the grand canyon with storm clouds, with some light shining through

Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon: Ultimate Guide (2023)

Traveling In Focus contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See our disclaimer for more information.

Do you want to compare Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon to see which is a better fit for your visit?

If you’re deciding between Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon National Park for your next vacation, you’ve come to the right place!

We are experienced travelers and adore heading out to our national parks.

After visiting both destinations, we can confidently say that each offers unique experiences worth exploring. You really can’t go wrong with either one.

But depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for, one might be a better fit than the other for your next adventure.

Are You Planning An Upcoming Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources To Help!

🏨 AccommodationThis is our Favorite
🎟 Tours/ExperiencesWe enjoy Viator
🚙 Car RentalWe use this One
🌎 Travel InsuranceWe recommend SafetyWing

Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon: Overview

Unless otherwise specified, when we discuss specifics about the Grand Canyon, like weather and activities, we are talking about the South Rim as it is the most popular area of the park to visit.

FeatureGrand CanyonBryce Canyon
Size277 miles long, 18 miles wide, 1 mile deep12 miles long, 3 miles wide, 800 ft deep (largest amphitheater)
Elevation7,000 ft (South Rim)
8,000 ft (North Rim)
8,000-9,000 ft
Annual VisitorsOver 6 millionOver 2 million
Famous ViewMather PointSunrise Point
Popular HikeBright Angel TrailNavajo Loop Trail
WildlifeElk, Mule Deer, California CondorPronghorn, Mule Deer, Mountain Lion
Family FriendlyYes, many activities for all agesYes, many activities for all ages
Scenic Drive23-mile Desert View Drive18-mile Bryce Canyon Drive

Note: The key characteristics and draws of Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon are briefly compared in this table.

However, there is much more to see and do in each park. We encourage you to explore both fully to appreciate these parks’ beauty and diversity.

👉 Curious about another comparison? We also have Grand Canyon Vs Zion.

Map of Bryce Canyon And Grand Canyon

While these two national parks don’t seem that far from each other on a map, in reality, they are quite far apart.

The distance from Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon SOUTH RIM is 273 miles. It will take you about 5 hours to make the drive.

If you want to visit Grand Canyon NORTH RIM instead, you can cut that drive in about half.

👉 Is the Grand Canyon worth it? If this article doesn’t show you it is, pop over to find more reasons why it should be on your bucket list.

Difference In Size & Geography

When it comes to national parks, size does matter. And in the case of Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon, they both have impressive dimensions that will take your breath away.

Covering an area of 1,218,375 acres, the Grand Canyon is nearly thirty-five times the size of its northern neighbor, which stretches out over 35,835 acres.

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge cutting through the Colorado Plateau. It is over 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide in parts, and a mile deep. That’s massive, to say the least!

On the other hand, Bryce Canyon consists of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters formed by erosion over millions of years. Its largest amphitheater is 12 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 800 ft deep.

It’s not as big as the Grand Canyon, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in its unique geological features.

Bryce Canyon is known for its hoodoos. They are tall and thin spires of rock that rise from the ground, forming a surreal landscape that looks like it’s from another planet.

Both parks are magnificent, but they offer different experiences. While the Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring with its sheer size and colorful rock layers, Bryce Canyon’s otherworldly formations will make you feel like you’re no longer on Earth.

bryce canyon at sunset, a wide photo with lots of rock and hoodoos, the hoodoos are one of the notes in a bryce canyon vs grand canyon debate
Bryce Canyon

👉 Curious if you can drive down into the Grand Canyon? We have all the facts.

Bryce Canyon Or Grand Canyon: Weather

When planning a trip to a national park, weather can make a big difference in your experience. So let’s talk about it.


The Grand Canyon has a semi-arid desert climate, with hot summers and milder winters.

In the summer, temperatures can reach over 100° F at the bottom of the canyon. The rim will be slightly cooler at around 85° F. During the winter, daily averages are around 45°F.

In contrast, Bryce Canyon has a high desert climate, with cold winters and mild summers. The park is at a higher elevation than the Grand Canyon, so it can be much cooler during the height of the summer rush.

In the summer, temperatures will average around 79° F. In the winter, it is a brisk 36° F.

This makes it a popular destination in the summer for those looking to escape the heat.

👉 If you are starting your journey in Las Vegas, we have tons of tour options to help you reach the Grand Canyon.


Overall, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon are known for their dry climates.

Regarding rain, both parks receive some. But don’t expect as much as you would see in other parts of the US.

The Grand Canyon receives most of its rainfall from July through September during the summer monsoon season. During this time, thunderstorms can be intense and might cause flash flooding in some park areas.

Bryce Canyon gets very little rain. It has occasional summer thunderstorms like the Grand Canyon but it is much less common.

Snow, on the other hand, is routine in both parks. If you want to visit in the winter, be aware that there might be road and trail closures due to snow and ice.

The South Rim gets about 58 inches of snow annually at the Grand Canyon. The North Rim receives 142 inches of snow. But no need to worry there, as the North Rim is closed for the winter from December to May anyway.

Bryce Canyon has a higher elevation and receives more snowfall than the Grand Canyon.

It receives an average of 95 inches of snow annually, with snow regularly on the ground from November through April.

📎 Tip: While snow can add a beautiful element to these parks, it’s important to be prepared for the conditions. Always check the weather forecast and road conditions before visiting in winter. And make sure to have the proper gear and clothing for the snowy conditions.

grand canyon with a bit of snow at sunrise or sunset
Grand Canyon

👉 We talk a bit about wildlife coming up. But did you know the Grand Canyon has some dangerous creatures you need to watch out for?

Bryce VS Grand Canyon: Getting There And Getting Around

Common concerns are how to get there and how to get around once you are there.

Getting There

If you’re flying in, Flagstaff Pulliam Airport is the closest airport to the Grand Canyon, about 100 miles from the South Rim. The Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is the closest international airport.

The South Rim is about 70 miles north of Williams, Arizona, if you’re driving.

As for Bryce Canyon, the closest airport is Cedar City Regional Airport, about 80 miles away. If you are flying internationally, both McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Salt Lake City Airport in Utah are viable options.

If you’re driving, Bryce Canyon is located along scenic Highway 12. It is about 25 miles east of the town of Panguitch, Utah.

While both parks may require some travel time to reach, the journey can be a scenic and a memorable experience in and of itself.

Consider taking the time to explore the surrounding areas and take in the sights along the way.

👉 If you don’t feel like getting to the Grand Canyon on your own, there are many great private tours from Sedona to choose from, so you can just enjoy the ride.

Getting Around

Neither Bryce Canyon nor the Grand Canyon requires reservations or timed access to enter the park.

As a result, you can arrive any day you wish and enter the park. But anticipate large lineups at the entry gates during the busy months. To avoid the worst queues, we advise that you arrive early.

You can self-drive on most roads throughout the year at the Grand Canyon. To reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, you can opt to take the free shuttle service to various viewpoints and trailheads throughout the park.

The shuttles run year-round.

Only one road during the busy season restricts self-driving. The Hermit Road cannot be driven in your personal vehicle between March and November. You must take the shuttle if you want to see the viewpoints or hike along this park section.

At Bryce Canyon, you can self-drive throughout the year.

However, between April and October, the park does offer a free shuttle service on the park’s main road to help with traffic and improve the visitor experience.

Whether you choose to self-drive or take the shuttle, both options can provide a unique and enjoyable way to explore these beautiful national parks.

bryce canyon hoodoos at a cloud-covered sunset
Bryce Canyon

Grand Canyon VS Bryce Canyon: Cost

Both parks have the standard entrance fee for a single vehicle. It is $35 and is valid for seven days.

If you plan to visit multiple national parks throughout the year, consider purchasing the American the Beautiful Pass for $80. It grants access to all national parks and federal lands for one year. If you visit more than two parks within 365 days, it pays for itself.

According to Budget Your Trip, Grand Canyon costs $131 daily. In comparison, Bryce Canyon is slightly higher at about $135 daily.

These are just estimates based on how expensive the area is, the cost of living, average meal prices, etc.

Your personal costs will vary slightly from these depending on your choice of dining and activities within the park. But as the averages are comparable, we don’t think this should be a deciding factor.

grand canyon with low hanging clouds, bryce canyon vs grand canyon
Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Or Bryce Canyon: Popularity

Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon are incredibly popular national parks, attracting millions of visitors yearly.

They have earned their notoriety through spectacularly unique landscapes, unforgettable activities and experiences, and remarkable heritage.

Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, with around five million visitors annually.

The South Rim is the park’s most popular area.

Bryce Canyon is also popular, attracting around two million visitors annually. While this is a lot, it doesn’t compare to the Grand Canyon. Or even Zion National Park, which is close to Bryce and is often done on the same trip.

Both parks can be crowded during peak season, so planning and preparing for crowds is important. The peak season for these two parks is similar, from May to September.

If you want to avoid the biggest crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder season (a month or two before or after the peak season).

If you happen to visit during peak season, ask the rangers to point you in the direction of a less popular trail or spot in the park. That way, you might enjoy a bit of solitude in an otherwise crowded park.

thor's hammer hoodoo stands tall in the foreground with other hoodoos in the back at bryce canyon
Bryce Canyon

Which Is Better: Scenic Drives

For those looking to take in the beauty from the comfort of their car, one of the best ways to explore either park is by taking a scenic drive.

The Desert View Drive offers spectacular canyon views at Grand Canyon National Park.

The drive is 23 miles long and features multiple scenic overlooks, including Desert View Watchtower, which provides 360-degree views of the park.

Additionally, Hermit Road is a famous scenic drive that offers incredible views and is closed to private vehicles during the peak summer season. This allows for a more peaceful and enjoyable experience.

At Bryce Canyon, the park’s main road is 18 miles long. It gives remarkable views of the park’s famous hoodoo rock formations.

Along this route, expect to find plenty of pullouts for stunning viewpoints where you can witness some of Bryce’s most iconic formations. Popular overlooks are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point.

Whether you explore by car or take advantage of the park’s shuttle services, the scenic drives at Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon are a must-see.

the grand canyon with a gnarled tree in the foreground for size
Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon: Hiking

Hiking is a great way to explore Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. Each offers unique trails varying in difficulty, length, and terrain type.

At Bryce Canyon, you can choose from dozens of trails that meander through the park’s iconic hoodoos and amphitheaters.

The Queen’s Garden Trail is one of the most popular hikes at Bryce, crossing over undulating terrain as it loops around its namesake formation.

Other highlights include Mossy Cave Trail, which winds alongside a stream; Navajo Loop Trail, with its views of Thor’s Hammer and Wall Street; and Bristlecone Loop for those seeking an alpine experience.

No visit to the Grand Canyon is complete without embarking on a hike along its South Rim.

Several routes along the rim range from leisurely strolls to more demanding treks like Bright Angel Trail, which descends 4,500 feet from rim to river.

Other highlights include the Rim Trail for those wanting to take an easy walk on a paved walkway. Or you can try the South Kaibab Trail, which offers some of the best views from what is considered a “shorter hike.”

Along any of these trails, you’ll be treated to gorgeous landscapes filled with lush vegetation and ancient rock formations. There will also be incredible photo opportunities!

When hiking in either park, come prepared with the proper gear, including sturdy footwear and plenty of water.

📎 Tip: Always stay on designated trails and be aware of potential hazards, such as steep drops and wildlife.

up close of several hoodoos in bryce canyon, the debate of bryce canyon vs grand canyon is often about the hoodoos
Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Or Grand Canyon: Other Popular Activities

While hiking is a popular activity in both Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in these parks.

In Grand Canyon National Park, you can explore the canyon via mule ride, take an inspiring helicopter flight over the canyon, join in on a guided Jeep tour, participate in a ranger-led program, or relax in the park’s lodgings.

Or see the Grand Canyon from a new perspective by taking a white-water rafting tour along the Colorado River.

Bryce Canyon is also home to several unique activities that don’t involve hiking.

You can explore the night sky with ranger-led programs like astronomy talks and full moon hikes. The park’s dark skies make it an ideal spot for stargazing.

Horseback riding is an excellent way for those looking for a leisurely way to see deep in the canyon. You will have the opportunity to descend to the floor and back up.

And while you can’t do it within the park, mountain biking is extremely popular on the rocky terrain just outside the boundaries.

Both parks also offer opportunities for photography, wildlife watching, and simply taking in majestic natural beauty.

grand canyon at sunset
Grand Canyon

Bryce VS Grand Canyon: Wildlife & Birding

Grand Canyon is home to over 440 species of birds, more than 90 species of mammals, and numerous reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

On the other hand, Bryce Canyon is home to over 170 species of birds and 59 species of mammals, and several reptile and amphibian species.

Grand Canyon National Park mammals consist of large animals like elk and mule deer to small creatures like squirrels and chipmunks.

You might also be one of the lucky ones to spot the more elusive animals, like mountain lions or black bears. However, sightings of these creatures are relatively rare.

One of the most famous animals in the Grand Canyon is the California condor, a large and impressive bird with a wingspan of 9-10 feet.

The park is home to a population of these endangered birds. And you may be lucky enough to spot one soaring overhead or perched on a rock formation.

Your best chance to spot one may be near the Bright Angel Trail.

Bryce Canyon National Park also has its fair share of mammals.

One of the most common animals in Bryce Canyon is the mule deer, often found grazing near the park’s trails and viewpoints.

You may also spot smaller mammals like chipmunks and squirrels and larger creatures like pronghorn antelope.

At the bottom of Bryce Canyon, we had one of our most memorable experiences with a chipmunk who wanted our snack food. We didn’t share, but clearly, it had been fed before based on its behavior.

Birding enthusiasts will also find plenty to appreciate in Bryce Canyon. Common bird species in the park include Clark’s Nutcrackers, Ravens, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and various songbirds.

a chipmunk sits on jenny's leg waiting for a snack that never came in bryce canyon
Chipmunk Begging For Food In Bryce Canyon

Which Is Better: Camping

Camping is a popular activity in both Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. So in the Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon, we can call this a tie.

Several campgrounds are located within the park in Grand Canyon, including Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and North Rim Campground.

These campgrounds offer a range of amenities, from flush toilets and hot showers to fire rings and picnic tables. Reservations are recommended, especially during the busy summer season.

Bryce Canyon also offers several campgrounds within the park, including North Campground and Sunset Campground. These campgrounds offer similar amenities to those in Grand Canyon, with fire pits, picnic tables, and restrooms available. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.

In addition to these established campgrounds, both parks offer backcountry camping opportunities if you want to explore the wilderness.

Permits are required for backcountry camping. And you are expected to stay at the designated campgrounds below the rim in both cases.

📎 Tip: You are also strongly encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize environmental impact.

the grand canyon with storm clouds, with some light shining through, one of the debates of bryce canyon vs grand canyon is the incredible sunsets
Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Or Bryce: Sunsets

In Grand Canyon, you can watch the sunset over the canyon’s massive walls, casting a warm glow over the red rock formations.

The sunset view from Hopi Point is often considered one of the best, offering a panoramic view of the canyon’s vast expanse and the Colorado River below.

Yaki Point and Grandview Point also offer magnificent sunset views. They have the added bonus of being less crowded than Hopi Point.

Similarly, in Bryce Canyon, you can watch the sunset over the park’s famous hoodoos, creating shadows and painting the rocks in pink, orange, and red hues.

The view from Sunset Point is the most famous. It offers a front-row seat to the park’s iconic hoodoos, bathed in warm golden light.

However, Bryce Point and Inspiration Point also offer beautiful evening views, with Inspiration Point providing a more elevated vantage point for a unique perspective of the park’s landscape.

Whether watching from one of the suggested viewing spots or exploring the park’s trails during the golden hour, sunsets in Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon are an unforgettable experience.

a green tree stands tall in front of bryce canyon
Bryce Canyon

Grand Canyon VS Bryce: Tours

Both parks have multiple tour options. So what you are interested in doing during your vacation might be a deciding factor.

Interested in a helicopter ride or white-water rafting? You will have to do that at the Grand Canyon.

Want to ride a horse to the bottom? This is an option at Bryce Canyon.

Both have guided hikes along the trails, but Grand Canyon has plenty of options for riding in style, from jeep to hummer tours.

If you are looking for a unique experience to try during your visit, these are the ones we recommend.

Grand Canyon

For the Grand Canyon, we recommend a helicopter tour. Soaring over the canyon is an entirely different experience than standing on the edge.

And it is something you can only do at a few national parks.

The one we are fond of is the 5-star flight that leaves from Tusayan.

➡️ Book a Grand Canyon Helicopter Flight

Bryce Canyon

For Bryce Canyon, hiking into the canyon to look up at the hoodoos from a bug’s view perspective will be an epic experience and really make you feel small.

So the tour we suggest is a private half-day hike experience with a picnic. Your incredibly knowledgeable guide will provide all kinds of facts about the park you will likely miss otherwise.

We recommend this 5-star private tour.

➡️ Book a Private Hike with a Picnic

grand canyon with a large dead tree in the foreground
Grand Canyon

Which Is Better: Family Travel

Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon both offer unique experiences for families. But which is better for family travel depends on several factors, including the children’s age and the family’s interests.

Grand Canyon is a larger park with more hiking trails, a longer scenic drive, and historical sites to explore.

Families with older children may enjoy the challenge of hiking below the rim and into the canyon or taking a rafting trip on the Colorado River. Families with younger children may appreciate the convenient hotels and amenities for afternoon naps and snacks.

It is also the perfect place for those families who can’t sit still and need activities like tours to keep them busy. The Grand Canyon offers everything from jeep and hummer tours to helicopter and mule rides.

On the other hand, Bryce Canyon’s compact size and unique landscape make it an excellent option for families with younger children.

The park’s easy hiking trails, such as the Rim Trail and the Bristlecone Loop, offer stunning views of the park’s hoodoos without requiring strenuous hiking.

It is well-suited for families looking for a more rustic experience without all the tour options.

And with its easily accessible viewpoints along the scenic drive, Bryce Canyon is also an ideal destination for families looking to take beautiful photos without too much hiking.

two hikers stand on a trail in bryce canyon showing just how large the hoodoos can be, part of the debate about bryce canyon vs grand canyon is the hoodoos
Bryce Canyon

Final Verdict: Which is Better, Grand Canyon Or Bryce Canyon

It’s difficult to say which park is better, as both the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon offer unique experiences and stunning landscapes.

Grand Canyon is larger and offers a broader range of activities and amenities. This includes more hiking trails and a longer scenic drive. The park’s iconic vistas and the opportunity to hike down into the canyon are must-do experiences.

On the contrary, Bryce Canyon is smaller, easier to get around, and has a unique landscape of hoodoos that can’t be found anywhere else.

The park’s easy hiking trails and ranger-led programs make it a great option for families with young children. And its dark skies provide excellent stargazing opportunities.

If we want to break it down to the simplest of forms, do you want an enormous open chasm with colorful layered rocks as far as the eye can see, or do you want a giant open chasm with unique hoodoos?

Ultimately, the choice depends on your interests, travel style, and available time to spend in the park.

grand canyon national park, view of the canyon with a few low hanging clouds
Grand Canyon

FAQs: Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon

Let’s talk about some common questions about Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon.

Is Bryce Canyon Deeper Than The Grand Canyon

No, Bryce Canyon is not deeper than the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon reaches a depth of a mile (5,280 feet) at its deepest point, while Bryce Canyon is approximately 800 feet deep at its deepest point.

Can You Do Bryce Canyon And Grand Canyon In One Day

It is not recommended to visit Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon in one day, as they are several hours apart by car and offer different experiences that require time to fully appreciate. It’s best to plan at least a few days for each park to explore and enjoy all they have to offer.

Which Canyon Is Considered The Most Beautiful

While opinions vary, many consider the Grand Canyon to be the most beautiful. Its sheer size, depth, and vastness are awe-inspiring and leave many visitors in wonder. Its beauty has been recognized worldwide, and is considered one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. Ultimately though, the beauty of a canyon or park is in the eye of the beholder.

Which Side Of The Grand Canyon Is Less Touristy

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is generally less touristy than the South Rim. The North Rim has fewer amenities and is only open from mid-May to mid-October. It is more remote, which means fewer visitors make the journey. However, the North Rim offers magnificent views and a more secluded wilderness experience.

What Is The Most Famous Grand Canyon Spot

Mather Point is one of the most famous and popular spots in the Grand Canyon. It offers stunning panoramic canyon views and is easily accessible from the South Rim Visitor Center. Many visitors consider it a must-see spot when visiting the Grand Canyon. It is often the first stop on their itinerary.

Is Bryce Canyon National Park Worth It

Yes, Bryce Canyon National Park is definitely worth a visit. Its unique geological formations, known as hoodoos, are breathtaking and unlike anything else. The park offers numerous scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities that impress visitors of all ages. Bryce Canyon is a must-see destination for anyone traveling to the Southwest United States.

bryce canyon at sunset
Bryce Canyon

To Finish – Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon

After exploring the various aspects of Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon, it is clear that both national parks offer unique experiences.

So have we helped you decide on Bryce Canyon VS Grand Canyon yet? We know it is a hard choice to make.

While Grand Canyon is bigger in size and offers more diverse activities, Bryce Canyon’s striking hoodoos and vibrant colors make for a truly breathtaking experience.

And they have many similarities, including incredible scenic drives and various hikes. Both would be great for a family vacation as well.

Ultimately, deciding which park to visit depends on individual preferences and travel plans.

For us, we plan to visit them both again as once was not enough.