Bryce is Best

The first Canyon views bring a gasp of amazement. Can this be real? Is is some kind of lighting trick?20160424_102544.jpg20160423_140750.jpg20160422_113539 Reality set in, and my head swiveled from side to side to take in the extraordinaryness that is Bryce Canyon. My second thought? I don’t have the camera or skills to capture this. I wish I had a stereo, or 3D camera.

imageOur three-night stay in the North Campground turned into four, as we swiftly figured out that we couldn’t possibly drink in all the sights in such a short time. I don’t know how much time would be enough, but we didn’t reach that limit. At Bryce, the attraction is the hoodos, those tall skinny spires of rock that reach up from the Canyon bottom and are wind and weather eroded into spectacular formations. 20160423_124638.jpg20160422_10350720160424_124336.jpg20160424_124716.jpg20160422_11290320160422_102850Some have names, such as Tower Bridge.20160424_120753Others set your imagination reeling with images from your own knowledge. Some days, we shuttled to trailheads on the amazing bus system, and bicycled back and forth other days when it suited us. It was always cold in the morning, warming up into the mid 60’s – 70’s during the day. Spectacular winds blow through the Canyon, swirling dust devils through the air. Parents clutched their kids, and everyone hung on to their hats. John convinced me to step out to precipice for a photo op. I had to brace myself from being blown off the edge, and hang on to my favorite hat at the same time.imageWe hiked the northernmost trail (Fairyland Canyon) and the southernmost trail (Bristlecone), and several inbetween those two. The details of each day have already blurred, so I’ll just share a few of my favorite photos.20160423_124959.jpg20160423_130219.jpg20160424_110209.jpg20160424_102731.jpg20160423_131258.jpg20160423_130219.jpg20160424_110209.jpg20160424_115055.jpg20160424_124336.jpg20160424_124716.jpgEven if you never hike, amazing views can be had from the Rim Trail which travels along the 18 mile length of the Canyon. Take the shuttle, jump off and on and you please.image20160423_132918.jpg20160423_140750.jpg20160423_141607.jpg20160423_141757.jpgEven the jet contrails above Bryce resemble hoodoos. I was sorely tempted to turn this photo upside down to make my point, but you’ll get it anyway.20160422_120634My quest for the Bristlecone Pine, the oldest living trees on earth was answered, but not in the manner that I had hoped. This is what I had hoped to see, but the Bristlecones we saw were far less spectacular.20160423_134804.jpg20160422_103817But we did observe many in varying stages of life, and felt privileged to do so. We saw some variety of spruce that was forming cones, and the branch tips were bright pink. Perhaps it was new branch growth, but it appeared to me to be cone formation with the striking color. A visit like this will remind you of all you do not know, and probably will never really understand.20160424_104123.jpgNow we have seen the oldest (Bristlecone), tallest (Coastal Redwood), and largest (Giant Sequoia) trees in the world. My heart still belongs to the Sequoias, but it quiets me to be in the presence of any of these giant trees.

I have so many more photos that I perhaps will share on a separate photo-only post, if I find a place with some good WiFi. A post like this gobbles up an amazing amount of our monthly data plan. ;-)

Our post-Bryce plan was to camp on BLM land in nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But, we awoke to snow and freezing rain. We packed up our stiff and frozen awning,  and rolled as quickly as possible to a lower elevation. As we dropped down (over 3000′ for the day), the snow turned to sleet, then to sunny breezy 50 degree temps, then back to rainstorms as we reached Kanab, UT. The knowledgeable Ranger at the Visitor Center there advised us not to venture onto any of the backcountry roads, as the storm threat and past rainy weather had made the roads unpassable for two-wheelers such as us. She showed us where we could find a great camping site just off a paved road, which we checked out. It was raining by the time we got there, and the deep ruts in the clay site were enough to scare us off camping there for the night. There are signs everywhere warning of impassable roads under rainy conditions. We headed back to an RV park in Kanab. It’s probably a good thing, since it’s been raining steadily for six hours since. One bad experience with a tow truck has made us wary of volunteering for another

Tomorrow, we plan to venture back up into Grand Staircase to see if it’s possible to actually stay and explore for a night or two. But, having had one bad towing experience, we’re not about to expose ourselves (willingly) to another. We may roll eastward. Destination unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 thoughts on “Bryce is Best

  1. We’re heading to Bryce in the morning but the weather is suppose to be nasty the next few days. Thus, we may only stay one night and focus on Bryce in September :-( That red dirt does turn into a squishy slick clay and best to stay on paved ground when it’s raining. I look forward to hearing about your next stops.

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    • Hope you are able to stay a few days – you are such a creative photographer that already I can’t wait to see your images.

      We were sad not to boondocking in Grand Staircase, but we are NOT going to voluntarily set ourselves up for a tow job!

      Looking forward to your Bryce report.

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      • No Bryce photos from me until fall :-( This weather has us rearranging our route to Idaho. We have a commitment there or we would just stay at Lake Powell and wait out this weather. Hopefully Bryce will cooperate in September. Stay safe and warm and I’ll be using your posts for reference in the fall when we can meander around this part of Utah.

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      • So, Idaho will be gorgeous, I’m sure, although there’s got to be lots of crazy weather between here and there. Stay safe.

        We are trying to figure out where to go and how to dodge the weather as well. Snow everywhere around us. Think we may just hunker down for a day or two in Durango and wait to see what develops. You’d think by the end of April that we wouldn’t have to deal with s**n, wouldn’t you?

        Take care, Ingrid.

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      • At the higher elevations in Colorado, snow is possible ANY time of year. FYI… they do NOT know how to plow in Colorado and rely on the sun to help clear the roads. So stay put until the fronts pass and the sun warms the roads. You’ll want to cross Wolf Creek Pass between 10 and 2 – not too early and not too late. Might be a white knuckle drive for you :-(

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      • Thanks, Ingrid. John spoke with the ra get at Great Sand Dunes, and was assured that all is good to get there. Campground open and empty. Lots of hiking.

        We’ll set sail from Durango tomorrow (Sunday) morning. Hate to leave this place. AlpenRose RV Park is amazing. Best ever. Acres of fences in dog run, WiFi that actually works FAST, and superclean facilities. Staff is wonderful. We don’t usually stay in RV parks, but I would happily come here again. Spent all day on the Colorado Trail.

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  2. Bryce was already on my short list of places that I have to visit once I retire, and your photos only reinforced that to the nth degree! In some ways, it reminds me of places in the Badlands, once you get off the beaten track there. But, as I learned from this post, getting too far off the beaten path may not always be a good idea. I’m sorry that the weather hasn’t been very good throughout most of your trip, but at least you’re seeing some of the most beautiful areas in this country. I certainly hope to retrace your path one of these days.

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    • Hi, Jerry. Thanks for checking in. Actually, we felt that the weather in Bryce was way better than we expected. Average April high temp is only 54, yet we hiked in shorts and short sleeves every day. Of course, we did wake up to snow on the day we left, and drove out in a swirling blizzard…Other than that two weeks of rain we hit in California, it’s really been pretty good. We are looking at some cold temps this week though, in Colorado – hoping we can avoid any late spring snowstorms. We do have tire chains, but have successfully avoided using them so far. No sense in starting now!

      We’re at another place you’ll want to put on your list of places to go – Navaho National Monument in NE AZ. Gorgeous Canyon with a well-preserved Pueblo. A small FREE campground. We’re perched on the edge, with a view for miles. Sun is shining, lots of birds chirping, although I can’t see them – sounds like chickadees.

      This has been a great trip – we’ve seen many new places. Walked more than a few miles. All of this is right up your alley – I can’t wait for you to get here, and see it for yourself.

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      • The amazing thing about the area that you’re in now is that there’s fantastic scenery almost everywhere you look, and you don’t have to be in a park to see it. The parks may be well known, and preserve what’s there, but the BLM lands and other areas are just as scenic, they haven’t been named a park or monument yet.

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    • Liz, I would love to be at your side when you get your first glimpse of the Canyon. Bryce is the Best (this year).

      But, I have to admit that my heart is still in the Sequoias. I’ve never been anyplace so peaceful, or anyplace that filled me with such wonder. There’s not one of the big National Parks that I don’t love tho. Maybe I’m just a pushover.

      Nope to see you again one of these days.

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  3. Yes, enchanting is the word. I see a trip out that way in the not too distant future. Great job capturing the essence of this natural wonder to share with fellow wanderers.

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    • It was beyond my expectations, which admittedly were high. Take as much time as you can possibly spare to enjoy this wonder.

      Thanks for checking in Dave. Sounds like you are already starting to think like a retiree. I like that.

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  4. I love to come up with a one word description of each National Park. My word for Bryce was Enchanting. You would not believe how much time I dedicate to coming up with the perfect word. Not to far from Bryce is Cedar Breaks National Monument where we saw a 1800 year old Bristlepine that was amazing but it is at high elevation (10,000 feet and the road is still closed this time of year due to snow.) Highway 14 is a wonderful experience during the heat of summer and provided wonderful wildflowers in August. You are so right….pictures don’t capture the magical feeling of Bryce. Many visits are needed as a result to recapture the ambience.

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    • Thanks, klb! I’d love to see your one word list – do you have a blog or somewhere I could view it? I think my Bryce one word would be something like Windswept. I’d save Enchanting for the big trees like Redwoods or Sequoias.

      Agree with you about needing multiple visits. I’d love to see Bryce on snowshoes.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and post a comment.

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  5. Drop dead gorgeous scenery! And amazing photos. Your camera may not be top of the line, but your eye is that of an artist. So glad you are getting to see those natural wonders. I am utterly awed at the determination of those trees to survive in such harsh conditions. Be careful of the rain. It can produce very scary flash floods there. Can’t wait for more blogs and pictures as you head east. Thanks for sharing.

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    • It is so crazy to see trees just hanging on to the side of some slope, which slides away a bit each day. They really are survivors.

      It’s hard to leave these special places, as I really don’t think I will ever see them again. Trying to imprint my brain with these images.

      Thanks for the kind words about the photos. I do agonize over them.

      Got your Time Trial machine all ready to roll Monday?

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  6. Good camera or not you took some SPECTACULAR photos!!! I visited Bryce many years ago, and now Bob and I want to go there together. :)
    Looking forward to see you soon in NC!

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    • Thanks, Susan. It’s not so hard to take pretty photos there – everywhere you look, there’s a scene begging to be recorded.

      Hope you and Bob do get back there. It’s spectacular.

      See you soon – we are rolling in to the BRR on Wednesday? You, too?

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