Bristlecone Loop Trail

Especially pleasant on a hot day, this is an easy walk through a forest of shady evergreens. Entirely above the canyon rim, the trail winds among white fir, Douglas fir, and ponderosa and bristlecone pines; you'll see more bristlecones here than on any other park trail. More than many other species, the bristlecone can withstand the strong winds and harsh conditions often found on high ridges, as well as times of prolonged drought; consequently, they often live to a great age -- one in California is more than 4,000 years old! The oldest bristlecone pines in Bryce Canyon are nearly 2,000 years old. The trail has an elevation change of 150 feet, and the round-trip takes about an hour.

1 mile RT. Easy. Access: The trail head is located at the Rainbow Point parking area at the end of the scenic drive.

Hat Shop Trail 

This is a strenuous hike with a 1,336-foot elevation change; it's also the beginning of the Under the Rim Trail. Leaving the rim, you'll drop quickly to the Hat Shop, so-named because it consists of a series of rock formations that resemble hard gray hats perched on narrow, reddish-brown pedestals. The trail offers close-up views of gnarled ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, as well as distant panoramas across the Aquarius Plateau toward the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This hike will take you approximately 4 hours, if you go the whole distance.

4 miles RT. Difficult. Access: The trail head is located at the Bryce Point Overlook.

Mossy Cave Trail 

An often-overlooked trail, located outside the main part of the park, the Mossy Cave Trail offers an easy and picturesque walk. The trail follows an old irrigation ditch up a short hill to a shallow cave, where seeping water nurtures the cave's namesake moss. Just off the trail, you'll see a small waterfall, which is usually flowing from May through October. Elevation gain is 200 feet. Allow about 45 minutes for the whole trip.

.8 mile RT. Easy. Access: The trail head is located along Utah 12, about 3 1/2 miles east of the park access road, Utah 63.

Navajo Loop Trail 

This trail descends from the canyon rim 550 feet to the bottom of the canyon floor and back up again. Traversing graveled switchbacks, it affords terrific views of several impressive formations, including the awesome Two Bridges and the precariously balanced Thor's Hammer. The round-trip on this trail takes 1 to 2 hours, and we suggest hiking the trail clockwise.

1.3 miles RT. Moderate. Access: The trail head is signposted at the central overlook at Sunset Point.

Queen's Garden Trail 

This short trail, which drops 320 feet below the rim, takes you down into Bryce Amphitheater, with rest benches near the formation called Queen Victoria. At the beginning of the descent, keep an eye cocked to the distant views so you won't miss Boat Mesa, the Sinking Ship, the Aquarius Plateau, and Bristlecone Point. As you plunge deeper into the canyon, the trail passes some of the park's most fanciful formations, including majestic Queen Victoria herself (the formation looks like a full-figure profile of the British monarch), for whom the trail and this grouping of hoodoos are named, plus the Queen's Castle and Gulliver's Castle. The round-trip takes 1 to 2 hours.

1.8 miles RT. Moderate. Access: The trail head is located on the south side of Sunrise Point.

The Best of Two Great Trails -- A great choice for getting down into the canyon and seeing the most scenery with the least amount of sweat is to combine Navajo Loop Trail with the Queen's Garden Trail. The total distance is just under 3 miles, and most hikers take from 2 to 3 hours to make the hike. It's best to start at the Navajo Loop Trail Head at Sunset Point and leave the canyon on the less steep Queen's Garden Trail, returning to the rim at Sunrise Point, a half-mile north of the Navajo Loop Trail Head.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.