Continuing our Utah roady just two hours northeast of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon makes up the top of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and is also known as the Pink Cliffs. We began the drive in the early afternoon via the tunnels and epic scenery along Zion – Mount Carmel Scenic Drive, spotting a herd of bison before making it into the park, just in time for a (bitterly cold) sunset over the Bryce Canyon Amphitheatre.
A couple thousand feet higher than Zion Canyon, we couldn’t believe how much colder it was, dropping an average of 20 degrees celsius with -12 degree mornings.
The following day, we paid a visit to the helpful staff at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Centre, marked out our trails, filled up our water bottles and began the first of two, 4-hour hikes in the park. Setting off at 9am and chasing a 5pm sunset, we had our work cut out for us! 💪🏻 We left the car parked at Sunset Point and began our descent at the Queen’s trailhead.
Queen’s/Peekaboo/Navajo (via Wall Street) Combined Trails | 4 hours
With the Queen’s and Navajo trails being popular hikes, we opted to bang this one out in the morning. The combined hike takes you down amongst the base of the hoodoos, through forest, and winds its way back up iconic Wall Street. With only a handful of human encounters, November was the perfect time to visit despite the chill, and it felt like we had the whole park to ourselves!
My favourite part of the combined hike was the Peekaboo section, where it truly felt deserted and had varying landscapes from forest and intricate archways to paths carved through towering rock, giving it a slot canyon feel in parts. There were many times where we rounded a corner or emerged from the walls to breathtaking views, and only us to enjoy them 🙂
Fairyland Loop | 4 hours
After a speedy lunch in the car, we parked at Sunrise Point, and began the rim portion of the hike over to Fairyland Point. The hike itself involves a steady descent, plateau, then climb back to the top of the amphitheatre, whichever direction you choose to take. The hoodoos on this side of Bryce Canyon are characterised by bright pinks and oranges, reminiscent of Candyland in Wreck It Ralph. As the clouds rolled in and the sun began setting, temperatures dropped drastically and we were freezing again the minute we finished hiking.
Inspiration Point | Bryce Point | Rainbow Point
On the second morning, we hit the road early, checking out the visitor centre’s store and museum before taking in the views at Inspiration and Bryce Point. It was eye-opening to see the trails we had hiked the day prior from a different perspective, as well as how expansive the park is. We then made the journey out to Rainbow Point at an elevation of 9120 ft, and strolled over to Yovimpa Point where you can get a good view of the Grand Staircase, from the Pink Cliffs you are standing on, to the Grey, White, Vermillion and Chocolate Cliffs. We also made a pit stop at Natural Bridge before fueling up and heading southeast to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (next blog post).
Where we stayed
As it was low season, all campgrounds were closed and only two restaurants were open in the area, one being the restaurant at the Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn where we stayed. The hotel itself has a laundromat and a large supermarket/supplies/gift store. Prices were very reasonable and the rooms were spacious and warm. Two nights was plenty to hike and see everything we wanted to, and after hitting up the view points on the second morning, we began the drive over to Kanab. Stay tuned for the upcoming Kanab blog post – my favourite town during this hiking trip!
Alternate detour – our hiking guide in Kanab spoke highly of Capitol Reef National Park, a 2.5 hour drive northeast of Bryce Canyon. You could continue onto Arches National Park, 2.5 hours east of Capitol Reef, and then another 3.5 hours southwest to Canyonlands National Park.
Check out the video below of our Utah hiking trip, including footage from Bryce Canyon National Park. Part 2 will be coming soon! 🙂