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Bryce Canyon: The Fairyland Loop

Hoodoos stood in uniform. Dress pinks, oranges and yellows. Obstinate in the gentle breeze. Brilliance and obscurity. Whispering a sweet melody. Friends of the desert.

By: Maggie Donohoo + Save to a List

Bryce Canyon is an iconic national park. After all, who hasn’t “oohed and aahed” over its’ magnificent hoodoos in travel magazines? Despite this, I was completely unprepared for the vastness and uniqueness of this stunning desert landscape. It was as if we had left planet Earth behind for some alien world. All we needed were spacesuits and reduced gravity.

We had planned our trip for early April, not quite peak season so the trails wouldn’t be crowded, but still well-enough into spring that the trees and flowers would be in bloom. On our first day in the park, it was around 70 degrees, but winter and summer were at war. The space between rock and shadow was still asleep, stuck in winter, while the rest of the canyon was soaking in the sun, bursting with life. It was an interesting battle to witness, the different characteristics of mother nature all at once.

Bryce Canyon is infamous for its Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop, however, the trail was closed due to excessive runoff. We decided the best alternative would be to start at Sunrise Point, follow the Fairyland Trail to Tower Bridge (moderate), then the Fairyland Loop to the Rim Trail (strenuous) and then head back to the parking lot via the Rim Trail (easy). In total, it would be around 8 miles in and around the canyon. This turned out to be the perfect choice and I would highly recommend this option to anyone physically able, looking to experience all Bryce Canyon has to offer.

From downhill trails through the snow, to switchbacks between hoodoos, to white rocks, to pink rocks, to close-ups, to landscapes, there was so much diversity and natural wonder to be appreciated. The trail took around 4 hours in total, at least an hour of which was spent stopping to take photos and marvel at the unique lifeforms.

In terms of gear recommendations, I can only advise on day hikes, but plenty of water is a must. Generally, 1 liter of water for every 2 hours of hiking is advised. Keep in mind, there aren’t any spots to refill your water bottles in the Canyon, so you have to carry what you need. Additionally, snacks such as nuts, protein bars and fruit are always good to have on hand. Good hiking shoes are recommended, but not entirely necessary as the landscape is mostly a sandy surface with little uneven ground. Finally, sunscreen and a hat are absolutely necessary. We came away with some nasty sunburns as we were unprepared for the higher elevation and failed to take the proper precautions.

As we entered the final stretch, we stopped to look out over the canyon, cooling our sunburns with desert snow and resting under some hoodoos. Enjoying our packed peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and oranges, we were grateful to have another day to enjoy this other-worldly place.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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