Bryce Canyon National Park, known for its hoodoos, has the largest collection of them on Earth. (Photo used with permission from Ava Radeke)
Bryce Canyon National Park, known for its hoodoos, has the largest collection of them on Earth. (Photo used with permission from Ava Radeke)

Exploring the outdoors: Bryce National Park and Arches National Park

Utah has many national parks. Zion is Utah’s most famous, but two other parks that share the spotlight are Bryce Canyon and Arches. Bryce Canyon became a national park in 1928, and Arches was declared a national park 43 years later in 1971. Both parks are stunning and offer different experiences. Bryce Canyon offers views of hoodoos, whereas Arches offers views of Utah’s natural arches. 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is a gorgeous national park. My family and I visited the park once in the summer of 2019. We were visiting Zion National Park and decided to take a day trip to Bryce. We hiked the entire day, and it was full of amazing views. Senior Ava Radeke also visited the park in March of 2023. She went with her friends’ families, her favorite hike was the Navajo Loop Trail, and her favorite site was Bryce Point.

When asked what her favorite part of Bryce National Park was, she said, “It was just so unique and nothing I had ever seen before.” Ava also mentioned if she had the opportunity to visit the park again, she would go in a heartbeat. 

Hikes/Sites

Bryce Canyon has a multitude of hikes ranging from easy to strenuous and 20 minutes to several hours. Each gives you unique and breathtaking views of the park. Views include the hoodoos, which is what Bryce Canyon is most famous for. It is best to hike during the day to get the best view of these hoodoos. Most trails begin at the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater area, but there are also backcountry hikes through the forests and meadows. Some recommended hikes include Sunset Point to Sunrise Point Hike, Queen’s Garden Trail, Navajo Loop Trail, Navajo/Peekaboo Combination Loop, and the Figure 8 Combination. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point Hike is an easy one-mile round-trip hike. It is part of the Rim Trail, which meanders over the rim of Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is the easiest section of the Rim Trail due to its pavement. Watching the sunset at Sunset Point is on my bucket list, and it should be on yours. Queen’s Garden Trail is a 1.8 round trip moderate hike. The endpoint of this hike gives you a view of Queen Victoria’s hoodoo. It is commonly combined with the Navajo Loop Trail to create a 2.9-mile round-trip hike.

Seniors Ava Radeke and Carter Bollinger hiking up Navajo Loop to view Sunset Point. (Photo used with permission from Ava Radeke)

Navajo Loop trail has switchbacks between narrow walls featuring views of trees and the park’s most famous hoodoo, Thor’s hammer. There are two sides to this loop: Two Bridges and Wall Street. Wall Street is closed during winter, but Two Bridges stays open year-round. Strenuous hikes include the Navajo/Peekaboo Loop and the Figure 8 Combination. The Navajo/Peekaboo Combination Loop is a miniature Figure 8 Combination. It features the Navajo and Peekaboo Loop trails and is 4.9 miles long. It is recommended to hike in a clockwise direction starting at Sunset Point. The Figure 8 Combination is a 6.4-mile hike combining Queen’s Garden, Navajo Loop, and the Peekaboo Loop. Hike clockwise starting at Sunset Point. One site that is not quite a hike is Bryce Point.

View of Bryce Point in the winter where there are less visitors, but amazing scenery. (Photo used with permission from Ava Radeke)

 Bryce Point is the most iconic viewpoint in the park. It is the southernmost view of the Bryce Amphitheater area and a must-see. The view is jaw-dropping and worth the hike. 

Arches National Park

I have never been to Arches National Park, but the next time I am in Utah, I plan on visiting the park. Arches is considered to be a red-rock wonderland. It has a blend of colors, views, and hikes. The park is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, along with hundreds of pinnacles.

Arches National Park offers breathtaking views of celestial objects with its giant open sky. Arches by National Park Service is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Arches is also perfect for watching the sunset and gaze at the billions of stars blanketing the sky. 

Hikes/Sites

Arches National Park has hikes for everyone. From easy to moderate, Arches has over 20 hikes. Balanced Rock Viewpoint and Trail is an easy 0.3 round trip hike. The Windows Viewpoint and Trail is another easy 1-mile hike with an elevation change of 99ft. Longer and more strenuous hikes include the Delicate Arch Trail, Devils Garden Trail, Fiery Furnace Viewpoint and Permit Area, and Tower Arch Trail. Delicate Arch Trail is a 3-mile out-and-back hike to a perfect place for watching the sunset. Devils Garden Trail is shy of 8 miles round-trip, but there is also a smaller hike within that is 2 miles to Double O Arch and 2 miles back. Fiery Furnace has many routes, but it can be easy to get lost. It is recommended to go with a guide the first time you hike this labyrinth, but you can go alone. Tower Arch Trail is a 2.6-mile hike with rock walls, valleys, sand fins, and sand dunes. The road to this trailhead is 8 miles of unpaved roads, but the hike is worth the trek.

Other Sites in Utah 

Utah is home to more than national parks. Utah has a variety of sites that are all worth visiting. Below is my bucket list of places I want to visit.

National Parks:

Capitol Reef and Canyonlands 

State Parks:

Goblin Valley and Dead Horse Point 

Hikes:

Cosmic Ashtray: 8-mile out-and-back hike to a unique land formation

Frary Peak: 6.16 out-and-back hike to the highest point on Antelope Island

Sites:

The Bonneville Salt Flats is a unique land feature stretching across 30,00 acres of Utah’s landscape. Bonneville Salt Flats, state of Utah, USA by Urban Florida Photographer is licensed under All Rights Reserved.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Reflection Canyon

Kanab Sand Caves

Factory Butte

 

 

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About the Contributor
Molly Simmons, Journalist
Grade: Senior Hobbies: Crossfit, Reading, and Cooking Car's Name: Raquelle Favorite Holiday: Halloween Dream Vacation: Okinawa