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9 of the Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

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Article Categories: Hiking Tips | Travel

Bryce Canyon National Park is a popular southern Utah hiking destination known for its incredible rock formations, especially the famous hoodoos — delicate rock spires formed gradually by erosion. There are also plenty of places in and around Bryce Canyon to see forests, meadows, local wildlife, and jaw-dropping views of the surrounding cliff faces.

If you’re planning a hiking trip to Bryce Canyon, you’ll want to know which of the many trails to hit first. Or, maybe you only have time for one and you need to know which trail you can’t miss. Here are 9 hikes you should consider as you map your route through the park:

Peekaboo Loop

PeekaBoo Loop Trail

Difficulty: Advanced
Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 km)
Elevation Gain: 1,560 feet (474 meters)
Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Bryce Point

Peekaboo Loop begins at Bryce Point and descends into the canyon before looping up and back out to Bryce Point. This is one of the more strenuous hikes in the park since you will end up ascending more than 1,500 feet of elevation throughout the course of the 5.5 mile loop. In the summer, you can expect to encounter horses or mules along the trail. Keep in mind that Peekaboo Loop may be closed during the winter months due to snowfall.

Read The Complete Guide On The Peekaboo Loop Trail

 

Queen’s Garden Trail

Queen's Garden

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.8 miles (2.9 km)
Elevation Gain: 450 feet (137 meters)
Hiking Time: 1 to 2 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Nearest Parking To Sunrise Point

The Queen’s Garden Trail starts at Sunrise Point and descends from the rim down into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. It’s one of the easiest hikes from the rim into the canyon itself, making it a popular way to experience hiking among the hoodoos. It’s also a great choice for anyone looking for a relatively quick hike, as it can be completed round-trip in no more than a couple of hours.

Read The Complete Guide On The Queen’s Garden Trail

 

Navajo Loop Trail

Views of Navajo Loop Trail From Queen's Garden Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 515 feet (157 meters)
Hiking Time: 1 to 2 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Sunset Point

The Navajo Loop is one of the most well-loved trails in the park thanks to its stunning views of colorful limestone rock formations and centuries-old Douglass. The Navajo Loop is also home to the park’s most famous hoodoo: Thor’s Hammer. The trail is divided into two parts, one of which (Wall Street) is closed off during the winter. However, the other half of the trail (Two Bridges) is open year-round, and can be hiked out-and-back when the Wall Street side is closed. It’s one of the park’s shorter hikes at 1.3 miles for the full loop.

Read Our Guide To The Navajo Loop

 

Bristlecone Loop Trail

Bristlecone Loop Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.0 mile (1.6 km)
Elevation Gain: 200 feet (61 meters)
Approximate Hiking Time: 1 hour
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Rainbow Point

The Bristlecone Loop begins at Rainbow Point, located at the southern end of the park, and makes its way through forested areas that reach elevations of 9,100 feet or more. However, the hike itself involves only a very modest elevation gain of about 200 feet and can be completed round-trip in just an hour, making it an excellent hike for beginners. Bristlecone Loop is named after the ancient bristlecone pine trees that you’ll see along the trail — some of which are nearly 2,000 years old!

 

The Rim Trail

Bryce Canyon National Park

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 1.0 to 11.0 miles (1.6 to 17.7 km)
Elevation Gain: 719 feet (219 meters)
Hiking Time: 1 to 8 hours
Pets: Allowed only on the paved sections between Sunrise and Sunset Points.
Trailhead Location: Bryce Point

The Rim Trail is another great hike for beginners, especially those who are looking for a relatively easy hike that’s a bit longer than the Bristlecone Loop. It begins at Bryce Point in the south section of the park and traverses the entire edge of the Bryce Amphitheater area, connecting to Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, and Fairyland Point along the way. The trail stretches for 11 miles in total, but since it connects to numerous trailheads, you can easily hike any single portion of it. Or, you can tackle the whole 11 miles for a fun, day-long hike with gorgeous views of the park’s most popular areas.

 

Figure 8 Combo

Queen's Garden Trail Views

Difficulty: Advanced
Distance: 6.4 Miles (10.3 km)
Elevation Gain: 1,575 feet (480 meters)
Hiking Time: 4 to 5 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Sunset Point or Bryce Point

The Figure 8 Combo is a combination of three of the park’s best hikes: the Queen’s Garden Trail, the Navajo Loop, and Peekaboo Loop. If you’re up for a longer hike and some fairly steep grades, the figure 8 combo is probably the most effective way to see the best of what the Canyon Amphitheater section of the park has to offer.

Read About How To Figure 8 Through The Park Here

 

Hat Shop

Hat Shop Trail

Difficulty: Advanced
Distance: 4.0 miles (6.4 km)
Elevation Gain: 1,380 feet (421 meters)
Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Bryce Point

The Hat Shop Trail follows the Under-the-Rim Trail from Bryce Point into the backcountry. It’s a relatively difficult hike at around 4 miles in length and approximately 1,380 feet of elevation gain, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with breathtaking views of the Grand Staircase. This trail is named in honor of the balanced-rock hoodoos that line the route, many of which are topped by large gray boulders that make them look like they’re wearing hats. While the Hat Shop Trail stays open year-round, you should avoid it during the winter unless you’re an advanced hiker who’s well-prepared for hiking in icy conditions.

 

Fairyland Loop

Fairyland Loop Trail

Difficulty: Advanced
Distance: 8.0 miles (12.9 km)
Elevation Gain: 1,900 feet
Hiking Time: 4 to 5 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Rim Trail Sunrise Point

The Fairyland Loop is one of the longer hikes in the park and also involves some of the harshest elevation gains, making it best-suited to experienced hikers. It stretches from its starting point at Fairyland Point along the plateau rim near Boat Mesa, then descends into the canyon for some fantastic views of the Bryce Amphitheater. Like Peekaboo Loop, Fairyland Point is often closed during the winter thanks to heavy snowfall, so be sure to plan ahead.

 

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.0 miles (4.8 km)
Elevation Gain: 760 feet (232 meters)
Hiking Time: 2 to 3 hours
Pets: Service animals only.
Trailhead Location: Rim Trail Sunrise Point

If you like the sound of Fairyland Loop but you’re looking for a shorter or less strenuous hike, you can start at the trailhead north of Sunrise Point and hike just the southern half of the loop. The Tower Bridge trail is a 2-3 hour out-and-back hike that includes a spur trail leading to the Tower Bridge hoodoo.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

When is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park?

While the most popular times in the park, and therefore most busy, are between May and August, we actually feel the best times are just outside these timeframes. April, and September offer often great weather, with substantially less crowds. At any time of year, Bryce is enjoyable, though it is worth noting that in winter it can be cold, snowy, and the trails can be icey. This adds great beauty to the park, and less crowds compared to the summer months.

 

Do you need a permit for Bryce Canyon National Park?

Yes, all visitors need to purchase a pass when entering the park while the gates are being worked by rangers. Information on that can be found here. We highly recommending the interagency national parks yearly pass which can be purchased for $80 and gets you a years access to all of the U.S. National Parks. Bryce canyon does not require reservations for any areas or hikes, however, you will need to reserve campgrounds if you plan on camping in the park.

 

Bryce Canyon Vs Zion National Park?

Bryce Canyon is an incredible National Park, and so is Zion. They are also conveniently located less than an hour and a half apart. Zion is a much larger park, it is located at a lower elevation, and therefore warmer, and features lots of challenging terrain with steep cliff features. Bryce is much smaller, and can be explored fully in a day or two. We recommend visiting  both parks on any trip, but spending a larger amount of time at Zion due to the size.

 

How Many Days Should You Visit Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon is one of the smaller national parks, and in a few trails, you can see most of the most commonly visited areas in the park. 1 full day, to a couple half days for many hikers is enough to see a large portion of the park. Given its close proximity to other larger parks, like Zion, we’d recommend spending 1 to 2 days at Bryce, and allocating other time to other parks to maximize your experience. IF you like to take things slower, adding another day on to that is totally fine!

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about

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