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Bryce Canyon Hike: Fairyland Loop Trail

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Yesterday's Bryce Canyon hike with our friends Chad and Shannon was snowy and muddy with a lot of climbing. It was also our first time using microspikes, which proved to be quite helpful on the sloppy terrain.

Today's Bryce Canyon hike would prove to be even sloppier, but the views of Bryce Canyon Amphitheater were out-of-this-world incredible.

Again, we got up fairly early in hopes of scoring parking at the busy Sunrise Point in the park, which would be the most convenient starting (and ending) point for the nearly 9-mile Fairyland Loop Trail hike.

After having a quick breakfast and then preparing some simple cold cut sandwiches and snacks to throw into the cooler for lunch following our hike, we headed out from our basecamp in Panguitch, UT, for our roughly 30-minute drive to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Thankfully, we easily got a parking spot at Sunrise Point, grabbed our gear, and headed out on the trail.

Day 3 in Bryce Canyon National Park

We meandered our way around and through all kinds of unique rock formations in the canyon – hoodoos, spires, and pinnacles abound.

Twisted tree.

Then we arrived at this pretty flowing creek, which was quite the oasis inside this otherwise dry, rocky, desert landscape.

It even had a small waterfall and some pink rocks.

We climbed up out of the creek valley and got to Tower Bridge.

Another twisted tree. This one not so lively.

Checking out the steady grade of the trail ahead of us.

The vast views surrounding us were difficult for our minds to even take in.

Despite being incredibly unique, some sections of the hoodoos are surprisingly uniform.

Then. The trail got wetter, muddier, sloppier.

We even had to navigate sloppy mud with pockets of standing water.

And... more mud.

And then... more snow the higher we climbed, which worked out great because we had to clean all the mud off of our shoes.

Sometimes, we had to choose our own adventure – between slippery snow or sloppy mud.

A final "peek-a-boo" keyhole.

Since this trail route was a loop, we ended up back where we started. After nearly 9 miles of hiking the past 4 hours and over 1,600 feet of climbing on sloppy terrain, we were ready for a little tailgate sandwich lunch at the Jeep before we headed back to our basecamp in Panguitch, UT.

This hike was a sloppy one!

As we headed out of the park and back towards Panguitch, we stopped for a quick hike (to further punish our fatigued legs) along UT Hwy. 12 up to Mossy Cave.

Just ahead, at the split in the trail, to the left is Mossy Cave, which contains a natural spring that seeps from a rocky cliff, providing critical moisture for area plants. It happened to be frozen still. You could feel the chilly, damp air as you approached the cave. This was our second cave of this trip.

The Mossy Cave sign reads as follows:

This grotto forms as an underground spring permeates the bedrock and water slowly dissolves the calcite that bonds the silts and muds of the Claron Formation. During the short spring and summer season, in this otherwise arid landscape, a cool, moist environment becomes a perfect place for mosses to grow. By late fall, icicles begin to form as water continues to seep through the rock. Sheltered from the sun, even as the the days are growing warmer and longer, these icicles sometimes last until June!

To the right at the split is Water Canyon, which is fed by the Tropic Ditch, an irrigation canal that was dug by Mormon pioneers in the late 1800s. Today, crucial irrigation flows May to October to sustain valley crops and orchards.

To cap off our Bryce Canyon National Park adventure, we made evening dinner plans and got tickets for a live country music dinner show at Ebenezer's Barn and Grill in Bryce Canyon City, UT. We were treated to an assembly of country music cover songs through the decades, along with a BBQ dinner. Members of the audience were from all over the world.

Tomorrow, it's back to the airport in Las Vegas to drop off Chad and Shannon, then we'll make our way back up to Tahoe. But first: Breakfast. We decided it was best to hit the road and make a breakfast stop along the way. About 50 minutes in, we pulled off the freeway and found the quaint Parowan Cafe and had a delicious breakfast. Then, it was back on the road for the remaining nearly 3-hour drive to the airport to part with our friends and bid our farewells.

Overall, this was an awesome trip to Zion and Bryce national parks with awesome friends, and I'm looking forward to our next adventure together.

Fairyland Loop Trail Hike

Total Distance

8.73 mi

Total Time


Total Ascent

1,631 ft

Max Elevation

8,158 ft

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