Bryce Canyon

After leaving the relative tranquility of Great Basin, we were now in the thick of vacationers the world over at Bryce Canyon National Park. People flock here for good reason; the countryside offers spectacular views of red rock formations that emerge from mostly grassy and sometimes pine-covered hills.

We arrived in the afternoon, almost twelve years to the day since my last visit. In that time, the area has undergone what I can only describe as a controlled explosion. I recall Ruby's Inn as a pleasant, perhaps even quaint, place just outside the park's boundary. It has grown into a tacky, but necessary, roadside attraction. Necessary for the grocery store, gas, and restaurant. Tacky because of the miniature golf, tepees, old-west-style strip mall, go-cart track, helicopter tours, swimming pool, and rodeo shows (although the latter is forgivable). Matters are made worse by an excess of tourists who clog the streets and stores, Americans mixing with French mixing with Germans mixing with Mormons.

Thankfully, once inside the park, the tranquility returns. We set up camp and headed out to Bryce Point. It was about 5 in the afternoon and rain was to the north and south of us. There is a paved path that straddles the narrow ridge that leads to the overlook. Many people were too scared to go down to the point, for the Earth drops off on either side of the narrow path. I proceeded down the path, in my sandals no less.

The trail to Bryce Point

The trail to Bryce Point

Some of the rock formations at Bryce Canyon

Some of the rock formations at Bryce Canyon

To the east of Bryce Point is a formation called the alligator. One day, this cap will erode, exposing the hoodoos beneath. Hoodoos are the finger-like rock towers that decorate the park.

The alligator

The alligator

Bryce Canyon, go f*ck yourself

Bryce Canyon, go f*ck yourself

The following morning, we set out to hike into the canyon. We parked at Bryce Point, hiked the Rim Trail for a few miles to Sunrise Point, then looped back via trails beneath the rim.

Looking into Bryce Canyon is like staring at the sun, it is a sensory overload, and only when you zoom in and see things on a smaller scale do you begin to comprehend it all. You see the individual rock formations, the trees and, if you look really hard, you can see the trails zig-zagging around the hoodoos.

Wall of Windows

Wall of Windows

Colorful hoodoos

Colorful hoodoos

Silent city is a densely packed section of tall hoodoos. Here's a view with Mel and one without. There's a trail in there called Wall Street, which climbs up the canyon between two tall walls of rock.

Mel with a hoodoo backdrop.

Mel with a hoodoo backdrop.

Silent City at Bryce Canyon

Silent City at Bryce Canyon

When I visited 12 years ago, I snapped a picture of a tree that was clinging to the rim of the canyon. At the time, I was not sure how much longer it would be around given its perilous position. I'm happy to report it has fared well and has changed remarkably little.

Having descended into the canyon, we were treated with spectacular views of the rim and rock formations. To see them from above is one thing, to walk among them is quite another. We hiked down the Queens Garden Trail, then onto the Navajo Loop, the Peekaboo Loop, then up to Bryce Point.

The clinging tree

The clinging tree

Wall of Windows from the Peekaboo Loop Trail

Wall of Windows from the Peekaboo Loop Trail

Of course, once you descend into the canyon you must climb out at some point. We had taken on a lot, and the climb back up to Bryce Point was the most challenging hike of the trip. Perhaps because of the length of the hike (about 8-10 miles), or the fact that I didn't eat enough that morning. Finally, we made it back to the car and spent the remainder of the day getting a much needed shower and relaxing at camp.