Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure unlike any other; Bryce Canyon National Park will have you embarking on a journey that explores the depths of the canyon and wandering the tranquil desert. With sweeping views of the countryside and hikes highlighting all the beauty of Utah, there is no better place to lose yourself in nature.
As a traveler, you can’t say you have been to Bryce Canyon National Park without hiking the Navajo Loop Trail. Taking you through the park’s only slot canyon, you’ll be experiencing one of the most spectacular landforms in all of Utah!
Even if you’re an experienced backpacker, you’re sure to have tons of burning questions about the trail. To properly enjoy your trip, you’ll need to know when to go, what to bring, and how to get to the Navajo Loop Trail.
No need to worry, because we’ve bought all the answers to your questions together into one place. With our hiking guide to Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop Trail, you’ll be one of the most prepared tourists in the park.
Lace-up your boots and put on your backpack; your adventure to Bryce Canyon is just a few clicks away.
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How to Hike the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon
Table of Contents
Know Before You Go
The Navajo Loop Trail is interconnected to many of the other popular trails in Bryce Canyon National Park. Travelers can simply hike the loop and continue driving along the scenic road or explore the many hikes that cross paths with the Navajo Loop.
Even if you decide you just want to stick to the Navajo Loop Trail, you’ll still be hitting many of the highlights in Bryce Canyon National Park, including the canyon itself.
Being one of the most popular hikes in the park, the Navajo Loop is easy enough that hikers of all experience levels can conquer the trail.
Since you’ll be hiking in and out of the canyon, you can expect a significant elevation change of over 500 feet. The entire loop is 1.4 miles long and takes most travelers about two hours to complete.
For many backpackers, the Navajo Loop is just the beginning. You can continue your adventure by pairing this trail with the popular Queens Garden, which is only three miles long.
Who Should Hike the Navajo Loop Trail?
Every year, thousands of visitors make their way through Bryce Canyon via the Navajo Loop Trail. With sights such as Wall Street and Thor’s Hammer, this is one part of the park you won’t want to miss. Even though this is the most famous part of Bryce Canyon, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.
The Navajo Loop is considered a moderate trail. Even hikers with little experience can still conquer this route. The elderly or those unable to deal with steep paths may need to rethink hiking this loop due to the elevation change going to the base of the canyon and back up again.
Especially if you’re visiting Bryce Canyon during its peak months, be prepared to share the trail with crowds of other tourists.
If you’re more of an independent backpacker, make sure you arrive early to beat the swarm of visitors or choose one of the more off the beaten path trails such as the more strenuous Rim Trail.
Location & How to Get There
The Navajo Loop Trail starts at the popular Sunset Point. Even if you’re unable to hike the trail, be sure to stop at this viewpoint to get breathtaking views of the canyons, mesas, and surrounding hoodoos. The parking lot at Sunset Point can get crowded, so make sure you arrive early.
The trailhead is clearly labeled at Sunset Point. As you begin the trail, you will meet a fork in the path almost immediately. One direction leads toward Two Bridges and the other leads towards Wall Street.
Being a loop trail, it doesn’t matter which direction you head off in, but the most popular route is hiking clockwise via Two Bridges.
If you’re unable to find a parking space at Sunset Point, a shuttle service departs from the Visitor Center. The shuttle runs in a loop, but it’s recommended that you park at either the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center or the Shuttle Station.
The shuttle runs every 15 minutes and operates between 8 am and 6 pm (the shuttle service extends to 8 pm from May 8 to September 27th.) The shuttle only runs from April 10th to October 18th.
Best Time To Go
Bryce Canyon is a national park that can be visited at any time of year. But depending on what month you visit, you’ll experience a totally different side of the park.
From snow-covered hoodoos during the winter to the warm light playing off the canyons walls during the summer, you’ll need to decide when is the best season for you to visit the park.
For many, the best time of the year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and hike the Navajo Loop is between May and September. You’ll be able to enjoy warm weather while hiking the trails, but be prepared to push yourself through the crowds.
Factoring in weather and other tourists, October is nestled right in that sweet spot where you won’t have to deal with so many other hikers, but you’ll still be able to enjoy warm weather.
Traveling to Bryce Canyon National Park is tricky during winter. Not only will many of the park services be closed, but one of the most popular sections of the Navajo Loop, Wall Street, is closed for safety.
What To Bring on the Navajo Loop Trail
The Navajo Loop Trail is not considered challenging for hikers who have some experience under their belt. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared before you head out on your journey through Bryce Canyon.
The Navajo Trail is not a hike that you can wear just anything on. It’s important to make sure you’re wearing proper footwear while hiking some of the steeper sections of the trail. Some hikers may even benefit from hiking poles.
Although you’ll be walking through a canyon, you won’t be able to hide from the sun once the sun is directly overhead. Especially if you continue along the Queens Garden Trail, you’ll find little shade. Therefore, bringing along a good hat and sunscreen is vital.
It is necessary that you bring plenty of water, at least 2 liters per person, as the weather can be hot. You have to also remember that you are at a high altitude in this park and this can lead to unnoticed dehydration.
In addition to water, bring some snacks or a packed lunch to eat on the trail.
Do you have the right hiking gear? No worries we have put together 40 Hiking Essentials items that every hiker should have when hiking any of the trails in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Step by Step Guide to the Navajo Loop Trail
Starting at Sunset Point
The first part of your adventure starts at Sunset Point. From this viewpoint, you’ll be able to look out over the Silent City and the many hoodoos that make up Bryce Canyon National Park. If you’re looking for more to explore, you can hike from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point along the Rim Trail.
After taking in the views from Sunset Point, head for the rim where you will want to follow the signs that point to the start of the Navajo Loop Trail. Before you start your trip, be sure to grab some water and use the restrooms at the parking lot.
The Fork and Thor’s Hammer
Shortly after you start on the Navajo Loop trail you’ll be presented with a choice, to head left towards the Twin Bridges or right towards Wall Street.
Our personal recommendation is to head towards Twin Bridges, especially if you are setting off on your hike in the morning. Saving Wall Street for later in the day will give you better light inside the slot canyon area.
Not long after you pass the fork, you’ll start a steep descent into the canyon. The trail will be fairly straightforward and will start to giveaway to a long series of well-packed switchbacks.
Once you start on the switchbacks, keep your eyes open for one of the most famous hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. Thor’s Hammer stands proud over the desert landscape and is a sight that you don’t want to miss. It will be on your left-hand side as you walk down the trail into the canyon.
Reaching the Canyon Floor
After your descent past Thor’s Hammer, you’ll finally enter the canyon floor. Here you’ll find an incredible trail that leads through tall walls and sporadically growing trees. There isn’t an official name to this part of the trail, but we thought it was a really cool part of the hike.
You’ll also enjoy some shade here, which is welcome if you’re hiking during the summer when the temps are hot by 8 am.
The Twin Bridges
The next big attraction you’ll come across on this section of the trail is the Twin Bridges. These arches got their name because they formed sandstone bridges that hang overhead like a pedestrian walkway you’d find in the city.
The Twin Bridges are delicate and there are plenty of signs around asking that you not approach them or try to walk on them. This is for your own safety and ask that you please abide by and respect the park rules during your visit.
They are equally impressive from a distance, so admire away, snap some photos and continue along the trail. There’s more beauty to be seen.
The Trail Split Junction
After continuing along the trail from the Twin Bridges, you’ll exit the tall canyon walls into the more exposed area of the canyon floor. Here you’ll continue to follow the trail until you reach the split trail junction (pictured above).
Here you have a choice about what the rest of your hiking day will look like. If you are short on time and want to only hike the Navajo Loop Trail, you’ll want to stay to the right, following the arrow that points to Wall Street. This will take you back to Sunset Point.
If you’re looking to make your hike longer, you can head left to join the Peek-A-Boo Loop or continue on to the Queen’s Garden Trail that ends at Sunrise Point. I’ll provide more information on those options below, so keep reading!
If you’re looking to complete the Navajo Trail, you’ll have taken a right and followed the canyon floor trail to the entrance of the breathtaking Wall Street. The second you enter this canyon, it’s easy to see why so many tourists from around the country flock to Bryce Canyon National Park.
With its high sandstone walls and Mars-like landscape, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported into a whole other world.
The initial steps inside of Wall Street are done at the canyon floor and lead you through a variety of high walled slot canyons. The trail weaves about like this before you reach the start of the wall.
It is here that you can expect to follow a well-beaten and incredibly steep path back up to the canyon rim to Sunset Point. Don’t worry, it is comprised of switchbacks, so you won’t have to climb straight up.
Be sure to take plenty of breaks, if needed, and drink your water. Most importantly, stop and turn around! This will give you some incredible views of Wall Street from above, too.
The Queens Garden Trail Option
If you’re a hiker that has a whole day to be on the trail, you’ll definitely want to consider expanding from the Navajo Loop Trail and head off to the Queens Garden Trail too.
There are a number of ways you can do this, so I’ll highlight the options so you can make the best choice for your hiking plans.
- Option A: You can opt to head left at the fork and hike the Queens Garden Trail to Sunrise Point. Here you can take the shuttle back to your car at Sunset Point (if you parked there).
- Option B: You can opt to head left at the fork and hike the Queens Garden Trail as a loop back to Sunset Point. In doing this, you’ll still hike to Sunrise point but at that point, you’ll hop on the Rim trail and hike back to Sunset Point.
- Option C: Lastly, you can opt to head left as the fork and hike any length of the Queens Garden Trail before turning around and retracing your steps back to the fork. At which point you’ll head left and up through Wall Street ending at Sunset Point.
There’s no right answer and your adventure along the Navajo Loop is as short or as long as you want it to be. With the Rim Trail, Queens Garden, and Peek-a-boo Loop trail all nearby, you’ll never be short of adventures in Bryce Canyon.
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