Air Tours


Bryce Canyon Airlines & Helicopters. For a bird's-eye view of Bryce Canyon National Park, take a dramatic helicopter ride or airplane tour over the fantastic sandstone formations. Longer full-canyon tours and added excursions to sites such as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, or Zion are also offered. Flight time can last anywhere from 35 minutes to four hours; family and group rates are available. 435/619–0017; 435/691–8813; From $110.


To get up close and personal with the park's hoodoos, set aside a half day to hike into the amphitheater. There are no elevators, so remember that after you descend below the rim you'll have to get back up. The air gets warmer the lower you go, and the altitude will have you huffing and puffing unless you're a mountain native. The uneven terrain calls for lace-up shoes on even the well-trodden, high-traffic trails and sturdy hiking boots for the more challenging ones. No below-rim trails are paved. For trail maps, information, and ranger recommendations, stop at the visitor center. Bathrooms are at most trailheads but not down in the amphitheater.


Escalante Outfitters. Guided fly-fishing excursions as well as natural history tours of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and Boulder Mountain are offered here. The business also has an outfitter store with camping gear, café, small sleeping cabins, and campsites. 310 W. Main St., Escalante, Utah, 84726. 435/826–4266; From $45.


Bristlecone Loop Trail. This 1-mile trail with a modest 200 feet of elevation gain lets you see the park from its highest points of more than 9,000 feet, alternating between spruce and fir forest and wide-open vistas across the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and beyond. You might see yellow-bellied marmots and dusky grouse, critters not found at lower elevations in the park. The most challenging part of the hike is ungluing your eyes from the scenery long enough to read the signage at the many trail forks. Plan on 45 minutes to an hour. Easy. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Queen's Garden Trail. This hike is the easiest way down into the amphitheater, with 350 feet of elevation change leading to a short tunnel, quirky hoodoos, and lots of like-minded hikers. It's the essential Bryce "sampler." Allow two hours total to hike the 1½-mile trail plus the ½-mile rim-side path and back. Easy. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.


Navajo Loop Trail. One of Bryce's most popular and dramatic attractions is this steep descent via a series of switchbacks leading to Wall Street, a claustrophobic hallway of rock only 20 feet wide in places with walls 100 feet high. After a walk through the Silent City, the northern end of the trail brings Thor's Hammer into view. A well-marked intersection offers a shorter way back or continuing on the Queens Garden Trail to Sunrise Point. For the short version allow at least an hour on this 1½-mile trail with 550 feet of elevation change. Moderate. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Navajo/Queen's Garden Combination Loop. By walking this extended 3-mile loop, you can see some of the best of Bryce; it takes a little more than two hours. The route passes fantastic formations and an open forest of pine and juniper on the amphitheater floor. Descend into the amphitheater from Sunrise Point on the Queens Garden Trail and ascend via the Navajo Loop Trail; return to your starting point via the Rim Trail. Moderate. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.


Fairyland Loop Trail. Hike into whimsical Fairyland Canyon on this trail that gets more strenuous and less crowded as you progress along its 8 miles. It winds around hoodoos, across trickles of water, and finally to a natural window in the rock at Tower Bridge, 1½ miles from Sunrise Point and 4 miles from Fairyland Point. The pink-and-white badlands and hoodoos surround you the whole way. Don't feel like you have to go the whole distance to make it worthwhile. But if you do, allow at least five hours for the round-trip with 1,700 feet of elevation change. You can pick up the loop at Fairyland Point or Sunrise Point. Difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Peekaboo Loop. The reward of this steep trail is the Wall of Windows and the Three Wise Men. Horses use this trail in spring, summer, and fall and have the right-of-way. Start at Bryce, Sunrise, or Sunset Point and allow four to five hours to hike the 5-mile trail or 7-mile double-loop. Difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Riggs Spring Loop Trail. One of the park's two true backpacker's trails, this rigorous 9-mile path has an overnight option at the Yovimpa Pass, Riggs Spring, or Corral Hollow campsites. You'll journey past groves of twinkling aspen trees and the eponymous spring close to the campsite. Start at either Yovimpa or Rainbow points and be prepared for 1,500 feet of elevation change. Campers need to check in at the visitor center ahead of time for backcountry permits. Difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Tower Bridge. This short, less-crowded hike on the Fairyland Loop Trail takes you to a natural bridge deep in the amphitheater. Walk through pink and white badlands with hoodoos all around on this 3-mile trip that takes two to three hours and has 800 feet of elevation change. It is not in itself a loop trail if you start and return to Sunrise Point rather than continue on the Fairlyland Loop. Difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Trail to the Hat Shop. The sedimentary haberdashery sits 2 miles from the trailhead. Hard gray caps balance precariously atop narrow pedestals of softer, rust-color rock. Allow three to four hours to travel this strenuous but rewarding 4-mile round-trip trail, the first part of the longer Under-the-Rim Trail. Difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Under-the-Rim Trail. Starting at Bryce Point, the trail travels 23 miles to Rainbow Point, passing through the Pink Cliffs, traversing Agua Canyon and Ponderosa Canyon, and taking you by several springs. Most of the hike is on the amphitheater floor, characterized by up-and-down terrain among stands of ponderosa pine; the elevation change totals about 1,500 feet. It's the park's longest trail, but four trailheads along the main park road allow you to connect to the Under-the-Rim Trail and cover its length as a series of day hikes. Allow at least two days to hike the route in its entirety, and although it's not a hoodoo-heavy hike there's plenty to see to make it a more leisurely three-day affair. Difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764.

Horseback Riding

Many of the park's hiking trails were first formed beneath the hooves of cattle wranglers. Today, hikers and riders share the trails. A number of outfitters can set you up with a gentle mount and lead you to the park's best sights. Not only can you cover more ground than you would walking, but equine traffic has the right-of-way at all times. Call ahead to the stables for reservations to find a trip that's right for you, from 90 minutes to all day. The biggest outfitters have more than 100 horses and mules to choose from. People under the age of seven or who weigh more than 220 pounds are prohibited from riding.

Tours and Outfitters

Canyon Trail Rides. Descend to the floor of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater via horse or mule—and most visitors have no riding experience, so don't hesitate to join in. A two-hour ride ambles along the amphitheater floor to the Fairy Castle before returning to Sunrise Point. The half-day expedition follows Peekaboo Loop Trail, winds past the Fairy Castle and the Alligator, and passes the Wall of Windows before returning to Sunrise Point. Two rides a day of each type leave in the morning and early afternoon. Trips can now be booked online; there are no rides in winter. Bryce Canyon Lodge, Off Hwy. 63, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84764. 435/679–8665; $60 for 2 hrs; $80 for half-day excursion.

Ruby's Horseback Adventures. Ride to the rim of Bryce Canyon, venture through narrow slot canyons in Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, or even retrace the trails taken by outlaw Butch Cassidy more than 100 years ago. Rides last from one hour to all day. Kids must be seven or older to ride, in some cases 10. Wagon rides to the rim of Bryce Canyon are available for all ages, as are sleigh rides in winter. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. 866/782–0002; From $55.

Winter Sports

Unlike Utah's other national parks, Bryce Canyon receives plenty of snow, making it a popular cross-country ski area. Rim Trail, Paria Loop, and other paths above the canyon are popular destinations. The visitor center sells shoe-traction devices, and some of the ranger-guided snowshoe activities include snowshoes and poles.


Ruby's Winter Activities Center. This facility grooms miles of private, no-cost trails that connect to the ungroomed trails inside the park. Rental snowshoes, ice skates, and cross-country ski equipment are available. Hwy. 63, 1 mile north of park entrance, Bryce, Utah, 84764. 435/834–5341;


Hell's Backbone Road. For a scenic and challenging mountain-bike ride, follow the 44-mile Hell's Backbone Road from Panguitch to the Escalante region and beyond. The route, also known as Highway 12, gives riders stunning views and a half-dozen quaint townships as a reward for the steep grades. The road begins 7 miles south of Panguitch.


Panguitch Lake. Reportedly, the lake takes its name from a Paiute word meaning "big fish." They may not all be big, but several types of trout are plentiful, and ice fishing is popular in winter. With 10 miles of shoreline you're sure to find a quiet spot to wet a line, or you can rent a boat for the day. Hwy. 143, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 84759. 435/676–1161;


Lower Escalante River. Some of the best backcountry hiking in the area lies 15 miles east of Escalante on Route 12, where the Lower Escalante River carves through striking sandstone canyons and gulches. You can camp at numerous sites along the river for extended trips, or spend a little time in the small park where the highway crosses the river. 84720.

Utah Canyons Outdoor Store. This outfitter is a great source for local information and offers guided trips into the canyons of Grand Staircase–Escalante and the surrounding area, as well as interpretive nature hikes. The on-site store includes a wide selection of camping and hiking necessities, clothing, and locally handcrafted gifts, jewelry, and art. And don't forget about the serious, freshly made espresso and whole-fruit smoothies. 325 W. Main St., Escalante, Utah, 84726. 435/826–4967;

Tours and Outfitters

Excursions of Escalante. Hiking, backpacking, and canyoneering tours in the Escalante region are custom-fit to your needs and abilities by experienced guides whose specialty is taking canyoneers into the slot canyons to move through slot chutes or rappel down walls and other obstacles. All gear and provisions are provided whether it's a day hike or multiday adventure. 125 E. Main St., Escalante, Utah, 84726. 800/839–7567; $130.