The aptly named Fairyland Loop carries hikers through a stunning labyrinth of rock features that rivals the park's more popular viewpoints. Around each twist and turn of the trail, a new vista awaits. The orange and white striped rock is carved into hoodoos, walls, windows, and towers. This hike is well worth the time and effort to get off of the main road and dive down into the heart of Bryce Canyon.
The trail weaves back and forth as it descends into Fairyland Canyon. Here, juniper, manzanita and piñon pine dominate the vegetation. From the bottom of the canyon, the trail climbs back up and then down into Campbell Canyon. Tree roots spill down the sandy canyon rim in a desperate search for water and nutrients. A few tough, flowering plants produce colorful blooms from the dry, dusty soil.
As the trail winds through Campbell Canyon, the striking Boat Mesa comes into view. Beyond the canyon, a spur trail leads to another viewpoint below Natural Bridge. This "bridge" is actually an arch, formed by the freezing and thawing of water in cracks in the rock. Over time, ice causes the cracks to widen and eventually forms a gaping hole in the rock. Natural bridges, on the other hand, are formed when flowing stream water creates holes in rock.
Back on the main trail, the grade climbs steeply past the China Wall to the canyon rim. There, watch for deer and pronghorn on one side and be mindful of the cliff's edge on the other.
If you're hiking with children, this loop contains two benchmarks for the "Hike the Hoodoos Challenge." This scavenger hunt is designed to encourage visitors to explore the park on foot instead of just driving from one viewpoint to the next. There's a small reward at the gift shop if you find and document three benchmarks in the park.