There is one hiking trail you MUST DO when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park because it is the best way to see the hoodoos up close.
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.
The Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail is the one Bryce Canyon hike we always recommend!
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HIKING GEAR FOR BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
To make your hiking adventures as successful as possible, it’s essential to be prepared for the trails you’ll encounter when hiking at Bryce Canyon.
1. Hiking Shoes – Wear sturdy shoes with enough tread to give you good traction. Do not hike in smooth-soled shoes or boots. Some trails cover uneven terrain and follow rock ledges. Sandals and sneakers are NOT safe hiking footwear.
2. Darn Tough Socks – Seriously, these are the BEST socks ever. They help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry, and last forever.
3. Water – Always carry water with you during all hiking activities.
Due to the high elevation at Bryce Canyon, 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.
4. Snacks: Pack healthy snacks. It’s just as important to give your body food energy as it is to drink water.
5. Sun Protection – Sunburns lead to dehydration. Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect from the sun overhead and reflected UV light.
Other items we recommend you pack for visiting Bryce Canyon:
SAFETY ITEMS TO KNOW BEFORE HIKING AT BRYCE CANYON
The number 1 cause of injury at Bryce Canyon is not wearing the proper footwear when hiking. Ankle injuries are extremely common due to loose rocks that act like marbles under your feet. It’s recommend you wear well-fitting hiking boots with ankle support, and lace boots all the way up.
Number 2 is over-exertion from the park’s elevation and strenuous climbs back UP to the rim after descending DOWN the trails.
And number 3 is due to people leaving the trails. The loose dirt and terrain at Bryce Canyon can be deciving.
Be informed and prepared about trail safety at Bryce Canyon before starting any hike.
HIKING GUIDE: Navajo Loop – Queen’s Garden Trail
Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail Information
Duration: 2-3 Hours
Distance: 2.9 miles
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.
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.
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.
Navajo Loop Trail Highlights
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 plenty of high-energy snacks that will help to keep your energy up all the way back to your car.
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. 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.
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Queen’s Garden Trail Highlights
At the bottom of the canyon, 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.
Once back on the main trail, it is only 0.8 miles to Sunrise Point, but 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…..
…..and walking through a landscape of Seuss-inspired trees.
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!