Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1555 ft.
In March 2017, I visited Bryce Canyon for the first time with my dad. I was immediately in awe of the Hoo Doos, the intricacies of the amphitheater, and all of the different shades of red. We were in a rush, so we weren’t able to hike into the amphitheater at all. I’ve been dying to go back ever since.
I visited Bryce Canyon for a second time at the beginning of this month. I knew that I wanted to go on a longer hike, but hadn’t done any research beforehand. A quick look at the NPS newsletter, and it was decided – Peek-a-Boo Loop it was!
Before I get into the specifics of the hike, I just have to say that this ended up being one of my favorite hikes that I have ever taken! The HooDoos are just SO UNIQUE, and it was a super cool feeling to be walking under and through them. The environment of Bryce Canyon is absolutely fascinating, in that it feels like it is constantly changing around every bend. This hike will take you from the top to the bottom of the canyon, through red HooDoos and whitewashed walls, on top of tye-dye sand mounds, and among ponderosa pines.
We got a bit of a late start that morning, and didn’t end up getting to the trailhead until around 9:15am. The Bryce Point trailhead still had a bunch of spots then, but to my dismay, the trailhead did not have a bathroom! We doubled back to Sunrise Point, and by the time we got back to Bryce Point around 9:30, we swooped the last parking spot. There were a few parking attendants there who were turning people away if there wasn’t a spot immediately available – they weren’t letting anyone “troll” the parking lot. And this was on a Thursday! My suggestion – if you get to any of the trailheads “late” (aka – after ~9am), just park at the Visitor Center and take the shuttle. It might take a little bit longer, but it’ll save you the headache. Plus, we didn’t take the shuttle at all, but I couldn’t imagine it taking too long – Bryce Canyon National Park is pretty small, and the shuttle ends at Bryce Point. It is a good option to get around the park without worrying about the hassle of parking.
By the time we were all packed and sunscreened up, it had started to get pretty warm. I think we began descending around 10ish. To get to Peek-a-Boo Loop, you first descend for 1.1 miles on the Under-the-Rim trail. Before you even leave the parking lot and step on to the trail, you are treated for views for as long as the eye can see!
The Under-the-Rim trail winds downhill the entire way. You start off with a few switchbacks before curving to the west, going through a naturalish-looking tunnel, and entering the amphitheater.
Once you go through the tunnel, you’ll get your first view of the Wall of Windows! Continue to descend into the amphitheater until you hit the loop.
Once you hit the loop itself, you’ll have the option to either go left or right (duh, it’s a loop). I read on the map that you are supposed to go clockwise during the summer (for reasons unbeknownst to me), so we took the left, but we ran into plenty of hikers coming the other way. I’m not entirely sure why Bryce Canyon wants you to go clockwise, but it was beautiful! I’m sure you get an entirely different hike going counter-clockwise, but I can definitely recommend going clockwise, regardless of the season.
Within maybe a half a mile of turning left at the loop, you’ll hit a bathroom and a small horse facility. Continue on for another half mile and you’ll come to an amazing view of the Wall of Windows. You are essentially right under the wall… it is absolutely gorgeous. A great spot to take a snack break!
The tie-dye sand underneath the wall was just as fascinating as the wall itself. It is unbelievable how different the environments and features of the amphitheater can be.
Once you leave the Wall of Windows viewpoint, the trail becomes a little more wooded. The contrast between the green pine trees and the red canyon walls was breathtaking! The trail also begins weaving through the Hoo Doos themselves, and they almost take on the shape of little slot canyons!
One of the “slot canyons” takes the shape of a few tight switchbacks. If I had to pick a favorite spot on the trail, this would be it.
Soon after you make it up the switchbacks, you’ll hit the lowest part of the trail and will meet up with the Navajo Loop trail. I had no idea that these two trails converged – for a slightly longer hike, take the Navajo Loop hike back up to the top of the canyon!
Make your way back to the Under-the-Rim trail to begin the 1.1 mile ascent back up to Bryce Point.
The slog back up to Bryce Point took a toll on the both of us, and by the time we reached our car, we were both exhausted and famished. We weren’t super impressed with the restaurants that we had popped into in Bryce Canyon City the day before, so we decided to try the Bryce Canyon Lodge dining room. The Lodge is located off the Sunrise Point road, and it was DELICIOUS. Our cheeseburgers and cold beer quickly refilled us, and we were happy campers once again!