This classic Bryce Canyon hike features ancient Bristlecone Pine trees and expansive views from the southern edge of Bryce Canyon National Park. Unlike many trails in Bryce Canyon this trail stays on the rim making it less strenuous and more beginner-friendly. It also tends to see fewer crowds due to its location at the far end of the main park road at Rainbow Point. This trail is suitable for children and adults of most skill and fitness levels.


The trailhead for Bristlecone Loop is located at Rainbow Point (37.47518, -112.24003) in Bryce Canyon National Park. To reach the trailhead from the junction of Highway 12 and Highway 63 near Bryce Canyon, UT:

  1. Turn south onto Highway 63.
  2. Continue 3.7 miles to the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park.
  3. Continue south for 17.0 miles to Rainbow Point at the end of the road.

Note: There is a $30 per vehicle fee to enter Bryce Canyon National Park. Alternatively, an annual pass can be purchased that allows access to all National Parks and some other federal lands for just $80.

The Hike

From the parking area, walk north toward Rainbow Point Overlook. The Bristlecone Loop trail begins at a signed trail immediately east of the overlook. Begin walking on the dirt and gravel trail as it heads northeast from the parking area. Expansive views to the north are soon encountered and a small bench offers a place to sit and take them in.

Soon the trail splits to form the loop section of the hike. You can hike the loop in either direction, but for this trail guide, turn left and begin hiking the loop in a clockwise direction. Continue hiking as the trail meanders through a dense forest before arriving at an overlook at the southeast side of the plateau. A pavilion provides shade and seating to take in the view before moving on.

Beyond the overlook, continue hiking as the trail climbs a short, fairly steep section to a final overlook and the location of several ancient Bristlecone Pines. Interpretive signage is present to help identify the hearty trees. Bristlecone Pines thrive in some of the most inhospitable and windy locations imaginable and can live for thousands of years.

From the Bristlecone Overlook, continue hiking as the trail turns north, leading back toward Rainbow Point. Total round trip hiking distance is approximately 1.0 mile.

Rules & Regulations

  • Pack out all trash.
  • Do not draw or carve on rocks.

Special Considerations

  • Use caution near cliff edges.
  • Lightning is a significant hazard at the high altitudes found in Bryce Canyon National Park. Seek shelter if you hear thunder or see threatening storms in the vicinity.


This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.