Friday, February 13, 2015

Fairyland Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park

Hike: Fairyland Loop 
Hike Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
Hike Distance: 8 miles
Time (Round Trip): 4-5 hours
Elevation (Min/Max): 7163ft/8152ft
Elevation Change: 2309ft climbing and 2309ft descending

If you can only do one hike at Bryce Canyon, I think I would recommend the Figure 8 Loop. It is just so big and impressive. However, it also has a lot of crowds at the beginning and the end. If you have some extra time and want to get away from the crowds and feel like you've really seen all this amazing park has to offer, definitely do the Fairyland Loop. We saw very few people on this hike, and it's long enough that I really got into that hiking zone in my head. That mental state where I never want the hike to end and that this is what life is about. 

The National Park Service website describes this hike as starting at Fairyland Point and taking the loop clockwise. We started at Sunrise Point going counter-clockwise. Either way, you spend the last 2.5 miles on the Rim Trail. Although there are incredible views from the Rim Trail, it does seem like a little bit of a slog at the end there. Keep in mind I haven't done it this way, but I might recommend starting from Fairyland Point and hiking the Rim Trail first. That way you get those views first and then head down to experience all the hoodoos and wildflowers close up.  

I will be describing our hike as starting from Sunrise Point. We parked in the Sunrise Point parking lot and easily found the Fairyland Loop Trail off the Rim Trail (it depends on where you park whether you'll head north or south on the Rim Trail to find the Loop Trail but hopefully you'll have a map and can find it no problem!)

After about a mile and a half, there will be a sign to turn off for Tower Bridge. Definitely worth a quick stop, but I would have felt a little disappointed if I had hiked just to see it.

Tower Bridge

After viewing Tower Bridge, we made our way back to the loop and continued right on the trail. There isn't much in the way of tricky navigating on this loop hike, so I am not going to detail all the twists and turns. We just followed the trail and all its ups and downs until meeting back up with the Rim Trail.

Weirdest flower ever. Like gumdrops or gummy bears.

Our lunch spot 

Once we climbed back up to Fairyland Point, we went left on the Rim Trail and made our way back to Sunrise Point. I was so excited to find an abundance of Sego Lilies (Utah's state flower) along this section of the Rim Trail.

After our hike, we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at our campsite at Sunset Campground. We hung our hammock and took a nap in the sun with the breeze making beautiful music in the trees.

After having an early dinner, we decided to check out some of the viewpoints in the southern portion of the park. Favorite viewpoints were Rainbow Point (the one all the way at the end of the road) and Bryce Point (the highest point in the park).

Rainbow Point? 

The Grottos

Bryce Point 

Best View of Bryce Amphitheater! 

It was really fun to drive out this way and look down on all of the places we had been hiking over the last couple days. We could definitely see some of the trails and follow them winding their way through the hoodoos. 

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