Our Trip to the Mossy Cave Trailhead at Bryce Canyon

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by admin

There are dozens of breathtaking hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Mossy Cave Trail was one of our absolute favorites. The Mossy Cave Trail is a short hike that packs a lot of punch. When you hike this trial, you’ll see a cave, a waterfall, a turret arch, a stream, and two bridges. This hike also happens to be the only trail at Bryce Canyon National Park that leads to a waterfall. The trailhead is a little off the beaten path, as the trail entrance is not within the main park’s entrance. Instead, you’ll need to drive about 15-minutes from the visitor center. In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to hike the Mossy Cave Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park! 

(For a full list of all our posts about things to do in Utah, click here!)

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bryce canyon national park Mossy Cave Trail

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Important Information About the Mossy Cave Trail

Length: .8 miles (1.3 kilometers)

Elevation Gain: 300 feet (91 meters)

Difficulty Level: Easy

Time to Complete: <1 hour

National Park Service Trail Website: https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/mossycave.htm

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How to Get to the Mossy Cave Trailhead


The Mossy Cave trailhead is located off of UT-12. (About four miles southeast of the junction with UT-63.) The parking lot is located on the west side of the road. The parking lot isn’t huge, so you may have to wait for a parking space. For that reason, it’s a good idea to complete this trail in the early morning or in the evening if conditions allow. There is a pit toilet at the trailhead, but there are no water services. Be sure to pack enough water for your party. Also be careful when entering and exiting the parking lot, as cars drive fairly fast along the highway. 

Bryce Canyon was just one of our stops during our 3-week road trip to Utah and Arizona. You can read more about our trip highlights here!

Mossy Cave Trail Description

The Mossy Cave Trail follows along a stream and is incredibly picturesque. It’s also a very family-friendly trail. We took our toddler daughter with us and there were only a few places where we carried her or needed to hold her hand. (Always closely supervise young children when hiking.) Because it’s a short hike with a lot of interesting natural features, it will definitely capture children’s attention!

There are two bridges along the trail that cross the stream. You can access the stream at either bridge by following the small path down to the water at the beginning of each bridge. If it’s during the summer, you may want to wear your swimsuit and river shoes so you can enjoy some time by the cool water. We saw plenty of people splashing in the water. We also think it would be an ideal picnic location if you’re looking for a scenic lunch spot! Because it’s such a short hike, you don’t have to pack your food and picnic supplies very far. 

After you pass the second bridge, the Mossy Cave Trail comes to a fork. To the left up a short distance, you will find the mossy cave. To the right, you will reach Tropic Ditch Falls. You can easily see both because it’s such a short trail. (And we recommend that you do see both!)

The Mossy Cave Trail is an out-and-back trail. When you’re finished looking around, simply return the way you came.

It’s always a good idea to check current trail conditions before your visit. The National Park Service’s website will post alerts about the Mossy Cave Trail here

Our Trip to the Mossy Cave Trail

We saw so many things on this hike! Copied below are some of our trip highlights.

Mossy Cave

The cave itself is technically a grotto. (So don’t get your hopes up to see a large cavern!) It’s really more of an overhang with moss growing underneath it. The cave was formed by a natural spring below the surface. During the summer, the cave is filled with moss. During the winter, it’s often filled with large icicles. It’s definitely a unique natural feature that is distinct from the area around it.

mossy cave trail bryce canyon national park
The mossy cave at the end of the trail


Tropic Ditch

The stream that runs along the Mossy Cave Trail is part of the Tropic Ditch. It provides a stark contrast to the arid environment! If you have time, it’s definitely worth it to sit by the stream and observe the flowing water.

tropic ditch mossy cave trail bryce canyon national park

Waterfall (Tropic Ditch Falls)

The waterfall along the Mossy Cave Trail (Tropic Ditch Falls) is about 15 feet tall and can be accessed in two places. The first option is to take the path before the second bridge down to the stream. If you walk up the stream a little ways, you’ll be at the foot of the waterfall. The second option is to stay on the trail, cross the second bridge, and then take a right at the fork. That will lead you straight to the top of the waterfall. There aren’t many waterfalls in Bryce Canyon National Park, so this is the place to go if you want to see a waterfall! (And usually kids love seeing waterfalls during a hike, so it can be an added bonus if you have children with you.) 

waterfall at bryce canyon mossy cave trail tropic ditch falls


You’ll also see hoodoos along the Mossy Cave Trail. (Hoodoos are tall columns of weathered rock.) The hoodoos were formed by water erosion during many years of freeze-thaw cycles. When water gets trapped within limestone and freezes, it expands and erodes the rock. For this reason, the hoodoos are shaped in unique and whimsical patterns. This hike is an excellent choice if you want to see hoodoos up close without completing one of the more strenuous hikes within Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is famous because it has the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world! 

hoodoos at mossy cave

Turret Arch

If you head to the right at the fork along the Mossy Cave Trail, you’ll be able have an excellent view of the Turret Arch. When we visited, a small dirt trail to the window of the arch was closed. We really enjoyed seeing the natural rock window! (And that was even after we had seen many at Arches National Park!)

Mossy Cave Trail turret arch at Bryce Canyon National Park


There are two bridges along the Mossy Cave Trail. We found that the backdrop behind the first bridge was perfect for photos! You can capture the stream below the bridge and the hoodoos behind it all within one photo.

mossy cave trail
The first bridge on the Mossy Cave Trail

Preparing for Your Hike at the Mossy Cave Trail

It’s important to follow all park regulations and practice good safety measures while you are on the Mossy Cave Trail. If you plan on walking in the water, bring water shoes to protect your feet. We recommend that you bring plenty of water to drink while you are out out hiking. We like to bring an insulated water bottle so that our water stays cool during a hot hike. Anytime you’re out hiking, be sure to have a first aid kit with you. It’s also a good idea to bring a water filtration straw just in case. Also be sure to bring your favorite sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection.  

We also recommend that you purchase a guide book ahead of your visit. You’ll also want to bring a map, especially if you plan on doing a lot of hiking.


(Click on any of the above images for a link to purchase.)

It’s also important to follow Leave No Trace principles anytime you’re in the wilderness. This is the primary ethical code for preserving the outdoors for future generations. Essentially, you’ll want to leave nature exactly as you found it. Following these guidelines will help protect the national parks for many years to come!

Guided Tours of Bryce Canyon

Booking a guided tour can help to personalize your tour and give you a unique experience. Whether you want to go horseback riding or have a gourmet picnic, there is a tour for you!

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Horseback Riding at Bryce Canyon: When you book this tour, you’ll be able to go horseback riding through Bryce Canyon National Park with a trained guide. You’ll basically be exploring the area the same way that Butch Cassidy did!
  • Private Guided Hike with a Gourmet Picnic: When you book this tour, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Your trained guide will take you to the Navajo and Queens Garden trail, and you’ll even get to have a gourmet picnic at Sunrise Point.
  • Scenic Tour of Bryce Canyon: You’ll join a small group in an air-conditioned vehicle as your tour guide takes you through the park.
  • Self-Driving Audio Tour: If you choose to drive yourself through Bryce Canyon, you can download an audio tour that will teach you all about the major sites. 


Hotel Recommendations Near the Mossy Cave Trailhead


You have several lodging options. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. We liked staying at this hotel because it’s within walking distance of Old Bryce Town and restaurants. The hotel also has a stop on the shuttle line. The complimentary buffet breakfast was the best of our entire trip, with dozens of hot and cold breakfast options. It was a convenient and easy way to start our day! You can make reservations here.

Another popular place to stay is Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn. The shuttle also stops here, and there’s a gift shop and restaurant right at this hotel. They coordinate a lot of activities, including mountain biking, horseback riding, and guided ATV tours. Ruby’s Inn also has a campground for RVs and tents. You can make reservations here.

We wrote an entire post dedicated to lodging options at Bryce Canyon National Park. We have a full list of hotels and campgrounds linked here

Summary: The Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon

The Mossy Cave Trail was one of our favorite hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park. The trail was very short and easy, but it was full of fun things to see. We highly recommend that you add this trail to your itinerary for Bryce Canyon National Park!

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Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading Spanish novels, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!