Hike the Hoodoos of the eroding Paunsaugunt Plateau. The crimson rock spires of America’s most unique National Park will not disappoint. These striking forces of nature are both beautiful and educational so be sure to plan for time in the Visitors Center before you wander in awe among the hoodoos.
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. I suggest a mesh top tent for the most unbelievable stargazing; count shooting stars instead of sheep during your stay in Bryce.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, check out the Historic Lodge at Bryce Canyon. The architecture is flawless and provides a variety of accommodations; close proximity to the Lodge Restaurant and the delicious Valhalla Pizzeria are an added bonus. You can find one of a kind souvenirs inside the gift shop in the main entrance of the lodge. If the 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!
TRAILS and SIGHTS.
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.
TRAIL: Rim Trail
DESCRIPTION: 0.5 to 5.5 miles one way. A popular trail above Bryce Canyon that spans the rim of the amphitheatre and connects all the scenic overlooks from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point with less than 200 feet of elevation gain. You can access many of these viewpoints after parking in a lot and completing a short jaunt to the overlook.
TRAIL: Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop
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. Don’t forget to take the ‘Hike the Hoodoos’ Challenge and snap a photo with each marker to earn yourself a special surprise upon sharing your photos at the visitor center!
TRAIL: Fairyland Loop
DESCRIPTION: This 8 mile loop can be accessed from outside the park at Fairyland Point or inside the park just north of sunset point. 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.
TRAIL: Riggs Springs Trail
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. There are a few washes where it might be easy to lose this eight and a half mile backcountry trail. 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!
TRAIL: Under the Rim Trail
DESCRIPTION: 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 permit; utilizing the shuttle system is the best way to get to your starting point. Please be smart out there!
Like many National Parks, there are a lot of drive-up viewpoints that you truly should not miss!
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.
NATURAL BRIDGE: Although this landform is inaptly named, it still is a beautiful sight to see. Bridges are formed by the steady errosion of streams or rivers while arches are largely attributed to weather errosion; Natural Bridge is actually one of Bryce’s several natural arches which has 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 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.
Bryce Canyon has been one of my favorite National Parks thus far! We scored an awesome campground and found ourselves among the hoodoos without very many hiking companions. Between the general store ($8 showers! yay!) and Valhalla Pizza we were well fed and fairly clean; enjoying s’mores, pizza, soda and fresh fruit was a real treat after eating dehydrated meals for almost a week prior. Be sure to plan ahead and try to arrive on an off day to secure a ‘walk-up’ campsite if you’re unable to reserve one in advance.