Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion’s wildly underrated next-door neighbor, is a fantasyland of orange turrets and lanky pinnacles. Thousands of these bizarre, weathered pillars are grouped together in a vast amphitheater backdropped by prominent peaks. Enter the main attraction at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon is one of those rare National Parks that can be fully explored in a single day. This is due in part to its small, compact size of 35,000 acres. Other reasons include its easy accessibility and short, manageable trail system. While many backcountry trails stray from the amphitheater, the main canyon trail systems can be hiked in a day.
That brings us to our topic of Bryce Canyon hikes! One of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park is the Figure 8 Combination.
The Figure 8 Combination combines three epic amphitheater hikes – Queen’s Garden, Navajo Loop, and Peek-a-Boo Loop – into one iconic hike! Even better yet, this trail includes a stroll along the rim, making this the ultimate Bryce Canyon hike.
If you only have time for one hike in Bryce Canyon, make it the Figure 8 Combination.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to hike the Figure 8 Combination in Bryce Canyon National Park.
How to Hike the Figure 8 Combination
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Figure 8 Combination Trail Stats
- Distance: 6.4 miles
- Type of Trail: Loop
- Elevation Gain: 1575 feet
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Pet Friendly: No (Dogs are allowed on the Rim between Sunrise and Sunset Points, but they cannot enter the amphitheater).
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah. It’s about 84 miles (or two hours) from Zion National Park and 157 miles (or 3 hours) from the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.
If you’re flying, your best bet will be to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive the 4 hours to the park.
If you want an epic road trip idea, consider taking a trip to all of the Utah Mighty Five National Parks!
You can arrive at the trailhead by one of two options:
- Park Shuttle
- Personal Vehicle
Park shuttles are operated seasonally (April through October). The shuttles make 15 stops, including both Sunrise and Sunset Points, which are the two access points to the Figure 8 Combination trail. To take the shuttle, park your vehicle at the massive lot right outside the park entrance, show your annual pass (or purchase a 7-day pass), and hop on! Click on this Google Maps link to be taken directly to the parking lot.
If you are visiting from November through March, or you want to drive your own vehicle into Bryce Canyon, park in either the Sunrise Point or Sunset Point lots. Oversized vehicles are not permitted in the parking lots during shuttle operating hours, and spots for all other vehicles fill up quickly, so you’ll want to arrive early.
→ READ NEXT: 6 Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
The trailhead can be accessed via two points on the Rim:
- Sunset Point/Navajo Loop
- Sunrise Point/Queen’s Garden
These two points are located about 0.5 miles from each other, connected by an easy, paved trail.
The trail is known to close frequently throughout the winter when it’s buried beneath the snow. Part of the Figure 8 Combination – Wall Street on the Navajo Loop – is always closed during winter, but there is still another route available (Two Bridges), as long as conditions are ideal. If the entire Navajo Loop is closed, you’ll have to ascend and descend the canyon via Queen’s Garden.
NOTE: You must still purchase a vehicle pass or show your annual pass even if you park outside of the park and take the shuttle. The shuttle attendant will require you to show your pass or purchase one.
Which Direction Should You Hike?
We hiked the Figure 8 Combination trail in both directions – one at sunrise and one during mid-day. I am biased toward our sunrise experience because we had the trail all to ourselves, but the direction had nothing to do with my opinion of the trail itself.
If I were to recommend one particular direction, it would be to start at Sunset Point, descend the Navajo Loop, connect to the Peek-a-Boo Loop, hike it clockwise, ascend the Queen’s Garden trail, and complete the loop by hiking the Rim Trail from Sunrise Point back to Sunset Point.
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry! I am going to share step-by-step trail details and reveal all of the possible direction combinations!
How to Hike the Trail
You have two options for where to begin your trail:
- Start at Sunset Point.
- Start at Sunrise Point.
If you choose to start at SUNSET POINT, here is how you’ll hike the trail.
You’ll descend either side of the Navajo Loop – Wall Street or Two Bridges. (Wall Street is closed in the winter.) Both are epic! If you only have time for one, I’d pick Wall Street because it’s a quintessential Bryce Canyon section. You’ll descend a series of steep and photogenic switchbacks. From the top, you’ll be able to see the trail zigzagging down the canyon to the very bottom.
After you conquer the Navajo switchbacks, you’ll reach a junction. Follow the signs for the Peek-a-Boo Loop.
Once you finish the Navajo-Peek-a-Boo connector trail, you’ll reach the start of the Peek-a-Boo Loop. You can hike this loop in either direction – clockwise or counterclockwise. You honestly can’t go wrong with either choice, but you’ll get the best views of the Wall of Windows, a series of sandstone arches and hoodoos in the amphitheater, if you hike it clockwise.
As you hike the Peek-a-Boo Loop, you’ll be treated to wild views of the amphitheater and all of its hoodoos. Some of the best views of the inner canyon can be seen from this loop. You might even pass horses or mules because this loop is a shared trail! Remember to always give them the right of way. You can read more about hiking etiquette here.
Once you complete the loop, you’ll head back on the connector trail that you used to reach Peek-a-Boo. When you reach the Navajo junction, follow the sign for Queen’s Garden. (You’ll hike the opposite way that you came down).
Here you’ll wind through some trees before ascending the canyon back up to the Rim via a strenuous series of switchbacks. These switchbacks are wider, longer, and less tight than those on the Navajo Loop. And unlike the Navajo Loop, there isn’t much shade cover. For those two reasons, I’d consider the Queen’s Garden switchbacks to be a bit more difficult than Wall Street and Two Bridges.
Don’t forget to stop by the spur trail along Queen’s Garden (about a half-mile before you reach the top) to see if you can spy Queen Victoria, which is a large orange hoodoo that resembles a queen surveying the garden before her.
Once you’re at the top, you’ll be dumped off at Sunrise Point. Head south for 0.5 miles on the Rim Trail to complete the loop. You’ll finish the trail at Sunset Point, the point at which you started the trail!
If you choose to start at SUNRISE POINT, here is how you’ll hike the trail.
You’ll descend the canyon on the Queen’s Garden trail. You’ll coast down numerous switchbacks that are extremely strenuous for uphill hikers. About a half-mile in, you’ll probably notice a spur trail. This leads to a large hoodoo named after Queen Victoria. See if you can spot the iconic pillar!
After meandering through some trees, you’ll reach the first junction. Follow the signs for the Peek-a-Boo Loop.
When you finish the short connector trail, you’ll arrive at the beginning of the Peek-a-Boo Loop. You can hike this trail in either direction – clockwise or counterclockwise. Both choices are great, but if you hike it clockwise, you’ll have a better view of the Wall of Windows, which is a spectacular display of arches engraved into the hoodoos.
As you hike the Peek-a-Boo Loop and wander in and around all of the eccentric hoodoos, you’ll be treated to surreal views of the amphitheater. Some of the very best views of the inner canyon can be seen from this loop. You might even pass horses and mules because this loop is a shared trail! Remember to always give the horses the right of way.
Once you complete the loop, you’ll head back on the connector trail that you used to reach Peek-a-Boo. Once you’re at the junction, ascend the canyon on either side of the Navajo Loop – Wall Street or Two Bridges. (Wall Street is closed in the winter.) Both routes are fantastic and are worth exploring if you have the time. But if you’re only going to hike one side, I’d take the Wall Street route.
Once you’re at the top of the Navajo switchbacks, you’ll be dumped off at Sunset Point. Head north for 0.5 miles on the Rim Trail to complete the loop. You’ll finish the trail at Sunrise Point, the point at which you started the trail!
See where Bryce Canyon ranks in my Utah National Parks Ranked Best to Worst blog post!
When to Go
The best time to hike the Figure 8 Combination is during the summer – May through September. Summer is the most tolerable and enjoyable season to hike the canyon trails; temperatures are decent, and the snow is gone. But keep in mind that temperatures inside the canyon are much warmer than on the Rim. Plan your clothing and load your backpack accordingly.
While Bryce’s winters boast those delicious contrasts of brilliantly white snow and dusted orange pillars, the season brings potential trail closures and definite road closures. Watch the park website closely before your trip to get updates on current conditions.
→ READ NEXT: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon: Which Is Better?
Other Things To Do in the Park
Once you’ve completed the Figure 8 Combination trail, there are several things you can do to finish off your day (or days) at Bryce Canyon: (but remember, it’s okay if that trail is all you have time to do!)
- Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail.
- Hop on the shuttle and stop at all the overlooks OR walk the entire Rim Trail.
- Drive to Rainbow Point and stop at all of the overlooks along the 18-mile scenic road. Make sure to stop at Natural Bridge!
- Hike the Bristlecone Loop where you’ll see the oldest living trees in the world.
- Go horseback riding through the amphitheater.
- Go backpacking in Bryce’s “secret” backcountry areas.
- Hike the Tower Bridge Trail.
Read my Bryce Canyon guide for a full list of the best things to do in the park, where to stay, when to go, and more!
Discover Your Next Adventure
What adventure should you embark upon next? I’ve got some suggestions!
- Attempt the Chasm of Doom in Joshua Tree.
- Go tubing in the Smoky Mountains.
- Hike the Cassidy Arch Trail in Capitol Reef.
- See the synchronous fireflies in the Smokies.
- Go sandboarding in Great Sand Dunes.
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