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.
Distance: .8 mile round-trip
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.
Distance: 1-mile loop
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.
Distance: 1.3-mile loop
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
Distance: 4-mile loop
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.
Distance: 8 miles
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.