Best Bryce Canyon Hikes: Easy, Moderate and Strenuous

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Bryce Canyon hikes are the best way to explore this National Park that encompasses over 35,000 acres of picturesque expansive views!

When you’re looking for Bryce Canyon National Park Vacation Ideas, you must add a hike or two, or three to your list of activities!

Here’s our list of the best easy, moderate and strenuous hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park with everything you need to know to enjoy your hiking adventure!

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WHAT TO PACK FOR BRYCE CANYON

Hiking Shoes & Socks

Did you know the #1 and #2 causes of injury at Bryce Canyon is bad choice of footwear. Be sure to wear hiking boots with good ankle support and ample traction. Sport-sandals & “trainers” are NOT safe hiking footwear. We use and always recommend our Merrell Moab hiking shoes or Oboz hiking shoes worn with Darn Tough socks.

Hydration and Food

The #5 cause of injury at Bryce is dehydration. Drink 1 quart / liter every 1-2 hours. Always carry water with you during all hiking activities. Refill stations at Bryce Canyon: Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point and Bryce Canyon Lodge. We usCamelbak hydration packs or carry Hydroflask bottles in our packs. Also eat plenty of healthy snacks and food.

Remember it’s just as easy to become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat so carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer. 

Sun Protection

Sunburns also lead t dehydration. Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect from the sun overhead and reflected UV light.

Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin so we always carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed when we’re out exploring the trails.

Clothing

Bryce Canyon summers mean high temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight.

During the winter, be sure to wear the right clothing to stay dry and warm.

National Parks Pass

Before you visit Bryce Canyon National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

Other items we recommend you pack for visiting Bryce:

Easy Bryce Canyon Hikes

Sunset to Sunrise 

Distance: 1.0 mile roundtrip

Hike length: 1 hour 

Hike difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location: Sunset Point Parking Lot

The Sunset to Sunrise Point (or Sunrise to Sunset Point) is the easiest hike in Bryce Canyon National Park. It offers staggering views of the Bryce Amphitheaters from below. There are several benches located along the trail if you want to sit for a while. Photographers are impressed with the expansive views offered by this trail. 

Highlights:

  • The Sunset to Sunrise trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
  • It is suitable for adults and children in all fitness levels.
  • This is the only trail at Bryce Canyon where dogs are permitted. 

Rim Trail

Distance: 5.5 miles one way – but many shorter options can be done. The shuttle can be used to return to your car.

Hike length: 1 to 7.5 hours

Hike difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location: Fairyland Point Parking Lot

The Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park is an easy hike with an elevation change of about 300 meters. The hoodoos’ views from above are so spectacular that most hikers find themselves in awe.

The Rim Trail is the best experience for those who want to have a taste of adventure without dropping into the canyon. You can start from Fairyland Point or Bryce Point, whichever suits your preference. 

Highlights: 

  • The largest collection of hoodoos and massive fins are found here at the Rim Trail. 
  • Since the majority of the trails originate from the rim of the canyon, it will be easier for hikers to add any of the loop trails to maximize their hiking experience at the Rim Trail. 

Bristlecone Loop 

Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip 

Hike length: 1 hour 

Hike difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location: Rainbow Point Parking Lot

More than sixteen miles south of the visitor center and at the southwest end of the Bryce Canyon National Park, you will find the Bristlecone Loop. This trail is easy and smooth.

The views of Bryce Canyon along this trail are amazing.. And you’ll enjoy being surrounded by the Bristlecone Pine trees with shade and fresh air!

Highlights: 

  • A century-old Bristlecone Pine tree is found on this trail.
  • The trail is suitable for children and adults at all fitness levels. 
  • The parking lot for Rainbow Point and the Bristlecone Loop is small and does fill up. But many only stay long enough to look at the viewpoint so spots will open up regularly.

Mossy Cave

Distance: 0.8 miles roundtrip

Hike length: 1 hour 

Hike difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location: Departing from the park Visitor Center, drive 4 miles (6.4 km) north on UT 63 (main park road) north to its junction with SR 12. Turn right and drive 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east. Parking will be on the right hand side. Do not park along the shoulder of SR 12. If parking lot is full, return to hike at another time.

The Mossy Cave Trail is perfect for hikers who choose not to descend down the steep trails to the Amphitheaters’ bottom. You’ll get a view from below looking up at hoodoos along this trail without the strenuous trek down and back up the canyon!

During the winter, Mossy Cave may have large ice formations. When the weather is good, the dripping spring in the cave remains. You’ll also find the Tropic Ditch waterfall on this trail. We got to experience a chocolate colored waterfall one spring during a rainstorm!

Being one of the most accessible trails, the Mossy Cave Trail is often one of the most visited so arrive early or later in the day to avoid the crowds.

Highlights:

  • Visitors are permitted in the water, but only enter and exit at bridge crossings to reduce social trails elsewhere.
  • Mossy Cave is a fee area, like the rest of the park. Keep your park pass or proof of admission with your vehicle for rangers to inspect.

MODERATE BRYCE CANYON HIKES

Queen’s Garden

Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip

Hike length: 1 to 2 hours

Hike difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead Location: Sunrise Point Parking Lot

The Queen’s Garden Loop is a steep trail, but a short one. It starts at Sunrise Point and drops down the canyon which may not seem too difficult, but remember you’ll need to hike back up this same trail!

This trail earned its name because of the iconic Queen Victoria hoodoo. The resemblance of the spire to a carved-out Queen is visibly apparent.

Highlights:

  • For safety purposes, it is essential to wear appropriate footwear.
  • Throwing or playing with rocks is strictly prohibited. 
  • Avoid dangerous cliffs as you move along.

Navajo Loop

Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip

Hike length: 1 to 2 hours

Hike difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead Location: Sunset Point Parking Lot

The Navajo Loop Trail consists of the three most famous sights to see in Bryce Canyon National Park: Thor’s Hammer, Wall Street, and Two Bridges.

Starting and ending at Sunset Point, the Navajo Trail resembles a loop. It requires hikers to descend over 800 feet down the Bryce Rim’s side. 

We HIGHLY recommend taking this trail down to at least Thor’s Hammer so you can experience seeing the hoodoos and windows up close. That way, the climb back up isn’t as long compared to going down to the canyon floor.

Highlights:

  • For adventurers seeking a longer hike, we recommend the Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Trail.
  • The slot canyon-style narrowness of Wall Street is a famous attraction in the park, but it’s usually closed until summer when the trail is no longer dangerous due to falling rock.

Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop

Distance: 2.9 mile point to poin

Hike length: 2 to 3 hours 

Hike difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead Location: Sunrise/Sunset Point Parking Lot

The combination of Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop Trail is the one must-do hike we love! We like to start at Sunset Point and end at Sunrise Point, but you can start and end at either point.

Highlights:

  • The trail is home to a famous 400-year-old Douglas Fir in the Wall Street portion of the trail.
  • Look for geological formations called windows and fins can be found along the trail.

Tower Bridge

Distance: 3.0 miles round trip

Hike length: 2 to 3 hours

Hike difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead Location: Sunrise Point Parking Lot

If you want to enjoy your Bryce hiking experience away from the large crowd of visitors, the Tower Bridge is the right trail for you. You will enjoy various panoramic views of arches, hoodoos, and red rocks.

Starting at Sunrise Point the trail drops in elevation from the rim down to Tower Bridge. You can return the way you came back to Sunrise Point or continue on farther around the Fairyland Loop (8 miles total).

Highlights:

  • Some of the views you can see include the China Wall and the Sinking Ship.
  • Climbing up to the bridges is strictly prohibited. If you want to enjoy views from multiple perspectives, please stay on the trail. 

Sheep Creek / Swamp Canyon Loop

Distance: 4.0 mile loop

Hike length: 3 to 4 hours 

Hike difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead Location: Drive south along the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive. The Sheep Creek or Swap Canyon trailhead is located on your left side.

The Sheep Creek or Swamp Canyon trail travels through a lush meadow area. It is an excellent location for various wildlife to thrive. It’s nice to enjoy the Ponderosa pines along the trail as well.

This loop trail is less popular than others in the park so it’s a great way to escape the crowds.

Highlights:

  • This trail was formerly used for moving sheep around to different grazing areas.
  • Hike through a stunning area lined with ponderosa pines.

STRENUOUS BRYCE CANYON HIKES

Hat Shop

Distance: 4.0 miles out and back

Hike length: 3 to 4 hours 

Hike difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead Location: Bryce Point Parking Lot

The Hat Shop trail is not a loop. Instead, it is a down and back trail beginning at Bryce Point. This trail is not for the faint of heart. If you plan to take this one, you must have already developed the hiking skills to tackle a strenuous hike.

The Hat Shop section is a small group of narrow, eroded, orange-colored pinnacles topped by wider, grey boulders, found quite far below the edge of the plateau 

Highlights:

  • The Hat Shop Trail does not provide hikers any shade, so sun protection is strongly encouraged.
  • The hike is strenuous and lasts for about four hours, so it is necessary to carry plenty of water.
  • If you happen to visit during winter, do not forget about foot traction devices. They are required on this trail

Fairyland Loop

Distance: 8.0 miles point to point

Hike length: 4 to 5 hours

Hike difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead Location: Fairyland Point Parking Lot 

The Fairyland Loop is located at the northern portion of Bryce Canyon National Park, beginning at Fairyland Point. The trail is considered strenuous for most hikers due to its length, complicated trail, and intensity of elevation changes.

The Fairyland Loop Trail is one of the best trails in Bryce and it’s less crowded. You’ll enjoy views of the China Wall, Tower Bridge, and an extensive collection of hoodoos along with other unique geological features in the park. 

Highlights:

  • Carry plenty of water and snacks.
  • Watch for snakes on the trail. 
  • Foot traction devices are advised during winter.

Peekaboo Loop

Distance: 5.5 miles 

Hike length: 3 to 4 hours 

Hike difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead Location: Bryce Point Parking Lot

Starting at Bryce Point, the Peekaboo Loop is a strenuous hike due to its length and elevation change. There are steep and roller coaster-like ups and downs along the trail.

You’ll get up-close and stunning views of Bryce’s hoodoos, The Cathedral, Fairy Castle, and  Wall of Windows. The Peekaboo Loop earned its name from the windows (natural arches) formed in the rocks found in the area. 

Highlights:

  • Please be courteous when meeting horse/mule riders on the trail and give them right-of-way.
  • Ankle injuries are high on this hike so wear proper shoes!!

Navajo/Peekaboo Combination Loop

Distance: 4.9 mile loop 

Hike length: 3 to 4 hours 

Hike difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead Location: Sunset Point Parking Lot. Head straight down into the canyon and take the sign labeled as “Wall Street” to start the Navajo Loop.

One of the most magical hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park is the Navajo/Peekaboo Combination Loop. For the Peekaboo Loop, this one is only accessible from the canyon floor where it links to the Navajo Loop.

Starting at Sunset Point, the Navajo/Peekaboo Combination Loop is a strenuous hike with a series of steep switchbacks and elevation changes. 

Highlights:

  • Stunning geological formations are fun to see on the Navajo and Peekaboo Loop.
  • Hiking back up the Navajo Trail is steep and very tiring.
  • Make sure you look back down the canyon as you climb to enjoy the incredible view!

The Figure 8 Combination

Distance: 6.4 miles loop

Hike length: 4 to 5 hours 

Hike difficulty: Strenuous 

Trailhead Location: Sunset Point Parking Lot

The Figure 8 Combination Trail combines Queen’s Garden, Peekaboo Loop, and Navajo Loop. The steep grades and multiple elevation changes make the Figure 8 Combination Trail a strenuous one.

Since the Figure 8 trail goes in a loop you can really start in any direction.  I recommend starting at Sunset Point and heading down the Navajo Loop first.

Starting at Sunset Point with the Navajo Loop means you will go down the Wall Street switchbacks first.  We like doing it this way because these switchbacks are much easier going down while you have the energy! The return through Queens Garden seems to be an easier ascent back to the rim.

Highlights:

  • Extremely steep switchbacks and loose dirt trail so wear sturdy hiking shoes, not sneakers!
  •  Carry plenty of water and snacks.

Bryce Canyon Backcountry Hiking

Backcountry hiking in Bryce Canyon is the best way to experience the solitude of the forested backcountry on the Under the Rim Trail.

You’ll descend from the rim and follow this 22.9 mile trail through forests & meadows. To preserve this area of the park, backcountry camping is permitted only in designated campsites. A backcountry permit must be obtained at the Visitor Center prior to any overnight trips.

  • There are 7 campsites on the 22.9 mile Under-the-Rim Trail
  • There are 3 campsites on the 8.8 mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail
  • The trails are strenuous, with multiple changes in elevation ranging from 6,800 feet to 9,115 feet

Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon:

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