An otherworldly day hike in Bryce Canyon National Park among colorful hoodoos. This 5.5-mile loop on the Peek-a-Boo Trail begins and ends at Bryce Point.
Peek-a-boo 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: 5.5 miles round trip
WATER: none (an unreliable spring is marked on maps – just carry water)
ELEVATION: trailhead 8,309ft – low point 7,426ft – gain 1,555ft
ACCESS: paved roads to the trailhead
DIRECTIONS: Trailhead is at Bryce Point – clear road signs in the National Park show the way, or enter “Bryce Point” in a GPS map device. An in-season-only, free shuttle bus also stops here .
ROUTE: well maintained, crowded trail, signed junctions
GUIDEBOOK: Moon Zion & Bryce
More Advice on Hiking the Peek-A-Boo Loop
I would avoid this trail in mid-day because of crowding and limited parking. Early morning or late evening is the best time of day, unless you like enjoying the outdoors with a hundred of your best friends.
These are the best times of day for photography, too! A good plan is to catch the sunrise at Bryce Point and then immediately head down the trail.
All trails that descend into Bryce Canyon are considered to be fairly strenuous due to the elevation.
By the way, Bryce isn’t truly a “canyon.” It’s more like the rim of a plateau that drops off into beautiful amphitheaters.
If time and energy allows, I highly recommend incorporating the Navajo Trail into this hike, commonly referred to as Bryce’s Figure-Eight Loop. It only adds about one mile, but with considerably more elevation change.
There’s a great network of trails in this area, the heart of Bryce Canyon National Park. Pick up a good map to see how it works and get a solid grip on all the options.
Snow and ice on the trails are a serious consideration if visiting in the spring and fall (And definitely winter). The best way to handle these conditions is with hiking poles and traction devices.
My Trip Notes and Photos
A Spontaneous Decision
My first visit to Bryce Canyon (And this ensuing first hike on the Peek-a-boo Trail) happened sort of by accident.
I left the South Rim of Grand Canyon late in the afternoon of August 10, 2008 with friends Jamie and Michael. Jamie’s first big hike with me was Humphreys Peak in Arizona.
We had some vague plans for the weekend to “Go check out the Vermilion Cliffs.”
Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, we figured, would be well-marked with a visitor center and trails to explore. It was to be Jamie’s last weekend adventure before going back home to Ohio.
I fell asleep in the car when we left the Grand Canyon – it had been a tiring week at work. I woke later in the evening to the sound of a Neil Young track from the After the Goldrush album playing on the satellite radio. Sunset’s light shone on the Echo Cliffs as we traveled north on Highway 89A.
It was after dark by the time we arrived, according to Jamie’s GPS, at what was supposed to be the Vermilion Cliffs. We only saw dark desert out the windows and nothing in the vein of facilities.
It was then that she noticed Bryce Canyon was only about 150 more miles away, or less than three hours driving. We were all still feeling good.
“Do you want to go to Bryce?!”
After a few hours of dodging elk in the road, we got to the town of Bryce Canyon City, just outside the park gates. Feeling ready for a hotel room by the time we got there, we stopped at the biggest, most prominent place – Ruby’s Inn.
There was no vacancy here. The girl at the front desk starting calling local hotels, and we learned that everything within 30 miles was booked!
There was just one exception to this – a small place back in the town of Hatch. So we retraced our steps to go to this room.
It was certainly an interesting place! I’ve never stayed anywhere quite like it. The hotel was essentially just a few rooms that were on the second story of gas station! The “front desk” was the cashier in the gas station.
I thought it was actually super cool! All you had to do was wander downstairs for snacks and munchies.
Not only was it my first visit to Bryce, but my first visit to the state of Utah.
We woke early the next morning and drove back to Bryce.
The Peek-A-Boo Trail was a great morning’s hike.
Michael starts down the trail’s switchbacks.
Horses can use the Peek-A-Boo Trail, too. We didn’t see any.