sky and is great for stargazing (Photo Credit – Pixabay / derwiki)

We hope you liked our post on things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park. Are you reading to experience the outstanding beauty of the park for yourself? Get your things ready and head to Utah for a fantastic summer getaway!