Bryce Canyon National Park Safety: Top 10 Causes of Injuries and How To Avoid Them

by Jon D. B.

Great perils are possible beneath the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park. Prepare for your next trip with these top 10 safety tips and get ready to take this breathtaking park for all its worth! Safely, of course.

Chances are, if you know what a hoodoo is, then you’re more familiar with Bryce Canyon than most. The national park hosts the largest concentration of these fascinating irregular rock columns found anywhere on Earth. But with this many drastic natural formations carving the landscape comes drastic safety concerns.

Safety is never the “fun topic,” either. But in Bryce Canyon National Park, it’s paramount. And by reviewing the park’s posted ‘Top 10 Causes of Injuries’ – and their tips on how to avoid them – you’ll be prepared for a magnificent, injury free red rock adventure atop the Grand Staircase.

Top 10 Causes of Injuries at Bryce Canyon National Park

Below, you’ll find said ‘Top 10’ alongside the park’s expert advice on how to avoid each. Each of these perils has been heavily documented by park officials, then listed in order of the number of resulting injuries. Not exactly the most jovial of lists, but fascinating nonetheless. Let’s get to it!

10.) Unsafe Driving

  • Speeding (posted limits are 15 to 45 mph)
  • Failure to wear seat belts
  • Passing on a double yellow line
  • Auto vs. animal: Watch for Wildlife!
  • Stop in pullouts, never in road
  • Reduce speed on wet or icy roads

This one’s pretty straightforward, but car accidents still take more lives every year than anything else in national parks. Obeying speed limits, wearing seatbelts, and no passing on double yellow lines all sound like common sense – yet we’ve all broken these rules a time or two. Time to break this habit if it is one, though! And always be sure to reduce speed on icy roads.

And when it comes to wildlife watching or scenic driving, never stop in the road. Always pull over out of traffic and use available park pullouts.

9.) Climbing / Sliding Down Cliffs

The rock at Bryce forms crumbly cliffs and steep gravely slopes. As a result, any hand and toe holds you see support nothing heavier than chipmunks.

Climbing the rocks and sliding on the slopes is illegal for this very reason. It’s also incredibly dangerous, and results in injury more often than it does not. So please, as hard as it is to resist, refuse the urge to climb and slide cliffs in Bryce Canyon National Park.

8.) Feeding Wildlife

Fed animals become aggressive, period. Even small animals can inflict bites requiring stitches. Worse yet, many small mammals and rodents transmit disease.

Always watch wildlife from a distance and discourage animals that approach you. It’s never worth the risk to you or the animal to try and feed or interact. Many who become habituated to humans have to be euthanized, so this behavior is not only dangerous to us but to the wildlife we love, too.

7.) Ignoring Extreme Weather

In Bryce Canyon National Park, temperatures can fluctuate as much as 50° F / 27° C in a single day! It is imperative to heed weather conditions and respond accordingly – and as soon as possible.

6.) Rumble, Rumble….BOOM!

Speaking of, lightning is a year-round danger in Bryce. Summer storms can be especially dangerous. If you can hear thunder, lightning is within 10 miles (16 km) and you need to seek the shelter of a building or your vehicle immediately.

Read more about lightning safety on Bryce Canyon’s national park site.

5.) Dehydration

A well hydrated body is better able to regulate body temperature. You’re more resistant to heat exhaustion as a result, which is always a heightened danger in desert environments.

Drink 1 quart / liter every 1-2 hours while in the park. Hydration Stations to fill your water bottles are found in several locations in the park. Always check for locations on the map in the park newspaper before your trip.

Please also wear a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect from the sun overhead and reflected UV light. Sunburns lead to dehydration and significant threats to your health.

4.) Leaving the Trail

In an environment as wild and unstable as Bryce Canyon National Park, it is imperative to stay on designated trails at all times. Stay away from cliff edges where footing can be tricky, as well. Even on seemingly gentle slopes, it can be impossible to keep your footing.

Bring your park map to avoid getting lost, and never rely on a cellphone as a means of navigation as signal will be sparse or completely unavailable in areas of the park. Your phone will also run out of battery long before a map will ever expire.

3.) Over-Exertion

In Bryce Canyon, park elevations reach 9115 ft (2778 m). This subjects you to 70% of the oxygen you might be used to.

All park trails also start at the top, which means all returns will be uphill. Turn back before you become tired. Know and respect your own physical limitations. Seeing areas of the park is never worth risking your health.

2.) Bad Choice of Footwear

But if there’s one thing Bryce Canyon officials wants visitors to know, it’s to please, please wear proper footwear. Wearing shoes or boots not designed for hiking is the number one cause of rescues and injuries that require hospital visits at Bryce Canyon National Park.

1.) Again, Please Wear Correct Footwear

So much so, in fact, that Bryce has dedicated not one, but the two top spots to this safety advice.

No matter where you’re going in the park: Wear hiking boots with good ankle support and “lug” traction. Sport-sandals &”trainers” are not safe hiking footwear.

In addition, traction devices are strongly recommended for all areas of the park during winter.

And that’s it, Outsiders! Not too bad, right? These simple tips can and will save you injuries within the national park. And they could also save your life.

Now get out there and take the breathtaking Bryce Canyon National Park for all it’s worth – but with the utmost safety.