There are several hikes to choose from in Bryce Canyon National Park, but if you only have time to do one, I would recommend the Navajo and Queen’s Garden combo trail. Or at least one of those two hikes. They both take you into the main amphitheater of the canyon, and offer spectacular views and diverse scenery. By itself, the Navajo Trail is a moderate 1.3 mile hike. It is the most popular trail in the park, and for good reason. This trail packs the most bang for your buck. You will see lots of awesome hoodoos and hike through steep canyons. Be cautious of falling rocks though, cause rock slides are most common on this trail.
After hiking for a bit along the Navajo Trail, you will encounter a turn off for the Queen’s Garden Trail. By itself, the Queen’s Garden Trail is an easy 1.8. mile loop, and is the easiest trail that enters the canyon. So even on its own, it’s a great trail to experience the canyon and see some hoodoos. But if you are up for a longer hike and a bigger challenge, you can combine the Queen’s Garden and Navajo trails, which is what we did.
These trails were beautiful, and very pleasant. The “stone forest” rises up to the sky all around you, contrasting with the dramatic canyon walls. This whole park has an other-worldly feel, and photographs fail to capture the experience.
The trails wind along steep canyon walls and through tunnels, passing by Douglas-fir trees. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction on these hikes (and any hikes in Bryce Canyon) because the trails are very gravel-y, and you definitely don’t want to slip and fall into the canyon. And also bring lots of water and dress in layers. The weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared. Our day started out being freezing with us hiking in heavy coats, became hot and we were glad to have lots of water, and then got really cold again. Being in June, we definitely did not expect it to be as cold as it was.
The Queen’s Garden! You have to take a brief spur trail to get into the garden area, but it is worth the extra trip. That one hoodoo is supposed to look like Queen Victoria, and it kind of does, if you use your imagination.
Also found in the Queen’s Garden… wildflowers and chipmunks!
And then back on the Navajo Trail. This part of the trail was seriously cool. Seeing the canyon walls stretch up on either side of you is awesome, and worth the horrible switchbacks you will encounter at the end of the trail to climb back out of the canyon.
There they are… lots and lots of switchbacks. It is actually kind of funny to look down at them after you reach the top so you can see all the people zig-zagging along the canyon floor.
This formation is called Thor’s Hammer… a little bit easier to see than the Queen Victoria hoodoo haha.
One of the best parts about these hikes and the scenic viewpoints at the trailheads is the amazing panoramic view…just incredible.
For a full listing of the trails in Bryce Canyon, click here.