The Two Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is one of Utah’s greatest natural wonders. And in a state filled with amazing sites, I personally think that Bryce Canyon’s Amphitheater is Utah’s most amazing site. This natural bowl, found at the northern end of the Park, is filled with colorful eroded limestone pinnacles called hoodoos. In fact, this is where you will find the highest concentration of hoodoos anywhere on Earth. I still remember the first time I peered over the canyon’s edge into this Amphitheater – it was truly a breathtaking moment. And then I hiked down into it…and my mind was blown. Yes, the hiking in Bryce Canyon is spectacular! Let me show you what I consider to be the two best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking one of these links, I may earn a small commission.  This does not cost you anything extra and helps support this blog.

First, Some Quick Personal History

As I have pointed out elsewhere on this blog, despite living most of my life in Utah, I didn’t visit Bryce Canyon until I was in my mid-50s. It was during the pandemic. And as you’ll certainly recall, local road trips were the only reasonable form of travel for several months during that time. I was forced to explore my own state more than I previously had. And our first pandemic road trip was to Bryce Canyon.

During that trip we not only discovered the remarkable beauty of Bryce Canyon, but we also discovered a cool place to stay about 30 minutes from the Park called Sevier River Ranch.

The entrance to Sevier River Ranch in Hatch Utah

Since then, we have returned to the Ranch almost annually. And on these subsequent visits, we have been joined by various family members – kids, grandkids, siblings, parents. Each time we rent out the entire facility and spend a long weekend hanging out together. We just returned from one such gathering.

One of the highlights of these weekends is loading up a caravan of cars and driving over to Bryce Canyon. And each time we go hiking. You’ll notice a variety of family members in my photos below.

Over the course of these near-annual visits, I have definitely settled on what I personally consider the two best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. I have hiked them both several times. Each is located at the Amphitheater. And each offers a different perspective of its unique beauty.

These two hikes are the Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop and the Rim Trail from Inspiration Point to Bryce Point.

A Few Words About Parking

Before I show you the two best hikes in Bryce Canyon, let me tell you a little bit about the trailhead parking situation. Parking is generally always a challenge in Utah’s most popular National Parks. And Bryce Canyon is no exception.

The most popular parking area inside the Park is at the Amphitheater’s Sunset Point. Sunset Point offers one of the most iconic views in Bryce Canyon. It also happens to be my preferred starting point for the Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop.

A full parking lot at Sunset Park in Bryce Canyon National Park

At the Sunset Point lot, quite a few parking spaces are situated around a circular loop (with a restroom facility in the center). However, in order to ensure finding a space, I recommend getting there before 9am or waiting until later in the afternoon. Remember…Sunset Point is popular!

If you are unable to find a spot (people do come and go, so patience sometimes helps), you will have to exit the park and use the Bryce Canyon Shuttle instead. (Here’s more information on the shuttle.)

On the other hand, parking for my second choice for best hikes in Bryce Canyon is usually much easier.

An empty parking lot at Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

In the photo above, you can see the parking lot at Inspiration Point – the starting point for hike #2. I’ve never found it even close to full. Ironic, since I think the view from Inspiration Point is the Park’s very best.

Anyway, now it’s time to get out of your car and go hiking….

Hike #1 – Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop

What’s in A Name

I will start with what I think is best of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon. And it’s not only my personal favorite, it is the most popular hike at Bryce. Over the course of this 3 mile hike, you will descend into the Amphitheater, walk amongst the otherworldly spires, and then climb back out, taking in some pretty amazing views during your ascent.

A view of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from Sunset Point - starting point for one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon
A View From Sunset Point

The name of this hike can be a little confusing. So let me explain.

You’ll find two main trails in this section of the Amphitheater. One is called the Queen’s Garden Trail and the other is called the Navajo Loop. Each allows you to explore a different part of the hoodoo-filled bowl.

The Navajo Loop is a circular trail down into the Amphitheater that starts and ends at Sunset Point.

The Queen’s Garden Trail starts at a different viewpoint called Sunrise Point. It’s a down and back hike following the same path in both directions.

The Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop simply combines the two trails into a larger loop. It cuts out half of the Navajo Loop. And uses an accessory trail through the bottom of the Amphitheater to connect Queen’s and Navajo.

The Optimal Starting Point

Because this hike is a loop passing through both Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, you can choose to start at whichever Point you prefer. (Sunrise Point has its own parking lot too)

The Bryce Canyon website directs you to start this hike at Sunrise Point on the Queen’s Garden Trail. This is the clockwise route. You descend at Sunrise Point, hike through the bottom of the Amphitheater, and ascend at Sunset Point. You then finish the hike by walking along the Amphitheater’s rim between the two Points

However, I strongly recommend going in the reverse direction – the counter clockwise route. Start at Sunset Point, descend along the Navajo Loop, and ascend at Sunrise Point. This is the route we always take and I’ll show you why shortly.

The Descent

The Navajo Loop Trailhead starts adjacent to the official Sunset Point viewing deck, and immediately takes you into the Amphitheater. As you descend, you’ll get a nice view of Thor’s Hammer – one of the most iconic hoodoos in the Park.

Thor's Hammer in the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater
Thor’s Hammer

Very quickly though, you’ll come to your first crossroads. If you turn left here, you’ll go down the north side of the Navajo Loop, passing Thor’s Hammer. This side of the Loop is called Two Bridges. But I recommend that you turn right instead, following the sign that directs you to the other side of the loop called Wall Street.

Sign directing hikers towards Wall Street along the Navajo Loop on one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon

By taking this path, you’ll soon face quite an amazing descent. A descent down the famous Navajo Loop Switchbacks.

The Navajo Loop Switchbacks  - a highlight of one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon indicates that the Queens/Navajo Combination Loop hike has a 652 foot gain. You’ll discover that most of this gain happens at the end of the hike. But that also means that the descent is 652 feet. And you’ll cover most of that right here in the Switchbacks. It’s both steep and incredibly scenic as you descend through this narrow canyon of orange limestone.

And this is the primary reason that the counter clockwise direction is best. From four-time personal experience, I can tell you that I would rather go down these switchbacks than climb up them. The counter clockwise ascent at Sunrise Point occurs somewhat more gradually. You’ll still be huffing and puffing on your way out of the Amphitheater on Queen’s Garden Trail. But not nearly as much as you would by climbing up the Navajo Switchbacks.

Wall Street

One look at the photo below and you’ll understand where Wall Street in Bryce Canyon gets its name. At the bottom of the Switchbacks, the descent flattens quite a bit, and you’ll make your way through a narrow slot canyon….Wall Street.

Hikers on Wall Street in Bryce Canyon National Park

And at the end of this “Wall” Street, you’ll see a couple of amazing trees. These giant Douglas Fir trees compete with nearby hoodoos for who’s-tallest bragging rights.

Trees and hoodoos in near Wall Street in Bryce Canyon

Down in the Valley

After you pass these famous trees, you’ve finished most of the descent. As you continue to follow the trail, you’ll find yourself surrounded by an otherworldly wonderland of orange and pink rock.

Hikers on the Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon surrounded by hoodoos

This soon gives way to a canyon floor dominated more by pine trees than by hoodoos. But the erosion-carved walls of the Amphitheater surround you the distance. The trail is mostly flat through this section of the hike.

Hikers surrounded by pine trees down in the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Soon you’ll come to another trail marker. Here you will want to stay right to continue on the Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop. The left branch takes you back up to Sunset Point via the Two Bridges section of the Navajo Loop.

A sign directing hikers along the Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park

You are now on the accessory trail that connects Navajo Loop to the Queen’s Garden Trail. And it’s mostly a flat stroll through the pine forest.

Hikers on the trail connecting the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trails in Bryce Canyon

Before long though, you’ll come to another crossroads. This is where the accessory trail meets the Queen’s Garden Trail.

Directional Sign on the Queen's Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon

You’ll first want to turn left. It’s a short dead end, but will take you into Queen Victoria’s Garden. Ultimately though, you will follow the rightward path up and out of the Amphitheater.

Is it a Queen or a Wizard?

Queen’s Garden is a somewhat circular collection of hoodoos with a central “courtyard”. One of the spires kinda looks like a seated Queen Victoria. In the photo below, it’s the third spire from the right (Victoria is at the top).

Looking up inside the Queen's Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park

When I first pointed it out to my daughter, she said something like “Oh you mean the one that looks like Dumbledore?” And indeed, as a whole, this hoodoo very much looks like the beloved Harry Potter wizard.

I’m sure that since this hoodoo garden was named at a time closer to her reign, Queen Victoria may have been the obvious choice. However, I think had it been discovered in more recent times, Dumbledore’s Garden very well may have been the chosen name instead.

Up and Out

From Dumbledore’s…I mean Queen Victoria’s…Garden you then start your ascent up and out of the Amphitheater. Just beyond the sign I showed you, you’ll pass through this rock tunnel and enter what I think is the most scenic section of this hike.

Hiker's pass through a orange rock tunnel along the Queen's Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

This is where you’ll find what I think is certainly one of the Amphitheater’s greatest collection of hoodoos. You do start your ascent through this section, but it’s not crazy steep…yet.

Hoodoos tower above the Queen's Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

And with every corner you turn, you’ll see something magical

A scenic view from the Queen's Gardens Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

Soon enough though, the ascent steepens, and you will find yourself needing to take the occasional break. These breath-catchers give you the perfect excuse to stop and soak up the spectacular views out over the Amphitheater.

A hiker admires the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park while asending the Queen's Garden Trail

When you reach the top, you’re at Sunset Point. It has a large viewing platform. Look carefully nearby and you’ll spot one of the Park’s unique Bristlecone Pines walking along the edge.

A tree walks along the Bryce Canyon rim at Sunrise Point

The hike then ends with a flat and easy 0.5 mile walk along the Amphitheater’s rim from Sunrise Point back to Sunset Point.

Summarizing the Hike

It should be obvious by now why this is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park! Jaw-dropping beauty from start to finish.

A reminder that the hike is 3 miles long with a 652 foot gain. Most of that gain occurs on the latter portion of the Queen’s Garden Trail. Both and the Bryce Canyon websites rate it as a moderately difficult hike

With that said…. is the Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop a family friendly hike? I would say it’s not unfriendly. We always see hiker’s of all ages on this Loop and plenty of families. We’ve had grandkids as young as 4 years old hike this trail with us. Though I would definitely anticipate hearing about tired legs and periods of shoulder carrying for the very youngest.

But if you are concerned about your kids, consider enjoying the Amphitheater from the viewpoints instead, and taking them hiking on the easier Mossy Cave Trail.

And one more important point – this section of Bryce Canyon sits at an elevation of around 8100 feet. You will definitely notice the effect of the altitude on your hiking stamina. Especially if you are coming from sea level.

Hike #2 – The Rim Trail (from Inspiration Point to Bryce Point)

This is my second choice for best hikes in Bryce Canyon. It follows the Amphitheater’s Rim Trail and connects the Amphitheater’s two southernmost viewpoints – Inspiration Point and Bryce Point.

While the Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop takes you right down into the hoodoos, this 3.4 mile hike allows you to better appreciate the Amphitheater in its entirety – from a more elevated vantage point.

Start with the Best View in Bryce Canyon

This hike covers only a portion of the Park’s Rim Trail. The full trail stretches for 5.5 miles in just one direction. Over its length, it passes by all the Amphitheater’s 5 official viewpoints – which from north to south are Fairyland, Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce Point. Because the Amphitheater Rim gains net elevation from north to south, these latter two Points sit higher, offering commanding views over the Amphitheater below.

And because of its higher elevation and central position, I personally think that the view from Lower Inspiration Point is the very best one in Bryce Canyon National Park. So naturally this is a great spot to start hiking the Rim Trail.

A view of Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from Inspiration Point


AllTrails indicates that this hike from Inspiration Point to Bryce Point is about 2 miles in each direction (or 3.9 miles round trip). I remember it as being less, so I also checked on Google Maps. Google indicates 1.7 miles in each direction. I’ll have to document it again next time we go – but 3.4 miles round trip sounds right to me.

It too has a 600 foot gain, though the ascent occurs over the course of the entire hike, so it’s not as noticeable as Queen’s/Navajo. But the elevation is 9100 feet at Bryce Point – so the air is even thinner at the end. All Trails rates the hike as Easy.

(If the roundtrip hike is longer than you want, or you find that you are too tired when you arrive at Bryce Point, you can conveniently take the shuttle back to Inspiration Point.)

Living on the Edge

This hike follows the edge of the Amphitheater Rim – fairly close at times. I am scared of heights but I have personally never found the proximity to be anxiety-inducing. It’s possible to stay several feet away from the edge if it’s a problem for you.

A hiker walking along the Rim Trail between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point - one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

But because of this proximity to the edge, you have some pretty amazing looks directly down into the Amphitheater…

Looking down into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from the Rim Trail near Inspiration Point

A hiker looks into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from the Rim Trail

Not all parts of the trail hug the edge. You will also pass through sections set away from the Rim a little…

A hiker walking the near pine trees on the Rim Trail with a distant view of the Bryce Amphitheater

But each time, you will find yourself redirected back to yet another spectacular view…

Hikers look out across the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from the Rim Trail

In All It’s Glory

And eventually, you’ll reach Bryce Point and its all-encompassing view of the incredible Bryce Canyon Amphitheater….

A view of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from Bryce Point

Like all the major Amphitheater viewpoints , Bryce Point has a large (fenced) viewing platform. You’ll find a parking lot at Bryce Point too – if you want to start your Rim Trail hike here. Surprisingly, there is not a restroom at Bryce Point (though there is one at Inspiration Point).

And what about the family friendliness of this hike? It’s certainly easier than Queen’s/Navajo, but some parents may worry about the proximity of the edge in several places. We’ve hiked it with kids and have never had concerns or problems.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it – what I consider the two best hikes in Bryce Canyon. Hike each of these and you will get a full sense of all Bryce Canyon Amphitheater’s greatness. And you may find yourself wanting to return over and over like we have.

You can check the Bryce Canyon website for a description of all the Park’s other hikes.

You can click here if you want to read my more general guide of Bryce Canyon

And if you want to read some of my other favorite hikes in Utah, then check out these posts.

Two Popular Alta Utah Hikes – Albion Meadows and Cecret Lake

Snow Canyon State Park – Exploring Petrified Dunes & Lava Tubes

The Beautiful Stewart Falls Hike at Sundance Utah


  1. I love Bryce Canyon so much. Truly breathtaking. We did not do any hikes (just did not allow enough time) but next time for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *