Growing up on the East Coast, spring break meant heading either to Florida's beaches or going north to New England's snow country. In the Southwest, among the destinations growing in popularity with regional spring-break students is Bryce Canyon National Park.
Here's the message the park is spreading to attract students, and any others who might be able to get away for a swing through Bryce before winter's snows give way to summer.
Winter is perhaps the most beautiful time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. The colorful red hoodoos are layered in bands of white snow. This season, Bryce Canyon, as well as many locations in the Southwest, received well above average precipitation. Nearly 110 inches of snow have fallen (20 inches above normal) and the current snowpack at the Visitor Center (elev. 7,900 ft.) measures 39 inches. March temperatures average in the 40s during the day and the teens at night.
Fairyland and Paria View roads remain unplowed for use by cross-country skiers and snowshoers. All other park roads and viewpoints remain open, though the main road to Rainbow Point may be temporarily closed due to snowstorms. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Visitors are reminded to prepare for winter driving conditions, high altitude, and to dress warmly for the cold temperatures and snow.
Day hiking trails are open, but are snow-covered and icy. Queens Garden and Navajo Loop have received the most use this winter and currently are covered with several inches of packed snow and ice. Hiking boots/snowboots with traction devices are highly recommended. Other trails such as Fairyland Loop, Peek-a-boo Loop, Rim Trail (except for the Sunset to Sunrise section) are more difficult to navigate due to deep snow. Snowshoes are recommended for these trails. Due to deep snow, backcountry hiking is not recommended.
The Ruby's Inn Nordic Center rents snowshoes, cross-country skis and snowboots. Bryce Canyon park rangers offer guided snowshoe hikes (with free snowshoes), talks and occasional evening programs. Inquire at the Visitor Center. Cross-country ski trails in the park are ungroomed 2-track trails. The slope between the Plateau Rim and 7600 foot contour elevation is closed to skiing, snowboarding, sledding or sliding devices. Below the Rim, cross country skiing is permitted on the Under the Rim trail and Riggs Spring Loop. Ruby's Inn grooms ski trails outside the park.
The Bryce Canyon Lodge is currently closed and reopens April 1. The General Store (showers, laundry, groceries, snacks) reopens in mid-April. Horseback rides will resume once trails are free of snow and ice. For more information, please visit other portions of our Website at: www.nps.gov/brca or call 435-834-5322.