Winter Hike the Navajo-Queens Garden Loop

Sunset Point, Bryce, Utah, United States

  • Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    580 Feet

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic

Bryce Canyon is especially beautiful in winter. The snow-capped hoodoos are something out of a fairytale and the crowds are lighter, making this the perfect time of year to dust off your winter gear and take a hike through Bryce!

Winter is a wonderful time to visit Bryce Canyon because there is snow on the ground but the sun shines bright. I was able to get by with my waterproof hiking boots, a beanie, a thermal shirt and a down jacket. There were even a few points during the hike that I had to remove my jacket because the sunshine was so strong. I started my hike at Sunset Point and took the Navajo Trail down. This hike is about 3 miles. Note that Wall Street is, unfortunately, closed during the winter. I made sure to get several good photos from above the rim before heading down the switchbacks into the amphitheater.

The hoodoos are those funky pillars shooting out from deep inside the canyon. They are formed by erosion and come in various shapes, sizes and even colors. The weather at Bryce Canyon swings from one extreme to another, with the hoodoos experiencing more than 200 freeze/thaw cycles each year. The snow that you’ll see on the hike will melt, seep through the cracks in the hoodoos, and refreeze. When it freezes, it expands to pry open the cracks wider and wider until pieces eventually break off.

While appreciating the beauty of the hoodoos from the rim is mandatory, so is getting up close and personal with them. They are so much fun!

You’ll pass a few bridges as you make your way down the switchbacks to the bottom of the canyon.

Then you will see Douglas Firs. Douglas Firs covered in snow! If you’re like me, you’ll want to touch them.

Then you’ll want to build a snowcat.

Then you’ll be tired from all the work you never knew went into building a snowcat. Take a break! You deserve it.

By this point, you should find yourself on the Queens Garden portion of the trail. Now the ascent begins. Get ready for 580 feet/177 meters of climbing through snow. This is where the real work begins, but thankfully the trail is well maintained and shouldn’t be much of a problem for anyone in decent shape.

There are more fun crevasses and tunnels to walk through, even some more trees to touch.

Once you get to the top of the Queens Garden loop, you will be at Sunrise Point. Take in another beautiful view before you follow the Rim Trail for about half a mile back to Sunset Point.

Bryce Canyon offers magical vistas during the winter. Always make sure weather conditions are safe to hike during winter months, and be prepared with adequate gear and traction devices if necessary! And don’t forget to bring water. Even though it’s cold outside, you still need water for that hike uphill (which is when you'll need it most since you'll be tired at the end of your hike).

Pack List

  • Water
  • Waterproof boots
  • Crampons 
  • Layers (thermal top and bottoms, thick socks, down jacket, beanie, gloves, etc.)
  • Sunglasses 
  • Snacks
  • Map of the trail
  • Camera
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Reviews

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Pretty sure this place isn't real. Went In the evening and had the place to myself.

9 months ago
9 months ago

This was an amazing winter hike! Visitors Center told us we needed boot spikes, but we went ahead anyways with our hiking boots, worked perfectly. The Hoodoos are so great to see at a closer distance!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Brianne Schaer

I’m Brianne, a 25-year-old female traveler who can’t get enough of the mountains, the beach, the river, and pretty much anything outdoors. I grew up hiking with my family on camping trips throughout California. Now, I hike as often as I can, wherever I can.

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