Hiking Trails in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon’s small size, by national park standards, would seem to make it a good choice for the casual dayhiker. However, with few exceptions, the hikes require a serious descent into the canyon, and another serious climb to get back. When that is combined with the park’s high altitude, the hikes can become quite difficult. That said, there are still a few hikes that stay above the rim that make good choices for those looking for an easy trip.
Hiking distances given below are total, roundtrip distances unless otherwise stated. Difficulties are only a general guideline, for an adult in good condition, and do not take into account trail length. We strongly recommend you also have a good Bryce Canyon Trail Map with you.
The Hike: Bristlecone Point has a different character than most other hikes in Bryce. It winds through mostly level forest, never straying far from the mostly hidden canyon rim. After half a mile, the trail emerges from the forest onto a viewpoint. A gnarled bristlecone pine tree is protected by an enclosure.
These amazing trees have been dated to ages as old as 4,000 years. On the way back to Rainbow Point, the trail crosses the Under-the-Rim Trail. Those not wishing to take a 23 mile detour should follow the signs keeping them on the Bristlecone Loop Trail.
The Hike: This is probably the most popular hike in Bryce that drops below the rim. It descends about 500 feet, and regains this again, all in 1.4 miles. It can be connected with either the Queen’s Garden Trail, or the Peekaboo Loop, both covered below, to form a longer hike among the hoodoos. The most noted formations seen are Thor’s Hammer and Wall Street.
Queen’s Garden Trail
The Hike: This trail descends 320 feet below the rim from Sunrise Point. It ends down among the hoodoos. Although the path can be reversed for an out and back hike of 1.8 miles, nearly everyone who does this hike connects to the Navajo Loop via the connector trail.
The Hike: This is the only path that follows the rim of Fairyland Canyon and Bryce Amphitheater without dropping beneath it. It runs between Fairyland Canyon parking area and Bryce Point, crossing several other access areas in between. Most people hike only a section of the Rim Trail, or hike it all in one direction, meeting a second vehicle at the other end. Most of the trail is easy, but there are a few steep sections. Some parts of the trail are paved.
Water Canyon & Mossy Cave
The Hike: Water Canyon is Bryce’s overlooked gem. Outside of the main park access area, it is little visited and more intimate. The trail follows along a man-made stream that settlers dug in 1890 to divert water from the Sevier River. Despite its non-natural origin, the stream is very beautiful, even creating a sizable waterfall at one point.
The trail ends at Mossy Cave, an unusual overhang covered in vegetation due to the rare presence of moisture here. While the cave is generally considered the destination, Water Canyon is the real attraction.