Bryce Canyon is a sprawling National Park in southern Utah featuring unique rock formations called Hoodoos and a beautiful ombre of red, orange, and white panoramic views. The park itself is actually a collection of naturally occurring amphitheaters with the highest rim sitting at 9,105 feet and the lowest point at 6,620 feet, resulting in a change in elevation of 2,485 feet.
Because the elevation is higher, Bryce Canyon National Park stays much cooler than nearby Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, so it’s still nice to visit even in the hottest months.
The park boasts trails of all levels, from easy to strenuous, and also accommodates backcountry camping for those seeking a bit more adventure. There are tons of choices if you’re planning to hike in Bryce Canyon.
Queens Garden Trail
The Queens Garden trail is only 1.8 miles long but goes right into the canyon and offers a great option for grandparents and kids alike, or, if you only have a short amount of time to see the sights. Use your imagination and you might even spot Queen Victoria at the end of a short spur trail.
A longer but still easy trail is the Rim Trail, taking you the full 11 miles around the rim of the canyon and visiting the four main viewpoints, including Sunset Point, where you’ll get the best vista for observing sunset. The trail is paved and fairly level the whole way around.
A slightly more difficult and popular trail is the Navajo Trail. The loop begins at Sunset Point and takes you down into the main amphitheater through a slot canyon, where you can see Douglas Fir trees reaching high into the sky. The trail is short at only 1.3 miles round trip but you’ll want good closed-toed shoes to make the trip.
If you have all day to spend hiking and are ready to dive in head first, the Fairyland Loop is a great trail to take you all through the park and offers the most diverse landscapes and vistas. It’s a fairly long trail at 8 miles and has multiple elevation changes. Plan on 4-5 hours on this hike, take plenty of water, and watch out for snakes!
Backcountry camping is also allowed in the park, if you’re looking for a more off the beaten trail experience and an incredible view of the night skies. There are 8 campsites on the Under the Rim Trail and 4 on the Riggs Spring Loop trail. Backcountry camping is $5 per person and requires a permit.
As with all hiking experiences, safety should be your number one concern. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes, like hiking boots or tennis shoes that have thick soles and come up above your ankles. Carry at least one liter of water per person for every 3 hours of hiking, and always purify water found in the backcountry. Bring snacks as well, like protein bars or trail mix to keep you energized throughout the day.
Be sure not to miss the Astronomy Festival if you’re in the area, as you’re able to gaze on some of the darkest night skies in the country from a well-equipped telescope field.
If you have some time to explore the southwest, don’t miss Bryce Canyon National Park. The vibrant colors and endless vistas makes for a completely unique experience you’ll always remember.