Bryce Canyon National Park offers more than driving tours. Rangers conduct walks, talks and campfire programs in summer, on topics ranging from geology and wildlife to air quality. Some 50 miles of hiking trails offer prospects of close encounters with hoodoos. A number of trails lead down among them from overlooks on the main park road. Just a short walk will leave you surrounded by these unusual rock formations and greatly reward your effort.
Overnight backcountry use requires a permit available at the visitor center. Overnight backpacking trips are allowed only on the Under-the-Rim and Riggs Spring trails.
Rim Trail: The trail parallels Bryce Amphitheater between Fairyland and Bryce points. Hike all or part of the trail for outstanding views of hoodoos from above, as well as panoramic vistas of over 100 miles. The section bewteen Sunset and Sunrise Points is paved and fairly level. Access anywhere along the rim; up to 11,0mi (17,7km) total distance; 550ft (168m) elevation change; 5-6 hours trip time.
Fairyland Loop: Hike into Fairyland and Campgell Canyons and around Boat Mesa on this strenuous but less crowded trail dotted with juniper and mountain mahogany. Access at Fairyland or north of Sunrise Point; 8,0mi (12,9km) total distance; 900ft (275m) elevation change; 4-5 hours trip time.
Tower Bridge: Descend past bristlecone pines and the Chinese Wall along this beautiful stretch of Fairyland Trail. Follow a shady side trail south 1/4-mile to the bridge. Access north of Sunrise Point; 3,0mi (4,8km) total distance; 800ft (244m) elevation change; 2-3 hours trip time.
Queen's Garden: Considered the easiest trail for descending below the rim. Portals carved into the rock offer the opportunity to see formations in the shapes of Queen Victoria and her "garden". Access at Sunrise Point; 1,8mi (2,9km) total distance; 320ft (98m) elevation change; 1-2 hours trip time.
Navajo Loop: A series of switchbacks leads to Wall Steet, a narrow canyon with high rock walls and Douglas fir trees stretching to reach the sun. The northern section of the trail affords close-up views of Thor's Hammer. Access at Sunset Point; 1,4mi (2,2km) total distance; 521ft (159m) elevation change; 1-2 hours trip time.
Navajo/Queen's combination: Combine the two trails described above with a connection trail that winds along the canyon floor through an open forst of pine and juniper. Hike the rim back to your starting point. Access at Sunset or Sunrise Point; 2,9mi (4,6km) total distance; 521ft (159m) elevation change; 2-3 hours trip time.
Peekaboo Loop: Steep hike past the Wall of Windows and Three Wisemen. The trail is also used by horses in the summer and fall. Pit toilets and a picnic area are available at the bottom. Access at Bryce, Sunset or Sunrise Point; 4,8-6,8mi (7,8-10,9km) total distance; 521-800ft (159-244m) elevation change; 3-4 hours trip time.
Trail to the Hat Shop: The Trail leads to the Hat Shop, where hard gray caps balance precariously on top of narrow pedestals of softer rust-colored rock. Access at Bryce Point; 3,8mi (6,0km) total distance; 900ft (275m) elevation change; 3-4 hours trip time.
Bristlecone Loop Trail: Hike through dense spruce-fir forests to exposed cliffs where bristlecone pines survive and distant views are exceptional. Access at Rainbow Point; 1,0mi (1,6km) total distance; 100ft (31m) elevation change; 1 hours trip time.
The 23-mile Under-the-Rim Trail can be accessed by four different connecting trails along the park road. The 9-mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail begins and ends at Rainbow Point
- Uphill hikers have the right-of-way!
- Be aware of the altitude. Park elevations reach 9115ft (2778m). Know and respect your own physical limitations!
- Stay on designated trail and away from cliff edges. Loose and crumbl rocks can make footing treacherous. Falls on steep slopes can be deadly.
- Don't throw rocks into the canyon! You may injure hikers on trails below you!
- Ankle injuries are the number one safety problem. Wear hiking boots with good ankle support and traction!
- Avoid dehydration - drink plenty of water!
- High altitude sun can burn quicky. Wear a hat, long sleeves, sunscreen and sunglasses that block ultraviolet light.
- Watch wildlife from a distance!
- During lightning storms, stay away from the rim and do not take shelter under trees.