Family-Friendly Hikes in Bryce Canyon
At a time when kids spend more of their day looking at screens than they do playing outside, it’s never been more important to find family-friendly activities that involve getting outdoors. While there are many activities to enjoy in Bryce Canyon, the most exciting adventure for families to embark on is a hike on one of Bryce’s many beautiful, family-friendly trails.
Top Five Family-Friendly Hikes in Bryce Canyon
Throughout Bryce Canyon National Park, visitors can find remarkable hiking trails that are easy enough for every member of the family to enjoy. Whether staying in Bryce Canyon to experience all the available hikes or just stopping for a day to explore, every family will find the perfect outdoor adventure. The following hikes are the best trails for families to explore while visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.
There are many different starting points to choose when hiking Rim Trail, but the best, most family-friendly portion of the hike begins at Sunrise Point and ends at Sunset Point. Visitors can take a shuttle bus to the starting point of the trail, then either hike to Sunset Point and back, or take a shuttle from Sunset Point.
From this trail, hikers can look down over the edge of Bryce Canyon for a panoramic view of the red rock landscape. Hikers will spy hoodoos, other hiking trails, and a seemingly endless horizon.
The hike from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point on Rim Trail is just under one mile long. For families who take their time to enjoy the scenery, the hike should take about 40 minutes. Much of the trail is paved, making it handicap accessible. This is also one of the few hikes that families can take their dogs on. The leisurely terrain and incredible views make Rim Trail a must-see for families visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.
To get to Mossy Cave and hike Mossy Cave Trail, hikers will begin at a marked trailhead just before the bridge that goes over Tropic Ditch, a waterway created by pioneers just over a century ago. There is parking available directly next to the trailhead.
The first portion of this trail will take hikers along easy terrain, filled with plant life and red rock formations. Families can stop and wade in slow-moving streams that lie along the trail. After hiking just .35 miles, hikers will come to a fork in the trail. At this fork, hikers can turn right to go to the waterfall, or left to Mossy Cave.
The entire trail, from the trailhead to Mossy Cave, is just under half a mile one way. The hike to the waterfall from Mossy Cave is very short, so families should consider visiting both beautiful views during the hike. The easy terrain and exciting chance to play in the waters of Bryce make Mossy Cave one of the most exciting out and back trails in the park.
This incredible, family-friendly loop trail begins at Rainbow Point, which is located at the southern end of Bryce Canyon National Park. Hikers can park near Rainbow Point and take the short walk to the Bristlecone Loop trailhead.
This winding loop allows hikers to experience the lush, green portion of Bryce Canyon. Bristlecone Trail takes families through the blue spruce and fir forests at elevations of over 9,100 feet. This trail is perfect for birdwatching, discovering plant and wildlife, and viewing Bryce Canyon from staggering heights.
Since this is a loop trail, hikers will get to experience something new with every turn, rather than seeing the same things twice like an out and back trail. The entire loop is one mile long and will take families anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on how long they take in the scenic views around them. When the whole family is craving a shady, relaxing hike, Bristlecone Loop is the perfect trail.
To find the Queen’s Garden trailhead, hikers will drive to Sunrise Point and park in the nearby parking lot. From there, the Queen’s Garden trailhead can be found by walking a short distance. From the trailhead, hikers will enter the canyon from the rim, making this hike an exciting adventure for the whole family.
Once hikers have made it over the rim of the canyon, they will be surrounded by gravity-defying hoodoos. These hoodoos are where this trail gets its name. They make up the “garden” and, in the distance, the famous hoodoo, known as Queen Victoria, can be seen gazing upon the hoodoos, as if they were a garden planted just for her royal eyes.
Though Queens Garden is not a loop, it can be combined with a portion of Navajo Loop to create a looped trail rather than an out and back. Queen’s Garden trail is just short of a mile long, so the entire hike, to the end and back, is approximately two miles. Depending on family size and ability, this trail should take just over an hour to complete. Being able to journey into the canyon from the rim with the whole family is an opportunity that can’t be missed during a stay in Bryce Canyon.
Beginning at Sunset Point, this loop will take hikers into the canyon from the rim. This is the most difficult hike on the list, but it should be possible for most families. Hikers can park nearby and begin their adventure into the canyon.
Navajo Loop will take hikers over the canyon rim and through a slot canyon, which is a part of Wallstreet. While the elevation and rough terrain of this trail can make it difficult in some places, the beautiful views and experiences are well worth the challenge. The whole family will love to see Thor’s Hammer, Two Bridges, and Douglas Firs that are over 500 years old.
The total length of Navajo Loop is 1.3 miles, but, due to its difficulty in some sections, it will take most families about two hours to complete. This trail is the perfect way for families to test their strength and take a hike that is much more than just a walk in the park.
Essential Equipment for Family Hikes in Bryce Canyon
Though hiking is a family-friendly activity, there are certain risks associated with hiking, especially if hikers don’t have the proper equipment. Advanced gear, like rappelling ropes or camping gear, won’t be needed for a family hike in Bryce, but certain pieces of gear are essential to keeping a hike safe. The following gear must be brought along on any outdoor activities in Bryce Canyon, especially hiking.
There is nothing more important while exploring Bryce Canyon than water. This desert-like landscape makes it easy to suffer from dehydration, especially during hot summer months. Every member of the family should have a water bottle full of fresh, cool water that is big enough to allow them to sip throughout a hike without running out. Water can be carried in traditional bottles or in wearable water packs that make sipping throughout a hike easier.
Whether at home or on the road, anyone with a family knows that snacks are essential. Small snacks, like granola bars, trail mix, or small bags of cereal or crackers are the perfect way to keep the whole family fueled. Snacks can be enjoyed while taking a break during a hike, or while walking to keep kids from getting cranky. Just make sure all garbage and wrappers make it into a garbage can, rather than littered along the trails.
Hikers that aren’t wearing the right shoes or clothing during a hike will end up miserable not long after the hike begins. Comfortable hiking boots or hiking shoes that have been worn-in before the trip are essential for avoiding injuries. Clothing that covers the skin to protect from the sun, but still allows the body to cool, will keep hikers comfortable and decrease the risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Wide-brimmed hats and neck scarves can be worn for even better sun protection.
First Aid Kit
While everyone can suffer minor injuries, children are more prone to slips and falls which result in small cuts and scrapes. Families should always carry first aid kits with antiseptic, bandages, and instant cooling packs. Being prepared for minor injuries can prevent a small injury from ruining an entire adventure.
Start a New Family Tradition in Bryce Canyon
Family-friendly hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park are a great way to enjoy some of the benefits of the outdoors, such as scenic views, exercise, and family memories. After a hike in Bryce Canyon, kids and adults alike will have shared memories and experiences to talk about for years to come. The bond created by hiking along the gorgeous red rock landscape of Bryce Canyon is one that can’t be broken.