Bryce Canyon National Park offers several popular day hikes, many of which have interconnected trails, that let you explore the ins, out, twists, and turns of this beautiful rock wonderland. Rim trails stay above the canyon and are fairly easy, while the most strenuous day hike covers all four of the major points of interest in the park. How you choose to explore Bryce Canyon National Park depends on your fitness level and your preparation. The park sits at 9,000 feet above sea level, which means you need to take into account oxygen deprivation by taking your hikes slowly. Bring at least 1 quart of drinking water with you for every two to three hours of hiking on the trails, and sip it every 15 minutes to stay hydrated. Vacation rentals in nearby towns serve as headquarters to pack trail mix, plenty of water, and UV protection as you head out to this pristine wilderness. Discover the eight best day hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, including easy, moderate, and hard hikes along with some for your kids and pets.
1. Mossy Cave
Mossy Cave’s easy, 0.8-mile hike for you and your kids leads through gradual terrain, over an old irrigation ditch, and finally up to a shelter cave. The outer part of the cave either covers with moss during warm months, or you could see icicles during the winter. Once you reach the cave, head to the right to see a small waterfall fed by an underground spring. Pick up the trailhead just off of Highway 12 where it meets Tropic Canyon, the 10-mile irrigation canal dug by early explorers to bring water to their fields. Make sure to leave an hour for this hike so your kids can explore the surrounding rock formations.
2. Tower Bridge
Begin your day hike to Tower Bridge at Sunrise Point and its trailhead, just off of North Campground. Then, pick up the Fairyland Loop Trail to the northeast and walk about 1.5 miles to see Tower Bridge, The rock formation rises out of the canyon like a couple of towers with a suspension bridge in between them. Take a look at the colorful red, white, and brown striations in the rock face once you reach Tower Bridge. This moderate hike drops around 950 feet from the top of the canyon, so get ready for a three-hour hike. Take plenty of sunscreen and water, and watch out for snakes along this trail. Do not feed the wildlife. After you spend some time at Tower Bridge, return the way you came.
3. Rim Trail
At 11 miles, the Rim Trail might not seem like an easy hike. However, this trail is the easiest way to see four major points of interest in Bryce Canyon without having to go down into the canyon itself. The paved trail is excellent for youngsters and leashed dogs, so bring plenty of water and trail mix for your family. Benches at scenic points along the trail allow you to sit and enjoy the views along your journey. Start at Sunset Point and go to the Sunrise Point Rim Trail before heading to Fairyland and the out to Bryce Point. The one-way trip is 5.5 miles and then turn around to come back. You can view switchback trails of the Navajo Trail, and you view the snaking pathway heading down to Queen’s Garden. Along the way, see the colorful hoodoos that jut up from canyon like skinny rock towers. Take photos of Navajo Mountain in the distance on a clear day. Make sure to bring food with you and leave an entire day for the hike.
4. Queen’s Garden
The trip to Queen’s Garden is another easy hike thanks to the gradual decline into the canyon. Start at Sunrise Point and descend a mere 320 feet along a curving trail before weaving in and out of towering hoodoos. Along one spur trail, you might see a visage of Queen Victoria watching over her rock “plants” that grow out of the canyon floor. This day hike lasts 1.8 miles up and back, so leave two to three hours for this trek.
5. Navajo Loop Trail
A moderate hike along the Navajo Trail starts at Sunset Point and descends to Bryce Amphitheater as one of the most popular day hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. Once you get to the canyon below, look up to see towering hoodoos and Douglas fir trees clinging to life as they reach towards the sun overhead. Combine this 1.3-mile hike with the Queen’s Garden trail for a longer hike, if you wish. Watch out for loose rocks on the Navajo Loop Trail.
6. Peek-A-Boo Loop
Carry plenty of water, snacks, and an electrolyte-filled sports drink to take on the 5.5-mile Peek-A-Boo Loop trail. This is a strenuous day hike because you start at the Bryce Point trailhead and go quickly down into the canyon. As you walk along the canyon floor, hike through the heart of Bryce Amphitheater and see the Wall of Windows, a natural rock formation that has what appears to be circular or rectangular windows in the rocks. In the main amphitheater, sunlight plays off of the rocks as the occasional bird may flitter among them. Be aware of mule riders on this trail and give them the right of way. After this day-long hike, retreat to one of the nearby vacation rentals to rest, relax and eat a hearty dinner.
7. Fairyland Loop
Pack for an all-day hike when you explore the Fairyland Loop, a jaunt that starts at the northern edge of the park at Fairyland Point. The trail follows portions of the rim trail before diving to the canyon floor to take you to Tower Bridge. This day hike lasts for four to five hours and about 8 miles for the round trip, and it’s a strenuous journey because of the change in elevation at about 2,300 feet over the course of your journey. Take in majestic hoodoos and China Wall during a less-crowded hike. Some vistas along the trail make you feel as if you are in a forest, only the tall, skinny formations next to you are actually rocks. Bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen along with wide-rimmed hats to prevent sunburn. Watch out for snakes on the trail.
8. Riggs Spring Loop
An 8.5-mile round trip on the Riggs Spring Loop takes you through a mature forest filled with Douglas firs, spruces, and bristlecone pines. Begin at Yovimpa/Rainbow Point at an elevation of 9,100 feet on the southern part of Bryce Canyon National Park. The large trees tend to make this part of the park cooler, so sunscreen is not as much of an issue here. You may run across several bird species, such as ravens, that may call out through the trees. Midway through this day hike, take a look at Riggs Spring but don’t drink the water. You may encounter campers near this trail, so please give them privacy as you make this hike in an entire morning or afternoon. The Riggs Spring Loop trail may wash out or become impassable after storms, which is why you should keep an eye on the weather during your day hike. Bears may come out and surprise you, so carry bear spray with you at all times.
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