This easy, one-mile loop trail meanders over the highest terrain in Bryce Canyon National Park, offering enchanting views and companionship with 1,800 year-old Bristlecone Pine trees.
Bristlecone Loop Trail Guide
MAP: Trails Illustrated
PERMITS: none (must pay National Park Entrance Fee)
DESIGNATION: Bryce Canyon National Park
BEST SEASONS: summer, late spring, early fall
DISTANCE: one mile round trip
ELEVATION: average 9,000ft to 9,100ft
ACCESS: paved roads to the trailhead
DIRECTIONS: Trailhead is at Rainbow Point – road signs in the Park show the way, or enter “Rainbow Point” in a GPS map device. The Park’s shuttle bus does not come out here.
ROUTE: well maintained, crowded trail, signed junctions
GUIDEBOOK: Moon Zion & Bryce
Bristlecone Loop Trail Map
Here’s a general schematic map that shows the trail (right-click to enlarge). It also shows other significant features of the area, like Rainbow Point, Yovimpa Point, and The Promontory.
The best map of Bryce Canyon National Park is published by Trails Illustrated.
This paved trail has wonderful, far-off views of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and beyond, all the way to Navajo Mountain and the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona.
More close-up views feature, of course, Bristelcone Pine trees, White Fir, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Blue Spruce.
Bristlecone Pines are known for their strength and endurance at high, windy, snowy locations. An example of one of these trees in California was judged to be 4,500 years old! To put such an age into perspective, Ancient Egypt was in full swing and active when that tree was but a wee sapling.
Much of the terrain traversed by the Riggs Spring Trail can be seen from this area. Rainbow Point is the end of Bryce’s scenic drive, and the end of the extensive Under-the-Rim Trail.
Listen to the wind rush through the pines, and look down upon a kaleidoscope of color from a mountaintop setting.
Welcome to the uppermost step of the Grand Staircase!
My Trip Notes and Photos
Despite its pedestrian nature, this was a surprisingly pleasant little walk through a unique district of this National Park. Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point had always been a couple of my favorite overlooks here, due to their distant and wilder views than the draw of the main amphitheaters.
Haley and I kicked things up a notch by going on an impromptu, off-trail jaunt to what appeared to be a nearby point with better views.
The scramble through the forest was well worth it to get away from the crowds. We were rewarded with more solitude, better, unique views, and the discovery of some old wood construction that we guess may have been a fire lookout tower.
We later discovered that the point has an official name on most maps, dubbed “The Promontory.”
All photos were shot on May 13, 2017 during a spur-of-the-moment visit to Bryce that lasted only for few hours.
out on The Promontory
The Pink Cliffs are one of the top rock layers of the Grand Staircase.
views to the north