Did you know that Bryce Canyon is, in fact, not a canyon at all? Bryce Canyon’s crimson rock spires are created by the erosion of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
Some of the park’s best trails wind their way through the famous hoodoos. Explore the largest collection of hoodoos and more in America’s most unique National Park is. Keep reading to find a hiking trail for every level, perfect viewpoints, and more for Visiting Bryce Canyon Nation Park.
Best of Bryce Canyon National Park
There is so much to do when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. With multiple amazing viewpoints along the 18-mile scenic drive and a number of trailheads, there’s a unique experience to be had for adventures of all abilities.
Bryce Canyon National Park Hikes
Most of the trailheads descend down into the ‘canyon’ below and provide a really amazing perspective of Bryce! I highly suggest gearing up and taking on the challenge of Hiking the Hoodoos as well.
Bristlecone Loop Trail
DISTANCE: 1 Mile
ELEVATION GAIN: 88 feet
DIFFICULTY: Very Easy
DESCRIPTION: This short one-mile loop will bring you through Blue Spruce, Douglas-fir, and White Fir, providing a great ecological tour with beautiful views. This hike is perfect for families with young children as it is short, has minimal elevation change, and isn’t on the edge of a high plateau.
Mossy Cave Turret Arch and Little Window Trail
DISTANCE: 1 Mile
ELEVATION GAIN: 118 feet
DESCRIPTION: This hike is great for anyone who wants the ‘canyon experience’ but might not have the time or ability to hike down into the hoodoos from the rim. This trail head can be found on Route 12 in Tropic, Utah.
DISTANCE: 0.5 to 5.5 miles one way
ELEVATION GAIN: 80 – 1,587 feet
DIFFICULTY: Easy – Strenuous
DESCRIPTION: I love this trail because you truly get to choose your challenge here! It’s a popular trail above Bryce Canyon that spans the rim of the amphitheater and connects all the scenic overlooks from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point.
Your easiest option is to travel the paves path between Sunrise and Sunset Point. It will be about .9 miles round trip and is fairly flat. A more difficult option would include a 10.8 mile hike round trip with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
If you want the high elevation views of the rim trail without hiking the rim itself, drive to them! You can access many of these different viewpoints from a nearby parking lot. A short jaunt to the overlook.
Queen’s Garden Trail and Navajo Loop Trail Combination
DISTANCE: 2.9 mile loop
ELEVATION GAIN: 646 feet
DESCRIPTION: This is a combination of two loops among the hoodoos! At about 2.9 miles and 600 feet of steep elevation gain, this hike can definitely have its tough moments. Hiking through the Hoodoos is a real treat; between Thor’s Hammer and Wall Street, you will often find yourself in awe.
It’s important to note that these hikes can also be done individually. Additionally, these trails are subject to seasonal closures due to snow and ice. If these trails are open, they are a must-do when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.
Don’t forget to take on the ‘Hike the Hoodoos’ Challenge. Snap a photo with each marker along the trail to earn yourself a special surprise upon sharing your photos at the visitor center!
Fairyland Loop Trail
DISTANCE: 7.8 mile loop
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,545 feet
DESCRIPTION: This loop can be accessed from outside of Bryce Canyon National Park at Fairyland Point or inside the park just north of sunset point. In winter, the northern trailhead parking lot is closed.
See the Chinese wall, tower bridge, and a number of spectacular hoodoos on this significantly less crowded trail. Be sure to bring your water in the summer months! There is a lot of ascending and descending once you make your way into the canyon. Be aware, parking at Fairyland Loop can be very limited! Start your hike early.
Riggs Springs Trail
DISTANCE: 8,6 mile loop
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,853 feet
DESCRIPTION: This trailhead begins at Yovimpa Point / Rainbow Point and travels through spruce, fir and bristlecone forests. Red cliff breaks and Quaking Aspen groves are scattered along the eastern side of the trail, allowing for beautiful vistas.
This trail is mostly through forest. I would not recommend this trail to someone looking for hoodoo views.
There are a few washes where it might be easy to lose this eight and a half mile back country trail so make sure you’re navigating skills are on point. Don’t expect to see very many people; we only saw one overnight camper on the whole trail. We started our trip at sunrise which provided truly stunning skies and perfect temperatures!
Under the Rim Trail
DISTANCE: 22.4 mile point to point
ELEVATION GAIN: 4,366 feet
DIFFICULTY: Very Strenuous
DESCRIPTION: This is a 22.5 mile, point-to-point trail located ‘under the rim’ of Bryce Canyon National Park. It runs from Rainbow Point to Bryce Point. This adventure could be broken up into sections, or completed as an overnight hike if you obtain a backcountry permit; utilizing the shuttle system is the best way to get to your starting point. Please be smart out there!
What Views Can’t I Miss at Bryce Canyon National Park?
Like many National Parks, there are a lot of drive-up viewpoints that you truly should not miss!
- SCENIC BYWAY: The Park’s 18-mile main road provides gorgeous views at every turn. Snag a parking spot at any of these sites along your drive for a closer view.
- RAINBOW POINT: Make a point to drive to the very end of the road for sunrise and enjoy the way the Hoodoos dance alive in the morning light among a sea of spruce and fir. The color chan
- NATURAL BRIDGE: Although this landform is inaptly named, it still is a beautiful sight to see. Bridges are formed by the steady erosion of streams or rivers while arches are largely attributed to weather erosion; Natural Bridge is actually one of Bryce’s several natural arches which have been created through frost wedging, dissolution, and gravity. I love it because it reminds me of a sandcastle!
- BRYCE POINT: Known as the most scenic vistas of the full amphitheater, this overlook will have you in true awe of these fire spires. Stop by in early morning to watch the tops of the hoodoos set alight as if by fire from the first rays of the rising sun for one of the most glorious sunrises you might ever experience.
- VISITORS CENTER: Some parks have such awesome Visitor Centers… I always stop to purchase my sticker, patch, and stamp (I’m extra, I know), but they offer so much more than that! Stop in for driving and hiking directions, weather forecasts, a current schedule of Park Ranger guided programs, Junior Ranger booklets, and the award winning film, “Shadows of Time”. I always learn so much about the park’s past, present, and future while exploring Visitor Center exhibits and chatting with park rangers.
Bryce Canyon Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, chances are you’re looking for the answer to at least one of these questions.
How Many Days Do I Need At Bryce Canyon National Park?
I think this really depends on what you plan to accomplish while visiting the park. We spent four nights and three whole days in Bryce Canyon National Park; we hiked 3 major trails, explored every viewpoint, and enjoyed our downtime in the park as well.
You could easily see the whole park in two days if you planned on a morning and afternoon hike/sightseeing combination. If you’re looking to complete one solid hike and check out the viewpoints, one day is all you would need. If you’re only going to hike one trail at Bryce, I suggest the Queens/Navajo Combination Loop.
Best Place to Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park?
Bryce Canyon National Park Camping
There are two campgrounds right after the entrance to the park; North campground, with walk-up sites, and Sunset campground, for group sites. North Campground has a few different loops and we were lucky enough to grab a site on very edge of the last loop.
Surrounded by Manzanita, it was quiet, quaint, and beautiful at sunset. The Manzanita attracted adorable mule deer at dusk and dawn. I suggest a mesh top tent for the most unbelievable stargazing; count shooting stars instead of sheep when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park!
Hotel Bryce Canyon National Park
When visiting Bryce Canyon National Park you might be looking for a more luxurious stay, check out the Historic Lodge at Bryce Canyon. The architecture is flawless and the lodge provides a variety of different accommodation options. Its close proximity to the Lodge Restaurant and the delicious Valhalla Pizzeria is an added bonus. Additionally, you can find one-of-a-kind souvenirs inside the gift shop at the main entrance of the lodge; the gifts here are much different than the Visitor Center!
If the Bryce Canyon lodge is booked up or simply not in your price range, just outside the park entrance there are a number of hotels (and teepees!) to choose from as well. Whether you are staying at the lodge or not, I would pay the historic building a visit for lunch, a shopping trip, or to simply walk around!
Bryce Canyon National Park Restaurants
- Valhalla Pizza
Valhalla Pizza can be found inside the park, just outside the Lodge. It’s a great place to stop for lunch after a long hike! A cold drink and a hot meal go a long way. It also doubles a coffee shop for those who can’t start their day without a cup.
- The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
A fine dining experience among a grande stone fire place. The lodge values fresh ingredients, great customer service, and exquisite presentation of meals.
- Bryce Canyon General Store
Located near sunrise point, the generals store has coin operated laundry, showers, and groceries. They also have grab and go hot and cold food such as sandwiches,pizza, and ice cream. We grabbed ice cream, fruits, and s’more supplies from the general store more than once during our stay!
- Ebeneezer’s Barn and Grill
Located just outside the park in Bryce Canyon City, Utah, Ebeneezer’s offers a fixed-price, hearty American dinner. Dinner isn’t all you’ll get! A live show with country music & cowboy demonstrations will come with your meal.
What is the Hike the Hoodoos Challenge At Bryce Canyon?
The Hike the Hoodoos Challenge was developed as a fun way to get park visitors out and exploring multiple trails in Bryce Canyon. This hiking challenge is a bit of a scavenger hunt as well!
To earn your prize (a sticker for us!) visitors must hike at least 3 miles on specially-marked trails and find “Hike the Hoodoos” benchmark survey markers along the way. You can either take a photo with the benchmark or snag a rubbing of the benchmark to prove you’ve hiked the trail.
Although you’re only requires to hike three miles for the challenge, there are nine “Hike the Hoodoos!” benchmarks located along eight different hiking trails in the park. Some visitors, like ourselves, are opting to visit all nine benchmarks for their challenge. This means they’ve hiked a total of 18.4 miles. Quite an accomplishment!
Why Should I Visit Bryce Canyon?
- Incredibly Unique Landscape
The amphitheater is so neat! It’s awesome to learn the science behind the landscape as well.
- Something for Everyone!
Between the many view points, calm hikes around the rim, and strenuous hikes down into the canyon, there is truly something for every kind of explorer.
- Serious Stargazing
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its wonderful stargazing opportunities.
- Welcoming Summer Temperatures
Due to the elevation, temperatures on the plateau are a tad more doable than some of the other recreation areas in Utah. I for one, really appreciated this in the summer heat.
How far is Bryce Canyon from Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon is just over an hour from Zion National Park and just over two hours from Capitol Reef National Park. Did you know that Utah is home to 5 National Parks and a number of gorgeous National Monuments? Well it is! And luckily, you can see all the National Parks and a few National Monuments in a nice little Utah Road Trip.
- Moab – Canyonlands: Needles Districts
- Moab – Canyonlands: Island in the Sky
- Moab – Arches
Check out my Ultimate Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip for the rest of the itinerary!
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