There’s nothing better than getting out on a trail and enjoying a long leisurely hike through a beautiful National Park. For that, there is no better park to hike in than the Bryce Canyon National Park.
Of course, you probably don’t have time to explore every single hiking trail that the park has to offer, but you also can’t go in blind hoping that you’ll stumble onto the perfect one. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park! Now you’ll spend less time scrolling through hiking sites and more time out on the hiking trail of your dreams.
The 9 best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park:
1. The Rim Trail
Be ready to take pictures the whole way through this hike! The trail is a decent distance, but it doesn’t require an extremely experienced hiker to complete. There are multiple different parking and starting points along the trail so that you can pick it up from anywhere along the path easily.
For a hiking total of 5.7 miles, the most commonly traveled route from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point is a southward slog that starts off flat but quickly becomes an arduous uphill battle. You’ll be sure to get a number of staggering views at Sunset and Sunrise Point without too much struggle, but after you round Inspiration point you’ll find the path continuing at a much steeper angle.
The less traveled route, from Bryce Point to Fairyland Point, is an easier hike that offers possibly even more beautiful sights and picture spots. You can take a free shuttle to Bryce Point from the visitor center and be comfortable with an easy downhill stretch before you reach the more popular, flat paths after Inspiration Point. This is the path to take for a number of great views overlooking the canyon!
Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,427 ft
2. The Queen’s Garden Trail
This is one of the most popular trails in the park, so you might encourage a lot of other hikers along the way, but the lowest reaches of the path are usually less crowded and make for better hiking. The trail drops down from Sunrise Point into the canyon by a steep but wide path which gradually narrows as you approach the cliffs and hoodoos.
That’s when you’ll most likely want to stop for some pictures. The hoodoos area a sight to behold (and save forever with a thousand pictures) and the ravine is absolutely gorgeous from the trail’s position overlooking it.
There’s a short little offshoot from the trail you can take to visit the famous Queen Victoria rock formation. It’s truly an incredible thing to see up close in person! If you have any space left on your phone or camera for more photos by the end of the trip then you’re doing it wrong.
If you continue following the main path after that the trail officially ends after a trek through forests and washes at a conjuction with the Navajo Loop.
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 711 ft
3. Navajo Loop Trail
For another great view of the canyon, or simply after you’ve finished the Queen’s Garden hike, you can take this looping trail with plenty of picture spots along the way. It’s another shorter path, but that doesn’t mean you can slack on those photo opportunities!
The easiest way to take this 1.6 mile loop is to go the counter-clockwise route and start on the western side of the trail loop. You’ll begin by switchbacking downhill where the trail is wide and easy to trek down. The entire way down is filled with colorful cliffs and a stunning picturesque landscape.
At the bottom of the trail, the path begins to narrow as it wends through dense forests and thne moves along a lush streambed as the terrain opens out. This is around where it connects with the Queen’s Garden trail and provides connection to the other trails of the Bryce Canyon National Park.
If you’re looking to complete the loop though you can keep going through the eastern section of the trail, also called “Two Bridges” because of the unique double arch formation that’s nearby.
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 991 ft
4. Bristlecone Loop Trail
For those seeking a more relaxed and nature-filled hiking experience, the Bristlecone Loop trail is a laid back path filled with plenty of trees, wildlife, and breathtaking scenery. You’ll have to start from the Rainbow Point picnic area before heading down the trailhead east before you reach the loop. From there, you can travel down either route for a similar hiking experience.
The biggest appeal of this trail are the many Bristlecone Pines that line the path. Each is over a thousand years old and they are some of the oldest living things on the planet. Unlike other pines, they only shed their needles every 40 years, so more often than not you’ll have a pristine grove of trees to take pictures with.
Those aren’t the only things along the path though, you get sweeping views of deep canyons, beautiful hoodoos, and beautiful overlooks. It’s also an easy enough path so you can bring the whole family along!
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation Gain: 201 ft
5. Mossy Cave Trail
Quick and filled with beautiful and important sites! That’s the main theme of this short, dense hiking trail. With only a small 0.4 mile stretch of trail and teeming with rock formations, water features, and historical importance, this is a great packed hiking trail.
After following the trailhead from the parking area, the trail leads over flat terrain to a bridge where the real hiking begins. After that, the rest of the path continues gradually uphill filled with towering rock formations and hoodoo spires before becoming steeper and leading to a fork in the main path.
Taking the left-hand path leads up to the Mossy Cave, where the trail gets its name from, a beautiful cavern that was formed over years and years by an underground spring. After stopping there for a few great pictures, you can head back to the fork and see the other great sight on the trail, a gorgeous view from atop a waterfall!
What’s the best part about this trail though? You can access it without entering the park! So you can explore it to your heart’s content without paying the park entrance fee.
Distance: 0.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 95 ft
6. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
This stretch between two beautiful overlook locations offers some of the best views of the canyon amphitheater. While this section will specifically talk about the hike from Sunset to Sunrise, you can complete the hike in either direction by traveling to the different trailheads’ parking locations.
Moving from Sunset Point north along the rim of the canyon, there are a number of places where you can stop and sit on the spaced out bench areas to take in the grand views. These make for great picture taking locations as well!
From there, it is a short distance to Sunrise Point where you’ll have even more spectacular vistas overlooking the canyon, especially of the Queen’s Garden trail below. The whole round trip from start to finish is only 1.2 miles, making for a short and gorgeous trek.
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 50 ft
7. Fairyland Loop
Where the other trails on this list have been fairly easy and short, the Fairlyand Loop is meant for those looking for a longer and more intensive hiking trip. It’ll take a long time from where you start at Fairlyand Point till you travel the full loop back to where you started.
One of the main things that anyone considering this trip should come prepared with is lots and lots of water and trail snacks. Without stopping for the sights (and let’s be honest, who isn’t going to stop for those?) the entire trek will take an average of 4-5 hours, so staying hydrated is of the highest importance.
On top of that, you should come prepared with proper hiking attire, especially boots that are sturdy and can get a good grip on the rock path.
The trail itself travels down from Fairyland Point past the Boat Mesa and beautiful hoodoos, you can catch sight of the Sinking Ship rock formation if you’re looking closely for it. From there the trail reaches its lowest point and the grade levels out while you pass the Tower Bridge Side Trail, before turning upwards again as it passes the Chinese Wall formation. This is the hardest part of the hike, so be prepared!
It finally ends at Rim Trail where you can turn north and head back towards Fairlyand Point again and stop to appreciate just how far you’ve come.
Distance: 8.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,918 ft
8. Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail
This trail isn’t for the faint of heart. Follow a winding, rollecoaster-like hiking path that will put any hiker through an ordeal (but a beautiful one at that). Make sure that you bring all of the necessary equipment like water, proper hiking boots, and some small snacks before you start out though.
While there are a number of ways to start off on this trail, the easiest and most enjoyable is to begin from the Peek-A-Boo Loop Connector at Bryce Point. It starts off with steep switchbacks down from the rim before reaching a flat stretch of path filled with abundant and gorgeous hoodoos. Then the trail continues down steeply before meeting the Peek-A-Boo Trail Loop at the southern end.
From there, most hikers prefer to take the loop in the counter-clockwise direction, so you shoud turn left and follow the loop as it maneuvers up and down ridges with plenty of great named rock formations that you can look out for.
From there the trail reaches as number of connector paths, but to continue the loop you can continued southward along the eastern half, climbing back upwards towards the Peek-A-Boo Connector and Bryce Point.
Distance: 5.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,868 ft
9. Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge Side Trail is a branching side path off of the Fairyland Trail, so you won’t be able to travel this one on its own. However, it’s a great side path that you can get to fairly quickly while traveling along the main trail. The distance measurement includes how far you’ll have to journey along the Fairyland Loop to get to the Tower Bridge Side Trail.
The main attraction of this trail is the view of the Tower Bridge rock formation that you get at about the halfway point along the trail. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the trail isn’t beautiful though, as it’s filled with gorgeous views of the hoodoos and towering rock walls.
Distance: 3.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 826 ft
Can You See Zion And Bryce In One Day? While you likely won’t be able to see more than a single trail in each park, if you are up for a long and strenuous day of speeding through the trails, you can definitely visit both of these parks in one day. It is recommended though that you try to devote a whole day to each one, especially since there are so many different hikes that you’ll likely want to see in each.
What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Bryce Canyon? You’ll want to visit the park during a period when you’ll have the most, and the safest, access to the hiking trails. For that, you’ll likely want to visit the park sometime between May and September. During this time you’ll have the warmest and fairest hiking weather, plus most of the exciting and engaging ranger activities will be available within this period.
Well, hopefully you’ve found a good hiking trail to suit your needs while visiting the beautiful and spacious Bryce Canyon National Park! To be honest, any one of these trails would constitute a perfect day of hiking. Just be sure to pack accordingly and make sure you’re fully equipped for the rigors of your chosen trail.
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Nick Oetken is a writer, adventurer, and outdoorsman currently based out of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.