|Elevation Gain||686 ft|
|My Time||1 hr 29 min|
|Closest Town||Bryce Canyon|
|Food Nearby||Cowboy’s Buffet|
I have done a lot of hiking and seen some cool rock formations but nothing prepared me for how amazing the Queen’s Garden hike in Bryce Canyon National Park was. It was liking walking through an ancient village that was frozen in time.
The Queen’s Garden and Navajo Trails combine to make a three and a half mile loop that can be done in either direction and there are several places you can park to access these trails. I do think it is a bit easier to start by descending the Navajo Trail. Navajo is steep and was a legitimate struggle to climb up at the end of the loop. I started this loop from the Queens Garden and went clockwise to get finish up on Navajo so that is how I will be describing it.
Hike the Hoodoos
What is a Hoodoo? I had no idea but I quickly learned that a hoodoo is a rock spire the likes of which are all over this trail. They are some of the most impressive rock formations I have seen and I think I actually prefer them to the arches. Arches are arches but there is such a variation to what these Hoodoo’s can be.
Queen’s Garden Loop
I entered the Queen’s Garden loop from Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon. Almost Immediately I knew that this hike was special. There is a wide path through the entire area and coming from this direction the trail has a pretty steady descent of around 10-15% decline. It is hard to notice that as the rock formations that surround you are so impressive. It is like you are walking through the roads of ancient village that is frozen in time.
The rocks are a mix of red and white sandstone that have towers and pillars.
It really does look there are buildings in sections and walls in others. There are even doors on the trail. One of the most popular Hoodoo’s is Thor’s Hammer. This one is all by itself on an open spot of land that almost looks like it was an ancient statue.
As you continue to down the path you will continue to descend down towards the floor of the canyon. Before you get to the bottom and about a mile from the start you will come to the Queen Victoria section. This named because the hoodoo looks like a statue of the old English queen.
I will be honest, I did not see it at all when I was there. Do you see the statue of a queen in the picture above? She is on the left hand side pedastal. When I got back and looked through the pictures I started to see it a bit so I zoomed in on the picture to see if you can see it below.
You can kind of see a crown and a figure standing in large robes or a big dress if you look closely. After the Queen’s Garden section it is time to head down a little further the path until you get to bottom.
So after walking for about a mile and half in the middle of the of these tall Hoodoo’s you find yourself at the bottom of the trail and seemingly in a different world. While the top of the trail is dry and rocky the bottom is like a lush forest. It is full of trees and bushes. The red and gray of the stone is replaced by the brown of bark and green of leaves. It was amazing to me that such a transformation could happen in such a small space.
This woodland goes on for a little more than a half mile and is very relaxing. It is also flat and a good place to have some snacks or take a brunch. The bottom connects with the Navajo loop and also the Peek-a-boo trail. It also connects to a section called “Wall Street” but that was closed while I was there.
The Navajo Loop starts on the lower section of the trail and is the way to get back up the upper edge of the canyon. This is basically just a series of steep switchbacks that really kicked my butt. The good news is that there is a good amount of space so can take plenty of breaks.
From the bottom, you hike up a moderate 15-20% grade until you get to the Two Bridges feature. This feature includes two small rock bridges that cross over a small canyon and is pretty cool and a good way to break up the climb.
After the Two Bridges it gets real! There is an immediate tenth of a mile section where grades hit 40% in elevation gain. The path is wide but steep and had me sucking wind. After that you will a series of short switchbacks that come in around 15-20% grade. As you make you way up make sure to look back down into the canyon. These were some amazing views looking back the way I had just came.
As you clear the canyon you will have a full view from above the park. The park unfolds in spectacular fashion as you continue a couple of wide switchbacks to finally get back to the top walkway and complete the hike.
From the top of the cliff you will find yourself back on the paved walkway and able to head back to the start or explore the rim and the overlooks.
Elevation and Distance
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 3.6 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 686 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,984 feet. This was actually at the top of the hike as after that it was down into the canyon. I was also moving for a total of 1 hour and 29 minutes.
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This loop is like three separate hikes. If you take the loop clockwise and start with the Queen’s Garden you will start with a nice descent down into the canyon. At the bottom of the canyon the trail is mostly flat and a nice easy walk. Finishing the loop the Navajo trail is a super steep and challenging series of switchbacks. I actually think it would be a little easier on the effort side to start by going down on the Navajo loop and circling back up the Queen’s Garden.
The trails are wide and well defined. Almost like walking on ancient streets. Most of the trails are a hard dirt surface but with the elevation gains being so steep I would recommend a good pair of hiking shoes with some grip to them.
The Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop can be accessed at either Sunset or Sunrise point depending on which way you would like to do the loop. The parking area got very busy and there was room for about 30 cars. There was also a pit toilet available at the parking area. Bryce Canyon is part of the National Park system and there is an entry fee of $30 per private vehicle. Annual and Lifetime passes are accepted as well.
Wrapping up Queen’s Garden
The Queen’s Garden Loop at Bryce Canyon is a spectacular hike that takes you through what feels like an ancient city. The towering hoodoo’s and rock formations look like buildings frozen in time or statues that have seen better days. Every step brings something more interesting into view.
The loop is a bit of challenge with how steep it is to get out of the canyon but the views and experience of walking through the ancient grounds is pretty amazing if you can handle the effort. If you think it will be a bit much for you the views from the top are equally as striking!
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