Review of the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon

Bryce Canyon Half Marathon Race Information

There is nothing more scenic than the view of Bryce Canyon National Park at 6am. The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon takes place at precisely that time, and with that scenery, it’s one of the most beautiful races to take part in. Bryce Canyon National Park is a wonder to behold, and in July, when the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon takes place, it draws visitors from around the country. 

The clear, wide-open skies make for the perfect setting for a half marathon, and as the point to point course is flat and downhill, it’s a fun one to do, too. The elevation loss is 1800ft with a starting elevation of 7,652ft. So, the biggest challenge of this race is the thinner air from the starting point. However, those used to higher altitudes will find it a rush, and the views alone are worth it!

Beginning at Ruby’s Inn on Highway 63, the 6am race heads north before turning east onto the National Scenic Byway 12. Runners will be able to soak up the sunrise as they go, with pink cliffs basked in the glow ahead of them. The entire course routes through Bryce Canyon National Park, and while there is a time limit of three hours, runners won’t be able to stop themselves from viewing the sandstone pinnacles and spires in the canyons. The course runs through the Tropic Ditch and the Paria River before the finish line in Cannonville, with an elevation of 5,800 feet. 

The end of the race is memorable and poignant, given the colossal rock formations that loom in the distance. The roads are closed for the three hour duration of the race, which is why runners must be at the finish line by 9am. The most significant incentive – other than the exhilaration of finishing the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon is the $3,000 prize purse, which is given to the top 5 overall male and female runners. 

As part of your race fee, which is $65, you get a Bryce Canyon Half Marathon runner’s shirt, fruit, bagels, water and chocolate milk at Runner’s Corral (the finish line!), a disposable timer on the bib and a shuttle bus provided in Panguitch, Tropic, and Escalante. 

Alongside the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, there is the 5K walk or run for those who want to share the experience of being in the national park but who do not want to go so far. The starting point is Cannonville Town Park, and everyone is invited. The bib fees are $35 for the July race, and the same included perks are there for 5K runners as they would be for Bryce Canyon Half Marathon runners. 

For an additional $8/adult and $5/child, you can participate in a Friday night Spaghetti Dinner the night before the run so you can fuel up before you exert yourself and have fun with other runners who take part in the course.

Bryce Canyon Half Marathon Race Review

Of all the half marathons in the world – and Utah – why wouldn’t you want to run the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon? It’s the runner’s dream; fast, beautiful, and it comes with snacks, too! The first two miles are steep and downhill, and this is great fun for seasoned runners – though may feel a little tough for newbies as it can make you push a little harder in the beginning. For some, taking breaks to walk around mile four onward can be the push they need to keep their energy going. The one big piece of advice before you start this race is to remember that it’s mind over matter: you CAN do it!

The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon requires a level of endurance, so pay attention to your mental wellbeing during the race. Over 1,000 people tend to sign up to the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, so you’re going to be in the company of like-minded people who love to run, enjoy the beautiful scenery and have fun doing it. Once you drop the first 1,200 feet in elevation, the slope isn’t so steep, and so you get a chance to see a little more of the scenery as you go. Doing a marathon through a national park gives you the opportunity to enjoy yourself while you run.

Race Pros

  • We can’t praise the organizers enough for how well run this race is – no pun intended. They are clear with their instructions and will be honest about the difficulty of the race. The coordinators will prepare you for the elevation making the air a little thin, so pay attention to what you’re told about it.
  • The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon is a beautiful place to run, and it cannot be said enough times how much you’ll have your breath snatched from you because of the scenery around you. It’s not always the thin air that makes you breathless during the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon.
  • As the coordinators have kindly put on shuttle buses from the nearby towns, logistics are straightforward when it comes to getting to the start of the race.
  • Most of the race is downhill instead of up, which can feel like an advantage at the beginning. You’ll be in good company; everyone gets that excited feeling when they take off at speed down a hill! 
  • The cost is reasonable (but not on the website) and the swag is excellent. You get a lovely medal included in your registration fee to mark the occasion of being able to finish a Bryce Canyon Half Marathon.
  • The race may be smaller than other races, but it doesn’t stop it feeling like a big deal – because it is!

The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon is a race that should be done at least once, and you will run through some small towns with the Bryce Canyon Coffee Company offering espressos to the runners along the way. The kids in the local area get involved, and at the end, the local Lions Club hosts an annual breakfast!