The Fairyland Loop is one of the best day hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Fairyland 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: 8 miles round trip
ACCESS: paved roads to the trailhead
DIRECTIONS: Trailhead is at Fairyland Point – road signs entering the Park show the way, and the point registers in Google Maps. Shuttle buses do not go to Fairyland Point. Sunrise Point is an alternate trailhead – it’s possible to access Sunrise Point via shuttle and on foot from the lodge, campground, and points south on the Rim Trail.
ROUTE: well maintained, signed junctions
GUIDEBOOK: Moon Zion & Bryce
Elevation Profile and Stats
Here’s an elevation profile of the Fairyland Loop. It depicts the hike done in a clockwise direction, beginning and ending at Fairyland Point.
- Fairyland Point (trailhead): 7,770ft
- Highest: 8,150ft
- Lowest: 7,160ft
- Gain: 2,310ft
- Loss: 2,310ft
Fairyland Trail Map
Here’s the NPS that shows the trail. You can right-click on it to view a larger version.
Hiking Fairyland is a perfect way to experience Bryce Canyon. Its stunning scenery, moderate length, and quiet nature add up to a wonderful day hike. Aptly named, this trail begs for you to immerse yourself in an other-worldly meander among its colorful hoodoos, complimented by distant views and interesting formations like Tower Bridge.
Other notable features include the “Chinese Wall” and Boat Mesa. Otherwise, the trail tends to wind through Fairyland Canyon and Campbell Canyon.
The National Park rates this as a “strenuous” hike, primarily due to its consistent elevation above 7,000 feet (and consequent lack of oxygen when compared to sea level). Dry, hot air in mid-summer and lack of shade can get unprepared hikers in trouble, too.
With that said, somewhat acclimated, fit hikers will have little trouble. An active family should be able to tackle this trail. 8 miles is solid length for day-hiking, especially when considering the elevation. Just bring plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection.
The trail is mostly wide with good footing. There are some solid ups and downs, but never any over-the-top, 1,000ft climbing.
Clockwise or Counterclockwise?
This hike is most-recommended as a clockwise loop from Fairyland Point. This way, the majority of your elevation change is behind you before the 6-mile mark. You can even swing by the general store for snacks and water before closing the loop along the rim trail. Temperatures along the rim tend to be cooler, so it also makes sense to do this stretch later in the day (assuming you begin your hike in the morning).
In the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter which way you hike. It all has to do with timing, and counter-clockwise hikers are sure to have a wonderful experience too. For example, if you’re a photographer starting the trail at dawn, tackling the Rim Trail first would allow you to get great, distant shots of sunrise over the landscape before descending down the trail.
Fairyland vs Peekaboo
For those with less time and energy, the Peekaboo Loop is a more viable option, at 5.5 miles (versus 8 miles on Fairyland). The Peekaboo trail is located in Bryce’s main amphitheater, but the scenery on both of these hikes is equally stunning.
The Fairlyland Loop takes an estimated 4-5 hours, whereas the Peekaboo Loop takes 3-4 hours.
The deciding factor, in my opinion, is the crowds. There simply tends to be more people on the Peekaboo Trail.
Hiking in Winter
Bryce Canyon shines best in winter, when its summer crowds of tourists are long gone. Just come prepared with layers, trekking poles, and traction devices like Kahtoola Microspikes.
Unless you really want a solo experience in the middle of winter (December, January), optimal times are probably the shoulder seasons, like late November and March. This time of year provides a good combination of less crowding and more desirable conditions.
My Trip Notes and Photos
I hiked the Fairyland Loop to Tower Bridge on my first visit to the National Park in 2008. With friends Jamie and Michael, we simply turned around at Tower Bridge since we spent most of the morning on the Peekaboo Loop.
All of the photos on this page were shot on November 18, 2017 when I hiked the entirety of the Fairyland Trail loop. I went in a clockwise direction, starting and finishing at Sunrise Point. There was a dusting of snow that fell on the previous day, without major accumulation.
views from the rim