9 Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park Overview

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.

StateUtah
Nearest Metro AreaSt. George, UT
Area Size35,835 acres
EstablishedFebruary 25, 1928
Hiking Trails60 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Navajo Loop
Traversing Navajo Loop
Traversing Navajo Loop, Photo by Andrew Smith

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. Easy to put this one at the top of the list of best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park! The trailhead is located in the Sunset Point parking area.

  • 1.3 mile loop
  • 500′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Rim Trail
Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon, Utah
Rim Trail, Photo by Fabio Achilli

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′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Queens Garden Loop
Queens way
Queens way, Photo by David Fulmer

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
Fairyland Loop
Fairyland loop trail
Fairyland loop trail, Photo by Luka Schlagenhauf

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 mile loop
  • 1500′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Peekaboo Loop
The Peek-A-Boo trail. Bryce Canyon, Utah
The Peek-A-Boo trail, Photo by Paxson Woelber

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 mile loop
  • 1550′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Mossy Cave Trail
Hoodoos, Mossy Cave Trail UT 9-09
Hoodoos, Mossy Cave Trail, Photo by Don Graham

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′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Bristlecone Loop
D7K_3703-1
View looking south from the Bristlecone Loop, Photo by Mark Levisay

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′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Under-the-Rim Trail
Rainbow Point
Rainbow Point, Photo by U.S. Geological Survey

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′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Riggs Spring Loop
Lower Podunk Creek
Lower Podunk Creek near Riggs Spring, Photo by Chris M Morris

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 mile loop
  • 2200′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous

Featured Image: Sunrise, Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, Photo by Ken Lund

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