Best trails in Bryce Canyon National Park: 10 epic Bryce Canyon hikes

The best hiking in Bryce Canyon is in the amphitheater area.

Bryce Canyon is an essential stop on a Utah road trip. At 8,000 feet, its high-elevation landscape is totally unlike the other Mighty 5 national parks in southern Utah. The best trails in Bryce Canyon take you right up to iconic “hoodoo” rock formations, through pine forests, along desert streams, and under the red-rock rim.

Most people breeze through Bryce Canyon in a day or less. But I wanted to get to know the park a little better. So I spent three days hiking every single trail in the Amphitheater area. I saw corners of the park few visitors explore, while also checking off the top landmarks in the park.

In this post, I’ll help you narrow down which Bryce Canyon trails to choose if you don’t have as much time. Strap on your boots and grab a jacket — the rim is awfully chilly — and let’s get started.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.

How difficult are the best trails in Bryce Canyon National Park?

Some of the top trails in Bryce Canyon are flat and wide.
Many of the best trails in Bryce Canyon are on easy, well-maintained paths.

Hiking at Bryce Canyon is accessible. You don’t have to be a star athlete to take in the best views.

In fact, two of the top lookouts in the park — Sunset and Sunrise Points — are wheelchair-friendly on a paved trail. Mobility-impaired visitors can also make the trek between the two, which is flat and paved. Many trails along the rim are only a smidge more difficult.

However, the story changes if you want to hike under the rim. Any trail that takes you to the hoodoos requires descending a few hundred feet into the canyon and climbing back out on the return. Many of these trails have steep switchbacks and slippery terrain.

Serious hikers will appreciate some of the longer, more remote trails in the backcountry. Several of these involve climbs of over 3,000 feet on the way back.

In short — there’s a hike for every experience level in Bryce Canyon. Just remember, if you go down, you’re going to have to come back up. If you’re feeling tired on a descent consider turning around rather than going further into the canyon.

What should you bring when hiking in Bryce Canyon?

A view of the rim of the canyon from the Fairyland Loop.
If you plan to hike under the rim, trekking poles are a good idea.

Bryce Canyon has a high desert climate. So you need to be prepared for a diversity of weather conditions.

The most important thing to take with you on a Bryce Canyon hike is plenty of water. Like, more than you think you need. The Park Service recommends drinking a liter of water every 1-2 hours. Err on the side of a liter an hour if you’ll be doing a strenuous hike.

Additionally, temperatures on the rim can be below freezing from September-June, and it’s often quite windy. Bring a waterproof shell and a puffy jacket. They’re easy to carry and could save your life if you get lost in bad weather.

If you’re visiting between late fall and early spring, trekking poles and microspikes are worthwhile to avoid slipping on icy trails.

Finally, pack plenty of food for any hike into the canyon. It takes longer to climb out than you expect — these trails are steep and challenging. You don’t want to run out of energy when you’re still a mile away from the rim. My favorite hiking snacks are dried fruit, nuts, fig bars, string cheese and peanut M&M’s. You can stock up at Ruby’s Inn General Store or the camp store in the park.

The best hikes in Bryce Canyon, ranked

No matter which trail you choose, you'll see lots of hoodoos!
The best hiking in Bryce Canyon is in the amphitheater area.

What makes a great hike? Is it big views? Beautiful forest? Blooming wildflowers? Quiet backcountry?

It’s all subjective, of course. But for me a great hike includes a view, an interesting landscape (ideally something unique to the area), and diverse plant life. It also gets my heart pumping and gets me outside for hours and hours. And solitude is hugely important to me — I’ll happily sacrifice views if it means I’m the only one on the trail.

My favorite Bryce Canyon hikes checked all of these boxes. The hikes I liked less compromised on length or crowds. Below is my ranking of the top hikes, from best to worst.

Note about my difficulty and time ratings: I live in the mountains and routinely hike 20+ miles a week. I rated these hikes based on how challenging I found them — easy, moderate, or difficult. If you don’t hike regularly, take increased difficulty ratings into account.

When I note the time a trail requires to hike, the low end is my recorded time without breaks, and the high end is what the Park Service says. Most hikers will fall somewhere in between.

1. Fairyland Loop Trail

Views along the Fairyland Loop - one of the best trails in Bryce Canyon National Park
The Fairyland Loop is the best hike at Bryce Canyon, with long-range views nearly the whole way.

My #1 pick for the best hike in Bryce Canyon National Park is the Fairyland Loop. It’s jam-packed with views. And since it is on the longer side, it allows you to (somewhat) escape the crowds. If you only have one day in Bryce Canyon, this is the hike I’d choose.

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Basic facts:

Distance: 8 miles
Elevation gain: 1,700 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to hike: 3-5 hours

The hike begins from Sunset Point or Fairyland Point. I started from Sunset Point and did the loop counter-clockwise, which meant descending the steepest section.

The hike begins with a long drop into the canyon. You’ll descend nearly two miles — passing the Chinese Wall and the Tower Bridge (visible from a short spur trail). You walk amongst the hoodoos, with sweeping views of the amphitheater in all directions.

Once you reach the canyon floor, the trail climbs and descends, climbs and descends for a couple miles. This middle section is the quietest part of the loop. You’ll see wildflowers in spring, and lots of ponderosa pines year-round.

The trail ends with a steady, swichbacked climb to Fairyland Point. You can pick up a shuttle bus back to the start or walk the Rim Trail. I walked the rim, which was easy and rewarding.

2. Hat Shop

Hat Shop is one of the top Bryce Canyon hikes.
Hat Shop starts from the Bryce Canyon Rim trail before dropping steeply into the canyon.

Of all the best trails at Bryce Canyon, Hat Shop is the most under-appreciated. This hike barely even makes an appearance on the Park Service’s brochure. The rangers don’t point tourists to it. And it’s a good thing, too — the solitude in this corner of the amphitheater is unmatched.

Basic facts:

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to hike: 1.5-3 hours

Hat Shop begins from Bryce Point. It drops immediately into the canyon. The descent is quite steep — knee-busting-ly so. I definitely appreciated having my trekking poles on the switchbacks.

You’ll get some nice views of the north side of the amphitheater, out into the desert beyond. Additionally, this stretch of forest is a popular area for elk and mule deer to hang out. I didn’t see any wildlife, but I did see plenty of recent tracks. The wildflowers were among the best in the National Park.

Unlike many of the busier trails, you don’t see a ton of hoodoos on Hat Shop — at least, not until the namesake formation. On the right side of the trail two miles in, look out for a few hoodoos that are weirdly narrow at the base, topped by huge blocks that look like they could topple over at any moment. If you’re getting bored with hoodoos, these will definitely surprise you!

One reason Hat Shop is a less popular trail is because it’s an out-and-back. Not gonna lie — the climb back up to the canyon rim kinda sucks. It’s steep, exposed, and relentless. But you also may not see another human the whole time, so it’s 100% worth the effort.

Hat Shop is technically in the backcountry. It’s impossible to get off-trail on this section, but you won’t see any markings after the initial trail marker. If you continue beyond Hat Shop you need good navigation skills.

3. The Rim Trail

Sunrise views from Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point is one of the best viewpoints on the Rim Trail, and it’s better for sunrise than Sunrise Point.

If you want near-nonstop views for minimal effort, the Rim Trail delivers. This hike runs along the edge of the amphitheater. You won’t get close to any hoodoos, but you will take in all of the park’s top viewpoints. It’s one of the top hikes in Bryce Canyon, especially for folks looking for an easy hike.

Basic facts:

Distance: Up to 6 miles one-way
Elevation gain: Up to 600 feet
Difficulty: Easy, paved portions
Time to hike: Up to 3 hours

The Rim Trail runs from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point along the canyon rim. You can do part or all of the trail. The park’s shuttle buses make it super-easy to do this as a point-to-point trail, so you can maximize views for minimal distance.

Beyond the paved section between Sunrise and Sunset Points, the crowds thin out and the trail turns into single-track with some moderate ups and downs. Trail runners love the area between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point in the mornings.

If you want to choose one section of the Rim Trail, you really can’t go wrong — simply pick two shuttle stops, start at one and walk to the other. The views are amazing everywhere. And if you spend a few days in the area, you’ll probably end up walking a good portion of the trail to start other hikes anyway.

4. Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop Trail

The Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail
Just before you reach Wall Street, the Navajo Loop Trail takes you through a tunnel amongst the hoodoos.

The Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop is Bryce Canyon’s most popular trail. And for good reason — it has hoodoos galore, a stunning stretch of forest, and a slot-canyon-like stretch known as Wall Street. It also has the park’s most vicious ascent, where the trail switchbacks its way straight up the canyon walls in about a quarter mile. Do this trail early in the morning or late in the day to avoid crowds.

Basic facts:

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Difficulty: Difficult — but you can make it easier by taking Two Bridges instead of Wall Street
Time to hike: 1.5-3 hours

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The Queen’s Garden trail begins from Sunrise Point and drops into the canyon. You’ll get up close and personal with hoodoos along the wide trail. The views are mostly of the rock formations — there are fewer panoramas than on the Fairyland Loop. However, this is the easiest trail below the rim.

The Queen’s Garden ends at a hoodoo that is said to look like Queen Victoria. Take the short spur to see her, then continue on the Navajo Trail. The first section cuts through a few hoodoos, making for great photo ops.

You’ll finish descending and walk along the flat floor of the canyon for a little while before reaching a junction. You have two options to complete the loop: Two Bridges or Wall Street.

The Two Bridges trail offers a great view of Thor’s Hammer, the most photographed hoodoo in the park. This is also the only option in winter when the Wall Street side closes. Finally, it’s considerably easier than the alternative.

However, if you’re up for the steep climb out of the canyon, the Wall Street side is one of the most interesting places in Bryce Canyon National Park. Here the canyon almost turns into a slot. The walls tower on all sides, letting only the faintest of light creep through. You can see evidence of rockfalls all around.

Once you pass through Wall Street, you have the toughest, steepest climb out of the canyon in the entire park. It ends at Sunset Point, from where you can walk back to Sunrise Point or pick up a shuttle.

5. Peekaboo Loop

A natural arch on the Peekaboo Loop Trail.
Peekaboo Loop wasn’t my favorite Bryce Canyon trail, but it has a few interesting rock formations and natural arches.

The Peekaboo Loop isn’t particularly distinguishable. It has lots of nice hoodoo views, and it starts from the absolutely gorgeous Bryce Point. But it’s the least interesting of the trails below the rim, you have to share it with horses, and it’s quite crowded.

Basic facts:

Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,571 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-difficult
Time to hike: 2-5 hours

The trail begins from Bryce Point, perhaps the best place to watch the sunrise in the whole park. You’ll drop steeply into the canyon, where you reach the beginning of the loop. Hikers are required to go clockwise.

The iconic feature of this hike is the Wall of Windows — a set of hoodoos that look like they have window-like openings. It’s interesting to see, but I didn’t think the hike was worth it for that alone.

You have two options to complete the loop. You can either connect with the Navajo Trail, or continue back to Bryce Point. I did the former because I wanted to hike Two Bridges, but I also hiked partway up the backside of the Peekaboo Loop. If you haven’t already seen Two Bridges or Thor’s Hammer, that option is more interesting and easier.

6. Under the Rim Trail

Pine cones on the Under the Rim Trail.
Bryce Canyon’s only backcountry trail features gorgeous pine forest, but not many views.

The Under the Rim Trail is the only portion of Bryce Canyon National Park that is proper backcountry. Backpackers can camp at a number of sites along the way, equipped with food prep areas and with decent water access. For day hikers, it’s a way to get away from the crowds, but doesn’t offer much beyond that.

Basic facts:

Distance: 22.9 miles
Elevation gain: 4,300 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to hike: 2 days

Unlike Bryce Canyon’s frontcountry trails, the Under the Rim trail takes you far from the hoodoos, into the dense ponderosa pine forests and along stream beds. You’ll spend most of your time in the remote southern section of the park, with few views beyond Hat Shop on the north end.

Backpackers need a shuttle for this hike — the main Bryce Canyon shuttle does not run to Rainbow Point. Most hikers go south-north. Additionally, you need a $5 permit, which you can only get at the Visitor Center. The permits are not competitive.

Water is plentiful along the trail. You’ll need a filter or purifier. Remember to drink 8+ liters a day, since backpacking is such a strenuous activity.

I day-hiked 16 miles of the Under the Rim Trail. I had high hopes for it considering how much I loved Zion’s backcountry. But it wasn’t anything special. I would recommend visitors focus on the more scenic trails in the amphitheater. However, I did appreciate that there were truly no crowds. I saw only two backpackers after passing Hat Shop.

Shorter variations of the best Bryce Canyon hikes

Don’t feel like hiking all day? No problem! While the best hiking trails in Bryce Canyon tend to be longer, there are plenty of options to shorten them and create your own loops. The park’s shuttle system makes it extra-easy to cut distance.

Here are the top short trails in Bryce Canyon National Park.

1. Sunrise Point to Sunset Point

The Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from the Rim Trail.
The section of rim from Sunrise to Sunset Point is the easiest hike in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The most popular section of the Rim Trail runs from Sunrise to Sunset Points. This is a fabulous early-morning hike, when the sun lights up the hoodoos on the canyon floor. Most visitors see it as more of a leisurely stroll than a true hike, especially since it’s paved.

Basic facts:

Distance: 1 mile
Elevation gain: Nominal
Difficulty: Easy
Time to hike: Under an hour

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The path is wheelchair-accessible and popular with families who have kids in strollers. It’s also the only trail in the park where people can bring dogs.

Even if you’re not a hiker at all, it’s well worth walking this trail — you’ll get constant views. You can grab dinner or breakfast from the lodge restaurant and take it to one of the benches along the way for a romantic picnic.

The only downside of the Sunrise-Sunset Point hike is it’s very crowded. But if you arrive before day-trippers or leave after they’re gone, you can still enjoy the walk in relative quiet. This was the only crowded trail where I felt like it was worth tolerating the mobs.

2. Navajo Loop

The Navajo Loop Trail has lots of hoodoo views.
The Navajo Loop is a view-packed short trail that takes you to some of Bryce’s most interesting scenery.

If you want to see both Two Bridges and Wall Street, you can break out the Navajo Loop as a standalone trail. This hike is well worth doing if you don’t plan to do Queen’s Garden and Peekaboo as well. You can also start from the rim and just go as far as Thor’s Hammer.

Basic facts:

Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to hike: 1-2 hours

Start from Sunset Point and head down the Two Bridges section. You’ll pass Thor’s Hammer almost right away. Then, continue to the Two Bridges formation and meet up with the Queen’s Garden trail at the base of the canyon.

From here, follow the directions for Wall Street. You’ll pass through the slot canyon before beginning the steep climb up the switchbacks back to the rim.

If you have good knees and you have an easier time going downhill than uphill, you can also do this loop in reverse. Bring trekking poles.

When Wall Street is closed, you can’t do this trail as a loop. You can still hike down Two Bridges, but you’ll have to return the way you came.

3. Queen’s Garden

A window in a hoodoo on the Queen's Garden Trail.
The Queen’s Garden is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon.

If you aren’t a great hiker but still want to see some of the hoodoos up close, the Queen’s Garden trail is your best option. This is the easiest hike into and out of the canyon. You won’t have to climb switchbacks or navigate narrow trails with steep drops. But you’ll get to enjoy features like trail cut through hoodoos, the namesake rock formation, and panoramic amphitheater views.

Basic facts:

Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation gain: 357 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to hike: 1-2 hours

The trail begins from Sunrise Point and drops into the canyon until you reach the Queen’s Garden formation. After you snap your photos, return the way you came. It’s as simple as that!

The biggest downside of doing the Queen’s Garden as a standalone trail is the crowds. Because the loop with Navajo is the most popular hike in the park, and the rangers encourage people to hike clockwise, you’ll encounter a near-constant stream of people on your way back to the rim. To avoid the worst of the crowds, this is a hike to start at 7 am or 5 pm.

4. Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge rock formation
The Tower Bridge is worth the steep hike down if you don’t want to do the whole Fairyland Loop.

If you want to get a taste of the Fairyland Loop on a much shorter hike, the Tower Bridge is a useful destination. This isn’t a great hike for beginners — the climb out of the canyon is tough — but the distance is manageable. And you get to see both the Chinese Wall and the Tower Bridge, plus long-range views, so it’s worth the extra effort.

Basic facts:

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation gain: 802 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to hike: 2-3 hours

Start this hike from Sunrise Point and follow signs for the Fairyland Loop. You’ll immediately be surrounded by hoodoos along the canyon wall as you drop steeply into the canyon.

Keep a lookout to your right about a mile in to spot the Chinese Wall. There’s a sign marking the spot.

After 1.5 miles, you’ll reach a short spur trail to Tower Bridge. Once you’ve gotten your photos and taken in the view of the Bristlecone Pine forest, return the way you came.

A few final tips about Bryce Canyon hiking

A cloudy day in Bryce Canyon National Park
It’s totally worth spending more than a day trip at Bryce Canyon.
  • If you can’t get into the park by 8 am, park at the shuttle stop in Bryce City and ride in. Parking is a bit of a nightmare once day-trippers show up.
  • Bryce is at its best at sunrise. Skip Sunrise Point and head to Inspiration Point instead for the best views.
  • It can snow at this elevation anytime between October and May. It’s very cold and windy on the rim until peak summer season. Bring lots of layers!
  • The food at Bryce Canyon Lodge is pretty awesome (try the elk chili!), and the General Store has fairly priced snacks.
  • Feeling winded? Yeah, that’s the elevation. It’s a lot harder to climb when you’re at 8,000 feet.
  • Drive slow throughout the park. You’ll see mule deer everywhere, and you don’t want to hit one.

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Towering hoodoos. Views for miles. Pondorosa pine forest. The best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park are packed with scenery and interesting landscapes. Discover the top hiking trails - from the Queen's Garden to the Navajo Loop. Bryce is a favorite among the Mighty 5 National Parks on a Utah road trip and a great family hike destination. #utah #travel #hiking

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Alma
Alma
9 months ago

Bryce Canyon has some beautiful trails to hike. Stunning views and scenery!

Hannah
9 months ago

Bryce Canyon looks like an incredible place! The view from the Rim Trail looks spectacular! I’d definitely love to try it out! Thanks for the great guide!

Kate
9 months ago

I loved visiting Bryce Canyon! There are so many amazing hikes, and I love that there are short, moderate and more advanced options. Such a stunning place for a nice hike!

Catherine
9 months ago

This is *such* a helpful and thorough guide to Bryce Canyon hiking – thank you! We’re hoping to go next spring, so I’m pinning this for later. I love hiking in the National Parks!

Megan
9 months ago

The Hat Shop looks amazing And I love that it’s not a crowded one. I love finding those lesser known trails with big rewards!

simplyjolayne
9 months ago

We hiked with our girls here when they were younger. We did the Navajo Loop with the switchbacks at the end. There might have been some whining going on.

Lisa
9 months ago

LOVE this over view of the hiking trails. Everyone I read sounded amazing – especially the Hat Shop! So fun!’

Terri
Terri
9 months ago

Your article is an inspiration to see Inspiration Point at sunrise!

Coralie
9 months ago

This really transported me to Bryce Canyon – such an evocative post. The size of this place is mind-boggling!

Elena Pappalardo
9 months ago

Wow, these trails look amazing. I really need to get out to Bryce Canyon. I especially love seeing it covered in snow!

Renee
Renee
9 months ago

I love how you provided detailed info about each hike. I would hike any and all of these, especially the popular Rim trail.

Jen Ambrose
Jen Ambrose
9 months ago

Ohhh we’ve been to a couple national parks in Utah, but haven’t made it to Bryce Canyon yet and it’s next on our list! These hikes look amazing!

Krista
9 months ago

I haven’t had the chance to visit this national park before, but it looks like there are some fantastic hikes to choose from. Thanks for sharing!

Travel A-Broads
9 months ago

We were JUST here! We’re actually sitting at the airport to catch our flight back home from our 11-day road trip. Sounds like we’ll need to go back to do the Fairyland Loop Trail, and I would’ve loved to see the Tower Bridge too! What a missed opportunity – darn! Great blog post. Thanks for sharing all this info 😊. Xx Sara

Karen Warren
9 months ago

Bryce Canyon is my favorite Utah NP park and I’ve been to them all. I find the hoodoos so delightful. My favorite hike is a combo of the Navajo Loop and Peekaboo. The different perspectives on those trails are fabulous.

Sharyn
9 months ago

Lots of great hikes on this list. I would love to hike some of them.

Chelsea Messina
9 months ago

I was only able to visit Bryce for one day 🙁 I get terrible altitude sickness and was sooooo sick, especially at rainbow point. We came from Zion and stayed the night at the campground waking up FROZEN lolll so I’d like to visit again better prepared

Shelly
9 months ago

We also loved the Fairland loop hike and these are such great tips for Bryce.

Paul (Paul Explores the World)

Good list. I always say I wish I had been able to do the entirety of Fairyland and this only makes me wish that even more! We only had a day in the park but that’s the only thing I regret not doing.

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