How to Hike the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
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If you’re looking for an incredible hike that offers beautiful views the entire way, look no further than the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. This popular hike winds its way through a narrow canyon, providing visitors with amazing views of the hoodoos and other geological features that make Bryce Canyon so unique!
Now, this popular trail can be challenging in some spots, but the scenery is well worth it. I was lucky enough to hike it in July 2022 and have tons of up-to-date tips to share with you so that you can have the best trip possible. Plus, I’ll even introduce you to the idea of elongating the trail if you want something longer for your hike!
Below, learn how to hike the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
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All About the Navajo Loop Trail
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best Utah photography locations and underrated parks. In fact, it’s our personal favorite park that we’ve visited, and we’re in the process of visiting every national park in the USA!
When visiting this park, there are tons of incredible Bryce Canyon hikes, but the most popular is the Navajo Loop Trail. That’s because it allows you to see a lot in a small amount of time, making it one of the most time-efficient hikes to do in the park.
In total, this is a 1.4 mile hike, and it begins right at Sunset Point with the Navajo Loop trailhead. You can just head to the Sunset Point parking lot or take the shuttle! From the parking area, it’s only a short walk to the beginning of the trail.
When you get to Sunset Point (one of the most spectacular views in the park), you’ll see the trail’s steep switchbacks almost immediately as they lead directly down to the canyon floor.
However, don’t let the short mileage make you immediately think the Navajo Trail is easy. This park is at elevation, so if you’re coming from somewhere closer to sea level, the 500+ feet of elevation gain along the trail could definitely slow you down.
On average, it takes around 1-2 hours to do this entire hike, depending on if you stop at the bottom or not. Stopping a lot during the elevation changes can also lead to a longer hike time, but there are some steep drop-offs, so if you need a break, take it!
Note that part of this trail is usually closed between November and April, and that’s the popular Wall Street side. You can learn more about the closures here.
Step-by-Step: What You’ll See on the Trail
Curious about what the Navajo Loop Trail is like? Here’s a detailed breakdown of what it’s like along the way, as well as some information if you decide to add the Peekaboo Trail as we did!
The trail begins right at Sunset Point the popular way, one of the most gorgeous places to see all of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon from above. There are some great benches here where you can sit too and look out to the view if you really want to.
When we did the Navajo Loop Trail, we began right in the early morning and got there around sunrise. We grabbed some granola bars and blankets (yes, it was cold even in July) and sat on a bench as we watched the sun rise over the hoodoos.
The most beautiful part of the entire trail is Wall Street, and that’s because it’s definitely one of the most picturesque parts of the trail! This is where you’ll go as you immediately start the steep descent down to the bottom of Bryce Canyon.
This part of the trail is fairly steep so you’ll want to take your time as you descend. If you feel more comfortable, it’s totally fine to stay on the inside of the switchbacks on your way down, so you’re not super close to the edge. However, this can be harder to do the later in the day you start the hike.
As mentioned earlier, we started the hike around 6 a.m., and we were still with a lot of other people at the beginning of the trail, so just prepare yourself! We were able to wait and get some pictures without anyone else on the trail at this section, though.
After all of the switchbacks and the rapid descent, which can definitely make you a bit dizzy if you go down fast, you’ll go through a little slot canyon area as you’re surrounded by the tall canyon walls. This is the only slot canyon in the park.
Then, you’ll walk right through there and be at the base of the canyon!
This is where the canyon really starts to open up, and you’ll be able to look around and really take it in. Plus, as you continue along the trail, you’ll be able to stand fairly close to many hoodoos that you could only see from above at Sunset Point!
Peekaboo Trail Connection
After making it to the bottom of the canyon, as you continue along the Navajo Loop Trail, you’ll have the option to then connect to the Peekaboo Trail from the main trail. This is one of the more difficult trails in the park just because of its length and elevation change, but it’s absolutely beautiful.
It does add approximately 4 extra miles, so keep that in mind. It also adds around 1000 extra feet in elevation gain as you go up and down throughout the canyon. However, as mentioned before, this part of the park tends to be a bit quieter besides the occasional hiker and travelers on horse tours through the park!
This part of the park has barely any shade though, so you’ll want only to do it during colder parts of the year or early in the morning if you hike in the morning in July as we did. It was already getting really hot by the time we finished the trail around 9:30 a.m.
There’s a tiny little offshoot trail that will connect you to Peekaboo Loop if you want to add it. The signs at the floor of the canyon are super clear, so it’s near impossible to miss!
Two Bridges (aka Twin Bridges)
Whether you decide to continue on through the Peekaboo Loop Trail or you want to just finish up Navajo Loop, you’ll next head up near the Two Bridges. Now, this side of the trail is where you’ll encounter more series of switchbacks as you lead yourself out of the canyon.
In my honest opinion, the Two Bridges side is a lot steeper just because there are huge drop-offs next to you as you ascend. It can be sketchy if you’re not a fan of heights, so if you want to, you can definitely head back up the Wall Street side!
This side was also so much busier for us, and we had to walk behind some hikers in the hot heat and it overall just didn’t feel super safe to us compared to the Wall Street side.
However, with that being said, you will encounter some of the best views of the Bryce Amphitheater on your way out by going up this way. Don’t get fooled because there are two separate sets of switchbacks on your way up!
On your way out the Two Bridges side, be on the lookout for Thor’s Hammer! This is one of the most popular hoodoos in the park. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a rock that looks like Thor’s Hammer. It’s near impossible to miss because you’ll immediately recognize it!
What to Pack for the Navajo Loop Hike
When doing the Navajo Loop Trail, you’ll for sure want to make sure that you’re packing everything you need for a hike. As mentioned before, it can get pretty hot within the canyon, so keep that in mind when you’re packing.
Now, this may seem obvious, but you really do need to bring hiking boots for this trail. Parts of it are steep with loose rocks, and regular sneakers will not suffice and give you the traction that you need to stay safe.
When it comes to hiking boots, our particular favorite is a pair that we each purchased from The North Face. They’re simple, comfortable, and have held up well given the number of miles that we have hiked! Here’s a women’s pair similar to the ones I love as well as a men’s pair.
Next, and this is completely personal preference, I highly recommend bringing a backpack. There are many hiking packs out there, but we love our 30L Eddie Bauer pack that we bought last year. It has a spot to hold plenty of water as well as a hiking water pack and can hold lunches and snacks. Plus, it has a hidden rain cover!
Even if you don’t bring a backpack, please please please bring water! There are many water bottles out there, but our favorite is the 32 oz. Hydroflask because it keeps our water cold all day.
However, you should bring more than just a bottle if you’ll be hiking the Peekaboo Loop Trail too. We use and love this CamelBak water bladder which can hold 100 oz of water and will slip right into that Eddie Bauer pack mentioned above! It also stays fairly cold in a backpack.
Lastly, you may also want to bring a pair of hiking poles if you want to be safe while hiking and prefer to have something to keep you balanced as you go up and down the trails. There are many kinds out there, but here’s a great pair that you can purchase easily online!
Overall, the Navajo Loop Trail is the best hike that we’ve done in a national park, and that’s because it was so incredibly unique. Take our advice and get an early start because the canyon will be cooler even in the warmer months! It gets hot down there. This is the best time to do the hike! The best season is spring or fall, or early in the day in the mornings.
Have you done Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop Trail and had a wonderful time? Leave a comment below about your experience!
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