Navajo Loop

Round Trip Distance: 1.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 7488 - 8006 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Sunset Point
Fee: $15 individual, $30/vehicle, $35/annual pass
Attractions: Scenic hoodoos and landscapes

The Navajo Loop trail is located in Bryce Canyon National Park. The well groomed trail descends from Sunset Point down wonderfully constructed switchbacks into the confines of Wall Street giving hikers a close up appreciation of the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. The trail passes by Thors Hammer and Two Bridges as well as many other delightful geological wonders.When coupled with the Queens trail the combination is billed as the 'World's best 3-mile hike'.

The Navajo Loop trail is only 1.3 miles but you can still expect to get a good workout with the 550 feet of elevation change.

The loop begins at a fork just below the observation point. The parks trail guide suggests hiking the loop in the clockwise direction but for some reason everyone seems to go the other way. This post describes the hike in the counterclockwise direction.

The view is quite amazing looking down at the switchbacks as they disappear down the throat of the canyon as though being swallowed up by the towering cliffs.

The curious looking hoodoos rise up quickly around you as the trail descends into the bowels of the canyon.

A convenient tunnel allows passage through one of the cliffs. It is interesting that the cliffs look like mud that would easily wash away and crumble during a good thunderstorm yet they are truly compacted into solid rock. Erosion does take its toll like anywhere else but not at a rate that is obvious to visitors.

The trail eventually enters a slot canyon as it continues its steady descent.

Within the cramped space of the canyon several ponderosa pines reach skyward in their successful effort to find the life giving light of the sun. The smaller tree, having its light blocked by the tree nearest it, is dying off. The sight of the towering trees causes most everyone that passes through the narrow canyon to stop and stare in wonderment.

(A short clip of the scene.)

The trail breaks out into the open in a small valley below the hoodoos. At this point hikers are looking back at the hoodoos from the bottom that they were at first gazing over from above and then walking through the midst of. This is a great way to feel part of Bryce Canyon National Park by seeing it practically outside in and inside out.

The trail wraps around through the valley at the base of the cliffs and comes to a fork where 4 trails meet at a junction. The first trail to the right leads over to the Peekaboo Trail. Going straight will take you on the Queens trail and staying to the left will bring you on around the Navajo Loop.

From the fork the trail begins its ascent once again entering a narrow passage through the hoodoos.

A short branch in the trail leads over to a view of the Two Bridges. Natural bridges are created by the forces of water that erode away the softer formation beneath them leaving a span to bridge the gap.

Another masterfully constructed set of switchbacks lead the way back up to the rim.

An appropriately named rock called Thor's Hammer.

Looking down toward the Queen's Garden area on a cloudy day.

The parking lot at Sunset Point fills with cars by 10 AM or so on a busy day. In Bryce Canyon you can park at any of the lots and take the free shuttle bus to other destinations. To save on fuel you can even park outside the park at Bryce Canyon City and catch the bus from there. The restrooms have running water and there is a spigot where you can fill your water bottles before heading down the trail. The Navajo Loop is just about the easiest route to take down into the canyon from the rim to see the hoodoos up close. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.