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Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorites, at least after my latest visit. If you’ve been here for a while you probably know I’ve been twice before, once a year the last three years now. The first time was part of my Great American Southwest Road trip, last summer was just for funsies, and I guess this year was too, but this time I had a purpose. I was going to hike Navajo Loop. I was finally going to go into the canyon and be one with the hoodoos.
It was really the only thing I wanted to do there, and then make a stop at Mossy Cave after, but Navajo Loop was the goal and it was all that really mattered in the morning. We set off from Panguitch and got some breakfast on our way. The visitors center was our first stop as always for stickers, patches, and postcards. Side note: if you have a cool thing that you do with collected patches, I would love to hear or see it! I have a bunch and haven’t really figured out what to do with them yet. Ideas welcome.
We didn’t follow any official loop, just kind of went where we thought looked good. Peek-a-boo Loop was really cool and had, like, no one on it, which is awesome compared to most of the rest of the trail, especially the beginning and end.
So, from the beginning, the trail brings you down to the bottom of the canyon, walking among the hoodoos most of the way. At the bottom it’s more trees, but less busy. After that you start to go up and back into the hoodoos. There are a few arch doorway type things you go through on the way, maybe on the Queens Garden Trail.
The whole trail, or trails I guess, was about five miles, maybe a little more, but we did a lot of back tracking and extra exploring, which I would highly recommend. Even straying from the main trail to another lesser known one for a little bit can send you from tons of people to no one. I really liked this trail a lot and even though we started it probably around 10, when it’s always busy, it wasn’t completely packed. There is enough trail in this area that you can easily escape the crowds.
After that we decided to go to the Mossy Cave, a much less visited area outside the main part of the park. There is a small cave thing and a waterfall. Both are short hikes and worth a stop. The cave wasn’t terribly exciting. You can’t go into it and it’s more of a mossy overhang than a cave. The waterfall was pretty cool though. You can walk down to the river and go up to the top of it as well. I would make the stop for this and maybe skip the cave part.
Overall, this was by far my favorite visit to Bryce Canyon. I finally got to go into it and finally stopped at the little pullout I always saw which turned out to be Mossy Cave. The weather was pretty much perfect. And I got to go into the hoodoos! If you can’t tell, that’s what I’m most excited about. I would 1000% recommend hiking Navajo Loop or Queens Garden. Or combine them. It’s an awesome hike and can be done in half a day or you could spend a whole day combining the trails in that area.
Tips for hiking Navajo Loop:
- Bring lots of water and some snacks, especially if you plan on being out most of, or even half of, the day.
- It’s pretty sunny on a lot of the trail, so wear sunscreen and maybe even a hat (use W2W for 15% off!)
- The elevation is around 9000 feet, so keep that in mind if you’re not used to that high of elevation, especially since it’s a fairly long hike.
- The total that we hiked was about 5.5 miles. This is about right if you do Navajo Loop with Queens Garden.