Why should you hike the Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop?

There are plenty of of amazing day hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park and it can be difficult to choose just one, but if you ask us, one of the best day hikes in Bryce Canyon is the stunning Fairyland Loop. This 7.8 mile loop provides sweeping views from the rim of the awe-inspiring Bryce Canyon and will get you up close and personal with the legendary hoodoos, towering spires of pink rock twisting towards the sky. As the longest day hike in Bryce Canyon National Park, the Fairyland Loop is the best way to experience the wonder and beauty of Bryce Canyon in relative solitude. If you are willing to put in a little effort, you will not be disappointed by this epic adventure.

Below, we explain why the Fairyland Loop is one of the best day hikes in Bryce Canyon and give you all the information you need to complete this awesome hike.

Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!

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Hiking in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park, located in southern Utah, is relatively small compared to other national parks but it more than makes up for its small size with with indescribable beauty and iconic sights.

There may be no other place in the United States that is more aptly described as “otherworldly.” In Bryce Canyon, you will actually feel like you are on a different planet. Bryce Canyon is best known for its hoodoos, or towers of pink and orange rock formed by thousands of years of erosion.

Resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book or sandcastles made by an energetic child at the beach, the hoodoos that dominate Bryce Canyon will leave you wondering if you are on another planet.

Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop

We love the Fairyland loop because it allows you to experience everything that Bryce Canyon has to offer. You will see expansive views of the canyon from the rim and meander among the hoodoos as you wind your way through the magnificent desert landscape.

And most importantly, because this trail is the longest (and least crowded) day hike in Bryce Canyon, it provides your best chance for some alone time with your new hoodoo friends!

Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop Details

Hike Stats

Hiking distance | 7.8 miles
Elevation gain | 1545 feet
Total time | 4-5 hours
Epic-ness rating | 8
Difficulty | moderate

How difficult is the Fairyland Loop hike?

Despite being the longest day hike in Bryce Canyon National Park, the Fairyland Loop is still moderate in difficulty. Clocking in at 7.8 miles and 1,545 feet of elevation gain, this trek won’t tire you out too bad.

The elevation gain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the loop and you will switch from incline to decline and back multiple times. There is no big summit push or steep ascent. It really feels like a meandering, rolling hike through a fairyland!

Getting to the trailhead(s)

Because this hike is a loop with a section that runs along the rim of the canyon, you have a two options for starting the hike: Fairyland Point or Sunrise Point. We’ve provided a map of the Fairyland Loop trail including the two trailheads below and will provide more detail on each trailhead in the section following.

Fairyland Point

The first (and best) trailhead option is starting from Fairyland Point, which is at the end of Fairyland Road (someone was very creative with the names…). This trailhead is located in the northern part of the park and is only about 5 minutes from the north entrance.

However, the parking lot at this trailhead is super small and there are only a limited number of parking spaces available. We arrived pretty early the day we hiked and all the spots were already taken. We ended up squeezing our car into what we thought was a parking spot, but sure enough, a bright yellow envelope was waiting for us upon our return. Luckily, it was only a warning and not a ticket!

Side note: we are usually very good about following parking signs, especially in national parks where such rules and regulations are typically meant to protect wildlife or help with crowd control. This one was an honest mistake, We thought we were okay to park where we did, but be warned that the Bryce Canyon authorities are on high alert! If you choose to start from Fairyland Point, be sure to double check your parking spot.

Sunrise Point

If the Fairyland Point parking lot is full, don’t make the same mistake we did, as you can also start the hike from Sunrise Point, which has plenty of parking available. Granted, it will probably be crowded so you may have to do a few laps to find a spot, but you should typically be able to find one without too much hassle.

Sunrise Point is just a 10 minute drive south from Fairyland Point along Route 63.

Fairyland Loop hike details

Because the hike is a closed loop, the trail is relatively easy to follow. Once you get on the Fairyland Loop trail it would take an impressive feat of obliviousness to lose your way. With that in mind, there are a few important things to highlight to make sure you have the best experience possible.

To orient you a little bit before diving into the details, Bryce Canyon National Park is set up with the main road (Route 63) running north to south along the western edge of the park. The actual canyon and everything you’ll want to see, lies east of this road, with the western rim of the canyon parallel to Route 63.

Clockwise or Counter-clockwise?

The Fairyland Loop follows the Rim Trail (which runs along the western rim of the canyon) from Sunrise Point to the Fairyland Loop trailhead. From the Fairyland Loop trailhead it descends down into the northern part of the canyon and loops back up to Sunrise Point.

This begs the age old question: should you do the hike clockwise or counter-clockwise? And, like most questions, the answer is that it depends.

Starting at Fairyland Point

If you are lucky enough to snag one of the parking spots at the Fairyland Point, starting the hike clockwise will bring you down into the canyon first before ascending back up to Sunrise Point and following the Rim Trail until you reach Fairyland Point again.

If you start going counter-clockwise, your hike would begin with the Rim Trail until you reach Sunrise Point, where you will begin your descent into the canyon.

We hiked the Fairyland Loop clockwise from Fairyland Point and we would definitely recommend it. We think the best part of the hike is being down in the canyon, getting close to the hoodoos and away from the people. Starting clockwise from Fairyland Point brings you into the canyon first, so you get the best part right away, before finishing up with the less scenic (in our opinion) and more crowded Rim Trail. If you want to save the best for last, start counter-clockwise!

Starting at Sunrise Point

From Sunrise Point, the opposite is true. If you start clockwise, you will begin your hike along the Rim Trail. If you start counter-clockwise, you will descend into the canyon first and end your hike with the Rim Trail.

Wherever you start and whichever way you go, you will see the same sights (albeit in a different order) so you really can’t go wrong!

Tower Bridge

Once you get on the Fairyland Trail, the hike is fairly easy to follow. There aren’t many connecting trails and everything is well marked. However, there is one spur trail you don’t want to miss – the short journey to see Tower Bridge! This unique formation was named due to its resemblance to the famous London Tower.

If you start at Fairyland Point and go clockwise, you will reach the spur trail to reach Tower Bridge at 3.7 miles. If you start at Fairyland Loop and go counterclockwise, the spur trail is at about 4.1 miles. From Sunrise Point, going clockwise, the spur trail will be at mile 6 and if you go counter-clockwise, you will reach the spur trail at mile 1.8.

This is a great place to take a quick break and snap a few pictures!

Planning your visit to Bryce Canyon

Getting to Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah, about an hour and a half from Zion National Park, and is an essential stop on any Utah National Parks road trip! If you are planning to arrive by plane, your best bet is to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, and then drive about 4 hours to the park.

Entrance Fees

7-Day Pass (per car) | $35
Annual Pass | $80

This Fairyland Loop hike is located inside Bryce Canyon National Park, so you’ll have to purchase a $35 per car pass that is valid for 7 days. You also have the option to purchase an annual US National Parks Pass for $80, which is worthwhile if you plan to visit 3 or more national parks over the next year.

When to hike the Fairyland Loop

The best time to hike in Bryce Canyon is during the summer, between May and September. In the late spring and early fall, snow storms are possible which may cause trail closures.

The canyon is typically several degrees warmer inside than at the rim, so prepare accordingly. Please be aware that during the summer, thunderstorms are frequent and very dangerous inside the canyon.

Tip: beware that Bryce Canyon is located at a higher elevation than Zion National Park, so if you plan to visit the two on the same trip, prepare for sometimes significantly colder temperatures in Bryce

What to pack for the Fairyland Loop

  • Microspikes: If hiking in late fall – early spring, Bryce Canyon may still have snow and the Fairyland Loop may still be icy.
  • Hiking boots: The Fairyland Loop is long hike with some slippery portions – you don’t want to be hiking in tennis shoes.(Sarah is obsessed with her Danner Mountain 600’s, Matt loves the Salomon X Ultra 4) .
  • Plenty of water: There is very little shade inside the Bryce Canyon amphitheater and it can get very hot, especially in the summer. Make sure you are prepared with at least 2-3 liters of water
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses: Again, since the trail is very exposed and offers little to no shade, its important to protect your skin/eyes from a long day in the sun (Goodr makes an awesome pair of cheap, non-slip sunglasses that are great for an active day).
  • National Park Pass: If you already have an annual National Park pass, be sure to bring it. Otherwise, you can purchase a 1 week Bryce Canyon pass or annual National Park pass at the gate.

P.S. Looking for a complete list of what to pack for a day hike in Bryce Canyon? We’ve compiled our complete list of essentials here:

Other Useful Resources

Planning a road trip through Utah? We think you may also be interested in the following:

For all things Utah: Utah Travel Guide

We hope you enjoy your trip to Bryce Canyon – it’s truly one of the most unique places we’ve seen! Questions about the Fairyland Loop? Let us know below!

3 Comments on “A Complete Guide to Hiking the Fairyland Loop Bryce Canyon

  1. I agree we did tons of the hikes this past fall. All great. Fairyland-the best of all!

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