Return to Bryce Canyon: Family Service in Utah

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13226A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Help the National Park Service protect and preserve Bryce Canyon
  • Marvel at rainbow-hued rock and high, steep ridges, mountains and red rock canyons with your family
  • Earn community service hours for teens


  • All meals and snacks
  • Group cooking gear
  • All equipment and tools for this trip


DatesAug 11–17, 2013
Price$495 (Adult)
$395 (Child)
Min. Age8
StaffMike Kobar

This trip has already run. Here are a few others you may enjoy:

To search our full lineup by destination, date, activity, or price, please visit our Advanced Search page. Or give us a call at 415-977-5522 to find the trip that's right for you.

Trip Overview

The Trip

Rising from the surrounding desert of southwestern Utah, the high, steep ridge of Bryce Canyon features amphitheaters draped in hoodoos and rock formations that appear to be sculpted from the side of the mountain. Freestanding and postured in serried ranks, these formations seem fantastic to our modern eye. To the 19th-century rancher, Ebenezer Bryce, who pioneered the area and gave his name to the park, it was "a helluva place to lose a cow!"


Bryce Canyon is bursting with color. The magnificent hoodoos are surrounded by a rainbow of siltstone, and time is cued visually, as the golds and ocher of daybreak slip into the mauve and lavender of twilight. Scenic overlooks provide spectacular views, allowing you to see for 200 miles on a good day. Looking south and east, the view extends across the Colorado Plateau toward Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon, and the Escalante-Grand Staircase.


The Project

Over the last 14 years we have worked on construction, amphitheater maintenance, historic structure preservation, landscaping, songbird inventories, exotic plant removal, revegetation, monitoring threatened species, and more. We never know what the next year will bring, only that it will help with the backload of projects facing the park staff due to time and manpower constraints.


However, it is not "all work and no play" as we will have time after our workday to hike the many trails in the park and a day off mid-week to explore the surrounding areas. The Park Service will provide us with all supplies and equipment, including the use of their maintenance shops. The work will be suitable for beginners and experienced participants alike. Although no experience is necessary, common sense, humor, and a good attitude are mandatory. Please advise the leader of special skills you may have (e.g., ability to operate small manual or power tools or heavy equipment, photography skills, construction skills, etc.).


Not only will you get to work hand-in-hand with very talented park rangers & trail crew, but you will get to experience the personal satisfaction of performing work where it is badly needed.


We will meet in Panguitch, Utah at noon on day one.  Specific directions will be sent to registered participants. We will introduce ourselves, learn about the week's activities, and set up tents before dinner (our first meal together). Because this is a base camp service trip, once we have settled into camp, we will not have to move for the entire week. Parking is available at the site, and the only vehicles that are assigned parking are the commissary vehicles.

Typically, Park Service staff will transport us from the campsite to job assignments or specific trailheads (right off the forest dirt roads). Each workday we'll put in a full morning and most of an afternoon on our various assignments. Lunch, packed after breakfast by each participant, will be eaten wherever we happen to be at noon. At the end of the workday, participants not assigned to the day's cook crew are at leisure to hike the numerous trails nearby.


Evenings will offer free time for families. Those who wish may do some after-dinner hiking and exploring. At night we'll lie in the grass and try to identify constellations or sit around a campfire and listen to evening speakers.


Wednesday will be our day off to explore the area or just relax. Bryce’s location makes a day trip to Zion National Park easy. The trip ends after breakfast on the last day.


Day 1: After we arrive and set up camp, evening activities will include staff and Park Service presentations on safety, tools, and a project overview.


Day 2: Following breakfast we'll load up, potentially split up in to two groups and head off to spend the rest of the day on our projects. This evening's presentation will focus on forest topics.


Day 3: Today we'll again travel to our projects and work until about 3 p.m. Afternoon activities will focus on geology and natural resources. This evening we will either meet a "mountain man" or stargaze with a telescope.


Day 4: This will be our day off to go somewhere cool and have fun. This evening we'll have crafts for the kids, and parents can sit around and relax.


Day 5: This morning we may have new projects to work on or may switch projects.  This evening will be spent around the campfire with stories and silly songs before a supervised night hike in the area.


Day 6: We'll work at project site(s) again today. This afternoon we'll go climb in volcanic lava tube caves. More crafts and activities for kids tonight.


Day 7: Our last day. We'll eat a final group breakfast, break camp, then scatter to the four winds.



Getting There

Commercial air, bus, and train transportation are available to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. Panguitch, Utah is approximately a four-hour drive from Las Vegas or a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City. It is recommended that participants either rent a car and/or carpool from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, as most people will fly into one of these locations. Carpooling is not only cost-effective, but it will also make campsite parking easier. The leader can assist in coordinating rides and carpooling, but the responsibility to arrange transportation is ultimately the participant's.


Accommodations and Food

The park will have one large, designated campsite for the group. Restrooms with flush toilets are available, and showers can be purchased at the camp store for a small fee. The campsite is above 8,000 feet.


Our first meal will be dinner on day one and our last meal will be lunch on the last day. Adult trip members, under staff direction, will prepare all meals. Mealtimes and daily KP crew assignments will be posted and announced. There will be special snacks and treats that the children will learn to make. If you have any meal suggestions, please send them to the leader. We will try to accommodate any special dietary requirements on advance notice. We definitely can accommodate vegetarians.


This will be base camp camping. You will be able to drive up close to your tent site. There is potable water at our campsite. We do recommend you bring a solar shower. These should be plenty of water for cleaning, bathing, etc. Our campsite will have two flush toilets located close to camp.


Trip Difficulty

With its high elevation (8,000 feet), weather in Bryce Canyon area is unpredictable. Daytime temperatures will range from 70-90 degrees, but nighttime temperatures will drop to the 50s and 60s. Afternoon thunderstorms are possible.


The hiking trails we will use will be mostly modest slopes with some areas having a steeper grade. Family members should do some moderate conditioning, such as daily hikes and walks, prior to the trip.


Equipment and Clothing

The U.S. Park Service will provide our limited work tools, including kid-sized hard hats and kid-sized trail tools. The Sierra Club will provide commissary equipment, including pots, cooking utensils, and stoves.


You'll receive a list of recommended equipment when you sign up for the trip. Generally, you'll furnish your own tent, sleeping bags, a "basics" first-aid kit, toiletries, and daypacks. Also, bring along a plate, cup, bowl, and eating utensils for each person in your party. I recommend packing all gear in a duffel bag, but suitcases are just fine too; remember that we will be base camping!


Temperatures in southwest Utah can vary from freezing to 90 degrees in the summer so pack for three-season conditions. You must bring personal water containers, and you must carry three quarts (or three liters) of water with you at all times. Good boots and work gloves are essential.


The kids may want to bring along a board game, frisbee, or whiffle ball, and books to read. Please leave electronic devices and toys at home (or at least locked in the car trunk for the duration of the trip).





The visitor center at Bryce Canyon has a wide assortment of hiking and topographic maps. For those interested in southern Utah or the Southwest, the Automobile Club of Southern California's "Guide to Indian Country" is particularly good. It is available from many of the national parks and Forest Service ranger stations throughout the Southwest.


  • Lessem, Don, Dinosaurs A to Z. The Ultimate Dinosaur Encyclopedia.
  • Brett-Surman, Michael, A Guide to Dinosaurs.
  • Stegner, Wallace, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian.
  • The Sierra Club Guide to the National Parks, Desert Southwest.
  • Abbey, Edward, Desert Solitaire.


  • Dinosaur Planet - Real Big Stories, LionsGate/Fox
  • When Dinosaurs Roamed America, Artisan Entertainment
  • National Parks, Ken Burns



Bryce Canyon is surrounded by the Dixie National Forest, so forest issues such as logging, road building, fire management, and water issues will definitely be topics of discussion. We will also talk about the unique red rock areas of southern Utah and the efforts being made to preserve them. In past years, the park staff has frequently entertained us with talks about the geology, flora, and fauna of Bryce Canyon. Be sure to ask about the bark beetle.



Mike Kobar has been staffing or leading Sierra Club service trips in the Southwest since 1991. He is married to a full-time artist. They have three kids and a dog and live on the Connecticut coast. Please feel free to contact him with any questions or concerns you may have about this trip.

Assistant Leader:

Marie Kobar

Assistant Leader:

Scott Sims

Contact the Staff

Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

Try Another Trip

By Date