As cold starts to set in, Bryce Canyon officials announce winter hours, activities

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, Dec. 28, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

BRYCE CANYON — The first signs of winter have arrived at 8,000 feet. As days grow shorter, snowstorms blanket the hoodoos and temperatures fall below freezing, Bryce Canyon National Park has begun making seasonal changes.

Snow in Bryce Canyon, Utah, Nov. 30, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Summer Wall, St. George News

Currently, the visitor center and bookstore is operating under its winter hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with maximum capacity limits to promote social distancing indoors. The only days the park’s visitor center and bookstore will be closed are Nov. 26 and Dec. 25 in observance of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Indoor services this winter include the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association Bookstore, park museum and restrooms. Ranger programs are continuing with daily geology talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and will include ranger-led snowshoe hikes once snow levels increase.

North Campground Loop A remains open for first-come, first-served camping through the winter season with all other loops closed. Sunset Campground and the North Campground dump station are now closed until Spring 2021.

Concessions operations have begun to wind down for the year as well. Lodging within the park will be available at the Sunset Hotel until Jan. 3, while the Lodge at Bryce Canyon, Western Cabins, Sunrise Hotel and the General Store near Sunrise Point are all closed for the season. Lodging within the park will resume in late spring of 2021.

Horse and mule rides provided by Canyon Trail Rides have also ended for the year but will resume May 1, with potential earlier dates, weather and trail conditions permitting. For additional lodging and activities in the nearby area, click here.

Winter view of Fairyland Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, February 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Annual winter events currently scheduled include the 2020 Christmas Bird Count, which will take place on Dec. 19 at 8 a.m. Nature lovers and birders of all levels of experience are invited to participate. This year’s event will be modified to occur entirely outdoors. Those who volunteer will receive free park admission. Those interested should email Ranger Peter Densmore or call 435-834-4744.

Early next year, the popular Bryce Canyon Winter Festival is currently scheduled for Feb. 13-15 and will offer events both within the park and in nearby Bryce Canyon City.

Throughout the winter the park’s main road will remain open but will be subject to temporary closures just past the Bryce Amphitheater at milepost 3 for snow removal. The Fairyland Point and Paria View roads are now closed to vehicular traffic for cross-country skiers and snowshoeing.

Cross-country skiing is permitted above the canyon rim; however, no skiing, snowboarding or other sliding is allowed below the rim. Hikers are encouraged to prepare by dressing warmly and hiking with snowshoes or footwear traction devices as well as hiking poles. Those planning hikes below the rim are encouraged to check with the visitor center for weather updates and trail conditions.

As the park continues to provide recreational access and services, visitors are asked to observe all Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Utah state public health guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including maintaining social distancing, complying with state and local mandates, and following Leave No Trace principles.

Visitors should be aware that on Nov. 8, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a state of emergency declaring that one must wear a mask in public and when within 6 feet of anyone they don’t live with. This mandate is expected to be extended for the foreseeable future.

Additional information can be obtained at the Bryce Canyon website or by calling the park’s information line at 435-834-5322.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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