Top 5 Bryce Canyon Day Hikes
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most unique destinations in all of Utah. The canyon hosts some of the most iconic and scenic hikes around; it is well suited for day outings that leave you filled with a sense of adventure and hungry for exploration. This landscape is most well known for its “hoodoo” features—tower-like formations of sandstone and limestone that dwarf you in your surroundings. The scenery of Bryce Canyon makes you feel as if you are wandering through a Dr. Seuss novel. This article will guide you to the most sought after and epic trails of Bryce Canyon National Park, and help you plan your outing to get the absolute most out of your trip. Join us at Wildland Trekking to experience these hikes with a professional guide.
|Peek-A-Boo Loop||Strenuous||5.2||1,400 ft.|
|Fairyland Loop||Strenuous||7.4||1,541 ft.|
|Queen’s Garden/ Navajo Loop||Easy||2.6||623 ft.|
|The Rim Trail||Easy – Strenuous||0.9 – 10.7 mile out and back||Varied|
|Mossy Cave Trail||Easy||1||118 ft.|
1. Peek-A-Boo Loop
The Peek-A-Boo Loop trail is a spectacular hike that begins either at Bryce Point or at Sunset Point within the park. This hike allows you a more intimate experience with the landscape. Hikers walk within and around the hoodoos, really gaining a perspective that is hard to achieve otherwise. We list this trail as strenuous because of the relatively arduous descent and ascent to and from the canyon rim. It is reminiscent of the Grand Canyon in that once you hike down, you have to hike back out. For those up to the challenge, you are rewarded with some of the most magnificent and unique scenery found in any national park.
It is important to remember that the Peek-A-Boo loop is also a horse/ mule trail and it is possible to encounter stock animals while on your hike. Always give right-of-way to all animals and packers.
No matter which trailhead you begin from, this hike starts with a steep descent into the canyon from the canyon rim. If you are feeling a little shaky on this part, remember that you will have to climb back out of the canyon later! Once on the canyon floor, you’re welcomed into a maze of hoodoos and towers. These features resemble shapes from deep within the imagination. Enjoy your stroll on the canyon floor, ascending and descending hills and mounds in and out of the hoodoos, letting the mind wander as quiet settles in. After properly basking in the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, begin the short but steep climb back to the rim from the bottom of the canyon, and congratulate yourself on completing a tough but incredibly rewarding hike.
This hike begins from either Bryce Point or Sunset Point, depending on what sort of day you are looking for. Starting from Sunset Point allows you to hike the trail with less overall elevation change and milage. This option gives you views of Wall Street or Thor’s Hammer on the way but also forces you to interact with more crowds. If you are looking for a quieter experience, consider starting the trek from Bryce Point early in the morning. Bryce Point is the final and highest observation point within the main section of the park. Therefore, this option gives you the chance to catch the amazing morning light while exploring this wonderland of hoodoos.
If you begin this hike from Bryce Point, it is important to note that there are no restrooms or water filling stations at this trailhead. Make sure to plan ahead and fill up at the visitor center!
Permits & Fees
No permits are required to hike this loop trail, but you will have to pay an entrance fee to enter the park. It is $35 for a day pass or $80 for an annual pass that includes all National Parks in the United States. With the annual pass, it is certainly worth visiting Zion National Park as well!
An Epic Linkup
If you feel like entertaining an even greater challenge, consider linking the Peek-A-Boo loop with the Navajo/Queen’s Garden loop. This trail would be a bigger adventure but would maximize the number of landmarks seen in the park in one trek. Here’s a map of the park to get more details into possible linkups.
When to Hike
Given the high elevation and harsher conditions of Bryce Canyon National Park, this hike is best done from early May through September. It can be done on either side of these dates, but the park will generally close all trails below the rim after the first snowfall of the season.
Hike Bryce Canyon with a Guide
Guided Bryce Canyon trips are available, and are a stress-free, exciting way to explore Bryce Canyon. The tour company handles permits, gear, transportation, meals, and provides a professional guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…
2. Fairyland Loop
This is a unique region of Bryce Canyon National Park in that it covers the most diverse—and expansive—terrain below the rim. Even though this hike brings you to the bottom of the valley, the views remain open the entire way. We consider this hike to be strenuous due to multiple steep climbs and descents throughout the trek. The major physical challenges are hiking in and out of the canyon. There is also a section of steep trail climbing over a ridge beneath Boat Mesa. If you only have one day in Bryce Canyon, this hike should be at the top of the list. It gives a little taste of all Bryce canyon has to offer, from tight hoodoo encounters to grand vistas.
The Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the longer and more strenuous hikes in the park, but the scenery and ambiance are well worth the effort. This is another hike in Bryce that brings you all the way to the valley floor and then back out to the rim, passing several significant landmarks along the way. The Fairyland Loop takes you down from the rim at Fairyland Point. Walking to the canyon edge from the parking lot provides a stark contrast to the drive into the park through the Ponderosa pine trees. You are immediately struck with a sweeping view that opens from Bryce Canyon, all the way to the edge of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Once you’ve descended into the canyon, the trail essentially circumnavigates Boat Mesa. Along the way, there are numerous sections of ups and downs, bringing you through steep climbs and descents. But don’t worry: each corner turned brings new vistas and a fresh perspective of one of Utah’s greatest National Parks. About 2 miles from the top of the trail, you will encounter a turnoff for Tower Bridge. This is an amazing place to sit in the shade, eat lunch, and ready yourself for your climb out of the canyon to Sunrise Point. Tower Bridge is one of the nicest ‘bottom up’ viewpoints on this trail. From Sunrise Point, you will take the Rim Trail back to your car at Fairyland Point.
The Fairyland Loop trail is accessed outside of the park. When heading towards the park, take a left on Fairyland Point Road just before the park entrance station. Once at the trailhead, there is an obvious trail at the viewpoint that takes you down into the canyon to start your hike. Make sure to spend some time on the rim before starting your trek, as it is one of the best views in the park! There is no restroom or water at this trailhead so plan accordingly and fill up before you drive in.
Permits & Fees
While this hike technically begins before the entrance station, you still need to pay your park entrance fee, as you are within the bounds of the National Park throughout the entirety of your hike.
When to Hike this Trail
As with many of the hikes in the park, this one is best suited for the warmer months given that the trail beneath the rim closes when covered in snow. Keep up on the weather here!
Hike the Fairyland Loop with a Guide
Guided Fairyland Loop hikes are available, and are a stress-free, exciting way to do this trip. The tour company handles permits, gear, transportation, meals, and provides a professional guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…
3. Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Combo
This natural combination of Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop highlights some of the most known features in Bryce Canyon National Park. Beginning at either Sunrise or Sunset Points, this trail weaves into the heart of Bryce Canyon. This section of the park gets quite crowded during the busy season, but for a good reason. Get an earlier start to cut down the crowds. If you are looking for a short, non-committing hike that throws you directly into the wild landscape of Bryce Canyon, look no farther.
I recommend hiking this trail early in the day, beginning at Sunset point. This way, you can avoid some of the crowds and experience this wonderful trail in a more pristine state. The trailhead at Sunset Point directs you to a split in the road to the start of the Navajo Loop. From this split, you can choose to hike towards Wall Street to the right, or Two Bridges on the left. I would recommend taking the trail through Wall Street as this is one of the most incredible features in the park. A steep descent takes you in between two gigantic hoodoos, which tower high above to create a narrow canyon within the rock formations. It is a wild experience that you should not miss.
Once you exit Wall Street, the hoodoos will open up, and you will find yourself at the junction of the Navajo Loop and the Queen’s Garden Trail. Take the Queen’s Garden Trail to its namesake: Queen’s Garden. Here, nestled amongst other hoodoos, you will encounter another famous feature—Queen Victoria. After enjoying the Garden and eating a snack, begin the hike back out of the canyon to Sunrise Point. From here, it is an easy half-mile hike back to Sunset Point to complete the loop. Don’t forget to take one last look over the canyon rim at all of the natural wonder found in Bryce Canyon.
This loop trail is accessed by driving to Sunset Point within the park. This trailhead is also an easy hike to and from Bryce Canyon Lodge if you happen to be staying within the park.
Permits & Fees
There are no permits necessary for this hike, though you will have to enter the National Park. Park entrance fees are $35 for a day or $80 for an annual pass which covers all national parks in the United States! It is certainly worth taking the extra time to include Zion National Park in your itinerary.
When to Hike in Bryce Canyon
Like many hikes in the park, this one is best suited for warmer months, as the trail beneath the rim closes when covered in snow. Keep up on the weather here!
Hike Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop with a Guide
Guided Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop hikes are available, and are a stress-free, exciting way to do this trip. The tour company handles permits, gear, transportation, meals, and provides a professional guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…
4. The Rim Trail
The Rim Trail is a fantastic option for those that prefer a ‘choose your own adventure’ kind of approach to hiking. To access the Rim Trail, you can begin or end at any point within the main canyon, meaning you can make your adventure as long or short as you’d like. As named, The Rim Trail traces the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park, taking you between all of the major points along the way. This trail is the perfect chice for a winter experience of the park as it stays open year-round. It is an incredible snowshoe hike, allowing one to observe the stark contrasts between the red rock formations and crystal white snow. If you are looking for those wide-spread vistas from all angles of the canyon, this hike is right up your alley.
The beauty of this trail is that you can start and end at any point in the main canyon, from Fairyland Point all the way to Bryce Point. All of the major stops in between are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point. Each one of these destinations offers a different view of the spectacular scenery of Bryce Canyon. Each section of the trail consists of moderate climbs and descents with nothing too sustained or steep. Sections of the trail are paved but most of the trail is hard-packed dirt. Most of the Rim Trail keeps you right on the rim of the canyon, but certain sections bring you into the ponderosa pine forest. Make sure to give the sap a smell and help solve the age-old debate: do ponderosas smell like butterscotch or vanilla?
Though the trail technically starts at Fairyland Point, you can access The Rim Trail from any point in the park. There are multiple places to refill water and use the restroom along the way.
Permits & Fees
To access the Rim Trial, you will need to purchase a day pass to get into the park or use an annual parks pass. Entrance fees are $35 for the day or $80 for an annul pass that includes access to all national parks across the United States.
When to do this Trip
The Rim Trail is a great trail year-round. No matter what time of year you visit, the Rim Trail offers a look into a truly magnificent landscape. Winter is a special time to visit the park if you are looking to have a more intimate experience with the landscape. Bring some snowshoes along and hike the rim of the canyon under the silent spell of winter.
Hike The Rim Trail with a Guide
Guided Rim Trail hikes are available, and are a stress-free, exciting way to do this trip. The tour company handles permits, gear, transportation, meals, and provides a professional guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…
5. Mossy Cave Trail
The Mossy Cave Trail is one of the few trails of Bryce Canyon that is located outside the national park. A visit to the Mossy Cave trail not only provides access to a canyon filled with mystical hoodoos, but gives insight into the modern human history of the area. The Mossy Cave Trail is one of the few regions in Bryce Canyon that has running water flowing through the valley floor. In the 1890’s, Mormon Pioneers dug a drainage dubbed “The Tropic Ditch” to provide the settlement of Tropic access to water. Today, this irrigation ditch still provides water to the town of Tropic, Utah. We rate this trail as easy due to the mellow inclines and brevity of the hike.
Unlike many of the other hikes in Bryce Canyon, this trail begins at the base of the canyon. You will hike half-a-mile up a wash and cross a few bridges to reach the Tropic Waterfall and the Mossy Cave. In the wintertime, the seepage from this cave freezes to form stout columns of ice that—for a moment—makes you feel as if you’ve left the desert entirely. This trail is one of the lesser-known in the park, however, it is a great educational experience and a very nice complement to all that Bryce Canyon National Park has to offer.
The Mossy Cave Trail begins at a trailhead about 4 miles down Highway 12 from the Bryce Canyon turnoff. It can be found here! This trailhead is located just off of the highway and is accessible for all passenger vehicles. There are restrooms at this trailhead but there is no access to water. Make sure to plan accordingly.
Permits & Fees
The Mossy Cave Trail does not require any permits to hike. Being outside of the national park, it also does not require that you pay an entrance fee.
Nearby Dining Options
There isn’t much better than a full meal after a great day out hiking. If you’re traveling to Escalante, Escalante Outfitters makes some of the best pizza around. If you’re in the mood for a fine dining experience, the Stonehearth Grill provides an incredible dining experience as well as an unbeatable atmosphere. Consider joining Wildland on a lodge-based tour to explore all of these hikes, along with a rich dining experience local to Southern Utah.
When to Hike
The Mossy Cave Trail is a great place to explore any time of the year. This hike will not fill an entire day, so I would recommend adding on to the end of a day. It is also a great option on the way in or out of Bryce Canyon National Park. Additionally, consider checking out the slot canyons Grand Staircase-Escalante or the massive sandstone walls of Zion National Park!
Hike The Mossy Cave Trail with a Guide
Guided Mossy Cave Trail hikes are available, and are a stress-free, exciting way to do this trip. The tour company handles permits, gear, transportation, meals, and provides a professional guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…
Wildland Trekking Hiking Adventures
As the world’s premier hiking and trekking company, Wildland believes in connecting people to fantastic environments in amazing ways. Bryce Canyon National Park offers an array of incredible hiking and trekking experiences. Wildland Trekking provides 6 different multi-day hiking and backpacking adventures in Bryce Canyon. We also offer Bryce Canyon day hikes upon special request. Read more about our Bryce Canyon trips. Our Bryce Canyon hikes pair very well with Zion National Park adventures.