2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

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   BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK TRAILS:
  QUEEN'S GARDEN + SPUR TO NAVAJO LOOP

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4

 
"The least difficult descent into the canyon;
see Queen Victoria at the end of a short spur trail."
 
~ The Hoodoo park newspaper description of the Queen's Garden Trail
 
 

Although this trail is described as offering park visitors the easiest descent into the main Bryce Canyon amphitheater (or ascent back up from it), the trail is not a loop. You either have to go out and back on it for a total of about two miles -- the part marked in yellow on the map below -- or combine it with another trail, such as Navajo, to get back up to the rim.

Here's part of the park's official trail map that shows the Queen's Garden Trail. Go to this park website link for a larger version with more of the main amphitheater area trails and overlooks.


Yellow = about one mile one way. The spur trail marked in orange gets hikers to 
the low end of the Navajo Loop, a one-way distance of about 1.8 miles.

According to the park newspaper, the most popular loop with Queen's Garden incorporates one side of the Navajo Loop, usually Wall Street.

The park recommends going clockwise on this three-mile loop, which means starting at the Queen's Garden trailhead at Sunrise Point, going down to the low end of the Navajo Loop via a spur trail, climbing back up the Navajo Loop on one side or the other to Sunset Point, and walking along the rim to Sunrise Point.


View into the amphitheater from Sunrise Point; the Queen's Garden Trail
winds through the fascinating rock formations down in the canyon.

The Queen's-Navajo Loop is a moderately difficult hike if you're in good shape and acclimated to higher altitudes, but considerably more difficult if you aren't.

Remember that you're at about 8,000 feet elevation on the rim and not appreciably lower than that down on the amphitheater floor. Even on cooler spring and fall days the bright sun can feel quite hot in the canyons by lunchtime.

The effort and southern Utah's very low humidity will quickly suck you dry so take plenty of fluids, go as slowly as you need (stop and take lots of photos!), and watch your footing on loose rocks on steeper sections of trail so you don't fall or slide off a cliff.


Jim looks down through a crevice to the rock formations 200-300 feet below.


View from upper part of the trail through a different crevice to a part  
of the trail about 200 feet lower; see the little people down there?

I've hiked Queen's Garden in different combinations with the Navajo Loop, Peekaboo, Bryce Point, and connector trails, sometimes beginning with Queen's Garden and sometimes ending with it. My distances have varied from three to fourteen miles, and you could extend it even farther than that.

In this entry I'll take you on a virtual tour of the Queen's Garden Trail, beginning at the trailhead at Sunrise Point, and the spur trail to the bottom of the Navajo Loop. These two sections are marked in yellow and orange on the map above.

The photos were taken on several different days and show views in both directions.

QUEEN'S GARDEN TRAIL

Queen's Garden has some great rock formations and several tunnels to walk through. It's a fun hike in either direction.

Let's start at the Sunrise Point trailhead:

The trail is wide and mostly smooth as it winds through the amazing landscape.

The initial descent from Sunrise Point is moderately steep, with some loose rocks -- a sign at the trailhead warns hikers about this hazard -- but most of the Queen's Garden Trail has a more gentle grade.

At the beginning of the descent there are great views of the tops of nearby and distant rock formations. Farther down the trail passes by the bottom of the sculpted walls and spires.


"Framed" view into Bryce Amphitheater

.Above and below:  pretty pastels and darker hues in the canyon

 


Look closely and you might see the beam of light below the arrow. The morning sun is to
the left, shining through a window in the rock wall. You can see the shadow at the lower right.


View east toward Boat Mesa


Looking down to a lower part of the trail again; arrow points to tiny people.

Arches (above) and windows (below) fascinate me, as do all the pretty rock colors.

 


If you time it just right, you can see the morning or afternoon
guided horse tours go by on the nearby horse trail.

The Queen's Garden Trail passes through four tunnels that have been chiseled out of the rocks. This descent goes to the first one:

 


Tunnel is in the distance, under the arrow.


Jim is silhouetted at the other end of the first tunnel.


Four levels of trail are shown here, as they switchback through the rock formations.


You'll see a lot more if you stop often to look up, around, and behind you.
People who rush through Bryce's trails miss a lot of detail.


View through second tunnel; I like to use tunnels as frames.

There are two more tunnels before reaching the short spur trail to see the "Queen" hoodoo, with incredible views of rock formations along the way:

 

 

 

LET'S GO SEE THE QUEEN!

Just after passing through the fourth tunnel, you'll come to an intersection. Left goes down to the spur trail leading to the Navajo Loop and straight goes back a couple hundred feet to this sign:

That explains why this is named the "Queen's Garden" Trail.

If you haven't already noticed the tall hoodoos you're facing, now's a good time to see the Queen Victoria look-alike in rock -- before it eventually erodes to the point that it doesn't resemble the statue any more!

 

Now we'll go back to the intersection by the tunnel and head down the spur trail. It leads you to the bottom of the Navajo Trail, if you're doing that loop up to Sunset Point, or to the access trail to the Peekaboo Loop.

If not, you can return back up the Queen's Garden Trail to Sunset Point. With a different perspective hiking the opposite direcction, you're bound to see things you missed on the way down.

SPUR TRAIL TO NAVAJO LOOP

The spur trail drops gradually along a small wash. Soon you'll come to a narrow slot between rocks,

then be more out in the open through trees the rest of the way to the intersection with the Navajo Loop and spur trail to the Peekaboo Loop.

You aren't as close to most of the carved rock walls and spires on the spur trail but there are some interesting formations along the way if you stop and look:


One of many strategically-positioned benches at Bryce Canyon

 

 

Before reaching the Navajo-Peekaboo intersection the spur trail curves around to the west along a wide wash and faces the rim. There are good views of the carved rocks in the cliff below the rim and toward the Peekaboo Loop to the south (left) :

 

 


Portion of the rim between Sunset and Bryce Points; the Rim Trail
follows the edge pretty closely and you can see these trails below.

Another intersection and another decision to make -- go right up the Two Bridges side of the Navajo Loop to Sunset Point, straight ahead to the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop and up to Sunrise Point, or left on the spur trail to the Peekaboo Loop.

Or you could do what I did on one really long hike from here -- up the Wall Street side, down the Two Bridges side, one-and-a-half times around the Peekaboo Loop, up the Bryce Point Trail, and back to Sunrise Point on the Rim Trail . . .

Lots of choices and opportunities here! Pick one or all, depending on the time and energy you have.

Next entrymulti-page virtual tour of the Peekaboo Loop; this is Jim's favorite Bryce Canyon trail and my second-favorite one

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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