5 Dayhikes Among Hoodoos and Pine in Bryce Canyon

Author:
Publish date:

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

Horizontal rule

Download an official Bryce Canyon National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. Want a detailed topographical map of trails in the park? Buy the NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map for Bryce Canyon National Park at REI.com. The map includes trails, trailheads, points of interest, campgrounds, lakes and much more. Or get the complete Utah National Parks Map Pack with 5 detail maps, trail mileages and difficulty ratings. Both maps are printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.

If you buy from shopping links on this website, National Park Trips may receive an affiliate commission.

Related

Boat Mountain and hoodoos from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon

7 Top Views in Bryce Canyon National Park

Hoodoos, arches, and fins galore. See Bryce Canyon National Park’s best views and rock formations from these favorite scenic overlooks.

Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park

Natural Rock Arches in Bryce Canyon

Bryce is more known for its hoodoo rock formations than for arches. However there are a dozen arches here, including Bryce Natural Bridge

Utah Highway 12 passes through two tunnels in Red Canyon that for 90 years have served as the unofficial gateway to Bryce Canyon National Park.

5 RV Tips for Bryce Canyon National Park

This park is a must-add to any Utah RV adventure. Find out where to camp, where to park and how to have a stress-less scenic drive.

A hiker near the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park, holding onto the chains and taking a selfie photo.

Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing soars 1,488 ft above the Virgin River. Reach the summit and your reward is a spectacular view of Zion Canyon and surrounding cliffs.

Guided horseback trail rides near Bryce Canyon National Park with Ruby's Inn

Horseback, ATV, Bike Rentals and Scenic Flights Near Bryce Canyon

Ruby's Inn is a concessionaire for activities in and near Bryce Canyon National Park. Ride a horse, rent a bike, take an ATV tour, or go on a scenic flight in an airplane or helicopter.

Cassidy Arch in Capitol Reef National Park

5 Things to See at Capitol Reef National Park

The best viewpoints, trails, and attractions in this under-the-radar park.

Solo hiker in the Zion Narrows in Zion National Park in Utah

Hiking the Virgin River through Zion Narrows

This slot canyon in Zion National Park, is the premier and most accessible slot canyon in the Southwest. Hikers can take the easy, moderate or challenging route.

Bryce Canyon National Park Official Map

Official Bryce Canyon National Park Map PDF

A very specific and useful map of Bryce Canyon National Park showing roads and entrances.

Metate Arch in Devil's Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalente National Monument

Track Down Solitude in Bryce Canyon Country

Discover the solitude you’ve been searching for just east of Bryce Canyon National Park in towns like Boulder and Escalante, Utah.