Queens Garden Trail
3 1/2 hours
Elevations: 600 ft. loss/gain
• Sunset Point Trailhead (start): 8,000 ft.
• Queens Garden: 7,600 ft.
• Bryce Creek: 7,400 ft.
Trail: Excellent, well marked trail
Season: Summer to mid-fall. The trail is covered with snow during the winter months. For current conditions call the Visitor Center, Bryce Canyon National Park, at (801) 834-5322.
Vicinity: Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one place where you can see a lot of fantastic scenery in a very short time. There are numerous trails below the rim, especially in the area between Sunrise Point and Bryce Point where most of the strange rock formations are found, and a number of variations of this hike are possible. The 6.6 mile hike I describe here is actually a combination of three separate hikes suggested by the Park Service: the Queens Garden Trail (1.6 miles), the Wall Street Trail (0.7 mile), and the Peekaboo Loop (4.8 miles). I suggest you do them all together because the only really strenuous part of any of the hikes is the climb out of the canyon. Why not see as much as possible before climbing out?
From Sunset Point the trail drops off the rim into Bryce Canyon, descending rather steeply into a forest of spires and pinnacles, or “hoodoos”. You can take either of two trails for this portion of the hike, but if you have ever seen the urban canyons of New York City I suggest you take Wall Street Trail on the right. This trail was metaphorically named after Wall Street Canyon in Manhattan, where New York’s skyscrapers tower over the narrow road below. The Wall Street Trail lasts only 0.7 mile, but in this distance you descend 520 feet. This is close to the lowest point on the hike, so you can relax for the next 4 1/2 miles.
Turn right at the trail junction at the bottom of Wall Street and head for the Peekaboo Loop. After 0.3 mile there is another junction where you will need to make another right turn and walk a few hundred feet to the beginning of the Peekaboo Loop. When you reach the beginning of the loop I suggest you take the left fork and walk around it in a clockwise direction. The Wall of Windows, which is the highlight of Peekaboo, should be approached from the south, its most impressive side.
As you enter the loop you will see the Fairy Castle above you on the left and Bryce Point straight ahead. If you have good eyes you will probably be able to see people on Bryce Point looking down at you. They are about a mile away and 900 feet higher. You will probably also notice that the Peekaboo Loop is a horse trail. During the summer horses can be hired at the Bryce Canyon Lodge for daily rides into the canyon; if you meet one of the riding tours stand aside and let them pass.
A little less than half way through Peekaboo Loop the path meets another trail coming down from Bryce Point. Bear to the right and stay on Peekaboo as the trail swings north and heads back along the west side of the loop. The next point of interest is the Wall of Windows, a large fin of sedimentary rock that is slowly eroding into a line of hoodoos. The uneven erosion down the sides of the fin has caused about a dozen windows of various sizes to open up in the wall, hence its name. If you are interested in photographing the Wall of Windows the best lighting is before noon, while the sun is in the east. From the Wall of Windows the trail continues northward, passing by the Cathedral and returning to the trail junction at the beginning of the loop. From there you should retrace your steps for about 0.3 mile back to the bottom of the Wall Street Trail.
From the bottom of the Wall Street Trail, head north, past the Navajo Loop Trail, and on towards the Queens Garden. Queens Garden is one of the gems of Bryce. It is a picture postcard scene, perfectly decorated with trees and rock formations as only nature can do. Although Queens Garden is near the end of the hike, you should save your lunch to eat here if possible. There is no better place to relax and enjoy the tranquility of the Canyon. From Queens Garden it is 0.8 mile, and 400 feet in elevation gain, to the top of the rim. The trail exits the canyon at Sunrise Point, 0.5 mile along the Rim Trail from Sunset Point where the hike began.