Day 8: Bryce Canyon(This is part 8 in a 9 part series. Click here to start at Day 1)
We were up again well before sunrise and started on the road to Bryce Canyon NP. It was quite chilly and as we drove up the mountainside the temperature dropped to 34 degrees at the 9000+ foot elevation high point. As we made it up and over the mountain the sun began to lighten the sky and reveal a beautiful landscape of peaks and valleys. In the higher elevation there were numerous evergreen trees, but as the elevation dipped the trees went away and were replaced to bare sandstone formations. We were on Utah Route 12, in my opinion one of the most unique & scary roads I have ever been on. A bit later on this curvy, narrow road we came to the section of road called the Hogsback. This portion of the road not only sharply drops off on one side, but the other as well. A knife-edge, two lane road with drop-offs on either side of over 1000 feet with no guardrail! Have never seen anything like that back east.
We successfully traversed Route 12 and arrived at Bryce Canyon early morning before the crowds. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to get advice on hiking trails and chose the 8 mile (2300 foot elevation gain) Fairyland Loop to give us the best overview of this extraordinary National Park. It was chilly enough at the beginning of this hike at elevation 7800 feet that we both wore gloves.
The Fairyland Loop trail will rank as one of my top 3 trails I have ever hiked. Following a 2.5 mile rim walk that gives a perspective of Fairyland from above, the trail starts a long 1 ½ mile descent to the canyon floor, among the hodoos, sand-dunes, weathered sandstone formations and towering pine trees. It’s difficult to hike fast because you are constantly stopping to take in the awesome views. It took us about 4 hours to complete the loop which put us back on the rim at lunchtime. We decided to splurge and eat at the Park Lodge which was a soup, salad, sandwich buffet at a reasonable price. And after a spirited 8 mile hike, the generous lunch really hit the spot.
Following lunch we drove to some of the iconic overlooks that included Bryce Point with views of the Peekaboo Trail and the Wall of Windows, and Inspiration Point with its jaw dropping view of the Bryce Amphitheater, one of the most magnificent landscapes in the entire world!
Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating again and it began to rain. There was not another opportunity to go back after the rain stopped since it was already after 3 pm and we still needed to drive out of the park and up the road to find our accommodations. This was one exceptional National Park that I felt really needed at least another two days to explore. I will just have to come back to Bryce some day in the future and pick up where I left off. When leaving this park I felt a bit like Chevy Chase.Continue on to the final installment here.