Are you ready to hike the best hike in Bryce Canyon!? The Navajo Loop Trail is not only my favorite trail in Bryce Canyon, but might be my favorite hike EVER.
What I hate about most hikes is that the actual hike isn’t beautiful, just the viewpoint. And when you finally get to the viewpoint, you sit there for a few minutes and then turn around and hike back down. The Navajo Loop trail is different… The steep descent into the canyon, walking through the trees along the base of the canyon and outstanding views on the way back up made the entire hike beautiful.
I had a lot of questions before hiking the Navajo Loop trail in Bryce Canyon, so I wanted to write this overly-detailed guide to cover all the questions I had and more. I am so excited for you to see this amazing piece of the world!
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Where is Bryce Canyon?
Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, just past Zion National Park. If you are planning to fly, the nearest airport will be in Las Vegas, roughly 4 hours away. McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is an international airport that is extremely affordable for people who are flying from far away.
Since this amazing canyon is so close to many other sites, it is popular for people to fly into Vegas, rent a car and road trip to famous sites like Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Zion National Park, The Grand Canyon and MORE!
I have been to every single site I just listed, and I can honestly say that Bryce Canyon was my absolute favorite.. by far. The unique texture, vibrant color and great hiking trails made me absolutely fall in love with this place!
Here’s a handy-dandy map for all you visual learners out there! 🙂
Where is the Navajo Loop Trail?
To find the trail head of the Navajo Loop Trail, start at Sunset Point. Sunset Point is the second turn off when you enter Bryce Canyon National Park, directly in front of the lodge. For some reason, Sunset Point would not come up on my maps and kept taking me to the Sunrise Point parking. If your maps is being annoying too, just continue driving past Sunrise Point and you will see the turn-off sign.
From the parking lot, you will need to walk a short distance along the canyon rim to Sunset Point. You will likely see a crowd of people at this viewpoint because it is one of the most popular views in the park! At Sunset point, you will see a sign that says Navajo Loop trail, where you will walk slightly down into the canyon.
FYI: The trail starts AND stops at Sunset Point. When you begin the trail, you will see a fork in the road where you will decide which direction of the loop you want to hike. More on that later…
Best Time to Hike the Navajo Loop Trail
The best time of year to hike this trail is in the fall or spring. Even the trail is open in the summer months, I would image it being way too hot to actually enjoy the hike. I traveled to Bryce Canyon in the fall (mid-October to be exact) and it was perfect weather!
It’s nice to hike when it’s a little cold, so that way when you start hiking you’re at the perfect body temperature. Just make sure you bring a light jacket for when you hike down, because you might be a little cold.
It is sometimes possible to hike the Navajo Loop trail in the winter months, but the trail is extremely slippery and it is advised that you wear snow shoes (not those cute waterproof boots, but these thing).Not all parts are open during the winter, so you will not be able to complete the entire trail. The only benefit to hiking this trail in the winter is you will pretty much have the entire trail to yourself!
TIP: Start the Navajo Loop Trail 1.5 hours before sunset, so when you finish the hike at Sunset Point, it’s time to enjoy the sunset there!
What to Pack for the Navajo Loop Trail
As always, I never want to bore you with an endless packing list, so I always list my top things for this specific trip.
1. Good Camera
Do you ever look back at old I-phone photos and just cringe at how blurry they were!? When you take all your pictures of Bryce Canyon on your phone, you’re going to look back in a few years and hate yourself! A good camera will make your pictures last a lifetime. My camera is perfect for travel because it is inexpensive, small and lightweight.. Click here for it!
2. Light Jacket
When you are hiking during the day, you will be hot and wanting to wear hiking clothes, but as soon as the sun begins to set it will be very cold! Bryce canyon has drastic changes in weather between day time and nighttime, so you will want to make sure you are prepared. Click here for an inexpensive and cute jacket!
3. Travel Blanket
The Navajo Loop Trail has red dirt that stains the HECK out of your clothes. If you want to stop, take a break and have a picnic lunch on your hike, I would recommend bringing a small blanket for you to sit on. I bring this blanket on almost all of my trips, you can shop it here!
4. Guide Book
In my opinion, I feel there’s no such thing as too much planning! You will likely be driving to Bryce Canyon, so on your drive you can read all about the history of Bryce Canyon and what makes it unique! Lonely planet guides are always easy to read, click here to see it!
Navajo Loop Trail Summary
Trail Length: 1.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 459 ft
Route Type: Loop
Time to Complete the Trail: Online, it states that it can take 1-2 hours to complete the trail, but it took me only 1 hour to complete it and I stopped for many breaks and pictures.
Fitness Level Needed: I would consider the hike moderate. Even though the hike is steep and difficult on the way up, the uphill portion is short (less than 3/4 mile). The trail is wide enough to take many breaks, and the views are outstanding! This hike is definitely a good workout for any fitness level, especially those who do not exercise regularly.
What to expect hiking Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop Trail
Once you arrive at Sunset Point, you will be greeted with a sign that shows you were to start the Navajo Loop Trail. After a very short distance from Sunset point, there will be a fork in the trail where you will need to decide between Wall Street and Two Bridges. You will get to see both either way, it’s just to decide which direction you would rather do the loop.
Wall Street V. Two Bridges
I started on the Wall Street side, and did not regret my choice! Even though Two Bridges is slightly steeper for coming back up, the views of the amphitheater are better so when you need to stop for breaks, you get a view! Also, descending into Wall Street was amazing because you get the view of the steep switchbacks disappearing into the slot canyon.
I honestly don’t think you could go wrong though, both option will give you a fun and scenic hike.
Assuming you took my advice and started on the Wall Street side, you will begin to descend into the canyon by steep switchbacks. As you go down, you will see a large slot canyon with a few trees poking out (it’s surprising how many living trees sprinkled throughout the canyon).
Once you reach the bottom of the switchbacks, you will feel the trail flatten out and curve. So, you know what that means.. time to hike back up! Right before the trail begins to incline, you will see a turn off if you choose to extend your hike and do Queen’s Garden Trail. This trail is not a loop and will end at Sunrise Point, so if you choose to do this extension, you will not get to see the second half of the Navajo Loop Trail.
If you want more information on the Queen’s Garden Trail, click here to read more!
Where the trail begins to incline and the Queen’s Garden trail begins, there is a small place to sit and take a break. I saw many people sitting here talking about the trails they’ve hiked and making new friends.
Right before you ascend back up, you will see a small fork in the road that says “sunset point or two bridges.” This is where you can quickly peek around the corner to see the “Two Bridges,” which are two rock bridges that link between the canyon walls. After you see that, go back to the fork and follow the signs towards Sunset Point.
Time for the hike back up!
The Two Bridges side will open up and give you expansive views of the amphitheater, which is a big contrast from Wall Street where you are hiking through a narrow slot canyon.
If the beautiful views don’t take your breath away, the hike back up will! The switchbacks will be very steep and feel endless, but I promise they will be over before you know it. Just take plenty of breaks and enjoy the amazing views of the hoodoos!
After you’ve made it up the long stretch of switchbacks, you will be back at Sunset Point to enjoy the sunset. I recommend doing what I did and starting the hike 1.5 hours before sunset, so when you are done with the hike it is time to enjoy sunset at the viewpoint!
What else can you do in Bryce Canyon?
Guys, I loved Bryce Canyon SO much that I wrote an entire guide on spending One Day in Bryce Canyon! This national park has endless things to keep you busy like the scenic loop drive, hiking the rim trail, seeing all the popular viewpoints, star gazing and so much more.
You can also link Bryce Canyon with nearby sites like Zion National Park, The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. All of these parks / sites are within driving distance, making it the perfect road trip!
But seriously, I highly recommend reading my guide on spending One Day in Bryce Canyon so you don’t miss out on all the best things to do… did somebody say FOMO?!
BONUS: More Hikes in Bryce Canyon
Did you love the Navajo Loop trail SO much that you’re dying for more?! Lucky for you there are tons of great hikes to keep you busy in Bryce Canyon. I only got to do two on my short time there, but I will list a few that I heavily researched and looked like fun!
This is a flat walking trail along the rim of the canyon that is great for someone who doesn’t want to “hike,” but still be outdoors and enjoy the scenery. It is a extremely flat trail that connects all the viewpoints and gives you amazing views throughout the entire walk. I would recommend walking the rim trail between sunrise point to Bryce Point, and then you can take the free shuttle back so you don’t have to walk both ways! If you do this route, it will be 2.8 miles and take you around 1 hour to complete.
Queen’s Garden trail starts from Sunrise Point and take you down into the canyon. This is considered an out and back trail unless you decide to link it with Navajo Loop Trail (they connect). If you do decide to connect them, you can choose between wall street or two bridges to take back up. If you do not, you will turn around and take the same trail back up the canyon and the total, round trip hike will be 1.8 miles.
This is an extremely popular hike and you will see plenty of signage when you arrive at Sunrise Point to begin the hike.
This is the longest out of all the ones listed, round trip is 5.5 miles in length. It is considered to be moderate-strenuous, only because of the length and elevation change. You will begin and end at Bryce Point where you quickly descend to the canyon floor.
Okay, that’s a wrap! There are far more hikes than I listed, but these are the most popular and the ones that I would’ve done if I had more time. Even though the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon is extremely popular with some crowds, I still think the hike was completely worth it.
If you have any questions about the hike, don’t hesitate to comment below and I would be more than happy to answer them! 🙂
If you want more guides on the Utah or Arizona area, I encourage you to check these out!
- One Day in Bryce Canyon
- Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend
- Salt Lake City Road Trip
- 15 Best Day Trips From Las Vegas
Thanks so much for stopping by!
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