If you have dreams of exploring the deep canyons and mystical hoodoos of America’s Southwest, then make your dreams come true by venturing to Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. With its tall mesas and distant snow-covered mountains, you’ll be entering a world unlike any other.
Anybody can simply hop in their car and drive along the Scenic Road in Bryce Canyon National Park. But to truly immerse yourself in the desert wilderness of Utah you’ll have to leave the wheels behind and descend into the canyon along the Queens Garden Trail.
The Queens Garden Trail is a hike that will leave you breathless! Showcasing all of the hoodoos and towering rocks of the desert, this trail will walk you through a barren wonderland.
We know you can’t wait to see the gorges and mountains of Utah for yourself, but how can you prepare for the road ahead?
We’ve put everything you need to know about the hike in one place with our Queens Garden Trail hiking guide. From when to go, to what to bring, you’ll be prepared for every twist and bend in the trail.
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How to Hike the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon
Know Before You Go
Like many of the hikes that snake their way along and through Bryce Canyon National Park, the Queens Garden Trail connects to many of the other famous hikes in the park.
Even though the Queen’s Garden is a simple out and back trail, you can continue the journey on hikes, such as the Navajo Loop or the Rim Trail.
The most popular option for travelers is to lump the Queens Garden Trail with the Navajo Loop. This means you’ll be hitting all of the most popular sights in the park, such as Queens Elizabeth and Wall Street, all in one trip! This longer hike also links together Sunset and Sunrise points via the Rim Trail.
Queens Garden Trail is a simple hike that can be completed by hikers of all experience levels. The entire trail is only 1.8 miles long one way and takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
The only challenge is descending and climbing back out of the canyons. Here you’ll have an elevation change of about 320 feet.
If you pair the hike with the Wall Street side of the Navajo Loop, the trail will extend to a total of 3 miles.
Who Should Hike the Queens Garden Trail?
The Queens Garden Trail is by far one of the most popular hikes in all of Bryce Canyon Park. Every year, hikers from around the country flock to the trail to explore all of the hoodoos and canyon trails for themselves. Even though the Queens Garden Trail sees thousands of visitors, this does not mean it’s for everyone.
For many, the Queens Garden Trail is ranked as an easy or moderate hike. With the elevation change, some visitors may have difficulty making their way down into the canyon and back up again.
Along the Queens Garden Trail, there is also little shade, meaning those prone to heat sickness will need to take the necessary precautions.
If you arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park during the summer months, be prepared for the crowds. You may even feel as if you’re waiting in line on a bus rather than hiking some remote trail. Off-the-beaten-path travelers should aim to arrive early at the park or choose a time of the year that is not peak season to visit.
Location & How to Get There
The start of the Queens Garden Trail is at the Sunrise Point parking lot, located just 0.4 miles south of the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. Travelers will have no difficulty in finding the Queens Garden Trailhead from the parking lot, simply hop out of your car and make your way southeast.
Even if you’re short on time, or unable to hike the length of the Queens Garden Trail, stopping at Sunrise Point is a must. With sweeping views of the canyon and hoodoos, this overlook is awe inspiring.
Sunrise Point is one of the most popular stops along Bryce Canyon’s Scenic Drive. If you’re in the park during the summer months, you may want to elect to take the shuttle to the overlook and trailhead. The shuttle drives in a loop, connecting all of the stops.
The best place to catch the shuttle is from either the visitor center or the shuttle station. A shuttle departs every 15 minutes and runs between 8 am and 6 pm (hours are extended to 8 pm from May 8th to September 27th). The shuttle only operates from April 10th to October 18th.
Best Time To Go
One of the great things about visiting Bryce Canyon National Park is that the trails can be hiked year-round. The only difference is the crowds and the temperature.
During winter months the hoodoos will have a layer of snow sprinkled along their crown while during the summer the bright orange of the canyon will be on full display.
Between May and September, is when you’ll see the most tourists hiking the Queens Garden Trail. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds you’ll want to avoid this peak season. The temperature can also rise to over 100 degrees, so be prepared to stay hydrated.
The winter sees some closures in the park, most notably Wall Street. Even along Queens Garden Trail, some of the paths can become slippery and dangerous for hikers.
The best time of the year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, and to hike the Queens Garden Trail, is either the spring or autumn. Although both seasons are short, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the park services with fewer people and cooler weather.
What To Bring on the Queens Garden Trail
Even though the Queens Garden Trail is considered easy by many, there are still several things you’ll want to be sure to bring along to make the most out of your trip through the canyon.
As soon as you start the trail from Sunrise Point you’ll have to deal with a steep gravel path leading to the base of the canyon. This proves to be the most challenging part of the trail for many visitors. In order to make sure you can keep your balance, wear proper footwear and even bring some hiking poles.
The Queens Garden Trail is also one of the most exposed hikes in Bryce Canyon. Factoring in high elevation and lack of shade, you’ll want to be sure to take plenty of water (at least 2 liters per person), sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
You’ll also want to bring along some snacks or a pack lunch if you plan to combine this trail with any of the others.
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 Hiking the Queens Garden Trail
Start at Sunrise Point
Your adventure down into Bryce Canyon along the Queens Garden Trail starts at Sunrise Point. From this overlook, you’ll be able to look out over the entire park seeing such famous sights as the Sinking Ship and the Boat Mesa.
This is one of the most popular stops along the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, so be prepared for loads of cars and crowds. If you think you’ll have difficulty finding a place to park, look into taking the Bryce Canyon Shuttle.
The Queens Garden Trailhead is located directly southeast of the parking lot at Sunrise Point.
Descend Into the Canyon
As with all trails that offer hoodoo hiking, you’ll need to navigate a steep area at the start of your hike. The first leg of your journey down into Bryce Canyon will be on a slippery gravel path leading to the bottom.
This proves to be the most challenging part of the trail due to the steepness of the path. While you’re climbing down, be sure to check out the stunning views over the hoodoos and the Fairyland Canyon.
Never fear, once you reach the canyon floor you’ll be in for a relatively flat trail.
Finding Queen Victoria
Along the trail, you’ll be constantly dazzled with swirling stone pillars reaching out towards the sky. This “garden” of hoodoos is where the trail got its name.
After making your way through tunnels and past these sandstone monoliths, you’ll see the queen herself. Although it takes a bit of imagination, you can see Queen Victoria looking out over her garden of hoodoos.
Wandering the Queens Garden
Once you reach the queen herself, you’ll want to follow the trail a bit to the right. This will take you to a dead end part of the trail and subsequently, the actual Queen’s Garden.
This is a great place to rest, enjoy the small bits of shade, admire the hoodoos and grab a snack from your pack.
Here is where you’ll also find some information displays that share more about the park, the formation of hoodoos and information (and a seal!) on the benchmark program that the National Park Service offers.
Finishing the Queens Garden Trail
The Queens Garden Trail is not a long hike, taking just 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. The trail finally bottoms out at a crossroads roughly 1.8 miles from Sunrise Point.
From here you can either retrace your steps and return to the parking lot where you started or continue along and hike the Navajo Trail.
Adding the Navajo Loop
At the junction of the Navajo Trail and the Queens Garden Trail, you’ll have to choose which direction to take. The path to the left leads to the famous Bryce Canyon Wall Street and the right towards Two Bridges.
Plan Your Hike! Navajo Loop Trail Best Sights & Trail Guide
Both directions end at Sunset Point. It is important to know that Wall Street is closed during the winter months for safety.
From Sunset Point, you can take the shuttle or walk the Rim Trail back to Sunrise Point to retrieve your vehicle.
No matter if you decide to hike from Sunrise to Sunset Point, or stick strictly to the Queens Garden Trail, exploring Bryce Canyon is a memorable experience and one you’ll treasure for years to come!
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