Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail at Bryce Canyon

The one MUST DO hike we recommend is the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail because it’s the best way to see the hoodoos up close.

Use this Bryce Canyon travel guide with trail details for the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail. Plus we share what to wear, a day pack checklist, and more!

Navajo Loop Queen's Garden Hiking Guide

The views overlooking the Amphitheater along the Rim Trail are spectacular, but the experience of looking up at the hoodoos from the canyon floor is awe-inspiring.

Keep reading for Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden trail details to plan your adventure exploring this best day hike at Bryce Canyon National Park!

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What to Pack for Hiking at Bryce Canyon

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Hiking Shoes – Injuries from improper footwear is a common problem that casual visitors and hikers encounter. To make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible, avoid smooth-soled shoes and only wear sturdy shoes with ample tread. Check out the Merrell Moab hiking shoes we use.

Hydration and Food – Due to the high desert and altitude in Southeastern Utah, you should drink at least one gallon of water per day, and always carry water with you during all hiking activities (water is also available at the Arches National Park Visitor Center and at the Devils Garden trailhead and Campground). Eat plenty of healthy snacks and food. We use hydration packs or carry Hydroflask bottles in our packs.

Lip Balm and Lotion – Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin. You’ll want to carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed when you’re out exploring the trails.

Clothing – Summers in the park mean soaring temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight. Also avoid sun burn by wearing a wide brimmed hat and by generously applying sunscreen to any parts of your body that are exposed to the sun.

During the winter, wearing winter clothing is important to stay dry and warm. Take note that snow and ice can accumulate and make popular trails quite slippery. That’s why trekking poles and traction devices for your shoes are essential. It’s also just as easy to become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat. It’s important to carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer.

National Parks Pass – Before you visit Arches National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

A Photo Tour of Bryce Canyon National Park

Take a visual tour through Bryce Canyon National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Hiking at Bryce Canyon: Know Before You Go

One of the most popular Bryce Canyon activities is hiking. It’s important to know what to expect before hitting the trail.

We always recommend you talk to a park ranger to get the most updated information about trail conditions and weather.

Bryce Canyon elevation: You’ll be over 9,000 feet in the park. Many visitors can feel light-headed and nauseated with just mild exertion. Keep in mind that most hikes at Bryce Canyon begin by going DOWN and end with a climb back UP. Leave yourself enough energy for your return trip.

Wear hiking boots, not sneakers: Trust us, you want to wear hiking boots with good “lug” traction and ankle support. Along with altitude-related illnesses, ankle injuries are the park’s number one injury. When visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter, you’ll want traction devices and ski poles for extra grip and support.

Water and sun protection: Carry plenty of water; 1 quart per 2-3 hours of hiking for each person. You’ll want sun protection year-round: lip balm with UV protectionsunscreen, and a sunhat.

Stay on maintained trails: Do not use “social” trails or climb on hoodoos. These social trails contribute to plant death, aggressive erosion, and visitor/wildlife confrontations including rattlesnakes. It’s always best to obey Leave No Trace principles.

Hiking with pets: Pets are only allowed on paved trails and viewpoints, roads, campsites, and picnic areas. The 0.5 mi section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points and the Shared-Use Bike Path are the only paved trails at Bryce Canyon. Pets must be leashed at all times and you are required to clean up after your pet. Dog owners looking for hoodoos and dog-friendly trails should consider visiting nearby Red Canyon, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Bryce Canyon weather: Lightning at Bryce Canyon is a year-round danger, especially during the summer monsoon season. If you can hear thunder, lightning is within 10 miles and you need to seek the shelter of a building or your vehicle immediately. Bryce Canyon National Park weather varies from season to season, and even month to month.

Day Hiking Resources

Check out this list of resources for day hikes, hiking with kids, and camera gear to carry along!

Colorful hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah - US National Park List: 25 Beautiful Parks to Visit
Colorful hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

Hiking Guide to the Navajo Loop – Queen’s Garden Trail

Out of all the Bryce Canyon hikes available, this is the one we feel is a must-do! Here’s everything you need to know to hike this awesome trail!

Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden trail isn’t an easy hike at Bryce Canyon National Park. Any trail that goes DOWN into the canyon will require you to hike back UP, making it a moderate trail due to the steep climb!

But one way to modify the hike is to walk down the trail until you reach Thor’s Hammer, then walk back up. It’s amazing the perspective you get along the trail versus seeing it only from above on the rim.

Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail Information

  • Duration: 2-3 Hours
  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Ankle injuries are extremely common due to loose rocks that act like marbles under your feet. Always wear well-fitting hiking boots with ankle support, and lace boots all the way up.

You can begin the hike from either Sunrise or Sunset Points, but the National Park Service suggests the safest and most scenic route begins at Sunset Point, hiking north along the rim before descending into the canyon at Sunrise Point and finally ascending via the Wall Street switchbacks. 

Hiking Trail at Bryce Canyon
Navajo Look hiking trail

Wall Street is a narrow canyon named for the resemblance to New York City and its skyscrapers. It’s the only slot canyon in the park.

When visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter, keep in mind the Wall Street switchbacks are closed during the winter. When Wall Street is closed, you must use the Two Bridges Trail section of the Navajo trail. 

Bryce Canyon National Park Sunset Point Thor's Hammer - view and photo spot
Thor’s Hammer

Thor’s Hammer

Don’t miss seeing Thor’s Hammer if you only take the Wall Street section! It’s worth the extra bit of hiking to see this famous structure.

We hiked this trail in April and Wall Street was still not open. I really wanted to see the glowing light reflected off the gold and orange canyon walls in that narrow section. And I wanted to see the famous Douglas firs, 500 years old, growing between the towering cliffs.

We did not know the recommendation from the National Park Service to begin the hike at Sunrise Point so we started at Sunset Point, following a counterclockwise loop down the Two Bridges part of the Navajo Loop Trail, connecting with the Queen’s Garden Trail up to Sunrise Point, then returning back to Sunset Point along the Rim Trail for the 3 mile round-trip hike. 

We felt the steeper descent to the canyon floor from Sunset Point, compared to the more gradual one from Sunrise Point, would be easier going down than coming back up.

Regardless of where you begin, the trail descends nearly 600 feet into the iconic amphitheater. I’ve read the climb back to the rim is not considered difficult, but I found myself stopping to catch my breath quite often. It is important to hike at a pace that suits your level of fitness.

Carry one liter of water for every two hours of hiking time. STAY HYDRATED EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL THIRSTY. Pack your refillable water bottle and plenty of healthy snacks that will help to keep your energy up all the way back to your car.

Bryce Canyon National Park Sunset Point windows Navajo Loop Trail- view and photo spot
Windows along the Navajo Loop Trail

As we descended down the Two Bridges side of the Navajo Loop Trail, we passed the iconic Thor’s Hammer, Three Gossips and Thor’s Window.

The switchbacks on this part of the trail were still impressive, just not as narrow as what you see along the Wall Street section. 

Navajo Loop switchbacks on the trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
Navajo Loop switchbacks

I was excited to hike DOWN the switchbacks, but knew the ascent back out to the Rim Trail at Sunrise Point would not be easy either (and I was right).

At the bottom of the switchbacks, the trail evens out and meanders through the ponderosa pine forest along the canyon floor.

Queens Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
Queens Garden

Queen’s Garden

Follow the signs to the Queen’s Garden Trail. Watch for a short spur trail that will take you to the Queen’s Garden.

Look for the formation known as Queen Victoria. It’s a lightly colored rock formation that bares a resemblance to the many statues of Queen Victoria found in Europe.

Queen Anne rock formation in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
Queen Anne rock formation

Take time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you in the Queen’s Garden.

Once back on the main trail, it is only 0.8 miles to Sunrise Point, a gain of 320 feet in elevation.

The remainder of this amazing hike is no less spectacular than the start, winding through sculptured spires and colorful pinnacles, passing through tunnels…..

Tunnel on the Queen Anne trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
Queen Anne trail

….., and walking through a landscape of Seuss-inspired trees.

Queens Garden Loop trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
Queens Garden Loop trail

Soon you are back on the rim at Sunrise Point where you can catch your breath from the ascent and gaze at the magnificent landscape.

Take the Rim Trail south toward Sunset Point where you started. You can see the trail you just hiked below and feel a sense of accomplishment!

Bryce Canyon National Park Sunset Point Navajo Loop Trail- view and photo spot
Photographing Thor’s Hammer

Bryce Canyon Photo Tips While Hiking

What to Bring on a Day Hike
Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
Winter Clothing for Hiking
Photography Gear for Hiking

Reflected Light 

Watch for bounce light along the trail. Focus on the hoodoos, fins, windows and trees. Be creative with composition by taking pictures through rock holes, tunnels, windows and between cliffs. Unusually shaped frames can add drama to the shot.

Focus on the details

When the light isn’t ideal, it’s the perfect time to capture the bold color and fine details of the various formations by taking close-up shots.

Look up

Remember to look up and photograph the hoodoos and fins from below. These photos will provide a different aspect of Bryce Canyon than those shots you take from the viewpoints along the amphitheater rim.

Check out our Bryce Canyon Photography Guide with tips and best times to take pictures at each viewpoint!

Our friends at Just Go Travel Studios share their experience at Bryce Canyon hiking and horseback riding.

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