Though not a true trail run in the backcountry sense of the term, with its easy access, groomed dirt, pavement, restrooms and benches, rarely will you find a high-altitude, national park run that offers so much. From cliffside views to dozens of foreigners and tourists with which you can share your excitement and disbelief, scenery this good means you may find running less of a priority than simply enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime beauty of this magical place.
Empty your memory cards and get your selfie-sticks ready! With trail stops like Inspiration, Sunset, Sunrise and Fairyland Point
, it's easy to imagine why this will become one of your all-time favorites. No lie.
Because of its proximity to parking, restrooms, other trailheads and the park's best viewpoints, most visitors run along the Rim Trail without even knowing it and very few bother to run the whole thing, opting to descend into the canyon instead. Insider Tip: do the whole thing, it's worth it! The trail can be traveled in either direction and from half a dozen parking areas and starting points. End to end it measures just shy of 6 miles, so you'll need to either use the free park shuttle, which travels every 15 minutes or so between Sunrise and Bryce Point
or prime your legs for a longer run if going round trip.
South-to-North (Bryce Point
to Fairyland Point
) - the less-traveled, but preferred route for scenic buildup and planning. Park at the visitor center and hop on the free shuttle to Bryce Point
. From here, absorb the semi-distant view of the main amphitheater to which you'll be heading and that constitutes the bulk of Bryce Canyon. Once ready to run, enjoy a couple of miles of downhill to warm up the legs as you head ever-closer to the surreal Inspiration Point
. Continue along the trail, which turns to pavement and becomes more popular as you approach Sunset Point and the real crowds. Though relatively flat, the next mile will likely be the slowest of your day as you drain the batteries of your cameras and cellphones, and stop for "just one more look!" Passing Sunrise Point, you may be tempted to run backwards, but rest-assured, the views up ahead are just as nice. After reaching the well-earned Fairyland Point
overlook, relax and soak it in. When ready, return to Sunrise Point and the shuttle back to the visitor center.
North-to-South (Fairyland Point
to Bryce Point
) - someone once said going south always seems like you're going downhill...not the case with this run. Though it starts flat as you meander along the well-traveled rim and enjoy staggering views of Sunset and Sunrise Point, the trail soon starts a rigorous climb as you arch around Inspiration Point
and try to spot distant runners winding through the hoodoos below.