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5 Dayhikes Among Hoodoos and Pine in Bryce Canyon - My Utah Parks

5 Dayhikes Among Hoodoos and Pine in Bryce Canyon

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The overlooks are just the beginning: Venture deeper into Bryce Canyon on one of these excellent day trips for even more spectacular views, wildlife, and an up-close look at the park’s weird and wonderful geologic features.

Mossy Cave

Stream on Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Stream on Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Water dripping from moss on Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Water dripping from moss on Mossy Cave Trail

Waterfall on Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Waterfall on Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

Distance: .8 mile round-trip
Level: Easy
Trailhead: Mossy Cave

This short trip delivers two attractions. A few minutes’ walk brings you to a fork: Take the left branch to visit Mossy Cave, an overhanging grotto carved by an underground spring. In spring and summer, the cave is filled with bright green moss; in winter, you may see icicles dangling from it. Take the trail’s right branch to see a small, milky-blue waterfall. This cascade dates back to a Mormon irrigation ditch project from the 1890s.

Bristlecone Loop

Bryce's Bristlecone Loop Trail. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Bryce's Bristlecone Loop Trail.

View from Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

View from Rainbow Point

Distance: 1-mile loop
Level: Easy
Trailhead: Rainbow Point

Head to the end of the park road—at 9,115 feet in elevation, the park’s highest point—for a peaceful stroll through a spruce-fir forest with expansive views over Bryce Canyon’s southern hoodoos. The trail winds along the edge of the canyon rim and passes several bristlecone pine trees, identifiable by their gnarled shape and needles growing in packets of five. This slow-growing evergreen species is among the longest-living organism on earth: A few bristlecone pines have lived to be more than 5,000 years old.

Navajo Loop

Navajo Loop Trail begins at Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Navajo Loop Trail begins at Sunset Point

Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Descending the Navajo Loop Trail

Thor's Hammer from the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Thor's Hammer from the Navajo Loop Trail

The Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

Switchbacks on the Navajo Loop Trail

Distance: 1.3-mile loop
Level: Moderate
Trailhead: Sunset Point

Dive straight into the Bryce Amphitheater, home of the park’s most dramatic geology, on this short hike packed with scenery. The trail zigzags down from the rim and winds among towering hoodoos, passing the top-heavy spire called Thors Hammer and the Two Bridges natural arch, before climbing back to Sunset Point. Hike it clockwise for an easier ascent. Extend this trip by continuing along the Queens Garden Trail to form a 2.9-mile loop.

Sheep Creek-Swamp Canyon Loop

Sheep Creek Connecting Trail in Bryce Canyon's Swamp Canyon. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Sheep Creek Connecting Trail in Bryce Canyon's Swamp Canyon.

Sheep Creek Connecting Trail in Bryce Canyon's Swamp Canyon. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Hoodoos on Sheep Creek Connecting Trail

Distance: 4-mile loop
Level: Moderate
Trailhead: Swamp Canyon

Explore a little-traveled region in Bryce Canyon’s central zone on this medium-difficulty hike. This trail extends farther into the wild backcountry than most other short trails, lending a feeling of solitude. Go left at the fork just after the trailhead and gently descend through an evergreen forest dotted with meadows (look out for pronghorns) into the Sheep Creek canyon. Loop around through a forest with great views of looming hoodoos, passing a stretch of woods regenerating from a forest fire, and climb back up through Swamp Canyon to the rim.

Fairyland Loop

Fairyland Loop Hiking Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Fairyland Loop Hiking Trail

Fairyland Loop Hiking Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Fairyland Loop Hiking Trail

Fairyland Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

Fairyland Point

Distance: 8 miles
Level: Difficult
Trailhead: Fairyland Point (alternate: just north of Sunrise Point)

See an even bigger chunk of the park on this up-and-down ramble north of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. From Fairyland Point, descend into Fairyland Canyon and Campbell Canyon, passing Tower Bridge (a striking natural rock arch) and the Chinese Wall (a uniform line of hoodoos) along the way. You’ll climb back up to the canyon rim near Sunrise Point and enjoy expansive views on the final 2.5 miles back to the trailhead. For a shorter slice, start at Sunrise Point and hike only the 3 miles (round-trip) to Tower Bridge and back.

See more things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park

Stay at Ruby's Inn and Campground near Bryce Canyon

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