Bryce Canyon is within Zion National Park and is best known for its natural beauty and stunning rock formations. The park offers a variety of hikes to best suit different hiking abilities, from easy to difficult. Below are the eleven best hikes in Bryce Canyon that will take you through some of the most picturesque views the canyon has to offer.
The best hikes in Bryce Canyon vary in difficulty, but all offer stunning views of the Hoodoos, cliffs, and other natural formations that make up this unique park. If you’re looking for an easy hike with plenty of scenic stops along the way, try the Navajo Loop Trail or Queens Garden Trail. For a more difficult hike with great payoffs, check out the Fairyland Loop or Peekaboo Loop.
Bryce Canyon National Park: Quick Facts
Here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:
- Where is it? Bryce Canyon is in southern Utah and within Zion National Park
- Best Time to Visit: We recommend visiting in Spring or Fall when the weather is milder. If you want to avoid the peak crowds we would recommend visiting at either end of the peak season in March or November. The summer months can be crowded and are too hot for our liking!
- How to Get Around: The best way to get around Bryce Canyon is in your own car.
- Where to Stay: If you’re looking to stay in the park, your best option is Bryce Canyon Lodge. If you’re looking to stay outside the park, I highly recommend the Best Western Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City, Utah (only minutes from the park entrance!).
- Park Access: We recommend you get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 2000 recreational areas (including Bryce Canyon!).
No matter which hike you choose, make sure to take your time and enjoy the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park! Let’s look at the top hikes in more detail:
1. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
Distance: 1.0 mile/1.6km Elevation change: 34ft/10m Approx time: 1 hour return
This easy trail takes you from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point and is an easy walk with great views the entire way. If you have little time in the park and just want to do one brief and basic stroll, this is the hike for you. The elevation change is minimal, and it’s a perfect hike for families or anyone looking for a leisurely stroll through Bryce Canyon. This is a paved trail great for strollers and you will enjoy views of the canyon and the amphitheater as you walk. You might see all the way to Navajo Canyon on a good day which is almost 80 miles away!
2. Bristlecone Pines Loop
Distance: 1.0mile/1.6km Elevation change: 200ft/61m Approx time: 1hour loop
This hike begins at Rainbow Point or Yovimpa Point and follows the base of the rim to a bristlecone pine forest. This is an easy trail that circles back to Sunset Point, best done in one direction for best views out over Bryce Amphitheater. This is a great hike for families with kids or anyone looking for an easy, yet interesting hike. The Bristlecone Loop takes you through an evergreen forest and past some of the oldest living trees in the world the bristlecone pines! In Utah, Bristlecone pine trees are uncommon, but this hike will allow you to view a few of these ancient trees that are estimated to be 1,800 years old.
The temperatures up here can be cooler than other areas of the park, and snow tends to linger. As a result, this hike may be inaccessible through the winter and into the spring.
3. Mossy Cave Trail
Distance: 0.75mile/1270m Elevation change: 400ft/120m Approx time: 40min round trip
This short easy trail is best for families with young kids or anyone looking for a quick out-and-back walk to see one of the most famous features in Bryce Canyon. The best views on the trail are from within the cave itself, but you can also do a quick little hike to Mossy Cave and back for some of the best scenery in Bryce Canyon. Note from NPS: This small trail can become extremely crowded – so plan to go early or late afternoon.
MODERATE BEST HIKES IN BRYCE CANYON
4. The Navajo Loop Trail
Distance: 1.3mile/2.2km Elevation change: 550ft/168m Approx time: 1-2 hours
This hike follows the base of Bryce Amphitheater and has some great views along the way. It is one of the most popular hikes in the area for good reason. The best views are from Navajo Point at one end, but you can see various hoodoos on your walk to the point. You will be able to view Thor’s Hammer and the Two Bridges along the way. This hike is best done in a counter-clockwise direction to make the most of the views. On the last section of Navajo Loop, two trails lead up to Sunset Point; the most popular is Wall Street; an unusual narrow slot canyon with sheer walls hundreds of feet high on either side and the less popular (but in my opinion best) second option is Two Bridges. Both of these eventually result in a succession of switchbacks, with you gaining significant height over a short distance. NPS recommends using the Two Bridges path in winter.
There are also some great side trails that can be explored from Navajo Loop Trail, such as the Queens Garden Trail and Peekaboo Loop. While only a short hike, it has a moderate climb with a large elevation change over a short period, but you can take your time and stop frequently to take in the amazing views.
5. Queens Garden Trail
Distance: 1.8mile/2.9km Elevation gain: 357ft/109m Approx time: 1-2 hours
This is the least difficult hike if you want to enter the canyon and is extremely popular. You can start the hike at Sunset Point or Sunrise Point and it is recommended to go in a clockwise direction. This hike is best done in the late afternoon for some spectacular views of Bryce Amphitheater as the sun sets behind you. This trail is best done when the weather isn’t too hot, as it can get very warm in this canyon.
The trail itself will take you to an area known as Queens Garden with a great view of the hoodoos around you. At the bottom, take a quick detour to the Queen’s Garden, where you’ll find a hoodoo resembling Queen Victoria. If you keep going, it will take you to the large natural arch that frames Bryce Amphitheater.
NOTE: Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop trail can be joined together for a total length of 2.9miles or 4.6km. This makes it an excellent short day hike and the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon!
6. Tower Bridge Trail
Distance: 3 miles/4.8km Elevation gain: 802ft/245m Approx time: 2-3 hours
Consider the out-and-back Tower Bridge Hike if you aren’t up for the entire Fairyland Loop Trail. The hike starts north of Sunset Point and like the Bristlecones Pine Loop, you can view bristlecone pine trees. A three-mile walk that goes through hoodoos and beside a brilliant stone wall known as the Chinese Wall. It is a moderate hike, best done in the morning, and is best combined with a visit to Mossy Cave.
STRENUOUS DAY HIKES
7. Fairyland Loop
Distance: 8 miles/12.9km Elevation gain: 1716ft/523m Approx time: 4-5 hours
This is best done as a long day hike. It will take about five hours and the best times to do this are in the early morning or late afternoon, when you can see most of Bryce Amphitheater with its amazing views. A strenuous uphill climb from Sunrise Point takes you up slabs of sandstone before entering Fairyland Canyon for a surreal journey. The hike is best done in a clockwise direction and will take you by the Thor’s Hammer, the Unnamed Tower, and the Three Sisters.
The imposing hoodoos are truly breathtaking along this section – The orange, gold, cream, and pink hues are particularly vibrant along this trail.
While an excellent day hike with some of the best views in Bryce Canyon National Park, it can be quite dangerous if not prepared. Make sure to have enough water (at least two liters) and snacks, as well as sturdy hiking boots. Check the weather beforehand and make sure there isn’t a chance of rain/snow (it can be quite cold at Bryce Amphitheater). Always tell someone where you are going and never hike alone.
If this sounds difficult, consider the less intense alternative to Fairyland Loop called the Bristlecone Pine Trail.
8. Peekaboo Loop
Distance: 5.5 miles/8.8km Elevation change: 1571ft/479m Approx time: 4-5 hours
This strenuous longer hike will take you down to the best views in Bryce Amphitheater. It is best done early morning or late afternoon when there are fewer hikers on this trail. It is a nice alternative to the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Trails which can become quite a bit more crowded in peak times. The Peekaboo Trail starts at Bryce Point and climbs down to the canyon bottom below to see the popular Wall of Windows, the Three Wisemen, The Organ, and The Cathedral.
This hike is best done when there hasn’t been recent rain as it can get quite slippery. Be very careful if you are hiking during the winter months as ice and snow can make this trail extremely dangerous.
9. Figure 8 Combination Trail:
Distance: 6.4miles/10.2km Elevation change: 1631ft/497m Approx time: 3-4 hours one way
Peekaboo Loop can be combined with the Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop – better known as the Figure 8 Combination Trail. The trail is one ultimate hike that totals and starts at Sunset Point or Sunrise Point and needs to be walked in a clockwise direction when you get to Peekaboo Loop. Start this trail early in the morning to allow plenty of time to take in the sights.
10. Bryce Amphitheater Traverse
Distance: 4.7miles/7.5km Elevation change: 1010ft/308m Approx time: 3-4 hours one way
Descend From Bryce Point. Turn left (counterclockwise) on Peekaboo Loop to join with Queen’s Garden and ascend to Sunrise Point. You will need to use a shuttle to return or you can take a 3.2 mile return route along the Bryce Canyon Rim Trail for a longer day hike.
11. Hat Shop Trail
Distance: 8.5miles/6.4km Elevation change: 1075ft/328m Approx time: 3-4 hours
If you’re looking for a more difficult hike in Bryce Canyon, the Hat Shop Trail is a great option. The trailhead can be found just past Bryce Point, and it’s an eight-and-a-half mile return to the top of the ridge. It has a very steep descent and you should take walking poles for this one. You’ll gain over 1000 feet in elevation along the way back up, so make sure you’re prepared for a challenging hike! The views from the bottom and top are absolutely incredible and well worth the effort.
This is a wonderful, uncrowded walk for park visitors who have completed many of the other trails in the area and are just seeking for something different. It’s also an excellent choice for individuals looking for a hard workout.
12. Riggs Spring Loop
Distance: 8.5miles/14.2km Elevation change: 1010ft/308m Approx time: 3-4 hours one way
A fantastic day hike or easy backpacking journey that goes above and below the spectacular Pink Cliffs at the southern border of Bryce Canyon National Park. The ideal method to do this excursion is in a clockwise direction, starting at Yovimpa Point and taking around four hours.
The western section of the trail is rougher and more thickly wooded. Near the midway point, there is a spring with some rest and shade for weary hikers. Hikers and campers should be careful about accessing this water since it may contain parasites and water treatment is needed.
Top Tips for Hiking in Bryce Canyon
- Pack plenty of water. Bryce Canyon has low humidity and is at a high elevation meaning you will dehydrate faster. Many of the trails have no water sources along the route.
- Start your hike as early as you can: preferably just before sunrise. It gets REALLY hot in Bryce Canyon and you will find the best light in the natural Amphitheater at this time. Parking lots fill very quickly in peak times as well.
- Temperatures can fluctuate – Temperatures can drop to below freezing overnight even in Spring and Fall but can get really hot by mid morning. Make sure to bring and wear several lightweight layers.
- The terrain can be steep – particularly on the moderate to strenuous hikes. We highly recommend you take hiking poles – these have personally saved my knees on many a hike.There are many great hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, and these are just a few of the best. Whether you’re looking for an easy hike or something more challenging, there’s definitely something for everyone in this beautiful park. Make sure to check out the trails mentioned here – you won’t be disappointed!