9 Best Day Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Located in south Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park has some of the most interesting rock formations that you can see on this planet. The “canyon” is actually a collection of giant natural amphitheaters that house the red, orange, and white colored hoodoos. These tall, thin spires of rock protrude from the ground and make this park such a unique and photographic region. Most visitors just stick with the scenic drive through the park taking pictures at one of the many overviews but the hiking trails allow you to see the beautiful rock formations up close. Several of the trails are in close connection with each other and allow hikers to combine them for more challenging routes. The 9 best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park are listed below including 2 multi-day hikes that can be completed in sections if so desired. Official Website.

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1. Navajo Loop

Bryce Amphitheater is home to some of the best trails in the nation and Navajo Loop is widely considered to be the best hike in the park. The trail travels down into the main amphitheater through ‘Wall Street’ (narrow slot between cliffs). The trail includes amazing views of the popular Thor’s Hammer. Queens Garden, seen below, can be combined with this trail to make a longer, yet easily manageable loop. The trailhead is located in the Sunset Point parking area.

  • 1.3 miles – Loop
  • 500′ gain
  • Moderate

2. Rim Trail

Easily one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park and likely one of the favorite hikes you will ever do. The views from on top of the rim looking down into the canyon don’t quit the whole way. You can hike either way but the trip from south to north is the best way to go. Plan on parking at the visitor center and taking the free shuttle to Bryce Point. The south trailhead is located at the parking area at the end of Bryce Point Road.

  • 5.5 miles – One way
  • 450′ gain
  • Moderate

3. Queens Garden Loop

Queens Garden is considered the easiest of the hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park to enter the canyon from the rim, descending 320′. Hikers will be amazed by all of the magnificent rock formations that make this park such an incredible place to visit. Once you reach the end of the trail you will have several loop options to take next, including Navajo and Peekaboo. The trailhead begins at Sunrise Point just east of Corral.

  • 1.8 miles – One way
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

4. Fairyland Loop

Another spectacular trail beginning along the rim and traveling into the canyon below with impressive scenery views, hoodoos, and other rock formations to keep you entertained. The landscape is slightly different than Bryce Amphitheater with denser tree cover. Nearly 2.5 miles of the west part of the loop is shared with the Rim Trail so if you already have or plan on doing that hike, Fairyland Trail can be shortened with some usage of the park’s shuttle service. There is a short spur trail to Tower Bridge along the way that is a fine enough out and back hike of its own. The trailhead is located at Fairyland Point in the northern portion of the park.

  • 8.0 miles – Loop
  • 1500′ gain
  • Strenuous

5. Peekaboo Loop

One of the favorite hikes in Bryce Canyon, this loop trail has frequent elevation gains and losses that might be difficult for some. If that is the case, you are able to ride horseback on this trail! From Bryce Point, the trail drops into the canyon below and will get you up close to the colorful spires that drew you to the park initially. The trailhead can be found at the parking area at the end of Bryce Point Road.

  • 5.5 miles – Loop
  • 1550′ gain
  • Strenuous

6. Mossy Cave Trail

This is an easy, family-friendly trail set away from the Bryce Amphitheater hub on the east side of the park. The trail follows a stream until it forks south taking you to Mossy Cave. Returning to the fork and heading north will take you to a small waterfall that flows in the summer and early fall months. The trailhead can be found next to a parking area off UT-12. This trail is outside of the park’s entrance so there is no fee to hike this trail!

  • 0.9 miles – Out and back
  • 300′ gain
  • Easy

7. Bristlecone Loop

Not surprisingly, this loop travels through a forested area at the highest elevation in the park. These trees are 1800 years old and some of the oldest living trees on the planet. Grand viewpoints of the canyons, hoodoos, and remaining Bryce Canyon landscape are plentiful. The trailhead is located at the Rainbow Point parking area at the end of UT-63.

  • 1.0 mile – Loop
  • 150′ gain
  • Easy

8. Under-the-Rim Trail

Utilizing the park’s shuttle service, this trail is an excellent way to see every bit of the park. The trail can be broken down into sections if you don’t have the time or energy to complete the whole thing. As the name suggests, this hike provides an interesting bottom-up perspective that you don’t get with all of the main trails. As with any hike of this length, make sure you plan ahead and bring plenty of water. The trailhead to hike north is located at Rainbow Point. Or you can start from Bryce Point and hike south but the preferred direction is to take the trail north for more favorable elevation changes.

  • 22.9 miles – One way
  • 4200′ gain
  • Strenuous

9. Riggs Spring Loop

With plenty of options for backcountry camping along the way, this loop is most often completed in 2 days which is why I have it at the bottom of my best day hikes list. Sections of the trail are steep and heavily forested and a spring is located midway through offering a nice area to rest. The trail is very scenic and you won’t run into nearly as many hikers as you will at the main amphitheater. The trailhead is at the Rainbow Point parking area.

  • 8.4 miles – Loop
  • 2200′ gain
  • Strenuous

 

 

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