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Figure 8 Combination Hike: Our First Hike in Bryce Canyon

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 4 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 2 months ago

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah and encompasses over 35,000 acres. It is actually not a canyon, but a giant group of natural amphitheaters.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Geological features called hoodoos are what make this park so special. The hoodoos are odd-shaped pillars of rock formed by erosion. Hoodoos can be found on every continent, but Bryce Canyon has the largest collection in the world! The park’s most popular attraction is the Bryce Amphitheater which contains the majority of the hoodoos. Bryce also offers an 18-mile scenic drive providing multiple vistas and viewpoints along the way.

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Bryce canyon is full of incredible hoodoo rock formations
Bryce canyon is full of incredible hoodoo rock formations
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Looking down into Bryce Canyon National Park
Looking down into Bryce Canyon National Park

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Hiking the Figure 8 Combination Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park

Hiking in Bryce Canyon

We were in Panguitch for a week now. It was Saturday so we needed to take advantage of the weekend for a longer and more adventurous hike. Since we decided to focus on Bryce Canyon, we knew that we wanted to complete as many of the hikes as possible.

There are 15 hikes listed on the park hiking guide. By the end of the trip, we checked off 10 of the 15. Several of the smaller hikes can be done within the longer hikes. After studying the park guide, we decided to add the following hikes to our to-do list: Mossy Cave, Fairyland Loop, The Figure 8 Combination, and Riggs Springs Trail. We also planned to attend two ranger-led activities; a full-moon hike and the astronomy program.

Bryce Canyon trail map
Bryce Canyon trail map
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Figure 8 Combination hike

We chose to do the Figure 8 Combination hike first. It was the perfect introduction to learning more about the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park. This hike combines the Queen’s Garden, Peekaboo Loop, and Navajo Loop trails. The hike is about 6.5 miles with just over a 1600-foot elevation change. The park guide suggests it’s a 4-5 hour hike and rates it as strenuous because of the steep grades and multiple elevation changes.

Lindsey stared at the countless hoodoos in the park
Lindsey stared at the countless hoodoos in the park

Our hike

Our hike was absolutely amazing! The weather was perfect, the views were beyond belief and this hike was a great way to explore a large part of the park. Since this loop encompasses other popular hikes, there were times when the trail was busy and there were times when it was just us. It was a nice mix, but we were also there in October so it wasn’t peak season.

The Figure 8 hike is rated difficult by the park guide. There were a couple of sections with very steep switchbacks, but I’d say the majority of the hike is more moderate. You’ll find quite a variety of inclines and declines along the trail which makes it very manageable. There are plenty of points where you will just want to stop and enjoy the views. The vastness of the amphitheater is a lot to take in and it’s really interesting to stop and notice the details of the rock, erosion, and your surroundings.

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More about the hoodoos

What is a hoodoo? Besides a word that’s funny to say, a hoodoo is a tall skinny spire that protrudes from the bottom of an arid basin. Hoodoos are formed through two weathering processes; frost-wedging and rain. There are nearly 200 days a year when there is a freeze/thaw cycle at Bryce Canyon National Park. As the snow melts, it refreezes at night and that water can expand up to 10% within the cracks of the rock layers. CO2-fueled acid rain also aids in the erosion of the hoodoos.

Learn more about the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon here

Massive windows within a wall of hoodoos
Massive windows within a wall of hoodoos

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