11 Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon

12 mins read
Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
By Alek Newton / unsplash Copyrights 2022

Best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park attracts many visitors annually to enjoy the outdoors and the region’s scenic beauty. Many hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park are perfect for adventure seekers and all those looking for a weekend getaway from their hectic schedules.

Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
By James Lee / unsplash. Copyright 2021

Hiking trails are one adventurous way of exploring the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park. You can opt for a longer hike, a hike with steep climbs, or an easy-to-moderate one, all of which make you appreciate this National Park’s magic. For some of you who are looking for some quiet time during your hiking trails, some hikes are not crowded and do not have too much of hikers on the trail.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is well known for its towering, red-colored hoodoos, spire-shaped rock formations, and horseshoe-shaped amphitheater carved from the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. This is one of the National Parks in Utah that has exciting and exhilarating hiking trails and the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The geological formations in this park defy all logic and leave you astounded at nature’s hand in creating something that is aesthetically appealing to everyone. Some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park let you into the canyon floor and rim and will leave you dumbfounded with their luster, charm, and distinct uniqueness.

Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park’s hiking trails capture the unique landscape of the National Park, and some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon are the perfect way for visitors to enjoy the region’s outdoors, adventure, and scenery.

There are a lot of hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, ranging from easy to moderate to difficult ones. It depends on how much expertise you have when it comes to hiking.

Let us look at some of the Bryce Canyon hikes and see what they offer visitors while visiting the National Park.

1. Bryce Canyon Rim Trail

Distance – 5.5 miles one way

Elevation Gain – 1,754 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
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Going on this trail is the best way to see the Bryce Canyon amphitheater. The trail allows you to see the amphitheater from above. The entire trail is from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point and has several steep elevations. Getting to the Rim Trail from Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to Fairyland Point, the trailhead is at the eastern end of the parking area. It is easy for hikers to add one of the loop trails to Rim Trail. There are a lot of benches on the way for hikers to take a break in case they feel like it.

The Fairyland Point marks the northernmost point of the Rim Trail and the trailhead for the Fairyland Loop Trail. It also gives you sweeping views of Campbell Canyon, Fairyland Canyon, and the Sinking Ship. Then there is Sunset Point, which is in the middle of the Rim Trail, and from here, hikers get magnificent views of Bryce Amphitheater, Thor’s Hammer, the Silent City, and the tops of Wall Street’s deep canyons.

Sunrise Point is close to halfway through the Rim Trail and just east of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. Then there is the Inspiration Point at the Rim Trail’s lower leg. You get good views of Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Bryce Point from here. The Rim Trail gives you an aerial view of the hoodoo formations at the park.

2. Bristlecone Loop Trail

Distance – 1 mile

Elevation Gain – 200 feet

Difficulty Level – Easy

Hike through the forests of bristlecone pines and enjoy the panoramic vistas of the region. Bristlecone Pines are found more on this trail than on the other trails, hence the name Bristlecone Pine Loop Trail. The forest in this region is dominated by Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, and White Fir, and you get to see a lot of bird species on this hike.

The Bristlecone Loop Trail can be reached from Rainbow Point at the southern end of the Bryce Canyon National Park, and the bristlecone pines in this region are extremely old, some even up to 1,800 years old. The path on the trail loops out to the canyon rim and the cliffs.

3. Fairyland Loop Trail

Distance – 8.4 miles round trip

Elevation Gain – 1,320 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

Looking for some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park? The Fairyland Loop Trail begins at Fairyland Point and takes you on a picturesque trail along the rim into the canyon. You can start this trail fight from the campground if you are camping at the Bryce North Campground. Or else you can start from the Fairyland Loop or Sunrise Point.

The magnificent hoodoos, spires, and fins that are distinctly visible on this trail give a feeling of looking at castles, fortresses, and cathedrals. You also see Bryce Point, Bristlecone Point, and Boat Mesa views.

On the Fairyland Loop Trail’s return leg, you will see the Tower Bridge and the Chinese Wall. This long hike along a ridge crest gives sweeping views of the National Park. Many visitors visiting Bryce Canyon National Park usually go for the trails beneath Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. Still, this trail is one of the best ways to enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park and its uniqueness.

Though the trail is a moderately strenuous hike, it is less crowded than some other Bryce Canyon National Park trails. Some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park allow you to see the mesmerizing hoodoos and rock formations that define the beauty of the place, and the same can be said for this trail.

Bask in the beauty of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater, the labyrinths, the spires, the colorful stone canyons of pink, white, and tan, the hoodoos, and the spires, and make everlasting memories. This is quite a colorful and vibrant trail as the pink, orange, gold, and red hues are more palpable to the hikers than in the other trails at the Bryce Canyon National Park.

You can do a Spur to the Tower Bridge from this trail if you are interested, and you can do it as a separate trail.

Hat Shop Trail

Distance – 4 miles out and back

Elevation Gain – 980 feet

Difficulty Level – Easy to moderate

Going on one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park is the best way to experience the majestic splendor of this National Park and its distinctly different landscape. The Hat Shop Trail is not a loop trail, and it begins at Bryce Point, the southern side thronged by visitors. The rock formations along the trail look as if they are wearing hats. White rocks are kept on top of the hoodoos along the hiking trail, which makes you feel.

Hat Shop is a small cluster of narrow and eroded formations that dominate the skyline with their orange-hued pinnacles. Some boulders can be found on the north side of the Bryce Canyon National Park. There is nothing special about these boulders; the views include the rock formations. You get expansive views across to the Aquarius Plateau, which is far, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Upper Paria River Valley.

The Pink Cliffs and the stretches of the valleys, plateaus, and ridges make this one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. The oranges and reds give color to the earth there, making it bright and radiant. You get different views when you look in different directions.

4. Mossy Cave Trail

Distance – 1.3 miles, out and back

Elevation Gain – 7,023 feet

Difficulty Level – Easy

This is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park that begins with a climb and ends with a descent. The Mossy Cave Trail meanders through the park’s boundary and gives access to the Water Canyon in one direction and the Mossy Cave in the other. The trail is filled with mosses in summer and icicles in winter, and it is quite a popular trail in the Bryce Canyon National Park.

There is a small waterfall nearby, which can be reached during the trail and the colorful rocks give beautiful hues to the water in the stream. The mossy cave and the small waterfall are highlights of the Mossy Cave Trail. The Mossy Cave Trail comes among some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. Go for this trail; reaching the waterfall and the mossy cave will take around half an hour.

5. Navajo Loop Trail

Distance – 1.4 miles

Elevation Gain– 515 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

Trailhead – Sunset Point

Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
By Leslie Cross / unsplash. Copyright 2021

Looking for the most popular trails in Bryce Canyon National Park? Then go for the Navajo Loop Trail, which commences at the busy overlook of Sunset Point and ends at the same place. Nine short paths go in different directions at the beginning of the trail, taking you to different parts of the rim. If you are looking for Bryce Canyon hiking trails, then this is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. The loop trail takes you through the narrow ravines, and one part of it is enclosed for about 300 feet.

The two sides of the Navajo Loop Trail, the Two Bridges side and the Wall Street side, give it a counterclockwise loop effect when they are both open. The Wall Street side closes during winter, and the Two Bridges side is open all year round.

The narrow walls of colorful limestone, the Douglas-fir trees, the famous hoodoo of the park, and Thor’s Hammer all come alive on this trail. Taking the Navajo Loop Trails in Bryce Canyon is the best way to be in the midst of adventure and action.

The Navajo Loop Trail can be combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail when the Wall Street side closes, and these two trails are good for outdoor enthusiasts. It can also be done in combination with the Peekaboo Loop. This trail is said to be one of the best hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park, and it winds its way through the rising hoodoos and takes you right in to give outstanding views from the canyon rim.

The hike can be slippery, so wear proper hiking shoes/boots. This trail is the best way to get down from the canyon rim to the valley floor. Though the path is not difficult, the duration of the trail and the elevation make it a not-so-easy trail.

6. Peekaboo Loop Trail

Distance – 5.2-mile loop trail

Elevation Gain – 1,500 feet

Difficulty Level – Strenuous

Trailhead – Sunset Point

The Peekaboo Loop Trail begins at Bryce Point and drops at the canyon floor. This is not only one of the strenuous hikes but can also be categorized as one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park and one of Bryce Canyon’s hiking trails you should do if you are an expert hiker. A combination of the Navajo Trail and Peekaboo Loop Trail is adventurous and one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, though the Navajo Trail is good to be done by itself.

Though the Peekaboo Loop Trail begins with a steep climb, it is not as difficult as it looks, and you will be stupefied at the sweeping views once you reach the top. The multi-colored cliffs look wonderful, and the trail takes you to the canyon rim. Horses are allowed on this trail, and there are some uphill sections. You can see this is a good trail for both hikers and horses.

The best time to go on the Peekaboo Loop Trail will be afternoon, especially if you are looking for good photographs. The light will work in your favor if you want to take pictures. Views of The Cathedral, Wall of Windows, The Organ, and The Three Wise Men.

The Peekaboo Loop Trail can be combined with the Navajo Loop/Queen’s Garden trails and is called the Figure 8 Combination Trail. It gives you a better and complete tour of the amphitheater.

7. Queen’s Garden Trail

Distance – 1.8 miles

Elevation Gain – 630 feet

Difficulty Level – Easy/Moderate

The Queen’s Garden Trail takes its name from a rock formation that is said to resemble Queen Victoria. The hoodoo is unique and does resemble Queen Victoria. You will realize that once you reach the hoodoo and see it. The Visitor Center is informative, and there is a small gift shop in case you want to pick up souvenirs.

The trail path is stunning, with the red sandstone spires and pillars created due to erosions. This trail is not a loop trail, but hikers can combine it with the Navajo Loop Trail and the Peekaboo Loop Trail and have a connecting loop trail. You get to see the Queen’s Castle and Gulliver’s Castle as the trail meanders to the canyon’s rim.

8. Riggs Spring Loop Trail

Distance – 8.6 miles round trip

Elevation Gain – 1,675 feet

Difficulty Level – Strenuous

Trailhead – Rainbow Point/Yovimpa Point

Are you looking to be away from the crowded Bryce Canyon Amphitheater? Then the Riggs Spring Loop Trail is a good option and is more peaceful. If you are looking for some quiet time, opt for this trail. It is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park regarding serenity and tranquility. The hike takes you through some of the sections of the pine forest, and you might get to see some wildlife if you are lucky.

The trailhead, Rainbow Point or Yovimpa Point are at the end of the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, and since it is a loop trail, you can do it either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The initial section of the trail takes you through the Bristlecone Pine Trail sections, and the forested terrain gives you spectacular views.

You pass the Corral Hollow Campsite, the first backcountry campsite on this loop trail. You reach the next campsite Riggs Spring after a few miles. Riggs Spring is a good spot for relaxing, and the next part of the hike will take you to the Yovimpa Pass. The third campsite is located at the Yovimpa Pass, and after a few miles of hiking, you get back to the trailhead.

9. Sheep Creek/Swamp Canyon Trail

Distance – 4.3 miles

Difficulty Level – Easy to moderate

This trail lets you soak in the beauty of the Ponderosa Pines and the hoodoos, and though it is not one of the popular trails in Bryce Canyon National Park, you still get to see some amazing rock formations. The Swamp Canyon trail links up with the Rim Trail for a while.

The Swamp Canyon Overlook is the first as you leave the first part of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater and head towards the Rainbow Point. It is said to be the smallest overlook in Bryce Canyon. You get some pretty good views on this trail. Once you enter Bryce Point, the Swamp Canyon trailhead is on the left-hand side. This is a decent hike and one of the less crowded trails in the park.

This trail is also a good break from the conventional rock formations you experience. It takes you to the backcountry part of the park and is a different feel. Deer are often spotted on this trail, which is also part of the Under the Rim Trail.

10. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point Trail

Distance – 1 mile

Elevation Gain – 40 feet

Difficulty Level – Easy

If you are looking for easy hikes and some alone time, the Sunset Point to Sunrise Trail is a good hiking trail at the Bryce Canyon National Park. Pets are allowed on this trail, and the trailhead begins at Sunrise Point. The parking lot fills up quickly, and there is space to park near The Lodge at Sunrise Point.

The hike begins by going south towards Sunrise Point and takes you to the canyon rim, where the incredible rock formations and panoramic views will leave you wonder-struck. There are a lot of benches on the way, and you can take a rest in between if you feel like taking one. Sit for a while and take in the beauty of the wondrous sights around you. The ending point is Sunset Point; make sure you walk into Wall Street on the Navajo Loop. The trail between Sunrise Points and Sunset Points is paved and can be accessed by wheelchair.

If you want to know some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, this is one of them.

11. Tower Bridge Hiking Trail

Distance – 3 miles

Elevation Gain – 800 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

This out-and-back trail can be done if you are not to keep on doing the Fairyland Loop Trail, as it covers a portion of the Fairyland Trail. Then it goes on a Spur Trail to the Tower Bridge, a dramatic stone structure. You also get to see Bristlecone Pines on this 3-mile out-and-back hike. It weaves its way through the hoodoos and the Chinese Wall, a brightly colored stone wall.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Going on Bryce Canyon Hikes

To be enjoyable, some planning is required while going on hiking trails in the Bryce Canyon National Park or any other National Park. Along with finding out the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, here are some of the things to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared for temperature fluctuations
  • Carry plenty of water, especially if you are hiking during the summer months
  • Carry good hiking boots with sturdy soles
  • Do not try to climb the hoodoos
  • Do not feed wildlife
  • Extra clothing
  • Food to keep your energy
  • First aid kit
  • Ensure you stay on the trail paths so you do not disturb wildlife and avoid harming the plants around you.
  • Multi-purpose tool/knife
  • Rain Gear
  • Sunscreen if you are visiting during the summer/spring months, and sunglasses
  • Torch

Bryce Canyon Lodge is the only place you can stay while visiting the National Park. The rustic and quaint charm of The Lodge adds to the charm of your hiking experience. Or else you can stay at Bryce Canyon City near Bryce Canyon National Park, where the choices of hotels will be more.

In The End

Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
By Ajay Karpur / unsplash. Copyright 2020

Looking for some of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park? The above post might help you decide on what hiking trail to choose while visiting the National Park. A Utah Road Trip is a good way to experience the National Parks in the region and some of the best hikes. What are you waiting for? Wear your best-hiking boots and be ready for an adventure of a lifetime.

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mamta madhavan

Mamta Madhavan’s body of work includes web content writing, book reviews, interviews, articles, and poetry, mainly free verse. Her works have been published in various reputable journals and magazines worldwide. Living in creatively inspiring India, Mamta incorporates vivid imagery into her writings, influenced by nature, mysticism, and spirituality. Her poetry collection is titled connecting the dots.

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