BRYCE CANYON – “THE BEST 3-MILE HIKE IN THE WORLD”
Bryce Canon is famous for their Hoodoo rock formations (yes, I had to google what hoodoos were). It’s about a 4-hour drive from Las Vegas or 1.5-hour drive from Zion National Park, it’s a relatively close park to check out while in the vicinity.
Queens Garden/ Navajo Loop / Rim Trail – Since we had only time for a day hike, we opted to do the combo of trails dubbed ‘The best 3-mile hike in the world”. The three trails combined, complete a ~ 3-mile loop which starts along the rim and brings you down into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, which provided a good summary of the different ecosystems in the park. Elevation change of entire loop- ~500ft
QUEENS GARDEN TRAIL
The Queens Garden trail is rated “Easy” on the official National Park Service website. The trail begins on the rim at Sunrise Point. This section of the trail is ~1.8 miles and merges into the Navajo Loop trail which will lead you back up to the rim. The trail starts off without much vegetation but was amazing to see the bottom of the amphitheater was the total opposite, with abundant trees and bushes, yes like a “Garden”.
The entire loop is ~1.3 miles, though combining it with the Queens Garden Trail, you would be going up either side of the loop. One side is of the loop is the Twin Bridges trail and the other side is the Wall Street side. Either side will bring you up the iconic steep switchbacks up to the rim of the amphitheater.
The Rim Trail is a flat path that follows the perimeter of the amphitheater. It’s paved/ packed dirt the entire way that is easily accessible from multiple parking lots.
GETTING TO THE TRAIL
There is plenty of parking in either sunrise or sunset point, either of which will place you on the rim trail and a short walk to the trails.
Once you veer off the Rim Trail, the paths are still wide but crushed /packed rock. There is fairly good traction and the switchbacks are gradual enough that you do not have to worry about slipping. There were spots in the canyon where it was muddy with rainwater from past storms.
Majority of the above 3 trails were wide well maintained packed dirt or semi-loose gravel. While hiking shoes are recommended for any hike with dirt and elevation, it’s entirely do-able in regular sneakers, as most people I came across seemed perfectly fine in sneakers.
If you’re doing the Navajo Loop, there is quite a bit of steep elevation going up and down the switchbacks on both the Wall Street and Two Bridges side. About ~500 ft down and up. Those with potential knee problems I would recommend bringing a pole. Otherwise due to the short distance of 3 miles, one should be fine without it.
Light Jacket/ Layers. Bryce Canon is ~8000ft + in elevation, higher than Zion and Grand Canyon. It is also known to snow in the winter. When I went in August, it was quite windy and cool at the rim and I needed a light jacket, but as you went down, the wind was not as much of a factor and became hot (though could be from me walking). The majority of the trail is open throughout the day with the exception of the canyons.
Check the weather for thunderstorms. The park ranger warned of the weather patterns and fast rolling thunderstorms, at least for the summer. As with grand canyon, the mornings would be sunny and thunderstorms would be present for any given evening. It was sunny at the beginning of our hike, but storms did develop and experienced thunder hail as well.