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  • Writer's pictureVien R. Guenther

Hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park - Utah

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

The best time of year to hike in Utah is either Spring or Fall, the weather is cooler and there will be less crowds - summer in Utah can be really hot if you are not used to it. The panoramic views of the whole canyon and hoodoos at different viewpoints are amazing, but hiking down below is when you will really appreciate the wonder of this magical place. You will feel quite insignificant when you wander between, around and even through these amazing rock formations.

The meandering trail down to the "canyon"

FIGURE 8 LOOP HIKE (Navajo Loop, Peekaboo Loop & Queens Garden Trail) – 7.5 miles round trip

Down the canyon

Don't get intimidated hiking down into the "canyon", there are easy as well as strenuous hikes that you can choose from. Some of these trails are interconnected and can be combined with other trails to make the hike as long as you want. One is the 8-mile "Figure Eight" loop trail, a popular hike that should not be missed by anyone, if you are in good enough condition to do it. Just remember, you have to consider the hike uphill back to the rim on the last leg of the trail.

We did this hike in Autumn of 2012. It took us about 7.5 miles, combining the Navajo Loop, the Peek-a-Boo Loop and the Queens Garden - each is a short trail that you can take on its own, but you would probably change your mind once you are down there and do them all in one hike.

It is not until you hike down into one of the amphitheaters that you realize how big and tall the hoodoos are. Just look up and let your imagination run wild - you will see an endless display of shapes and colors as you work your way around one bend to another.

Part of the trail
Along the trail

The Hoodoos

Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration of hoodoos, and most are found in the northern sections of the park. These hoodoos range in size from an average human height, to a 20 story building. The Paiute Indians, who moved into the surrounding valleys and plateaus in the area around the same time that the other cultures left, had a myth surrounding the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. They believed the hoodoos were the Legend People whom the trickster Coyote turned to stone. A Paiute tribe’s elder called the hoodoos Anka-ku-was-a-wits, meaning "red painted faces".

In scientific or geological terms, Hoodoos, which are mainly found in the Colorado Plateau, are formed from layers of different types of sedimentary rock - limestone, dolostone, mudstone, siltstone and sandstone, accumulated and cemented together to create Bryce Canyon’s rocks. Due to Bryce Canyon's location, it experiences a variety of temperature conditions. The natural process of freeze and thaw is what shaped the hoodoos. The mineral deposits within the layers are what give them their colors.

Imagine the height of these hoodoos
The different layers making up the hoodoos

Desert Flowers

Down in the "canyon" we found some wildflowers still in bloom. Plants in bloom are like a magnet, I couldn't resist to stop and take pictures.

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