Over 2.6-million people visited Bryce Canyon National Park and took in the beauty of the hoodoos. One thing particularly nice about Bryce Canyon is that you don’t have to hike far to take breathtaking photos-you can get them right from the rim of the canyon. However, if you want to really get steeped in the beauty without having to work too hard, the Queens Garden combined with the Navajo Loop Trail is the hike to take! This easy-moderate trail provides a nice loop for families, even those with young children. Even for those of us who may not be in the best of shape, this trail will work for you if you take plenty of breaks as well.
If you plan on heading to Bryce Canyon National Park, this is a trail that you definitely won’t want to miss!
PARKING AND TRAILHEAD FOR THE QUEENS GARDEN AND NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL
Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail parking area, courtesy of the National Park Service
Parking for this hike is easy to find. There are many options on where to park, which is nice considering this is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in the park. After you enter the park and pass the visitor center on the right, continue for less than a mile before taking left to signs for Sunrise or Sunset Points (there are multiple turnoffs).
We recommend parking near Sunrise Point, as this is the easier (and safer) way to start the trail and has the best views. This means though that you will be hiking up the steepest part at the end. Some hikers prefer to start at Sunset Point to make the trek up a bit easier. Either way, you’ll be in for a treat!
- Directions from the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor center to Sunrise Point (this will take less than 5 minutes)
Even though there are plenty of parking spots, you may not be able to find one at Sunrise Point. If this is the case, we recommend just waiting and driving around until you find a spot, even if that means parking near Sunset Point. Cars come and go here frequently (as most people just stay on the rim), so if you are patient you’ll have no trouble finding a spot.
Of course, the view once you park isn't all that bad!
There are restroom facilities around the rim, including some in Bryce Canyon Lodge, the General Store (located just north of Sunrise Point) and near Sunset Point. There are also clean restrooms at the visitor center. There are no restrooms available on the trail.
QUEENS GARDEN AND NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL: TRAIL SURFACE AND ACCESSIBILITY
- Trail surface. The trail is gravel and mostly packed dirt. There are some loose spots in some of the switchbacks. In dry times, you can expect there to be a bit of dust on the trail and in the air to be prepared for.
- Accessibility. The trail is not wheelchair accessible, though the path from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point is accessible and provides great views.
PREPARATION FOR HIKING THE QUEENS GARDEN AND NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL
This hike is not very long. Still, you will want to be prepared-these are items that we recommend in particular:
- Water. Though the temperature in Bryce Canyon National Park is cooler than much of the rest of southern Utah, it can get very hot and dry. Prepared to get dried out, as the air is also quite dry. Drink plenty of water to not get dehydrated. The hoodoos can accentuate the heat, while at the same time offering welcome shade at spots.
- Sun Protection. Sunscreen or a hat are a must.
- Hiking Shoes. You will not be climbing over boulders or big rocks, but having sturdy shoes (at least sneakers) is a great idea.
- Trekking Poles. Having support to help you get back up from the canyon can be really useful. We wished we had them when we were there!
- Layers. Bryce Canyon has a mix of temperatures. Since the elevation is high (over 7500 feet), it is cooler than the other parks in Utah. Nights can get chilly, even in the summer, and snow blankets the hoodoos in the winter. Temperatures can be quite warm as well. This means that you should be prepared for either scenario when you go into the park.
THE HIKE INTO THE QUEENS GARDEN
Trailhead information for the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail, courtesy of the the National Park Service
Depending on where you park, you may “start” the loop at different locations. Wherever you begin, you will find yourself somewhere along the rim. Once on the rim, find your way to Sunrise Point. If you parked near Sunset Point, this means that you’ll have to walk along the rim trail north for about 0.5 miles. Don’t worry-this work won’t go to waste, as this is part of the loop.
Once you arrive at Sunset Point, descend into the Canyon. If you are like us, you prefer going up early on in a trail and going down coming back, but this one you’ll have to go down first. You’ll go down about 400 feet in the first half-mile of the hike. The trail is well groomed and fairly wide, but beware that you’ll have to watch your step, as it is fairly steep with some drop-offs along the way. If you keep your eyes out, you’ll have no problem making it down safely-just don’t get distracted by the views, which can be easy to do!
Nicknamed “Queens Garden”, the Garden is an intense collection of beautiful hoodoos, which remind hikers of a garden.
Once you are inside the Queens Garden, you’ll want to take your time exploring the beautiful formations. After about 0.6 miles, the trail flattens out and you’ll eventually find your way into a forest of ponderosa pines. Keep your eyes out if you are hiking in the morning or early evening, as deer are known to frequent the area.
At the 1.4-mile point (if you started at Sunrise Point), you’ll see a sign directing you to the Navajo Loop and Wall Street (to the right) or to the Peek-A-Boo loop (to the left). While the Peek-A-Boo loop is known for being very impressive, it is very steep, known for being strenuous and adds on about 3 miles to the hiking distance (see “other links” below for more information on this hike). If you don’t plan to do that part of the hike, head right toward Sunset Point via the Navajo Loop.
At this point you’ve enjoyed about 0.6 miles of relatively flat hiking, but get ready for the climb coming out!
THE FACES IN BRYCE CANYON
You read that subtitle right.
While we were hiking, a few of us started to see things in the hoodoos while we were hiking. Perhaps it was the long day, perhaps it was our imagination. But either way, we’re pretty convinced that these faces were keeping an eye on hikers to make sure we stayed in line!
Here are a few of the faces we saw. While you are hiking, make sure you keep your eye out and see if you can find any yourself!
HIKING OUT OF THE CANYON VIA THE NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL
Once you are on the Navajo Loop Trail, there will be two options. Stay right to return via the shortest route or stay left to go through Wall Street. Both are great options (do both if you have the time and energy!), but we chose to stay right and not go through Wall Street due to time and it being a bit more challenging.
The hike out of the canyon gets steep, though it is doable and made easier by the switchbacks that are part of the trail.
Be careful, as falling rocks are common. You won’t be able to race through this area out of the trail, but you’ll just want to keep an eye out and be ready if anything comes your way.
While you are hiking out, make sure you turn around and look behind you! The scenery is incredible, and you can enjoy a break or two while you take in the views.
SUNSET AND SUNRISE POINTS
After you hike back up to the rim, you’ll be at Sunset Point. This is a great place (get ready…) to watch the sunset! When we hiked this trail, we arrived back at the rim around sunset, and it was indeed amazing. You won’t be alone, though, as there are many others that line up to watch the colors light up the hoodoos.
Return to your car, either at Sunset Point or by hiking along the rim trail (which has no elevation gain) for about 0.5 miles to Sunrise Point.
QUEENS GARDEN AND NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL: TOP LIKES AND DISLIKES
- Amazing Color. This trail is particularly beautiful in the hours when the sun is not high in the sky. This creates shadows all over the trail and can create some breathtaking views. One tip is to get on the trail right around dinner, as you’ll have fewer crowds to navigate and the advantage of cooler temperatures.
- Interesting Scenery. There are great views around every corner, and the diversity of what you will see is nothing short of amazing. We particularly loved the mix of green and oranges at the bottom of the trail.
- An Incredible Experience. Being in the middle of the hoodoos is such a special experience. We felt so lucky to be able to see it in with as few crowds as we did.
- Nothing. Yes, we really can’t think of anything!
THINGS TO DO NEAR THE QUEENS GARDEN AND NAVAJO LOOP TRAIL
You won’t want to miss this hike, but there is also plenty to do around this trail. Our recommendations include:
- Visit the Bryce Canyon Lodge. This quintessential National Park Lodge was built in 1924. Included inside is a restaurant and a gift shop, but even just a stroll through the lobby is special.
- The Tower Bridge Trail starts from Sunrise Point and travels 3 miles through the Amphitheater.
- Sunset Point is a fantastic place for a picnic, if you are here around mealtime.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- The Queens Garden and Navajo Loop is one of many hikes outlined in our 8+ page itinerary for Bryce Canyon National Park. This is less of an itinerary and more of a guide on what to see in the park, what to pack and things to do while you are in the area.
- We had a wonderful trip to Bryce Canyon over a period of two days, and recorded the highlights of or visit in our blog post, 2 Days of Hiking, Riding and Breathtaking Views.
- The Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail was highlighted in our blog post on the best Family Friendly Hikes in U.S. National Parks. Read the blog to find out about another favorite family hike in the park.
- Another great hike that is worth checking out and is lesser-known is covered in our blog, hiking the Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. We also recommend the Bristlecone Loop Trail.
- If you like vintage-style posters, be sure to check out our Bryce Canyon National Park poster.
- We’ll work with you to create custom, vintage-style posters, postcards and note cards from your own photos of Bryce Canyon National Park, or any other location for that matter. We’ve made thousands of customers personalized posters. Check out our process!
ADDITIONAL USEFUL INFORMATION ON BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
- The National Park Service has a great site for Bryce Canyon National Park, including maps and lodging information as well as other great hikes to go on when you are visiting the park.
- For information about the Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail, Jeff Beck has some great information in his blog. His pictures are also really impressive!
- For even more information about the Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail, Kari provides details and photos in her blog. She goes into quite a bit of information about what to expect on the hike, what to bring and tips on when to go.
- Alice has a very impressive map on the Navajo and Queens Garden Loop Trail in her blog, Bryce Canyon Hiking.