You want to have amazing memories of your day in Bryce Canyon National Park, right? Here’s your chance to step down into a canyon full of hoodoos, arches and other interesting shapes. Your chance to get closer to these unique formations than you ever imagined. Hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail! It’s unforgettable!
About The Trail
The 2.9 mile loop created by hiking a combination of the Queens Garden Trail and part of the Navajo Loop is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon National Park for a very good reason. Get right up next to these magnificent features! The incredible images will be forever in your memory.
This is adventure combines 2 different trails. Queen’s Garden by itself is an “in and out” trip from Sunrise Point. Navajo Loop is just that, a loop that starts and ends at Sunset Point. However the paths cross and you can jump from the turnaround point of Queen’s Garden Trail and then complete with ½ of the Navajo Loop trail taking you back to the rim.
Queen’s Garden Trail
We started our hike of Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail at Sunrise Point. But before you head down stop to take a good look and snap some pictures from the overlook. The view here is stunning!
The trail is just to the left of the overlook and it is a pleasant, although rather steep, walk down into the canyon and towards Queen’s Garden. The Bryce Canyon rating of Easy for this hike is a bit misleading because of that short steep drop. A red flag should have gone up when we passed a group of teen girls heading out of the canyon. One asked her posse “Who said this was easy?” I later regretted chuckling to myself: “Wimps.”
According to the National Park Service, Bryce Canyon’s Queen’s Garden derived its name from a group of hoodoo that look like they have been planted in a garden. One particular hoodoo is supposed to look like Queen Victoria standing guard over her garden. Now, I’m a champion find shapes in the clouds kind of girl, but I just didn’t see it. What I did see were beautiful layers of color exposed by erosion. The landscape is in interesting mix of textures and shapes. The colors blend like a soft tapestry.
I think the coolest part of the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail is walking through the small tunnel at the end of Queen’s Garden Trail. On the other side you emerge into a small desert oasis with lush, although stunted, trees providing bits of shade as you wander through the hoodoos at the bottom of the Canyon.
Navajo Trail Loop
After 1.7 miles you connect with the Navajo Loop. It’s a true fork in the road and you must make a choice which way you will go to hike back to the top. Good news, there is plenty of space to stretch out in the shade and think about your choice. It was very hot in the Canyon so we welcomed the break. Even though you are at a high altitude in Bryce Canyon, it is still the desert. And that August sun beats down fiercely.
The choice of which fork to take was even more difficult because we hadn’t read up on the trail in advance. (I know, that’s not really like me!) There really wasn’t anything in the moment to help us decide. The trail to the left wanders past Wall Street and Thor’s Hammer. After the fact I read several reviews that claim this is the better choice for scenery. We will never know. I was intrigued by the promise of Two Bridges so we headed down the right fork.
Two Bridges Are Unique
Two Bridges are tucked back in a crevice. You have to wonder how long they will continue to survive. Erosion is very mysterious in how it creates the shapes in Bryce Canyon National Park. When will erosion cause them to come tumbling down?
It doesn’t matter which fork you take to complete Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail. Either way, the next half mile of hiking is a rise of over 500 feet. Now that’s pretty steep. It’s why the Navajo Loop is rated as a moderately difficult hike. And as you can see the switchbacks create an amazing image. A lot of thought went into making this hike work.
About ½ way up I thought I was going to die.
Not only is it a steep climb but it was a hot August afternoon. Combine that with the high altitude that challenges all mid-westerners and it was a rough walk up. However Brad cheered me on as I stopped to rest at every turn in the switchbacks. He even shouldered my pack for awhile. (I love that man!)
And as you can see I didn’t die. But it was a tough go.
Suddenly you find yourself back on the Rim at Sunset Point. There are plenty of benches here to take a short break before you complete the final 1/2 mile walk along Rim Trail back to where you started at Sunrise Point. If you took the shuttle bus, you can easily pop out to the parking lot and skip this last section. But I wouldn’t! We wrote about about the amazing views from Rim Trail in this post.
Don’t miss out on hiking the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail. Pin this to your vacation wish board now! If you’ve experienced this amazing hike we’d love it if you’d share in the comments.
Also check out our crazy adventure to Visit 5 Utah National Parks in 5 Days. Of course one of those was Bryce Canyon National Park. Should you try it? Read on to see how it worked out. The perfect ending to this day was driving Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, so pop over to that post for more details.
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