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Under the Pink Cliffs: Trails of the Bryce Amphitheater

Bryce Canyon National Park | Thursday – Sunday, December 1-4, 2022

Of Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ National Parks, Bryce Canyon National Park is the only one that I have not done any ‘real’ hiking in before. Previously, my only visit to the park was over ten years ago and during that brief visit I only went on short walks to most of the overlooks along the rim. I was hoping to change that this year, so I made it my goal to plan an extended weekend to Bryce to hike all of the trails within and around the Bryce Amphitheater this winter. I figured that early December would be a good time to go to avoid the crowds and maybe catch a little snow on the hoodoos, too.


Mossy Cave Trail

I took some time off from work and left for Bryce Canyon late Thursday morning so I could stop for a short hike along the Escalante River and not have to do any driving in the dark. I arrived in Tropic shortly before sunset and had just enough time to quickly hike the short Mossy Cave Trail before dusk.

A late evening view from the Mossy Cave Trailhead.

Trailhead View

An overlook of Water Canyon and a bit of a frozen waterfall.

Water Canyon

Early season ice forming in Mossy Cave.

Mossy Cave Ice

Arch & Moon

Arch & Moon

Here’s one of the bridges along the Mossy Cave Trail as I made my way back to the Jeep.

Mossy Cave Trail Bridge


Navajo Loop: Two Bridges & Queens Garden Trail

On Friday morning I was up early and at the rim near Sunset Point just before dawn so I could catch the sunrise and then start my first hike into the Bryce Amphitheater. There had been a storm system that passed through the area overnight which left a dusting of snow behind and was clearing out, so I was hoping for a nice sunrise. It turned out to be pretty amazing!

Looking down on the Silent City at dawn.

Silent City

A dusting of snow covered the ground and the hoodoos of the Bryce Amphitheater.

After the Storm

The sun started to peek out through the clouds as I started hiking down the Two Bridges Trail of the Navajo Loop. I would not be able to hike Wall Street this trip since it is closed during the winter, so I figured I could complete a loop with the Queens Garden Trail.

Dusting of Snow

The light and the clearing clouds were lovely this morning.

Hoodoo Layers

A beautiful Bryce Canyon sunrise above Thor’s Hammer.

Bryce Canyon Sunrise

Bryce Amphitheater Sunrise

Bryce Amphitheater Sunrise

Thor’s Hammer

Thor's Hammer

Even though Wall Street is not open in the winter, the trail right above the switchbacks still is, so I was able to get a good look at them below.

Wall Street View

I followed the Navajo Loop Trail down into Bryce Canyon.

Navajo Loop Trail Descent

Two Bridges Trail

Near the bottom of the trail I stopped to check out the Two Bridges.

Two Bridges

I connected up with the Queens Garden Trail and then started ascending back up to the rim.

Canyon View

Hiking through a narrow passage.

Narrow Corridor

The views were outstanding the entire way and I had seen no other footprints in the fresh snow other than the ones I left behind. It was a great morning among the hoodoos in the amphitheater!

Morning View



Towering Above

Queens Garden Trail View

Queens Garden Trail

Upper Trail View

Trail Tower

Frosted Landscape

Two Holes in the Rock

Nearing The Rim


The Rim Trail

When I returned to the rim I found that the loop was quite a bit shorter and easier than expected, so I decided to follow the Rim Trail south along the edge of the Bryce Amphitheater.

Bryce Amphitheater Rim

Bryce Canyon

Rim Trail

Once I reached upper Inspiration Point I would not see any other footprints until I neared Bryce Point.

Inspiration Point

Rim Trail Ridge

The snow got a little deeper the further and higher I went and a few snow flurries fell as clouds quickly moved across the sky.

Winer at Bryce

Rim Trail View

Rim Trail Point


Once I reached Bryce Point I took in the views from the overlook and turned around to return the way I had come.

Nearing Bryce Point

Alcove Wall

Looking down over the Liberty Castle as I headed back to Sunset Point.

Liberty Castle

It got quite a bit windier and cold during my hike back, but the dynamic views made up for it!

Light & Clouds

Light on the Rim

Bryce Canyon Morning

I haven’t done too much hiking lately and by the time I returned to my Jeep my legs were tired and I was ready for a break, so I drove down to Tropic and grabbed a burger for lunch. Afterwards, I returned to Bryce planning to drive to the end of Rainbow Point and stop at all the overlooks along the way, but found that the road was closed three miles into the park because of the snow. I didn’t think there had been enough snow to justify closing the road, but I guess I was wrong.


Red Canyon & Rainbow Point

Since I still had plenty of daylight left, I decided to drive over to Red Canyon and hike the short Arches Trail at the mouth of Losee Canyon instead.

Arch Trail Stairs

Arches of the Arches Trail.

Arch Trail Arches

From an overlook along the trail I had this nice view over the Sevier River Valley.

Arches Trail Overlook

After hiking the short Pink Ledges Trail in Red Canyon I drove back through the two tunnels and returned to Bryce to catch the sunset.

Red Canyon Tunnel

When I returned to Bryce, I found that the road to Rainbow Point had reopened, so I drove all the way out to the end, with a couple stops along the way, and then watched the sunset from Yovimpa Point.

Yovimpa Point Evening


Fairyland Loop Trail

On Saturday morning I was back at Bryce Canyon early, this time at Sunrise Point, to catch the sunrise and then hike the Fairyland Loop Trail. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and overcast, so there wasn’t a sunrise at all.

I followed the Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Fairyland Point hoping the clouds would thin and allow some light through, but it never happened.

Fairyland Point

After the descent into Fairyland Canyon the clouds finally started to thin a little and let through some soft filtered light, so I started taking a few more photos as I continued on along the trail.

Towers in the Trees

Fairyland Castle

Fairyland Castle

Fairyland Loop Trail

Fairyland Trail

Fairyland Canyon

Fairyland Canyon


Following the trail as it circumnavigates Boat Mesa.

Fairyland Loop Trail

Trail View

Once I reached the bottom of Campbell Canyon I followed the short detour to see Tower Bridge Arch.

Tower Bridge Arch

The trail then climbed all the way back to up the rim near Sunrise Point.

Below The Wall

I even saw a little bit of blue sky on my way up.

Trail Wall

Boat Mesa

Boat Mesa View

There were a lot more ups and downs along the Fairyland Trail than I thought there would be, so I was ready for another break and returned to Tropic again for an early lunch.


Round Valley Draw & Inspiration Point

While I was eating lunch I tried to come up with plans for the rest of the day. At this time it was looking like the sky was clearing out, so I thought a hike through a slot canyon might be a good idea. I’ve always wanted to explore Round Valley Draw, so this seemed like a good time to do it. Of course, as I drove over to the trailhead on the Slickrock Bench the sky became completely overcast again and I would not see any good light while I was down in the canyon.

I hiked down the easier exit route into Round Valley Draw and then went upstream into the canyon until I was stopped by a chockstone that I couldn’t climb.

Round Valley Draw

Round Valley Draw II

Round Valley Draw III

There were some nice narrow slots along the way.

Round Valley Draw Slot

Dark Passage

Round Valley Draw Slot II

Round Valley Draw Slot III

Round Valley Draw Slot IV

Round Valley Draw IV

Before climbing back out of the canyon to my Jeep I hiked downstream to the confluence with Hackberry Canyon.

Round Valley Draw V

Round Valley Draw VI

Once I was out of the canyon there was still time to make it back to Bryce before sunset, so I returned to Inspiration Point and hoped some light would get underneath the clouds.

Powell Point did light up briefly.

Powell Point Sunset

The Bryce Amphitheater at Dusk

Bryce Amphitheater at Dusk


The Tropic Trail & Peekaboo Loop

On Sunday morning I only had one loop trail in the Bryce Amphitheater left to hike, so this time I headed over to the Tropic Trailhead just before sunrise and followed the Tropic Trail up Bryce Canyon to the bottom of the Peekaboo Loop.

It was again mostly cloudy and overcast this morning as I began the Peekaboo Loop Trail.

Peekaboo Trail

Peekaboo View

A Little Blue

This twisted tree caught my eye along the trail.

Twisted Tree

Morning Clouds

Slender Hoodoos

Soon, I found myself below Bryce Point and took a detour as I followed a connector trail that would take me up to the top.

Bryce Point

Castle Arches

Hoodoos & Clouds

Peaks Light

Snow-covered switchbacks at the upper end of the trail to Bryce Point.

Bryce Point Trail

The trail went through this tunnel along the way.

Connector Trail Tunnel

Through The Tunnel

I was glad I had my microspikes for this trail.

Bryce Point Trail II

Trail Descent

The sun actually started coming out a bit as I made my way back down to the Peekaboo Loop.

Canyon Spotlight

Bryce Point Pass

Bryce Point Pass

Rim Caverns

Hoodoo View

Once back on the Peekaboo Trail I hiked below the Wall of Windows.

Wall of Windows

This was the slipperiest section of trail I would encounter all weekend. My dulled microspikes did not help me much here.

Icy Switchback

Underneath one of the windows in the Wall of Windows.

One Window

Just when I thought I was done with all the uphill on this hike I had to go up these switchbacks.

Peekaboo Switchbacks

There was a tunnel to go through when I reached the top.

Tunnel Glow

Tunnel Vision

Then it was mostly downhill back into Bryce Canyon the rest of the way.

The High Trail

Towers & Spires


Colorful Rim

Peekaboo Trail Descent

When I closed the loop I headed back down to the Tropic Trailhead and started my drive back home. Even though I only caught one really nice sunrise in the park this extended weekend, I had an amazing time hiking all the trails within and around the Bryce Amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park. I’m sure I will return one day with Diane to hike Wall Street and then I can start working on the less popular Under-the-Rim Trails further south.

>> The Bryce Amphitheater Photo Gallery


  1. Stephanie Barnard
    Stephanie Barnard December 13, 2022

    Great photos, Randy. Makes me want to get back to Bryce. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post all of your outings.

  2. SteveR
    SteveR December 15, 2022

    You ended up finding some nice light! We’ve been numerous times but pop by for a hike there every couple of years, as we never tire of the amazing Bryce scenery.

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