Full Moon Hikes in Bryce Canyon

The red rock landscape in Bryce Canyon is often the star of the show. People come from all over the world to see the hoodoos, red rock cliffs, and other geological features of Bryce. While these natural features are gorgeous, there is an even more beautiful sight just above the rocky terrain.
The night sky in Bryce Canyon is a magnificent show of stars, planets, and galaxies. In many places across the world, the night sky is dulled by the effects of light pollution, which occurs when lights from urban or suburban areas reduce night sky visibility. In Bryce, light pollution is very minimal, which allows visitors to get a nearly uninterrupted view of the sky at night. On a clear night, how far guests can see is limited only by the strength of their eyes.
On nights with a full moon, the stars may not appear to shine as brightly, due to the bright moon, but these full moon nights are just as magical. The huge, bright moon means that hikers can travel along the landscape without the assistance of flashlights or headlamps. The moon’s light bounces off the red rock, casting eerie, yet beautiful, shadows across the landscape. Seeing Bryce Canyon by moonlight is like entering a completely different world. The chill of the night, the glowing moon, and the company of fellow travelers make a Full Moon Hike in Bryce Canyon an unforgettable experience.Full Moon Hike Tickets
For a few nights each month, a full moon drenches Bryce Canyon in a beautiful silver glow. During these nights, visitors will have the chance to embark on a magical nighttime journey through the park. The Full Moon Hikes at Bryce Canyon are guided by professionals who know the land, the history of the land, and the best places to go during a full moon.
It would be wonderful if every visitor could join this amazing guided hike, but, for safety reasons, hikes must be capped at 30 guests per group. To make things as fair as possible, the park uses a lottery system to choose who will be a part of these hikes.

The Full Moon Hike Lottery
At 4:00 pm on the day of the full moon hike, visitors should gather at the Visitor Center Auditorium. They should bring along the boots they plan on wearing during the hike. Upon arrival, the footwear will be inspected and, if hiking boots and shoes pass inspection, a lottery ticket will be given. There is only one lottery ticket per group of visitors, and groups cannot exceed six people. Then, numbers will be drawn at random until 30 people have been selected for the hike. During the busier season, there will usually be two groups of 30, which means 60 people will be chosen for the hikes. Since the full moon lasts for two days, guests who did not get to experience the full moon hike the first time will have another chance the following night.

Hikers Without Tickets
Visitors who aren’t lucky enough to get a Full Moon Hike ticket, but would still like to experience Bryce Canyon under the full moon, can go out to explore the park on their own. If visitors are familiar with the area, are prepared for the trip, and don’t go farther into the park than they are comfortable with, they can take a short hike under the bright moon in Bryce. Before attempting to take a full moon journey alone, visitors may want to speak to a park ranger about their plans and follow the hiking information and equipment recommendations below. Every visitor can have a life-changing hike beneath the big Bryce Canyon moon.

Blue Moon over Bryce Canyon with traces of snow on hoodoos

Important Full Moon Hiking Information
There are a few important things to know before attending a Full Moon Hike in Bryce Canyon. Many guests may like to have an idea of what the experience will entail before embarking on their journey. It is also important to know the rules of the hike, as well as who this hike is suitable for. Knowing these important pieces of information can make a hike under the full moon a perfect experience.

The Full Moon Hike Experience
The full moon hike begins when the group meets their ranger guide at a designated area in the park. From there, the ranger will explain the journey that is in store, inform hikers of the rules of the hike, and ensure everyone is ready for the hike. The group will then embark on their one to two-mile-long journey along one of the many trails in Bryce Canyon. Hikers are often amazed at how brightly lit the park is from the full moon. The tour will stop for guests to take photos or just take in the gorgeous view. Every step of this nighttime journey will be a surreal experience.

Restricted Items and Activities
There are a few rules that all participants must agree to follow before beginning the hike. The first is that artificial light sources, like flashlights, headlamps, and flash photography, are not allowed. It can take a while to let the eyes adjust to the low lighting, and the bright lights from these devices will seriously impair night vision. This is not only rude to other hikers, but it can also be extremely dangerous. There will be times during the hike that rangers may allow the use of flash photography, but hikers are asked not to do so without permission.

Hike Accessibility
Large portions of the full moon hike include steep and rocky trails. Because of this, these trails are not accessible to wheelchairs. Those participating in the Full Moon Hike at Bryce Canyon should be able to complete a moderately strenuous hike on rough terrain. Children under the age of six are also not permitted to participate in this hike. Limiting this hike to only those who can safely walk the trails without assistance is done to protect the safety of hikers. There are many places in Bryce Canyon under the night sky that are accessible to those with limited mobility, so every visitor will still be able to enjoy the full moon.

Full Moon Hiking Equipment
As with all activities in Bryce, full moon hikes require equipment to make the journey safe and fun. Some of the items are necessary, and others are nice to have. Having the right equipment will help hikers get the most out of their Full Moon Hike.

Hiking Boots or Shoes
Having a pair of sturdy hiking shoes or boots, with lug soles, is required. These will be inspected before guests are able to enter the lottery. Hiking footwear should fit well, be comfortable, and keep feet dry in case of wet weather. Incorrect footwear can make hiking in Bryce Canyon unbearable.

Layers of Clothing
Nights in Bryce Canyon, no matter the season, get quite chilly. As the night goes on, the temperature will continue to drop. Hikers should have a few layers of clothing, such as jackets, sweatshirts, and a hat. It takes many guests by surprise that temperatures can feel so cool once the sun goes down, so being prepared for this temperature drop is very important.

Even when it’s cool out and the sun is not shining, hiking can be a strenuous, dehydrating activity. Each hiker should have enough water for a few hours of activity in an easily accessible water container. If carrying water in a backpack, hikers should make sure they can get to it easily, since it may be more difficult to find at night.

Camera with Adjustable Modes
Though not necessary, anyone hoping to get some great shots of the beautiful sky will want to have the proper camera. A camera with changeable settings, such as lighting, shutter speed, exposure, and aperture, will give hikers the best chance at taking breathtaking night sky photographs. These pictures will allow visitors to share this amazing view with those who have not been able to experience it in person.

Star Map
The stars may not be as bright on full moon nights, but it’s still exciting to use a star map to find where constellations, galaxies, and planets are. Hikers can bring along a traditional star map or download one of the many star map apps available on their mobile device. Using a star map can turn this hike into an invaluable learning experience.

Marvel at the Moon in Bryce Canyon
Enjoying this incredible hike while visiting Bryce Canyon will be an experience that is not soon forgotten. Guests will marvel in awe at the gorgeous night sky, while being guided through Bryce Canyon by an experienced ranger. To plan a trip that includes a Full Moon Hike adventure, guests should visit Bryce Canyon’s National Park Service Website, and visit the Full Moon Hike page, to discover which nights in Bryce will experience a full moon. Walking through Bryce Canyon beneath a huge, radiant full moon will be an unbelievable experience.

Featured Photo by Bhanu Tadinada