Best Short Hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is known for its awe-inspiring vistas and unique geological formations. You’ll find a variety of short hikes at Bryce Canyon to see the hoodoos and spire-shaped rock formations!

This Bryce Canyon travel guide will detail the best short hiking trails, recommended hiking gear, and tips for visiting the park.

5 short hikes at Bryce Canyon

We live a few hours away from Bryce Canyon so we get to visit often, and know what it’s like to hike during all four seasons. Due to the elevation at the park, it’s important to get the latest weather information before hitting the trails any time of year.

The tips we share here are based on our experience hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park throughout the years!

Use our packing list for Bryce Canyon to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting any season! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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Tips for Hiking at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Services: The park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, even on holidays! During the winter operating hours are shortened, and some services close. There’s a fee to enter the park, or use your National Parks Pass!

Bryce Canyon Weather: When planning your vacation be sure you know what Bryce Canyon National Park Weather to expect during the time of your visit.

Due to the higher elevation at Bryce Canyon compared to the other Utah National Parks, the weather and temperatures will be different so it’s important to be up-to-date with current weather and road conditions!

Spring will be cold with highs ranging from 45 to 65 degrees F and there could be rain or snow storms. Summer won’t be as hot as the surrounding parks with highs close to 80 degrees F. Fall you’ll enjoy the most moderate temperatures and weather with highs from 45 to 70 degrees F. Winter will be cold and snowy with highs around 30 and lows around 11 degrees F!

Bryce Canyon Hiking Gear: One of the best Bryce Canyon activities is hiking. Here’s a list of the gear you’ll need for the spring, summer, and fall season:

Hiking at Bryce Canyon in the snow is amazing, but you’ll definitely want be prepared with the right winter hiking gear!

hiking gear and clothing

Easy Short Hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park

For this article, we are limiting short hikes to under 3 miles. You’ll find a variety of short hikes rated easy or moderate at Bryce Canyon.

We recommend you talk to a park ranger to get the most updated information about trail conditions. Some trails close due to unsafe conditions throughout the year.

Most easy hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park are found in the Amphitheater area. Here’s the list of short easy hikes at the park:

View of Bryce Canyon amphitheater

Sunset to Sunrise Hiking Trail

  • 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 easy best short hike in Bryce Canyon National Park. There are several benches located along the trail to sit and enjoy the views of the amphitheater.

This trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible, and suitable for adults and children in all fitness levels. It’s also the only dog-friendly trail at Bryce Canyon

View from Bristlecone Loop Hike

Bristlecone Loop Hiking Trail 

  • Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip 
  • Hike length: 1 hour 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location: Rainbow Point Parking Lot

To access the trailhead, drive sixteen miles south of the visitor center along the Bryce Canyon scenic drive to the southwest end of the park.

The Bristlecone Loop Trail is short, easy and relatively flat. The views of Bryce Canyon along this trail are amazing. You’ll enjoy being surrounded by the Bristlecone Pine trees with shade and fresh air!

As you hike, look for the century-old Bristlecone Pine tree located on this trail.

One thing to note: the parking lot at 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 Hike

Mossy Cave Hiking Trail

  • 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 can’t tackle any of the Bryce Canyon trails that descend down the steep Amphitheater to the canyon at the bottom. You’ll get a view on this trail of what it’s like to look up at the hoodoos without the strenuous trek down and back up the canyon!

This is one of the best Bryce Canyon winter hikes. The 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.

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.

It’s also a fun location in the summer when you can cool off in the water. Note that you should only enter and exit at bridge crossings to reduce social trails.

Note that Mossy Cave is a fee area so keep your park pass or proof of admission with your vehicle for rangers to inspect.

Hiking Trail at Bryce Canyon
Hiking Trail at Bryce Canyon

Moderate Short Hikes at Bryce Canyon

Most day hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park require hiking down and back up the amphitheater. Due to the park elevation over 9000 feet, you’re subject to only 70% of the oxygen you might be used to. It’s ok to turn back before you become too tired to hike back up the steep incline!

Here’s our list of fun short moderate hikes at Bryce Canyon:

Queen Victoria hoodoo

Queen’s Garden Hiking Trail

  • 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 short, steep trail that starts at Sunrise Point and drops down the canyon. 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.

Remember to stay on designated trails and away from cliff edges where you could lose your footing.

Thor’s Hammer

Navajo Loop Hiking Trail

  • 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 then back up!  

To make this an even shorter hike, we suggest hiking 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.

If you’re up for a longer hike, we recommend the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail where you descend down the Navajo Trail and back up the Queen’s Garden Trail. It’s a 2.9 mile hike starting at Sunset Point and ending at Sunrise Point.

Bryce Canyon maps and guides

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Bryce Canyon Itineraries

We’ve put together our favorite Bryce Canyon National Park Itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in the park! Grab a free copy by clicking the graphic below. Click on the links to read the detailed itinerary for Bryce Canyon based on the time you have to spend at the park!

Bryce Canyon Travel Bundle

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