Hiking Trails

5 Dayhikes Among Hoodoos and Pine in Bryce Canyon

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

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

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 PointElisabeth Kwak
Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak
Descending the Navajo Loop TrailElisabeth Kwak
Thor's Hammer from the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak
Thor’s Hammer from the Navajo Loop TrailElisabeth Kwak
The Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
Switchbacks on the Navajo Loop TrailDeposit Photos

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

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 TrailDollar Photo
Fairyland Loop Hiking Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Fairyland Loop Hiking TrailDollar Photo
Fairyland Point in Bryce Canyon National Park
Fairyland PointDeposit Photos

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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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.

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