Queens/Navajo Loop

Round Trip Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 7596 - 8012 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 1 hr. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Sunset or Sunrise Points
Fee: $15 individual, $30/vehicle, $35/annual pass
Attractions: Scenic hoodoos and canyons

The Queens Garden and Navajo trails are located in Bryce Canyon National Park. By combining the two trails to make a loop you have what the Park Service bills as the 'World's best 3-mile hike'. The trail is indeed the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon. For those who have only a limited time to spend in the park and want to take a hike below the rim into the canyon this is the hike you will want to plan on doing. Longer, less crowded hikes that take you below the rim into the heart of the canyon that are also spectacular, if you can squeeze them into your schedule, are the Fairyland Loop and the Peekaboo Loop.

The Queens/Navajo Loop can be accessed from either Sunrise or Sunset Points. This post describes beginning at Sunset Point and following the Rim Trail to Sunrise Point to the beginning of the Queens Garden trail.

The Park Service imparts a few words of wisdom for those about to set off on the trail and you can bet that they are speaking from experience. While sturdy footwear is one of the best investments an avid hiker can make there are many many people that only hike down the trail a short distance before returning to the rim wearing all sorts of flimsy shoes and do just fine. If you are going to do much hiking though then you might want to get in shape and come prepared so you can have the best possible experience.

The entire length of the trail is broad, flat and hard packed. The Park Service actually has a small bulldozer that they use to maintain the trails within the canyon. The smooth surface makes hiking in Bryce Canyon somewhat easier and faster than other locations even with the change in elevation between the rim and lower valleys.

The descent into the canyon is spread out over gentle sloping sections of switchbacks and longer stretches of trail of an equally gradual pitch.

Hikers get to see the hoodoos in an up close and personal manner while traveling through their midst.

Several tunnels provide a passage right through a few of the ridges that the trail encounters.

A short spur leads into the Queens Garden to the base of a hoodoo that resembles a famous statue of Queen Victoria in London, England.

From the Queens Garden the trail continues through a valley toward the Navajo Loop. Once at the junction of the Navajo Loop you have your choice between two routes that will take you back up to Sunset Point. Continuing straight ahead will take you around the Navajo Loop in the suggested direction through the narrow confines of Wall Street to the switchbacks leading up the side of the canyon. The right fork, which this post follows, will take you by Two Bridges to another set of switchbacks that lead to the same destination.

Two Bridges are located a short distance from the main trail in a side canyon. These natural bridges were created when water carved out the narrow canyon leaving the two spans of rock.

The set of switchbacks climbing out of the canyon are somewhat shorter than those on the Wall Street side of the cliff.

Hikers are treated with a good view of Thor's Hammer and The Gossips at the top of the switchbacks.

A look into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater in the direction of Inspiration Point.

Hiking within Bryce Canyon is a totally unique experience. The well groomed trails make it easy and the colorful hoodoos and other rock formations make it a real treat. The trails hold up well to the thousands of hikers that use them. The parking lots are large but they still tend to fill up quickly. The Park Service provides a free shuttle bus to ferry passengers to all of the trailheads. The Sunset Point and Sunrise Point trailheads are within walking distance of both campgrounds. There are also bus stops near the campgrounds for getting to all of the other destinations within the park. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.