Distance: 3.2 mile Loop | Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours | Level: Easy – Moderate
The Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done. At each turn you are completely encompassed by vibrant orange hues and towering hoodoos.
Bryce Canyon National Park is small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in grandeur. We never wanted our hikes in Bryce to end. Considering we’d hiked nearly 100 miles in Utah by the time we arrived in Bryce, that’s saying something.
By combining a section of the Navajo Loop trail with the Queen’s Garden Trail, hikers can experience everything from panoramic views of the Bryce amphitheater, pine forests, natural arches, canyons, and hoodoos. If you only have time for one hike in Bryce, make it the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail.
In this guide, I will cover things to know before visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, what to expect hiking the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail, best time to hike, and where to stay.
Hiking Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon
Things to Know Before Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park
Like any other National Park in Utah, making the most of your time in Bryce Canyon requires some planning. Below are some things to keep in mind before starting your trip.
Entry into the park is $35 per vehicle and can be purchased online or upon arrival. However, I recommend purchasing an America the Beautiful pass for $80 if you plan on visiting at least one other National Park during your trip to Utah. After all, Bryce is only 1.5 hours from Zion National Park; another park I highly recommend exploring.
No Cell Service
There is little to no cell service within the park (make that most of southern Utah). Make sure to download any trail maps, reservations, or permits before entering.
There is a free shuttle option in the park that transports visitors to and from viewpoints and hiking trails along the Bryce Amphitheater. The shuttle runs every 10 to 15 minutes, from April to October, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (extended hours offered during the summer months).
You can check on the next shuttle arrival at brycecanyonshuttle.com.
Wether you’re planning on camping or staying at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, vacancies fill up quickly. Make sure to book your reservation as early as possible. Rooms and sites can fill up as far as six month in advance depending on the season.
I go into more detail on where to stay in Bryce Canyon National Park below.
Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon
Let’s be real, a park with as great a wow factor as Bryce Canyon is beautiful regardless of what season you visit. We visited the park during July and had wonderful, albeit hot weather.
Arguably the best time to visit the park is anywhere between the months of May to September. During these months, the weather is warm and many of the roads, trails, campgrounds, and ranger activities are open and running.
With that being said, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than witnessing the vibrant red rocks of Bryce covered in snow. If you can’t make it to Bryce Canyon during the peak months, the winter time would warrant just as magical of an experience.
While there are some road and trail closures during the winter, activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing become available during this time.
What to Expect Hiking the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail
Both Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden are their own trails. As the trail name suggests, Navajo Loop is a loop, while Queen’s Garden is an out-and-back trail.
However, for the best hiking experience, I recommend connecting the two trails making the hike a 2.9 mile loop.
By connecting the trails, hikers get to see Sunset and Sunrise Point, as well as hike a portion of the Rim Trail. It’s a great way to see many of Bryce Canyon’s best attractions in one hike.
Visitors can choose to hike the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail clockwise or counterclockwise. We hiked the trail counterclockwise and would recommend this route to other hikers as well.
We started Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail about 1.5 hours before sunset. As I’ve mentioned in many of my other Utah hiking guides, the desert is most beautiful at sunrise or sunset.
We arrived in Bryce Canyon too late to complete the hike for sunrise so we opted to experience the park at golden hour. Hiking the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail at sunset turned out to be a wonderful idea.
To begin the trail, park at Sunset Point (there is also a shuttle stop here). Sunset Point is conveniently not only where you will begin the hike but also where you will end it. Just in time to witness the sun setting over Bryce Amphitheater.
Make sure to fill your water or use the bathroom here, as it will be your last opportunity until the end of the hike.
Navajo Loop Trail
From Sunset Point, follow signs for the Navajo Loop Trail.
From the get go, the trail takes hikers down a series of switchbacks along the rim of the Amphitheater. Immediately both Cole and I were blown away by the incredible geological formations of Bryce. There truly is nowhere like it.
Little did we know, the trail only gets more spectacular from here.
There are two different ways that hikers can connect the Navajo Loop trail to Queen’s Garden. Since you will be continuing onto the Queen’s Garden Trail, rather than completing the entire Navajo Trail Loop, hikers will have to choose which route to take.
I recommend following signs for Wall Street. The Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail is striking. I can honestly say I have never hiked anything like the Wall Street branch of the Navajo Loop Trail.
Wall Street consists of a series of switchbacks leading hikers down into Bryce Canyon valley. We saw more people during this leg of the trail than we did at any other point on the hike. However, once we were through Wall Street branch the number of hikers we passed drastically dwindled.
It seemed many people chose to just complete Navajo Loop rather than connecting the two trails. Another reason to opt for the longer loop and hike Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail together.
After descending the beautiful switchbacks of Wall Street, the trail flattens out as you walk along the Bryce Canyon Valley floor. While walking through the valley the scenery changes dramatically.
Red hoodoos still stand tall in the background but pine trees are at the forefront of the scenery during this portion of the hike.
At one point, I remember turning to Cole and asking, “How will we know when we’re on the Queen’s Garden Trail?”
I laugh at this question now, as if I thought I might be able to miss it.
Trust me, you’ll know.
Queen’s Garden Trail
When I think back on our time in Bryce Canyon National Park, our incredible hike through Queen’s Garden Trail is where my mind wanders to.
Queen’s Garden is just that – a garden of hoodoos. The trail feels like something straight out of a fairytale. Hoodoos fill every corner, as the trail winds you in and out of (and even under) the incredible geological formations.
At times it’s easy to forget that you’re even hiking, and not following a path through a giant sandcastle.
Repeatedly I yelled, “How is this even real?!”
The best part? We wound our way entirely through the heart of Queen’s Garden without another soul in sight.
Magic, I tell you.
The last section of Queen’s Garden is an uphill trek as you climb your way back out of the valley towards Sunrise Point. Since you’ll most likely be short of breath on the hike out, take your time and soak in the views of the Amphitheater.
Once you reach the top of the canyon at Sunrise Point, the trail leads you along the rim towards Sunset Point. This section of the hike is mostly flat with beautiful views of the canyon.
While both the names Sunrise Point and Sunset Point suggests they’re great spots to watch from, anywhere along the rim is a perfect place to grab a seat and take in the views.
Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon is perfectly located in the heart of Bryce Canyon National Park. The lodge is situated directly between Sunrise and Sunset Point. Cole and I would have loved to splurge and stay here, but as you know camping is more of our m.o.
The lodge is not only conveniently located near trails but also has a great onsite restaurant. The aesthetic of the lodge from the outside is rustic and cozy; however the inside seems to be a little outdated.
Keep in mind, if you are traveling during COVID times, some of the lodge’s amenities may be closed.
As always, Cole and I opted to camp during our stay in Bryce Canyon National Park. There are two campgrounds in the park: Sunset Campground and North Campground.
We stayed at North Campground. North Campground is the first campground visitors pass when entering the park. This campground is first-come, first-served. Tent sites are $20 and RV sites are $30.
We loved staying at North Campground because of its close proximity to the Fairyland Loop Trail and Rim Trail.
The other camping option is Sunset Campground. Sunset Campground requires reservations during the months of May to October, while the campground is closed during the winter months.
This campground feels more secluded and wooded than North Campground, and is close to Sunset Point. Tent and RV fees are the same as North Campground.
Hiking in Bryce Canyon was one of our favorite experiences in Utah. If you have any questions regarding other trails or anything related to Bryce Canyon National Park, feel free to drop your question below in the comment section.