Neither of us had any idea what to expect of Bryce Canyon. Sure, we’d both heard the name pretty much forever, but, other than that we knew nothing. Figured since it’s in Utah it must have some good rock formations but would they be that much different or more spectacular than all the stuff we’ve seen over the course of the last couple of weeks? Guess we’ll find out. The drive to Bryce Canyon was pretty but not particularly amazing by Utah standards and, frankly, the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park was pretty underwhelming. Lulu had caught a glimpse of what was to come just before we turned off on to Hwy 63, the road into the park, but I missed it since I needed to keep my eyes on the road.
The entrance fee of $25 was waived due to my senior pass but, being that high, hinted at some pretty spectacular stuff to come. That’s what Yellowstone had cost but Canyonlands and, I think, Arches had only been $15 and they were freakin’ awesome! Only one of the campgrounds was open but it was a big one and available sites were easy to find. Again, due to the senior pass we got 50% off so, what would cost $40 w/o the pass was costing us $7.50. I don’t know which Federal employee came up with this whole senior pass idea but whoever it was has my heartfelt gratitude.
We secured a campsite and then walked back down to the visitor’s center to find out what’s what. Turns out that the best way to do Bryce Canyon depends on how much time you have, as expected. But, the best approach for us looked like a drive along the scenic highway with frequent stops at overlooks for photo ops. Then, time and will permitting, we could do one or more hikes from less than a mile to several miles in length. Since it was already 2:30 by then, we decided to do the drive and then maybe take a hike if time permitted.
The scenic drive is something like 18 miles long and isn’t a loop. It’s recommended that you drive all the way to the end and then stop at the look-outs on the way back since that makes all the lookouts convenient right-hand turns. So, we drove to the end of the road at 9,115′ above sea level. This is when we started to see what Bryce Canyon had to offer.
At every lookout stop there was something spectacular to see. I’ve probably said “Wow!” more times since we entered Utah than at any other time in my life. Well, except for a few years back in the late 60s when everything was met with a stony “Wow, man!” This place is just awesome. There’s really no other word for it.
By the time we’d hit every pull-out and taken way too many pictures, it was around 4:30. We stopped at Sunset point and took the short 1/2 mile hike to Sunrise Point. We considered taking the 3-mile loop trail that winds down into the canyon but decided that, the trail being on the east side of the cliffs, it was likely to get a bit dark before we finished. So we headed back to camp for dinner and a few shows before climbing into bed around 10:30 or so.
Today (Friday the 24th) we’ll head to Zion. Once again, we know nothing about Zion other than the name. Wonder what it’s going to bring to the table.
Escalante to Bryce Canyon National Park: 49 miles
Total to-date: 3,948 miles