Hiking the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon [The ultimate guide]
With its unique landscapes, Bryce Canyon National Park is a must for any road trip to the American West.
Queens Garden Trail leads down into the heart of the amphitheatre, allowing you to get a close look at the famous "hoodoos". The scenery is surprisingly beautiful and quite unworldly: it's like being on a different planet.
Follow the guide to be well prepared for this magical hike.
What is the Queens Garden Trail?
Hoodoos or fairy chimneys are in fact red sandstone spires and pillars created by millions of years of erosion.
The Queens Garden Trail was named after a rock formation said to bear a striking resemblance to Queen Victoria.
- Trailhead: Sunrise Point
- Distance: 2.9 km round-trip
- Elevation change: 98 metres
- Time: 2 hours
- Level: easy
This trail is considered one of the most beautiful in Bryce Canyon, and you will quickly see why...
The trail begins at Sunrise Point, which offers a stunning panoramic view of Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. As its name suggests, the view is most spectacular in the early morning light. But rest assured, it will take your breath away even in the middle of the afternoon.
From here, start your descent and enjoy the amazing (and dizzying) view for the first few kilometers.
If you are doing the hike with young children, keep them close, because the trail is steep and the rock can crumble at the edge of the path. If you are prone to knee problems, I recommend bringing hiking poles.
The further you go, the closer you get to the impressive and colourful rock sculptures created by erosion.
Middle of the trail
After about twenty minutes, you will pass through the first arch carved into the rock.
You will continue to have breathtaking views as you advance deeper into the amphitheatre: you will have already descended several metres. Shade will be easier to find, where you can take a break, catch your breath and admire Mother Nature's prowess.
Slowly you reach the heart of the forest of hoodoos. Soon they will be towering overhead and you will have to look up to see them.
End of the trail
You're almost there: pass through another rocky arch and follow the sign to "Queens Garden Trail". You're just a few metres from the sign saying "End of the trail".
At the centre of Queen's Garden is the swirling, elevated formation said to resemble Queen Victoria.
After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, it is time to continue your hike.
Retrace your steps to the other side of the rocky arch mentioned above.
Here, you have two options:
- Retrace your steps to Sunrise Point, which is 1.4 km away.
- Turn right and take the 1.3 km trail leading to the Navajo Loop Trail.
Combination with Navajo Loop Trail
If you have time, I warmly recommend continuing along the trail to Navajo Loop, which leads to Sunset Point.
Characteristics Queens Garden + Navajo Loop
- Time: 3.5 hours
- Distance: 3.3 km
- Elevation change: 190 metres
- Level: Intermediate
After Queens Garden Trail, turn right and continue for 1.3 km to reach the Navajo Loop Trail.
As this trail is a loop, you will have to choose which branch to take to Sunset Point.
If it is open, I suggest taking the Wall Street branch, which leads through a spectacular slot canyon.
The trail ends with a steep climb but is well worth the effort: the beauty of the view from Sunset Point will quickly banish all memory of the strenuous final kilometre.
If you left your car in the Sunrise Point parking area, follow Rim Trail for about 800 metres to get back to your departure point. Otherwise, wait for the shuttle.
What should you bring?
Before setting out on a hike, always take a few moments to make sure that you are well prepared.
Here is what you will need for Queens Garden Trail:
- Walking shoes with good ankle support.
- A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Snowshoes and/or crampons if you are hiking in the winter.
- Sufficient water and something to eat.
- Warm clothing, even in summer. The park is at an elevation of more than 2,500 metres so temperatures can drop quickly.
- Stay on the trails at all times (for your safety and to protect the park).
- In high season, arrive early to avoid the crowds.
- If arriving from Nevada or California, change your watch to Mountain Time. You will need to advance 1 hour.
- And most importantly: don't forget to charge your camera battery!
When can you hike the Queens Garden Trail?
Bryce Canyon National Park is open all year round.
However, winters can be quite snowy, which can lead to trail closures, for example the Wall Street branch of the Navajo Loop, and the trail from Bryce Point to Peekaboo Loop.
In any season, ask the rangers at the Visitor Center about current trail conditions.
How do I get to the trail?
You have two options for getting to the trailhead:
- By shuttle bus: from April to October, a free shuttle service provides transport to the different viewpoints and hiking trails. Buses run every 15 minutes, every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May to September, and until 6 p.m. in low season. As well as being better for the environment, you will save time and avoid parking problems.
- By car: there is a parking area next to Sunrise Point. If you choose this option in high season, arrive early or you will waste time looking for a parking spot.
How much is the park fee?
The park entry fee is $35 per vehicle and is valid for 7 days.
If you intend to visit 2 or 3 parks during your trip, I recommend buying the America The Beautiful Pass. It is valid for 1 year and costs $80.
The prices mentioned above are per vehicle, not per person. Whether you are 2 or 4, the price will be the same.
I hope this guide will help you in planning your American West road trip.
Now you're ready for this spectacular hiking adventure that will stay etched in your memory forever.
If you have questions or anything to add, don't hesitate to leave a comment below!