Rainbow Point, Bristlecone Loop, and Yovimpa PointBryce Canyon National Park, Ut
Gazebos, Amazing Views, and "Secret" Lookout Points
Length: 1.3 mi (entire loop), 0.4 mi to Yovimpa Point and back
Elevation Gain: 121 ft
Approximate Hiking Time: 0.5 to 1 hr
Features: Geological Features
Nearest Town: Tropic, Ut
Bristlecone Loop offers a different side of Bryce Canyon with break taking views of the surrounding landscapes and slightly more solitude than the more populated Bryce Amphitheatre.
Cap off your walk by standing at Yovimpa viewpoint to gaze out over the Grand Staircase. Admire the surrounding geology that makes the Grand Staircase and Bryce Canyon such an amazing place to visit.
- Trail Condition 90% 90%
- Usage 95% 95%
- Trail Head Easy to Find 100% 100%
- Kid Friendly 100% 100%
Reaching the gazebo about half way around the trail feels magical drawing you inside to sit, relax, and take in the sweeping view.
2. A Tiny Bit of Solitude
While most folks are crowding the Bryce Amphitheater and the popular view points there will likely be less people venturing out here.
3. Amazing Views
Gaze out over the Grand Staircase for what feels like miles.
The trailhead is located at the southern point of the main road on the park. Travel 18 miles from the Visitor Center to the Rainbow Point parking area. Once you’re here follow the signs to the Bristlecone Loop or Yovimpa Overlook.
Start at Rainbow Point. Take some time to soak up the views from Rainbow Point. Read the signs in the open air structure. These give a great overview of the geology and formation of Bryce Canyon. While there aren’t as many hoodoos here, the colored views of the mountains and fins provide a stunning backdrop to the green trees and blue skies. Hence the name I guess!
From Rainbow Point follow the path to the Bristlecone Loop trailhead. The trail weaves through the bristlecone pine forest to a couple “hidden” viewpoints.
Did you know Bristlecone Pines can live for thousands of years? In fact, there is a Bristlecone Pine in Cedar Breaks National Monument that is around 4500 years old!
Continue to follow the signs for the Bristlecone Loop along the trail. There are a couple places where the Under the Rim trail joins in or shoots off.
Some of the trees along the path have been harmed by pine beetles and dwarf mistletoe. There are signs that explain the damage these diseases can do to the trees. It’s a stark reminder of why we should try to limit cross contamination of wood as we travel.
About 1/2 mile from the trailhead descend to the first viewpoint, a wooden gazebo overlooking the surrounding landscape. Around the viewpoint you’ll find some quotes by Henry David Thoreau, such as: “Silence is worthy to be heard”. Perhaps a little hard if you’re at the viewpoint with kids, but we were able to get ours to be quiet for a solid minute which was kinda nice!
After exploring this viewpoint and enjoying the shade provided by the gazebo continue up the trail to the next viewpoint. Since we had the stroller with us, it was a really good push up the hill here. At the top of the hill there is another viewpoint which didn’t have a lot of people at it and had epic views. This viewpoint was definitely one of the highlights of hiking the Bristlecone Loop.
From this last viewpoint the trail continues uphill, keep an eye out for Yovimpa Viewpoint. Just don’t stray too close to the edge because there are very steep drops in places through this area.
Finally, the loop returns up to the main parking area. You can either continue on to Yovimpa Viewpoint, we definitely recommend the extra walk, or return to your car.
From the parking area follow the paved path for about 0.2 miles to Yovimpa Point. While it is a short walk from the primary view area at Rainbow Point, it’s so worth the journey.
On the way to the point you’ll pass a picnic area which is a great place for a snack, lunch, or short break.
Spend some time at Yovimpa Point enjoying the surrounding views. If you are travelling out here, check at the Visitor Center for times of ranger talks. We stumbled on one about the geology of the Grand Staircase which was really interesting.
It turns out that while most of the rock you can see is limestone, the colors are influenced by the impurities found and they aren’t different rock types. For example: white rock is just plain boring limestone, red, orange and yellow is caused by iron oxides in the limestone, and purple is from magnesium oxides.
Fascinating isn’t it?
Why is this hike rated accessible/easy?
Yovimpa Point – accessible
The path from Rainbow Point to Yovimpa Point is all paved. While it is slightly out of the way, it’s an easy, short walk to Yovimpa Point with big views.
Bristlecone Loop – easy
We had read that it was possible to take a stroller through this trail and thought we’d give it a try. While it was possible to push our stroller through; there were some steep sections and areas where the trail is a bit washed out that made it a challenging push. I really wouldn’t recommend it. Other than a couple of areas, the trail was in good condition, easy to follow, and well signed.
More Hikes to Choose From
Check out this and more hikes in and around Bryce Canyon National Park and Tropic, Ut.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Length: 1.8-3.2 mi
Elevation Gain: 357-643 ft
Take Queens Garden for the shortest route into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater to experience the hoodoos up close and personal.
Length: 1.1 mi
Elevation Gain: 82 ft
Sunset to Sunrise Viewpoint is one of the easier parts of the Rim Trail winding around the Bryce Amphitheater.
Length: 5.2 mi
Elevation Gain: 1407 ft
Descend into Bryce Canyon and walk among the hoodoos on this less traveled trail complete with amazing close-up views.