12 Best Bryce Canyon Hikes You Absolutely Need to See

Thors Hammer along the Navajo Loop Hike in Bryce Canyon National Park

Mystical orange spires erupting from the desert. It’s a landscape unlike any other. Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its hoodoos: chiseled, eroded rock formations. The best way to explore these hoodoos up close is on a hike through Bryce’s many trails.

This guide to the 12 best Bryce Canyon hikes takes you face to face with the most concentrated hoodoos in the world. From easy to challenging hikes, this post will help you find the best hike for your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park.

I’m sharing the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, plus:

  • The best time to visit Bryce Canyon for hiking
  • What you need to know before hiking in Bryce Canyon
  • Where to stay near the Bryce Canyon trails
  • What to pack for the perfect hike in Bryce Canyon
  • And a few bonus things to do besides hiking!

Ready to discover the best trails in Bryce Canyon? Let’s dive in!

Best Bryce Canyon hikes Pinterest Pin
Best Bryce Canyon hikes Pinterest Pin

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Read to plan your epic adventure in Bryce Canyon? Don’t miss these posts:

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Best Time of Year for Hiking at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park is open all year long. In the summer, temperatures are hot and dry. In the winter, snow blankets the park’s trails and hoodoos.

The best time to visit this Utah national park for hiking is in spring or fall. From April to May and September to October, the temperatures are warmer and crowds are less than in summer.

While not a traditional time to hike Bryce Canyon National Park, you can snowshoe many of the trails in the winter too.

Read More: The Best Time to Visit Utah’s National Parks

Tips for Bryce Canyon Hiking Trails

For the best experience hiking in Bryce Canyon, follow these tips!

  • Start your hike early. Parking lots in Bryce Canyon fill up by mid-morning in late spring and early fall. To guarantee parking, I recommend arriving shortly after sunrise to start your hike. Early morning is also the best lighting in the Bryce Amphitheater!
  • Catch sunrise before your hike. If you’re looking for a bucket list experience in Bryce Canyon, you have to watch sunrise along the Rim Trail – either at Sunrise Point or Sunset Point. It’s the perfect way to start any day in Bryce Canyon National Park!
  • Pack plenty of water. Even on colder days, it’s important to pack plenty of water for your hikes. Bryce Canyon is the highest elevation of the Utah Mighty 5 national parks. At this elevation you’ll dehydrate faster than you normally would. Be sure to pack at least 0.5 liters of water per person per hour of hiking.
  • Dress in layers. Temperatures are often below freezing overnight, even in Spring and Fall. As the sun rises, the day heats up. I recommend dressing in several layers, such as breathable long sleeve tops, a fleece jacket, and a down jacket.
  • Be prepared for thunderstorms if hiking in the summer. Thunderstorms are common in Utah during the summer and can be dangerous for hikers. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out for your hike.
  • Get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. If you’re visiting all 5 Utah national parks or road tripping from Zion to Bryce Canyon, you can save money by buying a national park pass ahead of time! The America the Beautiful pass is only $80, is good for 12 months, and gets you into all 63 national parks! If you don’t opt for the national park pass, you’ll need to pay the $35 entrance fee to enter the park.

Get your America the Beautiful National Park Pass here for only $80!

Where to Stay Near the Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon offers several lodging options inside the park as well as plenty of nearby hotels and campgrounds outside the park.

As a popular park, lodging at Bryce Canyon can book up quickly. To stay at the in-park lodge, I recommend booking as far out as possible as reservations open 13 months in advance.

To stay at the hotels just outside the park in Bryce, Utah, I recommend booking 3 to 6 months out.

Sign for Sunset Campground in Bryce Canyon National Park

Best Places to Stay In Bryce Canyon National Park

Best Places to Stay Outside Bryce Canyon

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park

What to Pack for the Best Hike in Bryce Canyon

Wearing layers for sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park
It was so cold in Bryce Canyon, even in May – pack layers!

For any hiking trip, it’s important to pack all the right essentials, including layers, proper hiking shoes, and safety gear. To be prepared for any hike in Bryce Canyon, I recommend packing these essentials:

  • Layers
    Temperatures fluctuate dramatically between day and night. It’s important to dress in packable layers when hiking. I recommend wearing moisture-wicking hiking shirts and warm fleece layers. If temperatures are below freezing in the mornings, you’ll appreciate having a warm down jacket too.
  • Rain Jacket
    In the summer, thunderstorms can spring up at any time. While it might be a quick rain, it’s best to be prepared and always carry a rain jacket or poncho in your hiking backpack.
  • Hiking Boots
    You’ll want sturdy, comfortable hiking boots or trail runners with solid traction for hiking in Bryce Canyon. As always, make sure your boots are broken in ahead of time. Wear merino wool socks to prevent blisters.
  • Hiking Backpack and the 10 Essentials
    It’s important to carry safety gear every time you hike, especially in off seasons. Be sure to pack the 10 hiking essentials and bring a hiking backpack with plenty of room for water and layers.
  • Sun Hat and Sunscreen
    Most of Bryce Canyon’s hiking trails are in direct sunlight without any shade. Protect yourself from the sun with a sunhat and plenty of sunscreen (and don’t forget to reapply!)
  • Camera
    You’ll want to document every moment of your hike through Bryce Canyon, so be sure to bring a camera! Today, even an iPhone will do. If you choose to travel with a nicer camera, I highly recommend investing in a sturdy clip, like this camera capture clip from Peak Design. It fastens your camera to your hiking backpack, making it easily accessible, yet secure and hands-free.

Read More: 10 Hiking Essentials and the Ultimate Guide to Women’s Hiking Apparel

The Best Hiking Trails in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon has no shortage of beautiful, hoodoo-filled hiking trails. This guide covers the 12 best trails in Bryce Canyon, including everything from easy to longer, more challenging hikes.

Rim Trail

Rim Trail Best hike in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation: 1,754 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Trailhead: Fairyland Point or Bryce Point

The Rim Trail wraps around the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, the hoodoo-filled valley in the heart of the park. This path traces the canyon, providing must-see views of the Bryce Canyon hoodoos from above.

Parts of the trail are paved and others are dirt paths. The views are unlike any other, especially at sunrise. With benches along the trail, this is the perfect hike to start your day in Bryce Canyon. The early morning sun paints the hoodoos in shades of fiery orange and fading pink.

This trail is one-way, connecting Fairyland Point and Bryce Point. To avoid having to retrace your steps, you can take the free Bryce Canyon park shuttle back to your starting point from April to mid-October. Read here for more on the Bryce Canyon shuttle in 2021.

If you start at Fairyland Point, the trail is mostly uphill. If you start at Bryce Point, the trail is mostly downhill.

Must see spots along the hike include Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, and Fairyland Point. Some of these viewpoints can also be seen on a scenic drive through the park.

Sunset Point to Sunrise Point

Colorful sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 1.0 mile
  • Elevation: 34 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead: Sunset Point Parking Lot

If you don’t have the time to hike the full Rim Trail, you can opt for this short section of the trail instead. The trail from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is a paved section of the Rim Trail. This path overlooks arguably the most scenic parts of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater.

This is the easiest trail in the park and is handicap accessible. If you’re looking for a sunrise hike without needing to stray too far from the car, I recommend this short walk. From either viewpoint, you’ll be rewarded with views of the hoodoos glowing in the morning sun.

The Sunset Point to Sunrise Point trail is only steps from the Lodge at Bryce Canyon, perfect for a post-sunrise coffee or breakfast.

Are you planning a trip to all of the Utah Mighty 5 National Parks? Click here to download your free 8-day Utah national parks itinerary to help plan your trip!

Queen’s Garden Trail

Hiking the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation: 357 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Point

One of the best ways to see the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon is with a hike “under the rim”. These trails take you down into the canyon and allow you to walk amongst the towering hoodoos.

The easiest of the under the rim trails is Queen’s Garden. This hike takes you from Sunrise Point, down into the canyon with the least elevation change. Along the trail, you’ll find plenty of hoodoos to marvel at, including Queen Victoria herself! The trail gets its name from a hoodoo that resembles Queen Victoria and her throne.

This trail is out-and-back, so about halfway through the hike you’ll return the same way you came. A hike along the Queen’s Garden trail is the perfect trek after watching sunrise at Sunrise Point.

Navajo Trail

Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon
  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation: 550 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Trailhead: Sunset Point

The Navajo Trail is another hike that takes you below the rim of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. A bit harder than the trail to Queen’s Garden, I argue it’s more scenic!
You’ll zig zag down into the canyon on photogenic switchbacks from Sunset Point. Once in the canyon, you’ll wind through towering walls, touring slot canyons like Wall Street.

This is one of the most popular sections of trail in Bryce Canyon, so expect plenty of crowds. The best way to avoid people is to hike this trail just after sunrise.

Navajo Trail is perfect for those who want to explore the hoodoos on a more challenging hike. Along the trail, you’ll find popular hoodoos like Thor’s Hammer. Similar to Queen’s Garden, this trail is out-and-back, making for a steep climb back up the switchbacks to Sunset Point.

Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop

Thors Hammer along the Navajo Loop Hike in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation: 600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hiking Time: 2 hours
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Point

Want to hike both the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Trails? You’re in luck! One of the most popular national park hikes is the loop that connects these two trails.

Starting at Sunrise Point, you can hike the Queen’s Garden trail before connecting to the Navajo Loop. You’ll climb out of the canyon on the switchbacks up to Sunset Point before finishing your loop along the Rim Trail back to Sunrise Point.

If you only do one hike in Bryce Canyon National Park, it should be this loop! This is the best hike in Bryce Canyon by far.

On this combination trail, you’ll see the iconic views of both trails, including Queen Victoria, Wall Street, and Thor’s Hammer.

While you could hike this loop from either direction, I recommend starting at Sunrise Point. From here you’ll hike the trail in a clockwise direction, ending at Sunset Point.

This trail is best hiked just after sunrise. The morning light paints the hoodoos in a fiery orange glow and you’ll find fewer hikers out on the trail. Do yourself a favor and arrive early to catch sunrise before your hike too – you won’t regret it!

Mossy Cave Trail

Mossy Cave hiking trail at Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead: 4 miles east of the park on Highway 12

The Mossy Cave Trail is one of the few hikes that starts outside of the park entry station. You’ll find the trailhead along Highway 12, about 4 miles outside the park. This trail is easy and rewards you with dramatically different views from the rest of the park.

You’ll follow a small stream to a mossy cave (as you might have guessed from the trail name!). In the summer, the moss hanging in the cave drips with water. In the winter, it’s transformed into icicles.

The hike to Mossy Cave provides a unique change in scenery from the dry, orange hoodoos of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. As one of the easiest Bryce hikes, it’s a great one for families or those short on time.

Important Note
Over the years, this trail has become more popular. Due to the limited parking, it may be difficult to find a spot here between 10 AM and 6 PM. The National Park Service does not allow you to park along the road or outside of the parking lot.

Fairyland Loop

Fairyland Loop hiking trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation: 1,716 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Hiking Time: 4 to 5 hours
  • Trailhead: Fairyland Point

Bryce Canyon’s popular trails tend to be the shorter, easier hikes. The best way to find solitude in Bryce Canyon is to take on one of the park’s harder trails like the Fairyland Loop.

This is the longest day hike in Bryce Canyon and the most strenuous. The trail starts in the northern part of the park at Fairyland Point and takes you below the rim through the canyon. You’ll weave through hoodoos and Bristlecone Pine trees along the way.

From Fairyland Point, you’ll follow the trail in a clockwise direction. The trail loops you around Boat Mesa and past views of the Chinese Wall.

Sections of this trail overlap with other hikes in the park, like a portion of the Rim Trail. You can also add on a short hike out to Tower Bridge!

Sheep Creek / Swamp Canyon

Swamp Canyon Overlook hike in Bryce Canyon
  • Distance: 4.0 miles
  • Elevation: 647 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hiking Time: 3 hours
  • Trailhead: Swamp Canyon

The Swamp Canyon trail is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and get a taste of a Bryce Canyon backpacking trip. This moderate trail starts at Swamp Canyon Overlook. The path forms a loop, connecting with the Under-the-Rim backpacking trail.

The best way to hike this trail is in a clockwise direction from the Swamp Canyon Overlook. You’ll pass over sections of steep climbs, often in solitude. The landscape is different here, with more vegetation and less orange desert.

Peekaboo Loop Trail

Peekaboo Loop Hiking Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation: 1,571 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Trailhead: Bryce Point

The Peekaboo Loop Trail is a fan favorite. Longer than the other hikes amongst the hoodoos, it’s a great way to explore Bryce Canyon without the crowds of the Navajo Trail.

This steep trail covers spectacular viewpoints, like the Wall of Windows. The trail starts at Bryce Point, a popular viewpoint along the park’s scenic drive. From here you’ll hike the trail in a clockwise direction, quickly descending to the canyon floor. You’ll spend a few miles winding through the amphitheater before climbing 1,500 feet back up to Bryce Point.

The Peekaboo Loop can also be combined with other trails in the park for a longer and more scenic hike:

  • Navajo / Peekaboo Combination Loop. 4.9-mile loop starting at Sunset Point and covering the Navajo and Peekaboo Trails
  • Figure 8 Combination. 6.4-mile loop starting at Sunrise Point and covering Queen’s Garden, Peekaboo, and then Navajo Trails
  • Bryce Amphitheater Traverse. 4.7-mile one-way hike starting at Bryce Point and covering Peekaboo and Queen’s Garden, ending at Sunrise Point. You can use the shuttle to return to Bryce Point!

Are you planning a trip to all of the Utah Mighty 5 National Parks? Click here to download your free 8-day Utah national parks itinerary to help plan your trip!

Bristlecone Loop

Bristlecone Loop Hike in Bryce Canyon
  • Distance: 1.0 mile
  • Elevation: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead: Rainbow Point

The Bristlecone Loop trail starts at the highest point in the park, Rainbow Point. Along this trail, you’re hiking at over 9,000 feet above sea level! This is the perfect leg stretch to break up the scenic drive up to Rainbow Point and back down.

The trail’s namesake, Bristlecone Pines, are the oldest living species in the world. The oldest tree in the park is 1,600 years old!

The relatively short hike takes you to views unlike others in Bryce Canyon thanks to the high elevation. This area of the park is much less crowded than the hikes around Bryce Canyon Amphitheater.

Temperatures are colder in this high elevation part of the park, so snow may stick around until late Spring.

Tower Bridge

  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Elevation: 802 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
  • Trailhead: Sunrise Point

Tower Bridge is a moderate trail taking you to a landmark rock formation under the rim. The trail starts at Sunrise Point and snakes its way down into the canyon for excellent views amongst the hoodoos and Bristlecone Pines.

The trail is out-and-back, passing landmarks like the Chinese Wall. You can also see Tower Bridge along the longer Fairyland Loop Trail. If you don’t have the time for the longer hike starting at Fairyland Point, this trail directly to Tower Bridge is a great alternative.

Hat Shop

Hat Shop hikes in Bryce Canyon
  • Distance: 4.0 miles
  • Elevation: 1,075 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
  • Trailhead: Bryce Point

The Hat Shop Trail covers a section of the popular backcountry Under-the-Rim Trail. You’ll start at Bryce Point, the same trailhead as the Peekaboo Loop. But unlike the more popular Peekaboo Trail, Hat Shop is quiet and uncrowded.

The trail gets its name from the hoodoo spires near the halfway point of the trail. These hoodoos balance large grey boulders on their top, appearing like hats.

While only 4 miles, this trail is strenuous, steep, and rough on the knees. I wouldn’t recommend this hike for your first visit to Bryce Canyon as it pales in comparison to the other hikes. But it is perfect for those visiting Bryce Canyon for the second or third time.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park

Other Things to Do Besides Hiking the Bryce Canyon Trails

Hiking isn’t the only jaw-dropping thing to do in Bryce Canyon National Park. For a break from the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon, check out some of these other must-do activities in the park:

  • Scenic Drive to Rainbow Point. This scenic drive through the heart of the park takes you to some of the best viewpoints of the amphitheater. I recommend driving all the way to Rainbow Point first and stopping to explore all 15 viewpoints on the way back down.
  • Stargaze or take a full moon hike. As an official dark sky park, Bryce Canyon has more visible stars than most national parks. During a full moon, rangers lead Bryce Canyon hiking tours at night on a lottery basis. Read more about the guided full moon hikes here.
  • Explore the Bryce Canyon Lodge. This is one of the most popular national park lodges thanks to proximity to the amphitheater and stunning views. You can grab a meal at the restaurant or explore the lodge’s interior. Explore more of the Lodge at Bryce Canyon here.
  • Stamp your national park passport at the visitor center. One of the best ways to document your national park travels is by collecting stamps from each park in a national park passport. Read my post on the best national park passports (including how to get 15% off) here.
Starry night sky and Milky Way while stargazing in Bryce Canyon

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Hike at Bryce Canyon

What should I not miss in Bryce Canyon?

Don’t miss hiking the Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop Trail, seeing sunrise at Sunrise or Sunset Point, and driving the park’s scenic drive up to Rainbow Point.

What can you do in Bryce Canyon in one day?

The best things to do in Bryce Canyon in one day include hiking the Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop and a scenic drive. The scenic drive takes you up to Rainbow Point, including 15 scenic vistas along the way.

Can you do Bryce Canyon and Zion in one day?

Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are under 2 hours away from each other, so it’s possible to do both parks in one day. You’ll be able to do Bryce Canyon’s main scenic drive and a short afternoon hike in Zion. I recommend spending at least 3 days in these parks though.

How much time should you spend at Bryce Canyon?

You should spend 1 to 2 days in Bryce Canyon National Park. This will give you plenty of time to hike the most popular trails, take the scenic drive, and explore the scenic viewpoints.

How long is the scenic drive in Bryce Canyon?

The scenic drive in Bryce Canyon is 38 miles roundtrip. To see all the viewpoints, I recommend spending at least 3 to 4 hours on the drive throughout the park.

View from Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

Final Thoughts on the Best Bryce Canyon Hikes

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks. In 1 to 2 days, you can explore some of the best trails in the park including these 12 epic hikes:

  1. The Rim Trail
  2. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
  3. Queen’s Garden
  4. Navajo Trail
  5. Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop Trail
  6. Mossy Cave Trail
  7. Fairyland Loop
  8. Swamp Canyon
  9. Peekaboo Loop
  10. Bristlecone Loop
  11. Tower Bridge
  12. Hat Shop Trail

Are you planning a trip to all of the Utah Mighty 5 National Parks? Click here to download your free 8-day Utah national parks itinerary to help plan your trip!

A trip to Bryce Canyon is perfect paired with a side trip to Zion National Park, Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, or Capitol Reef National Park.

Read to plan your epic adventure in Bryce Canyon? Don’t miss these posts:

Want to share your thoughts, tips, and advice with me and other readers? Have questions about your trip? Head down to the comments section below!

This post may include some affiliate links, where I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase, all at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or brands that I use. Any income helps me continue sharing national park tips and itineraries for free.

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