Dive into the heart of Bryce Canyon National Park with our guide to its seven most captivating trails!
From the serene beauty of the Rim Trail to the exhilarating challenges of the Peekaboo Loop, we’ve explored each path to bring you the best of Bryce’s hiking experiences.
Whether you’re planning a family outing or a solo adventure, our guide has something for everyone.
Plus, we’ve packed in 15 practical tips to help you navigate these trails like a pro, ensuring your journey is as smooth as the stunning vistas are breathtaking. Get ready to uncover the secrets of Bryce Canyon’s most cherished hikes!
- Distance: 5.5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,754 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
- Trailhead: Fairyland Point or Bryce Point
Hiking the Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is an experience that combines ease and scenic beauty, making it accessible and enjoyable for a wide range of hikers.
This trail, stretching approximately 5.5 miles from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, offers a relatively easy hike that can be completed in parts or as a whole, depending on your time and fitness level.
As you traverse the Rim Trail, you’re treated to spectacular views of the park’s most famous area, the Bryce Amphitheater. The trail connects several popular viewpoints, including Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point, each offering a unique perspective of the park’s stunning hoodoos and landscapes.
The section between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point is paved, making it the easiest part of the trail and accessible for pets on leashes.
The trail’s gentle elevation gain of less than 200 feet makes it a comfortable hike for most, without the strenuous climbs found in other park trails. Whether starting at Fairyland Point or Bryce Point, hikers can enjoy the convenience of multiple access points along the rim, allowing for shorter or longer hikes as desired.
The Rim Trail is an excellent choice for those who want to experience the beauty of Bryce Canyon without embarking on a strenuous hike. Its accessibility and breathtaking views make it a must-do for park visitors.
Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
- Distance: 1.0 mile
- Elevation Gain: 34 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
- Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Trailhead: Sunset Point Parking Lot
Hiking from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park is a delightful and accessible experience, perfect for those seeking a short but scenic adventure.
This 1-mile trail, known for its ease and accessibility, is the only paved section of the Rim Trail, making it an ideal choice for families, casual hikers, and those with limited mobility.
Starting either at Sunset Point or Sunrise Point, hikers can enjoy a leisurely walk with a minimal elevation gain of only 40 feet. This gentle incline ensures a comfortable experience for all ages and fitness levels.
The trail offers stunning views of the iconic Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, allowing hikers to gaze upon the park’s famous hoodoos and breathtaking landscapes.
Accessibility is a key feature of this trail; it’s well-paved and wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Along the way, hikers can find accessible restrooms and water-fill stations, adding convenience to the experience. The trail is also pet-friendly, welcoming those who wish to bring their furry companions along on a leash.
The hike from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is a must-do for visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s a perfect blend of natural beauty and accessibility, offering an unforgettable experience that is both easy and rewarding.
Queen’s Garden Trail
- Distance: 1.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 357 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated Time: 1 hour
- Trailhead: Sunrise Point
Hiking the Queen’s Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon offers an immersive experience into the park’s unique landscape. This trail, though relatively short at under 2 miles, presents a steep descent into the main amphitheater, followed by an equally steep climb back up.
Starting from Sunrise Point, the trail rapidly descends to the canyon floor, offering hikers a close-up view of the iconic hoodoos.
The best time to embark on this hike is early in the morning when temperatures are cooler, as the trail has limited shade and can get quite warm, especially considering Bryce Canyon’s high elevation of over 8,000 feet.
Along the path, hikers can enjoy walking through archways and among the hoodoos, with a notable stop at Queen Victoria, a rock formation resembling the queen.
For those hiking with families or seeking a more comprehensive experience, combining the Queen’s Garden Trail with the Navajo Loop Trail and the Rim Trail forms a loop that showcases the best of Bryce in one go. This loop takes about two hours to complete and is a great option for a “big hike” that’s still manageable for young families.
The trail is well-traveled and wide, winding through the hoodoos with occasional shade. The return climb, though steep, rewards hikers with stunning views of Bryce Canyon, making the effort well worth it.
For convenience, hikers can either walk back along the Rim Trail to their starting point or arrange for a shuttle between Sunrise and Sunset Points. The trail’s flat section between Queen’s Garden and the Navajo Loop is easy to walk, offering a pleasant respite before the ascent.
- Distance: 1.3 miles
- Elevation Gain: 550 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated Time: 1 hour
- Trailhead: Sunset Point
The Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is a captivating journey through some of the park’s most iconic landscapes. This 1.3-mile loop trail, starting and ending at Sunset Point, is a moderate hike that typically takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete. It’s renowned for its stunning switchbacks and unique geological formations.
As you begin your hike at Sunset Point, the trail descends rapidly, offering an immediate immersion into the canyon’s depths. The path is initially paved, with safety railings that soon give way to the natural trail. Here, hikers can choose between different routes, each offering its own unique views and experiences.
A highlight of the Navajo Loop is the famous Wall Street, a narrow passage flanked by towering rock walls. This section is particularly memorable for its ancient Douglas firs, standing tall for over 750 years. The trail also brings you up close with iconic hoodoo formations like Twin Bridges and Thor’s Hammer, showcasing the park’s extraordinary geological history.
The trail’s switchbacks are both a challenge and a delight, leading hikers down to the canyon floor and back up to the rim. These switchbacks provide breathtaking panoramic views of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater, making the climb worthwhile.
For those seeking a longer hike, the Navajo Loop can be conveniently combined with the Queens Garden Trail. This combination forms a 3-mile loop, often regarded as one of the best short hikes in the area.
Best Season: The ideal time to hike the Navajo Loop is from April to October. Note that the Wall Street section is closed in winter.
Difficulty: The trail is rated as moderate, suitable for most hikers with a reasonable level of fitness.
In summary, the Navajo Loop Trail offers an unforgettable experience of Bryce Canyon’s unique landscape, making it a must-do for park visitors.
Mossy Cave Trail
- Distance: 0.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 200 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
- Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Trailhead: 4 miles east of the park on Highway 12
The Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park offers a unique and relatively easy hiking experience, perfect for families and those looking for a less strenuous exploration of the park.
This 0.8-mile roundtrip trail is known for its two main attractions: a waterfall and the Mossy Cave itself.
Starting from a well-marked trailhead located between mile markers 17 and 18 on Highway 12, the trail is accessible and straightforward. It’s a gentle uphill walk, manageable even for young children.
The path follows a stream, adding a pleasant auditory backdrop to the hike. You’ll cross a few bridges, offering lovely views of the flowing water.
The Mossy Cave, despite its name, is actually a grotto, constantly wet and dripping, creating a cool and shady spot that’s particularly refreshing during warmer months.
In winter, the dripping water forms ice, adding a magical touch to the cave. The waterfall along the trail is another highlight.
Although not a natural formation, it was created by pioneers who dug a canal to bring water to the Bryce Valley, making it a significant historical site as well as a scenic spot.
The trail splits at one point, allowing hikers to choose between visiting the Mossy Cave first or heading towards the waterfall. The area around the cave is rich in vegetation and offers chances to spot local wildlife.
Accessibility: While the trail is not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers due to some inclines and natural trail surfaces, it’s generally easy for most hikers.
Hike the Hoodoo Challenge: For families or individuals interested in a fun activity, there’s a Hike the Hoodoo challenge marker where the trail splits. Participants can take a photo or do a rubbing to receive a reward at the Visitor’s Center.
The Mossy Cave Trail is a delightful, easy hike in Bryce Canyon, offering natural beauty, historical significance, and a chance to enjoy the park’s unique landscape without the challenge of a strenuous hike.
- Distance: 8.0 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,716 feet
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Estimated Time: 4-5 hours
- Trailhead: Fairyland Point
The Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is an 8-mile journey that offers a more secluded and immersive experience compared to the park’s more frequented trails.
This trail, considered moderately challenging, typically takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete and is best suited for hikers looking for a longer, more engaging hike.
Starting either at Fairyland Point or the Tower Bridge trailhead near Sunrise Point, the trail is recommended to be hiked in a counter-clockwise direction.
This approach allows hikers to gradually descend into the canyon, surrounded by the park’s famous hoodoos and striking rock formations. The trail winds along the plateau rim near Boat Mesa, offering expansive views of the Bryce Amphitheater.
One of the trail’s highlights is the Tower Bridge, a natural rock formation that resembles a man-made bridge. This point can be reached via a short spur trail, providing a perfect spot for a rest and photo opportunity.
The Fairyland Loop is known for its quiet and less crowded paths, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful hiking experience.
The trail’s length and elevation changes require a good level of fitness, but the effort is rewarded with stunning, long-range views and close encounters with the park’s unique geological features.
Peekaboo Loop Trail
- Distance: 5.5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,571 feet
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
- Trailhead: Bryce Point
The Peekaboo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is a stunning 5.5-mile hike that offers an immersive experience into the heart of the park’s unique geological formations.
This trail, rated as strenuous, typically takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete and is best suited for those looking for a challenging yet rewarding hike.
Starting from Bryce Point, the trail descends 670 feet into the canyon, immediately immersing hikers in a world of towering hoodoos and breathtaking vistas. The trail is recommended to be hiked in a clockwise direction, allowing for a gradual descent and a more manageable ascent.
One of the most striking features of the Peekaboo Loop is the close encounters with the park’s famous hoodoos. These towering rock spires, shaped by centuries of erosion, create a surreal landscape that feels almost otherworldly. The trail winds through these formations, offering unique perspectives and photo opportunities.
The Peekaboo Loop is also known for its diverse range of scenery. From vast open vistas to narrow canyons, the trail provides a comprehensive showcase of Bryce Canyon’s natural beauty. Wildlife sightings, including birds and small mammals, add an extra layer of excitement to the hike.
Best Season: The ideal time to hike the Peekaboo Loop is from April to October. The trail can be snowy or muddy in winter and spring, making it more challenging.
Difficulty: The trail is strenuous due to its length and elevation changes. It’s recommended for hikers with a good level of fitness.
In summary, the Peekaboo Loop Trail is a must-do for those seeking an adventurous and physically engaging hike in Bryce Canyon National Park. The trail’s combination of challenging terrain, stunning geological formations, and diverse landscapes makes it a memorable experience for all who undertake it.
15 Tips for Hiking the Trails in Bryce Canyon National Park
- Understand High Altitude Hiking: Bryce Canyon’s elevation ranges from 8,000 to 9,000 feet, which can affect your breathing and stamina. Acclimatize to the altitude before attempting strenuous hikes. Drink plenty of water, take it slow, and be aware of symptoms of altitude sickness.
- Assess Your Abilities: Be realistic about your fitness level and experience. Choose trails that match your abilities. Start with shorter, easier trails if you’re not accustomed to hiking or high altitudes.
- Prepare for the Weather: Weather in Bryce Canyon can be unpredictable. Check the forecast and prepare for sudden changes in weather. Dress in layers and carry rain gear.
- Stay on Designated Trails: For your safety and to protect the park’s delicate ecosystem, always stay on marked trails.
- Carry Essential Gear: Even on short hikes, carry water, snacks, a map, a first-aid kit, and a flashlight. A hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are also essential to protect against the sun.
- Hiking with Children: Choose family-friendly trails like the Rim Trail or Mossy Cave Trail. Keep hikes short and engaging. Ensure children carry water and snacks, and dress them in layers.
- Wildlife Safety: Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not feed or approach animals.
- Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash, stay on trails, and respect park rules to preserve the environment.
- Hiking in Winter: Winter transforms Bryce Canyon into a snowy wonderland. Some trails may be closed or require special equipment like crampons. Check trail conditions before heading out. Dress warmly in layers and be prepared for icy conditions.
- Start Early or Late: To avoid crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience, start your hike early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
- Use the Shuttle Service: During peak season, take advantage of the park’s shuttle service to avoid parking hassles and reduce your environmental impact.
- Stay Hydrated: High altitudes and dry air can lead to dehydration. Drink water throughout your hike, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Take Breaks: Regular breaks help you adjust to the altitude and prevent fatigue. Enjoy the scenery and rest when needed.
- Inform Someone: Let someone know your hiking plan and expected return time.
- Be Prepared for Emergencies: Know basic first aid and carry a whistle or a way to signal for help in case of an emergency.
By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Widlife Encounters While Hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park
While hiking the trails of Bryce Canyon National Park, you’re likely to encounter a fascinating array of wildlife, each adding a unique touch to your adventure. The park is a haven for diverse species, ranging from the playful Utah Prairie Dogs to the elusive Black Bears.
Imagine the thrill of spotting a Mountain Lion gracefully moving through the trees or observing Mule Deer grazing in the meadows at dusk. These encounters not only bring a sense of awe but also forge a deeper connection with the natural world.
Bird enthusiasts will be delighted by the variety of avian species that call the park home. You might spot the Steller’s Jay, easily recognized by its vibrant blue plumage, or catch a glimpse of the majestic Peregrine Falcon, known as one of the fastest animals in the world.
The park’s unique geological formations also provide a perfect habitat for smaller creatures like Rattlesnakes and Townsend’s Big-Eared Bats, each playing a crucial role in the ecosystem.
As the day turns to twilight, the park reveals more of its nocturnal inhabitants. You might encounter the elusive Ringtail Cat or hear the haunting call of the Great Horned Owl echoing through the canyons.
Each of these wildlife sightings contributes to the rich tapestry of experiences that Bryce Canyon National Park offers to its visitors.
As our journey through the diverse and awe-inspiring trails of Bryce Canyon National Park comes to a close, we hope you feel inspired and prepared to embark on your own hiking adventures. Each trail we’ve explored offers a unique perspective of the park’s natural beauty, from the majestic hoodoos to the serene landscapes that make Bryce Canyon a hiker’s haven. Remember, whether you choose the tranquil paths of the Rim Trail or the adventurous twists of the Peekaboo Loop, every step is an opportunity to connect with nature and create lasting memories.
Don’t forget to utilize the 15 hiking tips we’ve shared to enhance your experience and ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure. Bryce Canyon is more than just a national park; it’s a testament to the wonders of the natural world, waiting for you to discover its secrets. So, grab your hiking boots, pack your spirit of adventure, and set out to explore the magnificent trails of Bryce Canyon National Park. Happy hiking!
FAQ for planning hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
- What is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon National Park? The Navajo Loop Trail is often considered the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon. This trail offers a relatively short yet immersive experience, taking hikers through some of the park’s most iconic landscapes, including the famous Wall Street section.
- Can I bring my pet on the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon? Pets are not allowed on most of the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park to protect wildlife and the natural environment. However, they are allowed on the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, as well as on the shared use path between the park entrance and Inspiration Point.
- Are there any hikes suitable for those uncomfortable with heights? Yes, Bryce Canyon offers several trails that are less intimidating for those who are uncomfortable with heights. The Rim Trail, for example, provides stunning views without the steep drop-offs found on some other trails.
- What trails are accessible for visitors with mobility issues? The Rim Trail has sections that are wheelchair accessible, offering beautiful views of the canyon. The section between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point is paved and relatively flat.
- Are there restrooms available on the trails in Bryce Canyon? Restrooms are available at the main trailheads in Bryce Canyon National Park, but not along the trails themselves. It’s important to plan accordingly before embarking on a hike.
- Is it necessary to use the shuttle service in Bryce Canyon? While the shuttle service is not mandatory, it is highly recommended during peak seasons to reduce traffic and parking difficulties. The shuttle provides convenient access to major viewpoints and trailheads.
- What should I know about hiking in Bryce Canyon during winter? Winter hiking in Bryce Canyon can be a magical experience, but it requires preparation. Some trails may be closed or require special equipment like crampons due to snow and ice. Always check trail conditions before heading out.
- What wildlife might I see while hiking in Bryce Canyon? Hikers in Bryce Canyon may encounter a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, prairie dogs, and various bird species. Less commonly, you might spot black bears or mountain lions. Remember to observe wildlife from a distance and never feed them.
By addressing these questions, hikers can better prepare for their adventures in Bryce Canyon National Park, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.