You have to blink a few times fast to make sure you are seeing what you are seeing when you visit Bryce Canyon National Park. That’s because the combination of fairy chimneys, amphitheaters, and beautiful pink and orange rock will make you feel like you’ve traveled to another planet. Bryce Canyon National Park sits on Utah Scenic Byway 12 and is part of Utah’s Might 5 National Parks.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a hiker’s paradise, teeming with awe-inspiring trails that offer varied landscapes and difficulty levels. The Fairyland Loop is one of our favorites, winding through the mystical Fairyland amphitheater and showcasing remarkable rock formations. Another trail worth exploring is the Mossy Cave Trail, a less strenuous route leading to a unique water-formed cave. For a captivating journey into Bryce Canyon’s heart, the Navajo Loop Trail is a must, offering dramatic views of the park’s famous hoodoos. Each trail at Bryce Canyon provides a unique experience, promising unforgettable adventures and these are just some of our favorites.
Beautiful Hikes in Bryce Canyon
You can explore Bryce Canyon by visiting an overlook or hiking for the day. The US is full of national parks, but Bryce Canyon National Park has likely got to be one of the most unique. That’s because of the rock formations that sit in the park and these types of formations are found in few other places around the world.
Just the drive alone along Utah Scenic Byway 12 will give you some of the most stunning landscapes you will see in your life. The 2.5-hour drive between Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most gorgeous drives on this scenic highway. Bryce Canyon is also right next to the larger Zion National Park, which means you can combine a visit to Zion, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon national parks for your holiday.
As with many other national parks, you can stay overnight but you will have to get a permit. You can get a permit from the park’s visitors center. There are many short and easy hikes in the part that you can do so you don’t need to stay overnight if you don’t want to.
Up next we’re going to tell you all about the 11 best Bryce Canyon Hikes You Have to Do. Visit the Bryce Canyon National Park Website for conditions, closures, and permit information.
1. Navajo Loop Trail
The Navajo Loop Trail is also its own loop and you can do it without including the Queens Garden Trail. If you want to get down to business and go from the canyon rim to the valley floor then the Navajo Loop Trail is one of the best out of all of Bryce Canyon’s hiking trails for you.
You can get to this spectacular hike from Sunset Point and then go down through the slot canyon of Wall Street and down to the Bryce Amphitheater floor.
As you climb down you’ll see Thor’s Hammer and the Two Bridge’s rock formations. The trail meanders through the natural amphitheater, a spectacle so grand it feels like a different planet. Each step brings with it a new perspective on this alien landscape.
As you crest the rim of the canyon, completing the loop, you are greeted by the sight of the expansive Bryce Amphitheater stretching out beneath you. It is quite the sight. The trail is a 1.4-mile loop but it’s a steep trail back which is why it is often called a more difficult hike than other trails.
Trail Length: 1.5 Miles (2.4 km) Loop Trailhead: Sunset Campground / Sunset Point Difficulty Level: Moderate Duration: 1-2 Hours
2. Rim Trail
This is one of the best Bryce Canyon hikes for landscape views of the whole park. The Rim Trail can be a steep climb in sections with an elevation gain of 1754 feet and looking over the rim isn’t for the faint of heart. The steep descent takes some energy and patience as well.
Setting out from Fairyland Point in the north, the trail starts with a moderate climb. Despite the challenge, the sight of the Bryce Amphitheater in the distance will keep you motivated.
The trail gently undulates, weaving between clusters of ponderosa pine and ancient Douglas firs. Various viewpoints appear along the trail, and each one offers a new perspective of the amphitheater and the labyrinth of red-orange hoodoos below.
The trail then winds towards Sunrise Point, and from here, the Bryce Amphitheater spreads out in all its majesty, a spectacle of natural architecture that’s truly humbling. The trail leading to Sunset Point gets more challenging but not too bad. As you continue on you pass Inspiration Point and Bryce Point until you descend towards Rainbow Point, which is the highest point in the park.
The Rim Trail can be accessed from Fairyland Point or from Bryce Point, which can be accessed on the park’s shuttle. The Rim Trail probably gives you the best views of the spires and hoodoos of the whole amphitheater. You can take the Navajo Loop Trail, the Queen’s Garden Trail, or the Fairyland Loop Trail down into the amphitheater if you want to.
Trail Length: 5.5 Miles (9.16 km) – One way Bryce Point to Fairyland Point Elevation: 1,754 feet Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours Difficulty Level: Moderate Notes: You can do this as a round-trip hike or you can park at the shuttle Station and take the shuttle to Bryce Point to hike the trail one way. When returning, flag the shuttle down for a ride back.
3. Sunrise Point – Sunset Point Trail
For an easy hike and a flat one too, this one-mile hike with stunning views of Bryce Canyon National Park is perfect. The trail begins at Sunset Point and goes to Sunrise Point. You walk along the rim of the garden and the walk from one point to the other is just 0.5 a mile.
Along the way, you get expansive views of the canyon and thousands of hoodoos. You can also time it so that you start your walk at sunrise or end it at sunset. Also, know that this trail is paved and wheelchair accessible in the winter months. It’s also the only trail in the park that you can take your pets on. This is a great option if you don’t have the time to do the full Rim Trail.
Trail Length: .5 Miles (.8 km) – 1-mile return hike. (1.6 km) Hiking Time: 30 minutes Trailhead: Sunset Point Parking Lot Difficulty Level: Easy Notes: This is the only trail in the park where you can bring your pets.
4. Tower Bridge Trail
The Tower Bridge trail is one of the most popular for people hiking in Bryce Canyon. That’s because it gives you a taste of the different terrain of Bryce Park and it is a relatively easy hike.
The trailhead sits at Sunset Point and from there you can hike out to Tower Bridge. It’s a somewhat moderate 3-mile round trip hike, but what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in the spectacle of the landscape.
Named for its resemblance to its namesake in London, the Tower Bridge is a stunning natural rock formation that stands proudly against the skyline. Two huge rock towers, connected by a seemingly precarious arch, make up this natural monument. The size and intricate nature of this structure is a testament to the power of geological forces.
You’ll be dropping down 950 feet and get that elevation gain back as you hike up in a clockwise direction. There are chances of seeing snakes and other wildlife when you hike on the trail. To make it easier on your feet, wear good hiking boots.
Trail Length 3.0 miles Hiking Time: 2-3 hours Elevation: 802 feet Difficulty: Moderate Trailhead: Sunrise Point
5. Bryce Point to Sunrise Point
Think of this hiking trail as the buffet of all trails in Bryce Canyon National Park. This hike is 5.4 miles long and will give you a taste of a lot. You can get dropped off at Bryce Point and from there take the pretty hike to Sunset Point and on to the Navajo Loop Trail which will take you below the rim.
Then you get to drop down into Wall Street, where you will finally understand what an ant feels like in that space between the two pieces of a sidewalk. From there you’ll head to the Queen’s Garden hoodoo and after that, you’ll trek along to Sunrise Point.
The Queen’s Garden Navajo Loop is considered a moderate hike. It can get slippery so if you have balance issues it would be a good idea to have sticks and hiking boots.
Trail Length: 5.4 Miles (8.7km) Hiking Time: 2 hours 30 Minutes Trailhead: Bryce Point Difficulty Level: Moderate
6. Queen’s Garden Trail and Navajo Combination Loop
The Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Trail come together to make a 2.9-mile loop. It has a 629-foot elevation change and gives you views of some of the most iconic points in Bryce Canyon National Park. To do the Queen’s Garden Navajo Loop, you can park your vehicle at the Sunset Point Parking Lot and head onto the Navajo Trail.
If you come here early enough, it is the perfect spot to see one of the most magical views in the park as the sun rises and lights up all the hoodoos. From the parking lot, you’ll head towards Wall Street, which is essentially a narrow point in the canyon.
From the rim of the canyon, you’ll be able to see Thor’s Hammer, which is one of the famous hoodoos in the park because it looks like the hammer is about to drop any minute. From here you’re going to get on the Queens Garden Trail portion of the loop and there you will see the Queen Victoria hoodoo. The Two Bridges hoodoo will also be along here too.
Trail Length: 3 Miles (4.7 km) Hiking Time: 3 Hours Difficulty Level: Moderate Notes: Start at the Sunrise Trailhead to Queens Garden Trail and hike counter-clockwise to join the Navajo Trail Loop
7. Mossy Cave Trail
This is one of the prettiest trails in Bryce Canyon National Park and it’s one of the easiest. The Mossy Cave trail distance is 1 mile long and you can reach it from the Mossy Cave Trailhead. The trail takes you along a stream and to a grotto. At one point along your path, you have the choice of continuing along the stream.
If you continue with the stream, you will end up at a waterfall and if you go left you, will head into the natural grotto. Although the Mossy Cave Trail is a short hike, you do get a chance to get up close and personal with the hoodoos without actually having to climb down into the Bryce Canyon National Park amphitheater.
Trail Length: 1 Mile (1.6 km) return Difficulty Level: Easy Notes: This is one of the busier trails in Bryce Canyon NP so arrive early to beat the crowds and to find a parking space.
8. Bryce Point to Bryce Canyon Lodge
If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon National Park with family members of varying ages, taking the Bryce Point to Bryce Canyon Lodge trail along the canyon rim is a good idea. It is a 2.5-mile hike of a portion of the Rim Trail with a descent of 300 feet.
You can get everyone on the park shuttle and get dropped off at Bryce Point. From here you can walk along and take in the hoodoos and spires of the Bryce Canyon National Park amphitheater. You will pass Inspiration Point on your hike before you end up at Bryce Canyon Lodge. Despite the jaw-dropping views, this is one of the easiest hikes in Bryce Canyon.
Trail Length: 2.5 Miles (4.02 km) one-way hike Difficulty Level: Easy Notes: Take the shuttle to Bryce Point and end at the lodge
9. The Bristlecone Loop
Bristlecone Point is certainly not one of the crowded trails in Bryce Canyon National Park. That might have to do with the fact that it’s very high up and you’ve got to drive to the trailhead at Rainbow Point. However, the views from Rainbow Point are just spectacular and the views of Bristlecone pine trees are beautiful.
When you get to Rainbow Point, you’ll be climbing up to the highest point in Bryce Canyon National Park at 9100 feet when you get into the thick of the Bristlecone pines. Some people come to the area just to see the Bristlecone pines. Do you know that the oldest ones in the park are 1500 years old?
Bristlecones look unique and can hold onto their pine needles for almost half a century. You can see them during your hike. In fact, hiking in this part of Bryce Canyon National Park can be as difficult or as easy as you want.
The entire park can be seen from lookouts, but hikes like the Bristlecone Loop give you a chance to experience the elevation gain and bring you from the heat of Utah up into the cool temperatures. It’s a good idea to get some hiking boots for the Bristlecone Loop to make it more comfortable for you.
Trail Length: 1 Mile (1.6 km) Trailhead: Rainbow Point Difficulty Level: Easy
10. Sheep Creek and Swamp Canyon Trail Loop
This loop trail is 4.1 miles long and is considered a moderate to difficult hike in Bryce Canyon because of the steep climbs at the higher points on the trail. There is an elevation change of 650 feet. The Swamp Canyon Trail is a 1.3-mile trail that has an elevation change of 650 feet. The trailhead is located at Swamp Canyon Overlook. From here you’re going to be heading out on the rim of the Sheep Creek Canyon.
You’ll be wandering across forest and valley and return along the Swamp Canyon Trail. Although you don’t see much of the hoodoos until the ends of the trail. The wildflowers and meadows in the canyons provide a whole different experience. You can also get a good view of the Bruce Canyon Amphitheatre.
Trail Length: 4.1 Miles (7.2 km) Trailhead: Swamp Canyon Overlook Difficulty Level: Moderate
11. Fairyland Loop Trail
The Fairyland Loop Trail is a day hike as it is 8 miles long but it is well worth it as you are walking up close and personal among the hoodoos. The trailhead sits at Fairyland Point which you can reach via shuttle, alternatively, you can also get on the trail from the north campground.
But if you’re not actually staying at the campground then Fairyland Point would be your best bet. The road to the trailhead however is closed in the winter so then you’ll have to get to the trail from Sunrise Point. You will experience an elevation change of more than 2000 feet.
The Fairyland Loop hike will take you between Fairy Point and Sunset Point. Sunset Point can also be reached via shuttle. It will take around 5 hours and because of that is one of the more difficult hikes in Bryce Canyon.
Trail Length: 8 Miles (12.6km) Trailhead: Fairland Point Difficulty Level: Moderate
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon?
The most popular hike in Bryce Canyon is the Navajo Loop Trail. This trail offers visitors a fantastic opportunity to experience the iconic hoodoos up close and explore the stunning natural amphitheaters of the park. The Navajo Loop Trail is known for its unique rock formations, beautiful vistas, and a relatively moderate level of difficulty.
Where is the best hike to see the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon?
To witness the breathtaking hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, one of the best hikes is the Queen’s Garden Trail. This trail showcases a variety of stunning rock formations, including numerous hoodoos, spires, and colorful cliffs, offering a remarkable and up-close view of Bryce Canyon’s unique landscape.
What is the hardest hike in Bryce Canyon?
One of the most challenging hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park is known as the “Under the Rim Trail.” This extensive trail stretches for approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Rainbow Point to Bryce Point, following the park’s eastern edge.
Which is better for hiking Zion or Bryce?
If you prefer dramatic canyons, river hikes, and a variety of trail options, Zion National Park might be the better choice for you. If you are fascinated by hoodoos and want to explore otherworldly rock formations, Bryce Canyon National Park would be a great fit. Both parks offer remarkable experiences, so if possible, consider visiting both to fully appreciate their unique features and enjoy a diverse range of hiking opportunities.
How to Get to Bryce Canyon National Park
The closest airport to Bryce Canyon is the Cedar City Regional Airport. You can fly from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City to this airport. There is a closer and smaller airport Bryce Canyon Airport that is for charter planes.
We visited Bryce Canyon on a road trip through the American Southwest. Check out CarRentals.com for price comparisons from the city you are leaving from.
The drive to Bryce Canyon is 4 hours from Las Vegas and 4 hours from Salt Lake City. Car rentals can be picked up at Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. Check price comparisons here.
Why not combine a road trip to Bryce Canyon National Park with the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park to see some of the most amazing scenery in the United States?
Best Time to visit Bryce Canyon
Spring is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon as the weather starts to warm up. The snow begins to melt, and wildflowers bloom, adding vibrant colors to the landscape. The trails may still have some patches of snow early in the season, but as spring progresses, the conditions get better. Keep in mind that spring can be unpredictable, and occasional rain showers are possible.
Fall is another beautiful season to visit Bryce Canyon. The temperatures start to cool down, and the park’s foliage turns into stunning shades of red, orange, and gold. The trails are less crowded compared to the summer months, and the weather is generally pleasant for hiking.
Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon
If you’re looking to stay in the park, your best option is The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. If you’re looking to stay outside the park, I highly recommend the ones listed below.
Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn – the closest accommodations to Bryce Canyon National Park. Plus it has Indoor and Outdoor Swimming Pools and Spas. Bryce View Lodge – Just 3 miles (5.8 km) from Bryce Canyon this is an ideal location at an affordable price. Bryce Pioneer Village – 4.7 miles (7km) from Bryce Canyon National Park and offers cabins or hotel rooms.
How to Get Around
The easiest and most flexible way to get around Bryce Canyon is by renting a car or RV. The park has a well-developed road system that provides access to major viewpoints and trailheads. You can drive to various parking areas throughout the park and then hike or walk to the desired destinations.
They also offer a free shuttle service during the peak season (usually from late May to early September). The shuttle runs along the main road, making stops at various points of interest, viewpoints, and trailheads. Utilizing the shuttle allows you to leave your vehicle parked and enjoy the convenience of hop-on, hop-off transportation within the park.
Best Bryce Canyon Tours
If you want to get the most out of visiting the park and don’t really know where to start, these tours can really help. These are the ones we recommend for first-time visitors and hikers.
Bryce Canyon National Park offers a ton of incredible hiking experiences, each one immersing you in its unique and awe-inspiring landscape. Whether you are wanting to get up close with the Hoodoos or just take in the beautiful vistas, there is definitely something for everyone. Take our word for it, once you go hiking in Utah you will want to return again and again. I know we do.