Fairyland Loop Bryce Canyon
Distance: 8.6 miles
Walking time: 5 1/4 hours
Elevations: 950 ft. loss/gain
Fairyland Trailhead (start): 7,760 ft.
Fairyland Canyon: 7,150 ft.
Rim Trail: 8,100 ft.
Trail: Excellent, well marked trail
Season: Summer to mid-fall. The trail is covered with snow during the winter months. Also the road to Fairyland Point is used as a cross-country ski trail in the winter. For current conditions call the Visitor Center, Bryce Canyon National Park, at (435) 834-5322.
Vicinity: Bryce Canyon National Park
The area below the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park is a fantasyland of strange and wonderful geologic formations. Stone spires and pinnacles with fanciful names like the “Chinese Wall” and “Seal Castle” surround the trails, making them delightful places to hike. The Fairyland Loop Trail provides a particularly fine opportunity to examine some of these natural sculptures and, as it is somewhat of the beaten path, it is not as crowded as other trails in the park.
The stone sculptures of Bryce Canyon, whimsically called “hoodoos”, have been eroded from a thick layer of soft sedimentary rock called the Claron Formation that was deposited in Utah some 60 million years ago. As the canyon rim erodes, new hoodoos are formed. They begin first as tall thin fins, then serrate to form pinnacles and spires. The colors are caused primarily by iron and manganese impurities in the rock that oxidize into colorful hues of red, pink, orange, yellow, and purple. The carving action is still continuing, and it is estimated that today the rim of Bryce Canyon is receding at the rate of about one foot in 65 years. In another hundred thousand years it will have receded by a third of a mile, and a whole new display of artwork will be ready for viewing in nature’s gallery.
The trail descends immediately from Fairyland Point, winding down the north side of Boat Mesa for a distance of 1.5 miles to Fairyland Canyon, the lowest point on the hike. From there the trail turns south and west, following the contour of the land and climbing slightly for another 2.5 miles until it reaches the Tower Bridge trail junction. Tower Bridge is at the end of a short, well marked trail that branches off to the left. It is only 0.2 miles from the main trail, and it makes a nice lunch stop. From the Tower Bridge trail junction the path starts its climb back to the canyon rim. It winds to the west, with Campbell Canyon on the right and the Chinese Wall on the left, finally arriving at the canyon rim 1.5 miles later after a climb of 770 feet.
At the top of the rim the trail intersects the Rim Trail. Turn right here and walk along the rim for 2.7 miles back to the Fairyland Point parking lot.
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