15 of the Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
Hiking is one of the most popular activities at Bryce Canyon National Park, and there are over 30 hiking trails and combinations within. At Bryce, there’s a trail for every age and skill level!
Let’s break it down:
Easy, Family-friendly Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
1. Paria View
Paria Bryce by Lemanieh from Getty Images
This is a quick, 0.8-mile out-and-back trail that’s actually paved, guarded by railings and wheelchair accessible. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and takes you along the Paria Viewpoint to get a closer look at the hoodoos there!
2. Bristlecone Loop
Bristlecone Loop - MicheleVacchiano from Getty Images
Only one-mile long, this trail is an actual trail, but it’s solid, sturdy, and family-friendly. Bristlecone Loop is located between Rainbow and Yovimpa Viewpoints at the southern tip of Bryce Canyon, which means that it’s one of the highest elevation hikes, but the trail itself is relatively flat. This loop will take you on a half-hour journey through the Bristlecone Pine Trees that are some of the oldest in the entire world! Here’s a tip: for the best experience, do this hike early in the morning. The morning sun’s rays shining through the pines and the cool Bryce temperatures make this an unforgettable experience.
3. Piracy Point
Piracy Point Bryce by Must Be F/8
This one is unofficially nicknamed The Hansel and Gretel Trail by the park rangers because of its magical, storybook quality. It’s located on the flat, .05-mile stretch of forest area between Farview and Piracy Points. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and there is very little (if any) elevation gain. This one is great for spotting wildlife.
4. Sunrise-to-Sunset Point
Giuseppe Milo, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This 1.1-mile out-and-back stretch of paved trail is family friendly and wheelchair accessible. It takes about 30 minutes to complete, but you may want to spend more time here. This path connects the two most popular viewpoints in the park: Sunrise Point and Sunset Point and gives you a great view of the hoodoos there, including the legendary Thor’s Hammer. There is a dirt path that leads to more advanced hiking trails that run parallel to this path.
5. Mossy Cave Trail
National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Mossy Cave isn’t actually located inside the gates of Bryce Canyon. It’s about 12 miles outside of the park near the town of Tropic, but it’s still considered one of the best family-friendly Bryce Canyon trails. This one is great for a different view of the hoodoos, because it starts at the base of them. Mossy Cave Trail is about 1-mile long and is an out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of only about 118 feet. This trail will lead you across two footbridges and towards the base of the Mossy Cave; a naturally formed “grotto” with a waterfall! This hike is beautiful no matter the season, but to get the full effect of the waterfall, early Spring is the best time to visit here.
Moderate Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
6. Navajo Loop Trail
Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Starting at Sunset Point, this is a 1.5-mile hike that starts with a series of switchbacks that descend into the canyon floor. Navajo Loop Trail passes through some of the most famous hoodoos including Wall Street and Thor’s Hammer. It will take 1-2 hours to complete, but more advanced hikers tend to pick up the Queen’s Garden Loop Trail at their intersection and continue on to the rim of Sunrise Point. This is a total distance of 2.9 miles. (The Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Loop Trails are heavily trafficked, especially in the summer months)
7. Queen’s Garden Loop
Sara Simoni, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This is a 1.5 mile-hike that starts and ends on the rim of Sunset Point. This one climbs and descends about 320 feet each way, but this is considered the easiest hike that actually descends into the canyon. You’ll pass by several popular hoodoo formations including the Wall of Windows, Queen’s Castle and Queen Victoria.
8. Fairyland Loop Trail
Fairy Tale Loop - Bryce Canyon by Canvan Images from Getty Images
Fairyland Loop Trail begins at Fairyland Point and takes you 7.8 miles through spectacular hoodoos and scenery along the rim and into the canyon. You’ll also pass along portions of the spur road leading to Tower Bridge and portions of the Rim Trail that leads to popular viewpoints in the Bryce Amphitheater. Even though this hike is considered moderate with multiple elevation changes, it could be challenging for less-experienced hikers because of its length. Fairyland Loop Trail takes about 4-5 hours to complete.
9. Rim Trail-Inspiration Point to Sunset Point
Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Rim Trail is actually accessible via many of the viewpoints along the Bryce Amphitheater, but some of the best views of both the canyon and the wildlife surrounding it can be found at the 2.5 mile out-and-back section that begins at Inspiration Point and ends at Sunset Point. There are a few elevation changes here, and the terrain is loose at points. A word of caution – there are no guide rails along the rim of the Bryce Amphitheater, so this hike is not suitable for small children. This will take 1-2 hours to complete.
10. Swamp Canyon/Sheep Creek Loop
Swamp Canyon - by LordRunar by Getty Images Signature
The Sheep Creek/ Swamp Canyon Loop is a 4.5-mile loop with about 800 feet in elevation gain. This trail leads you into a forested part of the canyon and back out again where you’ll see beautiful views of Mud Butte and Swamp Butte and the pink cliffs off in the distance. Swamp Canyon floods during summer thunderstorms and can be difficult if you are not wearing proper footwear. This loop will take you approximately 4 hours to complete.
11. Hat Shop Trail
The Hat Shop Trail is a down and back trail that begins at Bryce Point. View of the colorful cliffs of the Grand Staircase to the south will greet you as you descend nearly 1500 feet for the first 2 miles of the trail, and parts of the Hat Shop follow Under-the-Rim backcountry Trail. At the turnaround point, balanced-rock hoodoos cluster along the trail's edge before you climb back up 1500 feet. The Hat Shop Trail is 4 miles in total length and may take up to 4 hours.
12. Riggs Spring Loop Trail
The Riggs Spring Loop Trail is a 9-mile trek through part of the Backcountry with a nearly 3,000 foot elevation gain. It begins at Yovimpa Point and travels through spruce, fir and bristlecone forests. The western section of the trail is steeper and more heavily forested. Because of its length, the Riggs Spring Loop Trail is often a two-day hike that requires camping. If you plan on camping, you must obtain a permit from the Visitor Center. Be advised that parts of the Riggs Springs Loop could be closed due to weather conditions, so please check its status before setting out.
13. Under-the-Rim Trail
Wiki-zprzasny, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This is considered the most strenuous hike in the entire park. At 23 miles long, this hike is considered part of the Backcountry and requires several days of overnight camping and a permit that can be obtained at the Visitor Center. The Under-the-Rim is essentially a point-to-point trek throughout the entirety of Bryce Canyon National Park and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. For more information on the Backcountry trails, see the National Park Service website here.
14. Full Moon Hike
Brian Sorg / 500 px from. Getty Images
During full moons (often for two consecutive nights), the Bryce Canyon park rangers offer a guided hike among the hoodoos with only the moon to light the way. These hikes are generally about 1 to 2-miles long and take approximately 2 hours. Their difficulty varies depending on the group, but properly-treaded hiking shoes are required. For safety reasons, the Full Moon Hike has a limited number of spaces and participation is chosen via a lottery system. If you’re at the park during a full moon and want to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, free lottery tickets can be picked up year-round at the Visitor Center between 8 AM and 4 PM on the day of the hike, and the lottery drawing is held at 4 PM that day.
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