Hoodoos draw people to Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. These irregular rock columns appear to be painted in various colors, including reds and pinks, but this artwork is all nature’s doing. However, this area has some serious elevation changes, taxing some people’s knees and backs. Thus, the Mossy Cave Trail has proved popular, with milder elevation, streamside walk, and a little waterfall.
The Mossy Cave Trail Hike in Bryce Canyon is a .8-mile walk there and back. The path is lower in elevation than most in the park, making it incredibly popular. It is known for its display of summer mosses and gorgeous winter icicles. However, its fame is putting the sensitive vegetation at risk.
- Distance: .8m (1.3) up and back
- Est hiking time: 25 minutes
- Elevation Change: 300 feet (91m)
- Difficulty: Easy
How Much Time To Hike The Mossy Cave Trail?
It takes about 25 minutes to walk the .8-mile Mossy Cave Trail. It is unique as it has a ditch made by pioneers in 1890-1892. Thus, water often flows the length this path, leading visitors to the natural grotto, where there is a shelter cave that displays the famed moss and icicles.
What Time Of Year Is Best For The Mossy Cave Trail?
The Grotto Trail is most pleasant to walk in mi-spring or mid-autumn. The heat of the summer can drain the joy of the trail. But the snow is gone, so that you can appreciate the greenery.
Winter is perfect for viewing the frozen icicles but should only be done by people with the correct gear. If you are visiting Bryce Canyon from out of state, be sure the vehicle you are driving has winter tires, and if it has 4-wheel drive, even better.
Please be aware that the road to Bryce Canyon closes during winter storms and unusually high snowfall. Thus, always check before heading out. Also, while Mossy Cave Trail is open throughout the year, some of Bryce Canyon’s trails are closed during the coldest months.
On the positive side, fewer people visit Bryce Canyon during winter. The park has become so popular that the natural landscape is taking strain. Mossy Cave, due to being an easier hike, is getting hit particularly hard. Thus, winter is one of the few times of the year when hikers can enjoy the trail without feeling like they are part of an outdoor mall.
Also, Bryce Canyon has some fantastic cross-country skiing trails. Thus, a trip to Mossy Cave could be expanded to enjoy a few other winter activities at the park.
So yes, visiting in winter means missing out on the moss that gave this trail its name. But missing the crowds, finding parking without drama, and being able to gaze at the gorgeous icicles will make it a memory to treasure.
What Is The Best Time Of Day For The Mossy Cave Trail?
The Mossy Cave Trail has exploded in popularity in recent years. There was a month in 2019 when 6,000 people hiked the route. The influx of visitors makes parking difficult, causes an uptick in litter, hurts the vegetation, and makes the entire experience less enjoyable for all concerned.
Thus, it is strongly recommended to avoid hiking the Mossy Cave Trail from 10 am – to 6 pm. People who show up at these times may find the parking lot full. There is no alternative parking that is legal. Those who park along the SR will be ticked and risk being towed. The authorities are cracking down as people scampering up the sides damage the slopes, and their parked vehicles create a traffic hazard.
Is It Legal To Enter The Water Along The Mossy Cave Trail?
At the start of 2022, it was legal to enter the water along the Mossy Cave Trail. However, due to the damage caused by people, the park is pleading with visitors to only enter and exit at the bridge.
Please be aware Utah has banned entering the water at certain parks due to the public not respecting the delicate landscape. Thus, visitors that would like to continue enjoying the water at Mossy Cave Trail should respect the park’s modest request.
Are There Fees To Use The Mossy Cave Trail?
The Mossy Cave Trail is part of Bryce Canyon Park; thus, the park fees must be paid. Some visitors get confused as the trail and cave are located outside Bryce Canyon’s main section. However, rangers can and do come along this area and ask to see hikers’ proof of admission or park pass. Your vehicle must also have its proof of access displayed.
Is Mossy Cave Trail Disability Accessible?
Mossy Cave Trail is not wheelchair accessible. The path also has some inclines, which will make it difficult for people with certain disabilities to navigate. However, those with high-quality shock-absorbing walking sticks or crutches should be able to manage it, and Accessible Nature agrees.
Bryce Canyon does have some wheelchair-accessible viewpoints. Unfortunately, trail access is limited due to the natural inclines of the canyon. However, there is a section on Rim Trail and Bristlecone Loop that some wheelchairs can navigate.
Is Mossy Cave Trail A Good Hike For Children?
Mossy Cave Trail is an excellent trail for children. The path isn’t too long, the terrain is manageable, and they’ll love the stream.
Is There Camping At Mossy Cave?
Camping is prohibited along the Mossy Cave Trail. This includes the grotto, parking lot, and land that borders the trail.
However, Bryce Canyon does have two campgrounds: North Campground and Sunset Campground. Backcountry camping is allowed in specific sections of the Bryce Canyon. Those wishing to do so will need a permit. Areas for backcountry camping might be restricted due to damage or other unfortunate events. Bryce Canon’s latest information on water availability, closures, and conditions can be found on their backcountry page.
Mossy Cave Trail is an easy walk under a mile round trip. However, due to its overwhelming popularity, it is highly recommended to visit it early in the mornings or during less popular times of the year. Visitors are still allowed to access the water but are requested to only enter and exit from the bridge to help limit the damage its popularity is causing to the landscape.