4.01.2013

2 nights in Bryce Canyon

This is a continuation of Spring Break 2013 (!!!!!!) that consisted of a trip to Zion, Bryce, and Vegas.  To read the start of the journey and get a little back story, please check out 3 nights in Zion.

After leaving Zion National Park the Spring Break crew made our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.  We were staying at Ruby's Inn right outside Bryce Canyon.  Upon arriving I noticed two things right away.

1.  It was much colder near Bryce Canyon.  So cold that there was still some snow on the ground in the national park.
2.  Bryce Canyon City (where Ruby's Inn was) wasn't really a city.  It was more of the inn (which was huge) and a gas station.  I learned later that the same family that has owned Ruby's Inn since 1916 also owns the land leading up to Bryce National Park.  They weren't selling the land and that was why they had a monopoly on lodging and places to eat.  Bryce Canyon City was incorporated in 2007.  Very different from Springdale outside of Zion.

The weather in Zion had been warmer than we expected and the weather in Bryce was colder then I expected.  I had packed appropriately and was able to bundle up when needed.

After checking in to the inn, we headed into Bryce Canyon National Park and stopped in at the visitors center, got some hiking ideas and information from the ranger, and then explored the potential campground.  Bryce Canyon is only 18 miles long so it was another smaller national park in terms of what you needed to drive.  After making a game plan for the next day, we headed back to the inn to check out the indoor pool and grab some dinner.

The next morning there were snow flurries when we drove into the park.  We had a morning and afternoon hike planned and we bundled up for the morning hike.  Here we are at Sunrise Point before we hiked the Navajo / Queen's Garden hike.  It was cold!

The hike itself was fabulous and descended into the canyon.  The views were stunning.  The sky was overcast and snow would float about itermidently.  The red walls of the canyon were etched and designed through erosion and I found myself overcome with the beauty of the place.  I don't think a picture can do it justice.....

Between the morning and afternoon hike we drove the length of the canyon (18 miles) and looked at some other options for Mo's class.   By the time we were ready for our afternoon hike the sun had come out and Bryce was a different place.  Layers came off and we started the hike to Tower Bridge.
Even though the morning and afternoon hike started very close to each other, the terrain was so different.  The morning hike was deep in a canyon and the afternoon hike felt like you were walking on the edge of a mountain for a lot of it.  There were places where we had to hike through snow but each turn opened up another amazing vista and it felt like we were hiking in a completely new place.  I guess that is why the park ranger suggested these two hikes so we could see two completely different systems in the park.  My only lesson learned on the Tower Bridge hike is that Tower Bridge was a bit anticlimactic when we got to it and the hike back is all up hill.  Talking with Mo and the group, we discussed if it should be a hike her class takes.  Ultimately we decided that it might be good to hike part of it to see the amazing vistas and to understand the different geography in Bryce.
We spent 2 nights in Bryce Canyon and one very full day hiking and exploring.  The change in weather from the morning to afternoon was unreal in the early spring.  Bryce Canyon City was a trip and I suspect it will be the same the next time I make it to Bryce National Park.  Of course on my next trip I hope to be able to come with T and the airstream!

Next stop: Vegas!

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