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14+ best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah quickly became one of my favorite USA national parks when we visited. Never before had I seen those unique Bryce Canyon hoodoo rock formations found in the Bryce Canyon amphitheater.

We spent about one day in Bryce Canyon, Utah but spread over two: one afternoon where we drove the scenic road to the furthest point, and a morning where we took some chilly hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park.

You could easily visit Bryce Canyon in one day if you’re only choosing one hike, but this way we got to witness both a spectacular sunrise and sunset as well which I’d highly recommend!

If you are keen on a hike in Bryce, then check out my pick of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. These hikes vary in ease and some take you down amongst the hoodoos themselves. It’s a great way to see the park!

14+ best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park bryce canyon utah

The best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

If you’re looking to go hiking in Bryce Canyon, you’re in luck! Despite being a relatively small National Park in comparison to others, there are still plenty of Bryce Canyon hiking trails – some of the best Utah hiking in fact! You can also go backpacking in Bryce Canyon if that’s your thing.

These hikes are grouped into easy hikes in Bryce Canyon, moderate and strenuous to make it easy to find the right Bryce Canyon hiking trail for you.

Most are done as a Bryce Canyon day hike and the last on the list is an overnighter.

Bryce Canyon National Park Maps

Take a look at this Bryce Canyon map to get your bearings and see the full map of Bryce Canyon National Park here. They can be used as a Bryce Canyon trails map but they’re not super detailed so downloading one of these hiking apps like AllTrails+ is much better.

Bryce Canyon National Park map

You can also use this interactive Bryce Canyon hiking map to get an idea of where the Bryce Canyon trailheads are for the best hikes in the park!

Just click below (or here) to open the map up in Google Maps.

best things to do in bryce canyon national park utah
A Bryce Canyon hikes map
bryce canyon national park utah

Easy Bryce Canyon National Park hikes

AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.

Sunset Point to Sunrise Point

  • Distance: 1.9 km / 1.2 miles
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Elevation: minimal
  • Trail map

Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is your go-to hike if you’re looking for an easy hike in Bryce Canyon with amazing scenery.

It’s definitely more like a walk than a hike, but you’ll still get amazing views down into Bryce Canyon amphitheater with its unique Hoodoo rock formations.

The trail runs along the top of the hoodoo amphitheater and is on a paved trail. Try to go at sunrise or sunset when the light is perfect!

It’s a small slice of the larger Rim Trail, perfect if you’re short on time but still want to experience the park’s beaut

Once you’re done taking a walk or enjoying the sunrise head into the Bryce Canyon Lodge for breakfast or coffee.

bristlecone loop trail

Bristlecone Loop

  • Distance: 1.6 km / 1 mile
  • Time: 25 mins
  • Elevation: minimal
  • Trail map

The Bristlecone Loop trail takes you to the highest point of the park, Rainbow Point. Here, you’re standing a whopping 9,000 feet above sea level! It’s a great place to stop as you drive the Bryce Canyon Scenic Road.

On the Bristlecone loop trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll walk among some of the oldest living species, with the oldest tree in the park being around 1,600 years old!

This trail is less crowded than other Bryce Canyon hikes and since you’re at a high elevation you’ll get some great views. You should note though, that it’s colder up here and snow may linger well into late spring.

mossy cave turret

Mossy Cave trail and waterfall

  • Distance: 1.4 km / 0.9 miles
  • Time: 25 mins
  • Elevation: 37 m / 121 ft
  • Trail map

The Mossy Cave trail is at the northern end of Bryce Canyon National Park and so it’s a bit of a quieter place to visit. On this trail in Bryce Canyon, you’ll venture into a mossy cave, come across a waterfall and, of course, see some amazing red rock formations.

If you’re visiting Bryce Canyon in winter this trail usually remains open and you can sometimes even see the waterfall partially frozen or with icicles which are super cool to see.

This trail is short and easy, with some great views along the way.

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Queen’s Garden from Sunset Point

  • Distance: 3.4 km / 2.1 miles
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Elevation: 140 m / 459 ft
  • Trail map

The Queen’s Garden trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the easiest trails that takes you down into the canyon itself.

The trail takes you down a steep path from Sunrise Point into the heart of the canyon, where you’ll be surrounded by towering hoodoos.

As you follow the trail, you’ll notice that the impressive hoodoos change shape and form as the light changes throughout the day, casting mesmerizing shadows. One of the most famous is the Queen Victoria hoodoo; so named because of its uncanny resemblance to Queen Victoria seated on her throne.

You’ll also walk under some little archways cut into the rock which makes the trail kind of fun whether you have kids with you or not.

If you’re just walking to the Quee Victoria Hoodoo then this is an out-and-back trail but you can easily combine this with another trail to make it a loop.

14+ best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park natural arch in bryce canyon

Moderate hikes in Bryce Canyon

Tower Bridge

  • Distance: 5.5 km / 3.4 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Elevation: 252 m / 827 ft
  • Trail map

The Tower Bridge trail is a moderately difficult hike where you’ll get to see the cool Tower Bridge rock formation of Bryce Canyon.

Starting from Sunrise Point at the top of the canyon, you’ll walk down into the canyon to get some amazing views along the way.

You’ll also see the Chinese Wall which is another of the top things to see in Bryce Canyon National Park before coming out to Tower Bridge which some say looks like Tower Bridge in London.

If you’ve still got energy, you can combine this Bryce Canyon trail with the Fairyland Point, or just head back the way you came.

rim trail bryce canyon

Queen’s Garden to Sunset Point via the Navajo Loop trail

  • Distance: 5 km / 3.1 miles
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 198 m / 650 ft
  • Trail map

This is perhaps the best hike in Bryce Canyon National Park and is definitely one of the most popular.

The Queen’s Garden trail to Sunset Point via the Bryce Canyon Navajo Loop trail takes you down into the canyon and past some of the best features in the park such as Queen Victoria Hoodoo, the Two Bridges, and Thor’s Hammer.

You could also choose to extend this trail slightly by checking out the famous Bryce Canyon switchbacks: Wall Street.

You’ll finish this trail at Sunset Point and from there is an easy walk along the top of the canyon on a paved trail to return to the starting point at Sunrise Point.

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Bryce Canyon Rim Trail

  • Distance: 17.2 km / 10.7 miles
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation: 484 m / 1588 ft
  • Trail map

The Rim Trail gives you the chance to explore Bryce Canyon from the top of the rim looking down into the hoodoo amphitheater. From this trail, you’ll get such a good look at the scale, number, and beauty of the rocks that make this park famous.

Some parts of the trail are paved, making it easy to walk on and others are more like dirt paths.

There are also benches along the way where you can stop for a while and have a snack while enjoying the views.

A lot of people do the trail as a one-way walk getting the shuttle back to the park entrance or where they left their car. However, the details on distances above consider this as a return trail; retracing your steps.

fairyland loop trail bryce canyon hikes

Fairyland Loop Trail

  • Distance: 7.2 km / 4.5 miles
  • Time: 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 272 m / 892 ft
  • Trail map

The Fairyland Loop trail takes you down into the canyon, where you’ll be surrounded by more hoodoos than you can imagine. While there are a few uphill climbs, the trail also includes many flat sections meaning that overall it’s not too difficult.

Named Fairyland for its almost magical beauty, this trail does feel like walking in a dream.

You’ll combine both canyon and rim walking, with the latter offering amazing views but not quite matching the astonishing beauty of the inner canyon.

bryce canyon national park utah 5

Navajo Loop Trail

  • Distance: 2.5 km / 1.5 miles
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Elevation: 157 m / 515 ft
  • Trail map

The Navajo Loop Trail can only be completed as a loop in the summer since half of the trail is closed in the winter due to snow and ice.

When the full loop is open you’re in for a treat as this is one of the best trails in the park. You’ll get to see some of the best rock formations in the park up close as you descend into the canyon from Sunset Point.

The path starts on what’s known as Wall Street, a narrow passage through the towering rock formations that zigzags down to the canyon floor.

This part of the trail can be crowded as it’s one of the most popular things to see in Bryce Canyon National Park, but once you pass through Wall Street, the crowd thins, allowing you to enjoy the rest of the trail with fewer crowds.

hat shop bryce canyon hikes

Hat Shop Bryce Canyon

  • Distance: 6.4 km / 4 miles
  • Time: 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 245 m / 804 ft
  • Trail map

The Hat Shop trail is one of the lesser-known hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park though it’s definitely increasing in popularity.

The main feature on this trail that people hike to go and see is the hoodoos that look like people wearing hats; hence the trail name!

This is a harder trail since there’s very little shade and hiking back up to the top of the canyon can be quite tiring and challenging. Definitely make sure you’re hiking with lots of water if you’re visiting Bryce Canyon in the summer months!

sheep creek swamp canyon hike in bryce canyon national park

Strenuous Bryce Canyon trails

Sheep Creek / Swamp Canyon Swamp Canyon Loop

  • Distance: 7.2 km / 4.5 miles
  • Time: 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 272 m / 892 ft
  • Trail map

The Swamp Canyon Loop trail which also includes the Sheep Creek trail is another good option if you’re looking for less busy trails in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The trail can be somewhat of an adventure due to the lack of clear signs and markers, so a good trail map is a must.

Starting at Swamp Canyon, you can take either the Swamp Canyon trail or the Sheep Creek trail first, then return via the other, forming a loop. In the middle you’ll walk through a more forested area and get some great views of Mud Butte and Swamp Butte with the pink-hue cliffs in the distance.

peekaboo loop trail

Peekaboo Loop

  • Distance: 8.4 km / 5.2 miles
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Elevation: 466 m / 1529 ft
  • Trail map

The Peekaboo Loop trail, from Bryce Point towards the far end of the park is one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park for sure.

It’s often less busy than trails like the Navajo Loop trail but gives you similar views and a similar experience.

You’ll get to see a mini version of Wall Street (the famous switchbacks) and be walking amongst hundreds of huge hoodoos.

There’s also the Wall of Windows and various points where you’ll walk under archways carved out of the rocks. It’s a fun trail that isn’t too difficult but I’ve put it as a strenuous hike so you don’t underestimate the climb back out of the canyon.

This hike can easily be combined with other trails in the park if you’re looking for something longer.

  • Bryce Amphitheater Traverse: 4.7-mile one-way hike starting at Bryce Point and covering Peekaboo and Queen’s Garden, ending at Sunrise Point. You can use the shuttle to return
  • Navajo / Peekaboo Combination Loop: 4.9-mile loop starting at Sunset Point and covering the Navajo and Peekaboo Trails
  • Figure 8 Combination: 6.4-mile loop starting at Sunrise Point and covering Queen’s Garden, Peekaboo, and then Navajo Trails
rigg springs loop trail

Riggs Spring Loop Trail

  • Distance: 13.8 km / 8.6 miles
  • Time: 4.5 hours
  • Elevation: 565 m / 1854 ft
  • Trail map

The Riggs Spring Loop Trail is one of the more challenging hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. While it doesn’t take you past as many hoodoo views as other hikes in the park, it makes up for that with a pretty trail through the woods.

The Riggs Spring Loop Trail is best done clockwise. This way, the hike builds up to the best views, instead of revealing them all at the start. Although if you’re short on time you can hike anti-clockwise and then just return back up the trail without doing the full loop.

Although parts of the park have been affected by recent fires, leading to fewer trees, the Riggs Spring Loop Trail is still a great hike.

bryce under the rim trail

Under the Rim trail

  • Distance: 36 km / 22.4 miles (point to point)
  • Time: 6 – 7 hours
  • Elevation: 1 331 m / 4367 ft
  • Trail map
  • Notes: For more information about trail safety & permits see the NPS site.

The Under the Rim Trail is the best option for backpacking in Bryce Canyon National Park.

This trail goes under the rim of the canyon and takes you on a hike from one end of the park to the other.

It’s best done as an overnight trip, though if you’re into trail running and long-distance hikes you could do this in a day as long as you’re experienced and have all the correct safety gear.

Backpacking Bryce’s Under the Rim Trail requires a backcountry camping permit that can be acquired from the visitor’s center for $10. There are eight designated campsites along the trail where you are allowed to do some Bryce Canyon camping.

The trail offers a chance to escape the crowds and explore the park’s diverse landscapes – from forests and meadows to beautifully colored cliffs. While the iconic hoodoos may not be as visible, they add to the picturesque vista as you journey along the valley floor.

You’ll need good navigational skills and experience in backpacking and must store all food in bear canisters due to the presence of wildlife like mountain lions and black bears in the backcountry of Bryce Canyon.

If you’re looking for Bryce Canyon backpacking, this is the best trail to explore.

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Other Things to Do Besides Hiking the Bryce Canyon Trails

Here are some of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park besides hiking:

  • Stargazing: Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its incredibly dark night skies, making it one of the best places for stargazing in the U.S. The park even holds regular astronomy programs with rangers and volunteers, including an annual Astronomy Festival. It’s definitely worth heading into the park at night to gaze upon thousands of stars, meteor showers, or the Milky Way.
  • Horseback Riding: Experience Bryce Canyon on horseback! There are several companies offering guided horseback rides, which typically take you along the canyon’s floor or rim. This is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the park’s unique geology and natural beauty without having to hike.
  • Scenic Drives: If you want to explore the park without too much physical exertion, consider taking a scenic drive. Bryce Canyon has an 18-mile scenic drive that winds along the edge of the plateau, offering breathtaking views of the amphitheaters and hoodoos. There are numerous pullouts where you can stop, enjoy the view, and take photographs.
  • Photography: Whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer, there are countless opportunities for landscape, wildlife, and astrophotography. Don’t miss capturing the sunrise or sunset over the canyon for particularly stunning shots.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Bryce Canyon is home to wildlife including mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and a variety of bird species including the Peregrine Falcon. In the higher, forested areas of the park, you might even see mountain lions or black bears. Remember to observe all wildlife from a safe distance and never feed or approach animals.
bryce canyon switchbacks

Bryce Canyon National Park entrance fees

The entrance fee to Bryce Canyon National Park is $35 per vehicle. If entering by foot or bicycle it’s $20 per person. Motorcycle entrance costs $30 per motorcycle. This admission lasts for 7 days and includes unlimited rides on the Bryce Canyon shuttle bus.

Get a USA National Parks Pass for just $80 and save a tonne of money if you’re planning on visiting multiple National Parks in a year, or visiting the same one more than once!

You can also get a Southeast Utah Parks Annual Pass if you’re planning on visiting lots of National Parks in Southeast Utah for $55.

bryce canyon national park utah

Things to remember before hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park

Here’s a detailed list of things you should know before going hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park:

  • Leave No Trace: Respect the environment by leaving no trace. Carry all your rubbish with you, don’t touch or move natural elements like plants, rocks, or artifacts, and always stay on the trails to prevent damage to wildlife habitats.
  • Carry Hiking Essentials: Always pack the 10 essentials for hiking: navigation tools, headlamp/flashlight, sun protection, first aid supplies, a knife, fire-starting materials, shelter equipment, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes.
  • Backcountry Permit: If you plan on an overnight hike, you’ll need to purchase a Bryce Canyon backcountry permit. These are only available in person at the visitor center and cost $5.
  • Water: Always carry plenty of water, especially since you’re in a desert environment. Aim to drink at least 1 gallon of water a day during your hike.
  • Weather Check: The weather in Bryce Canyon can be unpredictable. Always check current conditions and be prepared for all sorts of weather – heat, rain, or even snow depending on the season.
  • Early Start: Try to start your hike early. Parking lots in Bryce Canyon tend to fill up by mid-morning in late spring and early fall. Arriving shortly after sunrise ensures you’ll find parking and also offers the best light for viewing the Bryce Amphitheater.
  • Sunrise View: Consider watching the sunrise from the Rim Trail at either Sunrise Point or Sunset Point for an unforgettable start to your day in Bryce Canyon.
  • Dress in Layers: Due to the variable weather, it’s advisable to dress in layers. Temperatures often drop below freezing overnight, even in Spring and Fall, and then heat up as the sun rises. Consider a breathable long-sleeve top, a fleece jacket, and a down jacket.
  • Summer Thunderstorms: Be aware that thunderstorms are common in Utah during the summer and can pose a threat to hikers. Always check the weather forecast before setting out.
  • National Park Pass: If you’re planning to visit all 5 Utah national parks or are road-tripping from Zion to Bryce Canyon, consider getting the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gives you access to all 63 national parks. If you don’t opt for this pass, you’ll have to pay a $35 entrance fee for the park.

Best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park

The best time to enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park hiking trails largely depends on your personal preferences and tolerance for different weather conditions. Here’s a season-by-season breakdown:

  • Spring (March – May): Spring is a great time to visit Bryce Canyon for hiking, as temperatures are moderate and the park is less crowded compared to the peak summer months. Average high temperatures range from 49°F (9°C) in March to 68°F (20°C) in May. However, nights can still be quite cold, and there’s potential for snow early in the season, so dressing in layers is key.
  • Summer (June – August): Summers are warm with average high temperatures ranging from 78°F (25.5°C) to 83°F (28°C). This is the most popular time to visit, so the trails will be busier. You’ll also need to be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms that are common during this period. Despite the heat, this is a great time for longer hikes as the days are long and all trails are open and snow-free.
  • Autumn (September – November): Fall brings cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and fewer crowds, making it an excellent time to hike. Average high temperatures range from 76°F (24°C) in September to 50°F (10°C) in November. Keep in mind that snow can start falling as early as October, so be prepared for potential trail closures later in the season.
  • Winter (December – February): Winter in Bryce Canyon is cold with average high temperatures hovering around 36°F to 40°F (2°C to 4°C). However, it offers a unique opportunity to see the red rock hoodoos covered in snow, creating a stunning contrast. Some trails may be closed due to snow and ice, but there are winter hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing opportunities. This is the least crowded time to visit, but make sure you’re adequately prepared for the cold weather.

In general, the late spring to early summer and fall are generally the most pleasant times to visit Bryce Canyon for hiking in terms of weather and crowd levels. Always check the current weather conditions and potential trail closures before planning your hike.

little windows trail bryce canyon utah

What to pack for hiking Bryce Canyon National Park

I have a more detailed packing list for Bryce Canyon but below are some essentials. The items you need might slightly vary depending on the season and length of your hike.

  • Hiking boots or trail running shoes: Make sure they are well broken in and comfortable for long distances. Also, consider waterproof shoes if you’ll be hiking in cooler, wetter months.
  • Hiking Socks: Preferably wool or a synthetic, quick-drying pair.
  • Hiking Poles: These can be especially useful on steeper trails and for maintaining balance on uneven terrain.
  • Backpack: Choose one with good support and enough capacity for all your gear.
  • Moisture-wicking Base Layers: This will help to keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Insulating Mid-layers: Fleece or down jacket is recommended, particularly in cooler months.
  • Waterproof jacket: A lightweight, packable rain jacket is a good idea in case of sudden weather changes.
  • Quick-drying Pants or Shorts: Pick according to the weather.
  • Hat: A wide-brimmed hat for sun protection and a warm beanie for cooler months.
  • Gloves: Necessary for colder months.
  • Sunglasses: To protect your eyes from sun glare.
  • Water: Bring at least 2 liters for a day hike, more if it’s a longer hike or if it’s hot.
  • Water Filter or Purification Tablets: Useful for longer hikes where you may need to refill your water from a natural source.
  • Snacks: Energy bars, trail mix, fruit, jerky, etc. Pack more than you think you’ll need, just in case.
  • Meals: If you’re planning to be out all day or overnight, pack lightweight, easy-to-cook meals.
  • First Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, medical tape, pain relievers, and any personal medication.
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: To protect your skin from harsh UV rays at higher Bryce Canyon elevation
  • Insect Repellent: Particularly important in warmer months.
  • Headlamp: Essential if you’ll be out past dusk. Don’t forget the extra batteries!
  • Multitool or Knife: This can come in handy in various situations.
  • Camera
thors hammer in bryce canyon national park

How big is Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon covers 35,835 acres of land and it tends to be quieter than nearby Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon’s elevation varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m) which means winter in Bryce Canyon is pretty chilly! We visited towards the end of April 2017 and there was still snow in parts.

The easiest way to see the park is to drive the scenic road or in busier months it’s recommended that you take the Bryce Canyon shuttle bus since the parking spots will be full up anyway and taking the shuttle is more environmentally friendly.

FAQs on the Bryce Canyon best hikes

What is the elevation of Bryce Canyon National Park?

The elevation of Bryce Canyon varies throughout the park, ranging from 8,000 to 9,100 feet above sea level. The rim at Bryce Canyon, the highest part, stands over 9,000 feet high.

How big is Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon National Park spans approximately 35,835 acres or about 56 square miles. Despite its name, it’s not actually a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

How many trails are in Bryce Canyon National Park?

There are more than 50 miles of hiking trails in Bryce Canyon National Park spread across approximately 13 main trails, each providing unique views and experiences of the park’s geological wonders.

Where is the best place to hike in Bryce Canyon National Park?

The Navajo Loop Trail is often considered the best place to hike in Bryce Canyon National Park.

What is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon?

The Navajo Loop Trail is the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon National Park due to its spectacular views and relatively short distance.

What is the best hoodoo trail in Bryce Canyon?

The Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Combination Trail, often referred to as the “Best 3-mile hike in the world,” is considered the best trail for viewing Bryce Canyon’s distinctive hoodoos.

How hard is the Navajo loop trail in Bryce Canyon?

The Navajo Loop Trail is of moderate difficulty. Despite its short length of 1.3 miles, it includes steep switchbacks and an elevation change of approximately 550 feet, making it a rigorous but rewarding trek.

Where is Bryce Canyon National Park located?

Bryce Canyon National Park is in southwest Utah. It’s one of Utah’s Mighty 5 Parks. The 5 Utah National Parks are; Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon. It’s a roughly 2-hour drive away from Zion National Park.

Final thoughts on the best Bryce Canyon hikes

Bryce Canyon National Park is best explored on foot in my view. If you’re a keen hiker and active traveler, this guide has shown you there are so many awesome places to hike in Bryce Canyon.

One of the best trails in Bryce Canyon is definitely the Navajo Loop Trail, especially when combined with the Queens Garden Trail and this is the hike I’d recommend if you are limited on time, or only want to do one hike.

Grab your Bryce Canyon trail map from the visitor center, or get AlTrailas+ for a trail map on your phone and have fun exploring the stunning Bryce Canyon National Park trails.

If you’ve enjoyed this guide to the best hikes Bryce Canyon has to offer, and are spending some more time nearby on a Utah or USA road trip, why not check out these awesome hikes in Zion National Park such as the Angel’s Landing Trail, or head to Arches National Park’s best hikes including the Devil’s Garden Loop Trail. There are also some great hikes in Canyonlands both from above the canyon and within it.

Last Updated on August 1, 2023 by Hannah

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