See Bryce Canyon in One Day
Hike the Figure 8 Combination Loop
September 5th, 2020
Distance: 6.4 miles out & back
Dog Friendly: The park itself is, but not on the trails.
Fee: $35 vehicle fee
Restrooms at trailhead: Yes & at the bottom of Peek-A-boo Loop.
We drove to Bryce Canyon National Park Labor Day Weekend. We left at 6:00 am. Our drive up was going really well until we got about 25 mins outside of Page, AZ when our car started to make a knocking noise. Worried and in the middle of nowhere we started looking up rental car places in Page because we didn’t want this to end our trip, especially since we already paid for our AirBnb. We found the only rental car place in town that is connected to Page’s airport and we got the LAST rental car in the city–a Dodge Charger (shout out to Avis Rental Car) Owen was thrilled that we got a fast car! My Jeep Compass wasn’t the fastest car on the planet… plus it had a recent history of issues. We then found an auto repair place open on Saturday in Page (shout out to Allen Auto Repair) and dropped off our car there, hoping it wasn’t going to be a big repair. And then we got back on the road! This whole debacle took up about an hour of our time. We were going to stop in Kanab, Utah, but decided to just continue onto Bryce instead. When we reached Kanab Larry Allen, the shop owner let us know that fortunately the knocking was coming from loose lug nuts on the wheels. The lug nuts were very loose, but luckily a simple tightening was the solution and we didn’t need to wait for new parts or pay for a costly and complicated repair. Our Tip: if you’re planning on taking your older car on a long drive, maybe get an inspection from your trusted mechanic.
We arrived at Bryce Canyon around 3:30 pm. Since it was Labor Day weekend there was a line to get into the park, but the line wasn’t absurd, just time consuming. Fortunately there were spots available at Sunset Point, where we wanted to start our hike from. We did get lucky with someone pulling out when we were pulling in, but it didn’t seem like it was super hard to get a spot. Before you enter the park there is also a shuttle system you can use in case you don’t want to drive into the park or if you can’t
We decided to pick The Figure 8 Combination Loop because we wanted to see the entire park and knew we only had half a day + the following morning near Bryce. We stayed in a cute AirBnb in Panguitch called the “Ice House” because simple enough, that’s what it used to be. It was small but super cute and had a lot more room than I was expecting. However, we drove straight to the park and didn’t get to our AirBnb until after our long hike so we didn’t take any pictures of it!
We started our hike at Sunset Point and hiked over to Sunrise Point which is about .5 miles. This part is completely paved and you are just walking along the rim. There are bathrooms at both Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. Once you reach Sunrise Point you start to head down the Queens Garden. This stretch definitely had more people because some people hike down a little just to take photos. Once you descend down Queens Garden you will walk through beautiful archways that will take your breath away! At the lowest point of Queens Garden you will start to see Pine Trees. I thought it was pretty incredible to be surrounded by the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon and Pine Trees. The scenery sometimes makes it difficult to remember the elevation at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Eventually you will come across a sign that will say Peek-A-Boo Loop. Follow the sign and head along the trail. Eventually come to a fork in the trail – TURN RIGHT. Going left will take you down the Horse Trail still very much used in the park. We accidentally started at that for a little bit, but realized we were going the wrong way. This is where the hike becomes a little bit more of a challenge. The trail changes elevation quite often and the altitude apparent. But it is worth it and incredibly beautiful! If you aren’t usually hiking with higher altitude (my Phoenix people) then take your time and bring a lot of water. I brought two bladders with me for this hike. For good reason because I finished my 2.0 liter bladder and then had my 1.5 liter bladder for the end of the hike. We used our new Osprey bags! I have the Skimmer 28 and Owen has the Skarab 30. We loved these packs! They are perfect for a long day hike. This was our first time using them, but for the first time I thought they were great. There is a lot of storage and support. On Peek-A-Book Loop you will see The Wall of Windows. I’m not sure pictures do this justice. It is absolutely breathtaking. After you continue on past The Wall of Windows you will come across STEEP switchbacks. Woo! I was out of breath and tired by this point, but we continued on. After the switchbacks you unfortunately on decline again followed by of course, ONE more incline and then, yep you guessed it, another decline. This led us to the end of the loop and we connected back with the Navajo Loop.
We took Navajo Loop to Wall Street. The end was near! Wall Street is the famous part of Bryce Canyon (other than the Hoodoos). So it had a lot of people. We wore our masks throughout this part because it was still crowded amid the pandemic. If there weren’t so many people we would have taken more pictures. At this point we were pretty fatigued and didn’t want to be surrounded by groups of people. However, this part of the trail was really cool and I can see why it is so famous. There are steep switchbacks to get back to the top (similar to Scouts Lookout in Zion National Park, but LONGER). We hiked up Wall Street to Sunset Point which is where we started. I was pretty dead after this hike. The altitude and the continuous incline/decline really got me. I was definitely ready to get back to the car. I highly recommend this hike if you’re an avid hiker. You can also easily break this hike up into two days instead. We did this hike in a little less than 3 hours as we tried to get to the top before sunset. Based off of our trip, I recommend you be at the top of the canyon about an hour before sunset. We noticed that although the sun wasn’t set, it still was too low in the sky to light up the hoodoos as the actual sunset neared.