I had the pleasure of visiting my favorite national park on my husband’s birthday, of all days! It was not intentionally planned that way, but seeing how we packed a lot into one very full week, this was how it panned out. Ironically HB’s favorite park is Zion, which we visited the day after. But I love Bryce Canyon National Park so much because I think the landscape is unlike anything else. It takes my breath away every time. I’m sure HB got tired of hearing me say, “Cool! Look over here!” a million times during our hike. Seriously, every part of the park is photogenic.
Wouldn’t you agree?! During our time at Bryce, we completed these two hikes:
This was the main hike I wanted to do while at Bryce. The last time we were here we did the Queen’s Garden Trail/Navajo Loop so this time I wanted to do something different. Originally I was debating between the 5 mi Peekaboo Loop and this longer 8 mi Fairyland Loop. Well, there was still extensive ice on the Peekaboo Trail (even at the end of March!) and unless you had special ice shoes, it was not advised to hike. Apparently people had slipped and broken their bones on it weeks before! No thanks. So the decision was pretty much made for us - the Fairyland Loop it is!
At Sunrise Point
There are two places where you can start the hike. Either at Sunrise Point or Fairyland Loop Trailhead. Sunrise Point was near The General Store, restrooms, etc. so that’s where we started then walked clockwise. Turns out it doesn’t matter which way you go because either way, you’ll be walking up and downhill a lot! There was no easy path!
Still all this snow that’s around in late March. Like what?!
I enjoyed descending into the canyon and seeing the views from within. But that also meant we had to come back up at some point!
Everything was incredible to see. The unique rock shapes were very fun to look at and photograph. You’ll see two “interesting” rock forms while on the loop. One is the Chinese Wall:
HB with one of the walls
God I LOVE this view of the “wall.”
Why “Chinese Wall” and not the “Great Wall of China?” Maybe there’s a copyright to the name or something!
Then 2-3 (?) miles in is Tower Bridge - like the one in London. It’s a pretty accurate depiction!
As we continued walking, we saw the bridge off in the distance! Can you spot it?
There were a couple branches of the trail that jut out - the paths were narrow (be careful!), but the view at the end was spectacular. Great places to take panos.
Hold on for dear life!
There was very minimal shade on the hike. Heck, you are hiking inside a wide canyon! There were few trees and little to no shade. I can’t believe we went there in the middle of July in 90+ degree heat a few years ago. We were young and dumb. Don’t do that!
Despite the sunny appearance, it was 40 degrees out. We still worked up a sweat on this hike because the UV index was no joke! There were still patches of ice at some parts of the Trail. Half the canyon was covered in snow while the other half’s snow all melted. It was so wild/magical to see!
Towards the end of the loop, when we were nearing the Fairyland Loop Trailhead, there were FANTASTIC views of the hoodoos. The scenery also changed - rather than walking inside the canyon, we were ascending along its edge. It’s a long way down if you fall!
All in all, it took us 5-6 hours to complete. We felt lost towards the last 2 miles when the easy, flat, Rim Trail had us going back into the canyon. We were not sure why we were going back inside; we thought we were near done! But you just have to persist and keep walking…you’ll be back at Sunrise Point eventually. Boy did we breathe a breath of relief when we saw civilization! By the end we were dead beat!
P.S. Don’t do what HB did…wear tall socks so that your hiking boots don’t chafe your ankles! I feel like any girl who wears ankle boots could’ve told him that. You’ll be going up and down A LOT, so comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must.
Mossy Cave Trailhead is not technically inside the park (so no fees, woo) but along Highway 12. There is parking alongside the highway to get to the trailhead. We didn’t originally plan to go, but since it was along the way to Zion for us, we made a quick stop.
The “hike” was only about a mile or so, in and out. You’ll reach a fork in the trail where one side leads you to the cave, and the other to a dam that the Mormons built a long time ago
Since the dam was dry at this time of the year, we didn’t bother with that leg and went to see Mossy Cave.
Well once we arrived, we discovered that it was not mossy but icy!
In the summer when the ice has all melted, I’m sure the cave would look like it’s namesake. But I thought it was still pretty cool to see all the remaining ice in the cave. Once again, coming from Texas, I was surprised to see parts of the country still covered with snow/ice when it was already a nice, balmy 70-80 deg back home!
Have you been to Bryce Canyon National Park? What would you recommend to see/do around there?