Bryce Canyon National Park is world famous for its colorful hoodoos, which are unique spire-shaped rock formations. Hoodoos range in size from average human height up to the height of a ten story building!
Prepare to be impressed by the magical scenery at Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s literally like no other place on Earth. You’ll see colorful hoodoo rock formations that are more than 60 million years in the making. Some of the hoodoos are even named for shapes the rock formations resemble, such as the iconic Thor’s Hammer and Queen Victoria.
It’s definitely possible to get a good flavor of Bryce Canyon National Park in a day. I’m not suggesting you only need one day at the park. But, if you are planning a trip to the area and wondering if a quick stop at Bryce Canyon is worth it – YES! Plan to stop in Bryce for the day and take one of the shorter hikes. It is totally worth your time and Bryce Canyon National Park is not one to skip.
Bryce Canyon Hikes
What I really like about it is that the Bryce Canyon hikes lets you get up close and personal with all the hoodoos. There are several different hiking trails with various degrees of difficulty. If you only have time for one hike at Bryce Canyon National Park, take the Navajo Loop trail.
The Navajo Loop Trail
This is the most popular day hiking trail at Bryce Canyon NP. It is 1.4 miles long and there is so much to see along the way, you will want to take your time exploring and photographing the sights. Thor’s Hammer is on this trail.
On the hike down the Navajo Loop Trail
The Navajo Loop is mostly an easy trail BUT there are moderate parts including the steeper switchbacks where elevation changes several hundred feet going down from the rim of the canyon to the floor, then you will eventually hike back up several hundred feet to the top. Don’t let that scare you away. People in average shape of all ages can do this trail. The Navajo Loop is worth the effort! Take your time on the trail, take frequent breaks as needed and stay hydrated. You can do this hike.
Somewhere along the Navajo Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon NP
My family took the Navajo Loop (1.4 miles) and added part of the Queens Garden Loop to it. The Navajo Loop trail intersects with Queens Garden, so it is easy to detour and go see the Queens Garden rock formations including the Queens Castle.
The Navajo Loop Trail starts at the rim and goes down from Sunset Point viewpoint, through the narrow corridors of Wall Street, past the Silent City, intersects with Queens Garden Loop Trail, passes the top of Peekaboo Loop Trail and goes back up to the rim again at Sunset Point. Hikers descend 800 feet down the side of the Bryce Rim, and then at the end of the hike to climb right back up that slope.
Our kids (ages 5 to 12) made this hike with no problems at all. They love climbing on red rocks, so Bryce Canyon is their ultimate playground.
This is as scary as the trail gets. See? It really isn’t so bad.
We saw plenty of other children along the way and babies in backpack carriers. Once you make it to the bottom of the ampitheater (what the canyon is actually called) the trail flattens out and gets much easier. I did not think the hike down from the rim was difficult or scary, even with my kids. We stuck together and stayed on the well-marked trails.
Mossy Cave: The easiest hike at Bryce Canyon National Park
We also drove out to do the quick Mossy Cave hike. The Mossy Cave trail is really just a super short .4 mile walk from the parking lot trail head. The Mossy Cave trail head is located several miles outside of the main Bryce Canyon National Park entrance.
We think the waterfall is cooler than Mossy Cave
My opinion of this trail is that it’s so easy, why not do it while you are here. The hike itself is right along a stream, which has a neat story behind its creation. The Mossy Cave trail leads to a natural grotto (cave.) You can also take a short detour where the trail forks about .25 miles in to see a cool waterfall.
Honestly, I didn’t think the Mossy Cave was that impressive. The cave itself is sort of blocked off by a fence structure, so you can look in. There’s not really much to see inside the cave, and it isn’t even that big. Compared to everything else to see in this area, the Mossy Cave isn’t going to be a standout. I mean, come on, there’s super cool hoodoos everywhere! However, if you are looking for a short hike to stretch your legs, Mossy Cave isn’t a bad choice. The waterfalls you see here are more exciting to me. My kids enjoyed playing in the water.
Fairyland Loop: The Most Beautiful 8 Mile Hike You’ll Take at Bryce Canyon National Park
If you are up for it, go for one of the longer Bryce Canyon hikes like Fairyland Loop (8 miles). This hike gets rave reviews from everyone and is a great way to spend the whole day hiking inside Bryce.
Don’t feel like hiking to see the good stuff? Go for a drive in your own vehicle or take the FREE Bryce Canyon Shuttle. Take a scenic drive from viewpoint to viewpoint and see many of the famous rock formations at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Somewhere Along The Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon NP
Drive To See: The Rim Trail
From the parking lot, you can walk a trail that runs along the edge of the rim at Bryce Canyon. The views from the Rim Trail are gorgeous, especially at sunrise and sunset. Note: There aren’t a lot of guardrails and the canyon walls are steep, so be careful.
Drive To See: The Natural Bridge
You can pull right up and park to see this cool natural arch, which stands 125 feet high and 85 feet long.
Drive To See: The Breathtaking Views From Inspiration Point
Take a short walk from the Inspiration Point parking area to the edge of the rim for outstanding panoramic views of the hoodoos.
Our campsite at Bryce Canyon NP
Bryce Canyon Camping
If you know my family, you know we love to camp! There are two campgrounds near the Bryce Canyon NP Visitor Center that have restrooms with flush toilets and drinking water. Daily rates start at $15. During the summer, there are coin-operated laundry and shower facilities. Although campground reservations are not required, if you visit during peak season the sites could be booked out. I definitely suggest booking a campsite if possible.
The campgrounds are nice and the facilities are clean. We had plenty of room to set up our family’s little tent village. A deer even wandered through camp while we were there.
Don’t forget: Your camera! The best time to take photos is at sunrise or sundown. Try to do both if you can. It is easy to access official viewpoints set up around the rim of Bryce Canyon from the main parking areas.
Ride a horse or mule at Bryce Canyon National Park
Horseback rides are available inside Bryce Canyon National Park. I recommend signing up for a horse ride ahead of time, especially if you are on a tight schedule. We weren’t able to get in on the day I was there, so I missed out on this activity. At least I did get a quick visit with the horses and mules at the stables.
Have you ever visited Bryce Canyon National Park? What is your favorite hike and/or sight to see at Bryce Canyon? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out my blog post: Things to Do at Yellowstone National Park with Kids.