It can be difficult to find solitude on the trails especially in the Utah Mighty 5. But what if I told you the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park could give you a sense of seclusion plus more?
The Fairyland Loop Trail is one of the best day hikes in Bryce Canyon because it gives you a taste of everything. While park visitors typically flock to the main viewpoints and Navajo/Queen’s Garden trail, you could be hiking this 7.7 mile moderate loop that leads you deep into parts of the amphitheater most people never visit. Part of the Fairyland Loop is brimming with large orange-white rock spires that twist high above, while other parts have distant rolling hills capped with layers of pink, orange, and white.
If you’re feeling inSPIREd keep scrolling. This post goes in-depth on where to begin hiking Fairyland Loop, what to expect, and other important logistics!
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Fairyland Loop Trail Stats
- Difficulty | Moderate
- Hiking Distance | 7.7 miles
- Elevation Gain | 1,308 feet
- Total Time | 4-5 hours
- Dog Friendly | No Dogs Allowed
Bryce Canyon National Park Info
Entry Fee | $35 per car for 7 days
Shuttle System | Free, runs April-October
Dogs Allowed | Only on paved paths
To start, here are a couple fun facts- Bryce Canyon National Park covers 35,835 acres of the Southwestern part of the state and it was actually a National Monument before it became a National Park in 1928. While it is referred to as a canyon, Bryce is actually a series of natural amphitheaters carved into the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
Bryce is most popularly known for its large concentration of eroded rock spires referred to as hoodoos. While it is one of the less visited Utah National Parks and smaller in size than Zion National Park, visitors flock to Bryce Canyon to wander among the tall spire like hoodoos and through arches carved out of the orange rock.
when to Hike Fairyland Loop
Visitors can enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park year round! It sits at 8,000 – 9,000 feet in elevation which means it has cooler summer temperatures than surrounding areas and receives rain and snowfall during other seasons.
Spring, summer, and fall are all comfortable seasons to hike in. If you want to brave the snow and cold you’ll be happy to hear most trails are open in the winter too. It just comes down to your preference. I love visiting Bryce Canyon in the summer, fall, or during winter when it is dusted with snow.
As always, be sure to do your research on the weather before your visit and plan accordingly!
If you visit right after or during the snow melt prepare for portions of the trail to be extremely muddy!
Interested in visiting BCNP in the winter? Visit 8 Best Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes And Things To Do
Where To Begin The Fairyland Loop
If you plan on hiking the Fairyland Loop when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park you’ll have two choices on where to begin- Fairyland Point at the Rim Trailhead (North) or Sunrise Point at Fairyland Loop Trailhead (South). Since this is a loop trail you’ll begin and end at the same trailhead so it doesn’t really matter which on you begin at. Below is a map depicting the options!
The most popular point to begin and end at would be Fairyland Point. It is located at the end of Fairyland Road which is on the left hand side shortly before you drive through the park entrance. You still need to pay fees if you plan on parking here.
There is a small parking lot at the end of the road which can fill up fast during peak times so plan on arriving early! If you aren’t fortunate enough to snag a parking spot do not attempt parking on the side of the road for you will be ticketed! Instead, continue down the main park road, through the entrance, and try Sunrise Point.
A second parking option for Fairyland Loop is the Sunrise Point. This lookout point is very popular but has a better sized parking lot than Fairyland Point. If you choose to begin your hike here you’ll hop onto the Rim Trail to reach the Fairyland Loop Trail (South) entrance and begin!
Clockwise Or Counter-Clockwise?
When it comes to closed loop hikes there is always the question of which direction to hike. With Fairyland Loop it depends on your preference- do you want to save the best for last or do you want to see the best right away?
The most scenic portion of Fairyland Loop is at Fairyland Point heading clockwise. This will bring you down into the amphitheater, immediately providing awe-inspiring views. If you hike counter-clockwise you’ll hike along the Rim portion first, ending with the hoodoos as you climb out of the amphitheater.
No matter which direction you go you’ll be climbing elevation- you can’t escape it! BUT, if you’re looking to climb a little less elevation then I suggest hiking counter-clockwise. This will allow you to hike down the inclines on the Rim trail rather than up…which if I admit was a little brutal in the heat at the very end of the hike!
Preparation saves lives. Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS.
You can download my Fairyland Loop hike and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!
Hiking The Fairyland Loop Trail
Bryce Canyon National Park’s trails are generally well groomed and easy to follow. You should have no problem finding your way along the Fairyland Loop Trail.
When I hiked I began at Fairyland Point and went clockwise, descending into the amphitheater right away. It was an exciting beginning to the hike since it is the most scenic portion of the entire trail.
The trail brings you past some impressive hoodoos and rock formations, then as you near the bottom you’ll begin to notice tall trees surrounding you. The bottom of the amphitheater is full of vegetation, dry washes, and if you’re lucky you may even spot some deer.
Enjoy it while it lasts because it feels as if you’re not at the bottom for long. The Fairyland Loop Trail continues on through a series of switchbacks that climb and descend in elevation through a very quiet part of the park.
For quite a distance the hoodoos disappear and the area becomes desolate. You can see for miles as you peer out at the layered hills of colored rock.
As you continue past the switchbacks the trail levels out for a bit, providing some beautiful sneak peaks of the trail weaving on ahead before it descends again.
At this point if you pay attention you can spot Tower Bridge way off in the distance. This is an optional side excursion to a natural bridge that I highly suggest visiting! I mean, why not? You’re already almost there.
Once you hike upon a fork in the trail there will be a sign for Tower Bridge. It is a short 200 yard excursion off the Fairyland Loop Trail to stand below the bridge and peer up at it.
Tower Bridge was named for its close resemblance to the famous London Tower. It is quite impressive and worth visiting! It is also a great place to take a little break and have a snack before the climb begins.
If you visit Tower Bridge you’ll just turn around and take the short spur trail back to intersect with the main trail and continue on.
This is where the real fun begins. It seems like the climb back up to the Rim Trail is a constant incline. Then once you reach the Rim Trail you’ll continue to loop around the Fairyland Point.
Unfortunately it isn’t smooth sailing the rest of the way. This portion of the Rim Trail isn’t flat like most would think! You’ll have to climb even more elevation to get back to your parked car.
When I hiked Fairyland Loop it had gotten pretty hot by the time we reached the last 3 miles. So the incline for the last few miles seemed so long and difficult! If you don’t want this to be the end of your hike then I’d suggest going counter-clockwise!
Okay it wasn’t all that dreadful. The Rim Trial was actually quite beautiful! Parts of the trail were sandy and there were a ton of trees making me feel as if I was transported to Flagstaff, Arizona. The view down into the amphitheater where I had just hiked was a constant reminder of all that I accomplished.
Pack The Essentials!
Fairyland Loop Trail is a moderate hike due to elevation gain and distance combined. It is important to arrive fully prepared!
- Hiking backpack to carry all of the essentials and keep your hands free.
- Hydration bladder to carry your water supply and let you sip as you hike.
- Insulated water bottle to carry back-up water incase your hydration pack fails, or to mix in some electrolytes!
- Snacks full of protein to give you energy. Rise Bars are my favorite!
- Sun protection such as sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
Treat It Like Home!
When visiting don’t forget to treat the area like it’s your own. Help preserve and protect our lands by following the Leave No Trace Principals:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Final Thoughts On Hiking Fairyland Loop
Overall hiking the Fairyland Loop was a little underwhelming for me. I think this is due to the fact that so many people have hyped it up which made me expect more. Don’t get me wrong- I loved the distance and challenge of the trail, plus there is no place like Bryce Canyon National Park, so the hike was still very scenic and enjoyable.
But if you’re looking for fun hoodoos to take pictures with in close proximity and arches to hike under this trail may not be it for you. Instead try the Navajo/Queen’s Garden Loop or Peekaboo.
The biggest perk to hiking Fairyland Loop Trail is that it is much less populated than other areas of the park. If you’re in it for hiking distance and/or solitude- this ones for you!
More in Bryce Canyon Country:
- Complete Hole in the Rock Road Hiking and Camping Guide
- Hike to Observation Point in Zion National Park from Zion Ponderosa
- EVERYTHING to know about driving Cottonwood Canyon Road, Utah
- Hiking and Camping at Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah
- 6 Reasons Mossy Cave Waterfall Is Worth The Stop
- 8 Best Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes And Things To Do
I’d love to hear from you!
Are you putting Fairyland Loop on your bucket list? Or have you hiked it before? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.