June 10th ~ Bryce Canyon National Park
The gusty wind seems to have calmed a smidgen, so we loaded into our tow vehicle, Jethro and headed toward the nearby town of Canyonville to gas up and pick up a couple of items from the local store. While there, we stopped in to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) Visitors Center to inquire about local hikes.
I had envisioned that there was a real “staircase”, perhaps out of stone to check out. I was surprised to learn that the “staircase” is actually the stepping down of the terrain starting at Bryce National Park, through Zion NP and working all the way down to the Grand Canyon, one geological zone at a time. The 100 mile long Grand Staircase records 525 million years worth of earths history through the layers of stone.
Starting from the Colorado Plateau and Paunsaugunt Plateau where Bryce sits and exposes the Pink Cliffs. Below that are the Gray and then White Cliffs, much of this seen at Zion. Next layer is the Vermilion Cliffs which we passed by a few days earlier and tried to spot the endangered California Condors. Below that are the Chocolate Cliffs, Paria Plateau and Kaibab Plateau which rims the Grand Canyon.
We had two different hikes recommended to us that would give us a bit of experience from GSENM. They were both rated easy and good for photography, Willows Creek and Cottonwood Narrows. But for the moments, we had the information we needed and continued on our way for todays adventure:
Bryce is all about the pillars of stone called Hoodoos. Weather and erosion have created these shapes unlike all but a few places anywhere else on Earth. We visited Cappadocia, Turkey in 2014 and they too have Hoodoos. There are also some found in China and Western Australia.
But here the proliferation and coloring make for spectacular viewing.
We first stopped at the Visitors Center to get our National Park Passport stamped. Do you know about the passports? You can purchase one for $9.99 at any US National Park. It resembles the blue US Passport we use to travel internationally, but this one is simply to be used as a reference guide for our parks and a fun way to keep track of which parks and when you have visited.
After purchasing your passport, you can then stamp it in each of the parks you visit as a souvenir of your visit. We started one years ago, but have since packed it away when we sold our home, so needed to pick up a new one. Below is an example of what the book and a stamp looks like.
Depending upon how much time you have, you can see a little or a lot, (I’m thinking that is rather a silly statement). If you have 1/2 a day and want to concentrate on the overlooks, it was advised to drive the 18 miles along the rim all the way through the park to the end of the line where you will find both Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point. Park once, look twice, as both view points are located from the same parking lot and offer up different landscapes in opposite directions.
From there, you can work you way back toward the Visitors Center area, one viewpoint at a time. They will all be on the right hand side of the road on the return, making it much easier to pull in/off the roadway.
Some of the views are better than others of course, but I did not want to miss a thing, even though I had made this same journey years ago. Below are a few snaps I took at some of the viewpoints.
Once you get closer to the Visitors Center the real WOW moments occur. My favorite vistas were Bryce Point, Inspiration Point and Sunset Point. If your time is limited, I would recommend going straight for those vistas. There are also many, many excellent trails into the canyon where you can get much closer and completely different photos.
Here are a few from the Amphitheater lookouts:
There are two things that I did not get to on this visit and kicked myself for. We somehow missed the turnoff for Fairyland Point where I remember seeing an incredible Bristlecone Pine with roots extended up on point, clinging to the edge. We chose not to stop at Mossy Cave because it was getting late and we were both tired and hungry. But please, if you have the time, do not miss this great stop. It was our favorite last time here (other than seeing the Amphitheater).
Tim brought his big Nikon today with a long lens and took some quite different shots than what I was able to get. Here is a slide show of some of his photos.
I spotted a small herd of Pronghorn deer, but was too slow with my camera to capture a shot.
The RV park is sold out, but we wanted to extend our stay. We are slowly learning the ropes, and found out that they keep a few spaces for walk-in guests. These spots are on a first-come, first served basis starting at 9:00 a.m. The helpful ranger advised us to stop in early and they moved us to spot H1, one of the host sites where we can stay for up to 14 nights.
Love the new spot, but %^$#%% we can no longer get the Internet!!! Even MacGyver was unable to work his magic. So, in the meantime, I sort through my photos, crop as needed, and try to narrow down my keepers, then do a bit of writing about the day and will attempt to be patient to upload each days post when we next have service.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: We have been on the road for just one week now and I am already in awe of the natural beauty we have seen. I hold my breath in anticipation of the wonders to come…
Editors note, Sunday, 6/11: Tim drove me 20 miles into town so I could get some Internet to get this scheduled to post. What a guy!
Thank you one and all who take the time to follow along with us on our road trip. We are so glad to have your company! We invite you to share to your hearts content and subscribe below if you have not already done so.