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BOONDOCKING BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK: Hiking and Dog-Friendly Trails

We had been daydreaming about exploring Utah’s otherworldly landscapes for years, but nothing could have prepared us for the jaw-dropping beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park and its surroundings. As full-time RVers, we were determined to experience this iconic destination the way only RV life allows – by boondocking as close as possible and hiking until our legs gave out. Towing our 44-foot toy hauler into the rustic outbacks near the fiery red hoodoos was an adventure in itself, but stepping onto the trails and drinking in those mesmerizing views? That made all the pre-planning more than worth it. Join us as we share the best boondocking spots, must-do hikes, and surprise hidden gems that made our Bryce Canyon experience unforgettable.

Is It Possible to Boondock with a Big Rig Near Bryce Canyon?

Boondocking, or dry camping without hookups, near famous national parks like Bryce Canyon is the holy grail for RVers. It allows you to immerse yourself in stunning landscapes while avoiding expensive RV park fees. But can you really boondock with a large rig near this iconic Utah destination? The answer is yes, with some pre-planning and scouting.

We took our 44′ Alliance Valor toy hauler to boondock for 10 days near Bryce Canyon’s red rock hoodoos. Our spot was at Tom’s Best Spring Road, a popular BLM area about 20 minutes from the park entrance. Here are some tips if attempting this with a bigger rig:

  • Use apps like RV Life Trip Wizard and Campendium to research potential sites, but always scout first before taking your rig down unmaintained roads
  • Have a plan B and C in case your first spot is full – flexibility is key
  • If nervous about the roads, stay at a nearby low-cost RV park first to scout the boondocking area thoroughly with just your tow vehicle

Our pre-scout paid off – we found a large clearing at Tom’s Best Spring Road that our rig could easily access and navigate. The main road had some potholes but was manageable. We:

  • Angled our rig towards the back of the clearing for privacy
  • Took one of our off-road ebikes to explore smaller offshoots for future boondocking
  • Had the entire area to ourselves after the weekend “warriors” left

With a big rig, it’s wise to find a spot you can easily get in/out of rather than attempt tight squeezes. But with the right preparation, boondocking Bryce Canyon in a larger RV is absolutely possible!

What are the Best Trails Near Bryce Canyon?

When it comes to hiking the trails at Bryce Canyon National Park, you’re spoiled for choice with incredible viewpoints of the whimsical hoodoos. Two of the best hikes we did were the Navajo Loop Trail combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail, and the Fairyland Loop Trail.

The Navajo Loop/Queen’s Garden Trail is one of the park’s most popular for good reason. This approximately 2.9 mile loop took us around 1.5 hours at a moderate pace. The trail starts by descending into the amphitheater among the hoodoos, providing up-close views you can’t get anywhere else. You’ll hike along the bottom before ascending switchbacks between Window Street and Two Bridges. The variety of perspectives makes this a can’t-miss Bryce Canyon hike.

If you have more time, consider the longer Fairyland Loop Trail (7.8 miles for the full loop). We opted to just hike a portion since our timeframe was limited. Even going about 45-60 minutes down the trail and looping back provided stunning vistas of the pink and orange hoodoo-filled canyon from above. The trail is relatively level after the initial descent, making it more leisurely than Navajo Loop.

TOP TIP:  On the way into the Bryce Canyon area you’ll pass through TWO rock arches near Red Canyon. The overhead clearance signs can be a bit misleading. The measurements refer to low overhang points, not the main center height which can accommodate large vehicles and RVs if you hug the middle. We had no issues driving our truck and 13.5” tall trailer through.

Don’t Miss The Hidden Gem Just Outside Bryce Canyon

While Bryce Canyon deserves its fame, there’s an underrated state park just 30 minutes away that hiking enthusiasts shouldn’t miss – Kodachrome Basin. This lesser-known paradise was a welcome surprise during our Utah adventures.

The name “Kodachrome” may seem odd, but it made sense as soon as we caught our first glimpse of the park’s vibrant, contrasting colors. The red rocks, sandy tones and verdant flora reminded 1940s photographers of Kodak’s famous Kodachrome film stock. No matter your photography skills, you’ll be blown away by the scenery on the drive in alone.

One of Kodachrome’s biggest draws is its dog-friendly trails, including the popular Panorama Trail where our pup Hugo could join. Despite the trail being slightly unmarked in areas, the AllTrails app helped keep us on course through the mesmerizing sandstone formations. The chimneys and clay spires looked almost unreal, like navigating a desert planet.

Even if you only have time for Bryce’s famous hikes, make an effort to add Kodachrome Basin to your itinerary. The uncrowded, photogenic scenery and dog-friendly policy make it an ideal complement to Bryce’s well-trodden paths.

After spending 10 memorable days completely immersed in the otherworldly beauty of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoo amphitheaters and the vibrant spires of Kodachrome Basin, we can definitively say boondocking is the way to experience Utah’s national park wonders. Being able to wake up in our RV right in the heart of this martian landscape, with trails right outside our door, allowed us to truly soak it all in at our own pace. While the pre-planning was vital, especially for our big rig, the payoff of having these geological masterpieces basically to ourselves was unbeatable. We left Utah in awe, but also eager to take on the next boondocking challenge.

If you want to join us on these unscripted adventures into America’s most beautiful wildernesses, be sure to subscribe and hit the notification bell. Our community of like minded explorers is growing, and we’re working on even more resources to help make RV life happen seamlessly – whether you’re still dreaming or already living the full-time reality. Don’t miss out as we share the highs, lows, laughs and unforgettable views!

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