Bryce Canyon National Park

North America
May 18th 2018
Published: June 8th 2018
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The tunnel shortcut between Zion and Bryce CanyonsThe tunnel shortcut between Zion and Bryce CanyonsThe tunnel shortcut between Zion and Bryce Canyons

This is the Bryce Canyon end of the tunnel. Pretty spooky inside as there are no lights in the tunnel. There are several "galleries" or windows which do let in some light.
The second target on our trip was Bryce Canyon National Park. We decided when we entered Zion to buy an Annual Pass to the National Parks even though we didn’t get the American Citizen rate or a seniors discount. I am not sure if it was a financially good deal but it was certainly convenient.

There are a couple of ways to get from Zion to Bryce. One is to go back the way we came and take the long way around Zion (147 miles). The other is a shortcut (72 miles) that involves a road with many twists, turns and switchbacks plus a one mile tunnel. There are rules about over height and over length vehicles as well as stories about delays when they restrict traffic to one way to allow these behemoths to use the tunnel. After this build up we were a bit disappointed when the ranger in the tourist info centre scoffed and said there would be no problem (his comment - it is much easier than driving in LA!!). Wisely, we started on the "short cut road" at 7am so avoided all the traffic. The traffic was minimal and it was actually fun (for me;
Rock walls on each sideRock walls on each sideRock walls on each side

On our way to Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon, the road went between these massive rock walls.
Dianne got to drive it).

The campground

The reservation system was again a bit weird. The non-RV sites were supposed to be first come, first served but there were many sites that were reserved. We managed to score a nice one, close but not too close to the washrooms and water. And we could have campfires.

Much to my surprise, the two couples at the next site were from France! Unlike the couples in Zion, they had a site to themselves. We had some good laughs. We were constantly surprised at the number of European visitors.

The Park

Even though Bryce is so close to Zion, it is completely different. In Zion you are at the bottom looking up; at Bryce you are at the top looking own. Zion is a bunch of huge, solid rock formations; most of the formations in Bryce are on one side of a very long ridge. The walls consist of impressive spires, hoodoos, fins and all kinds of weathered stone formations.

It is also much higher; average elevation between 8,000 and 9,000 feet compared to Zion's average of 3,000. No wonder we wore hoodies and warm socks to
Red CanyonRed CanyonRed Canyon

We didn't know about Red Canyon until we drove through it on the way to Bryce Canyon. We made a return visit there.

The trails

There are two types of trails; rim walks and valley walks. We concentrated on the rim walks. The views are spectacular. It’s amazing how you can look at a scene then move 100 yards and look at it again. It is quite different. Most of the views are looking more or less straight down but you can actually see for miles.

You can walk from the campground to many of the trails but one of the most interesting trails involves driving about 16 miles to the end of the park. We started off toward the farthest viewpoint and got about as far as you could go from your car when the hail started. Luckily there was a small shelter where five or six of us hunkered down until it stopped. We continued the walk, saw the neat views and returned to Big Red. Just as we got in, the skies opened again and it hailed pea-sized hail for about 10 minutes.

It was incredible to see how much accumulated hail was still on Big Red when we got to the next view point. So much so that a chap asked if he could
Desert PhloxDesert PhloxDesert Phlox

As we hiked along the scree on the path to see the tunnels from the viewpoint, we came across these phlox growing in the barren ground.
take a picture of it. He and some buddies had ridden their motorcycles through it and he wanted to show other friends what they had to ride through.

Our last hike involved taking one of the trails down towards the bottom of the canyon. What looked fabulous from the top was even more spectacular when down in the canyon. The only problem was that it was uphill all the way back.

Red Canyon

Close to Bryce Canyon National Park is Red Canyon National Forest. We managed a side trip to this site to take the Tunnel Trail. It isn’t that long but does go up fairly steeply and there is some scree that must be crossed to get to the viewpoint. But it was worth it. The “tunnels” are more like arches that were created in 1925 to make the drive to Bryce Canyon more spectacular. As if they needed to.

We also took a hoodoo trail and visited the tourist information centre. We really like these smaller info centres as the staff are not usually as busy and you can have some great conversations.

Mossy Cave

There is a trail to Mossy Cave
The Tunnels at Red CanyonThe Tunnels at Red CanyonThe Tunnels at Red Canyon

More like arches but still well worth the steep walk up to the viewpoint.
and Waterfall that is part of Bryce Canyon National Park but you have to go outside the main park and back in some miles away. A bit unusual but worth the side jaunt. Especially as it caused us to investigate the town of Tropic which happened to have a great ice cream shop. I didn’t even mind not getting a cappuccino; it was that hot.


Our next stop is at Natural Bridges National Park. Just how different can this park be from the two very different canyons we have been visiting? ToBeContinued.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 25


View from Red Canyon trailView from Red Canyon trail
View from Red Canyon trail

The contrast between the colours of the rocks and the sky was beautiful.
More Red CanyonMore Red Canyon
More Red Canyon

Stunning colours
Hoodoos in Red CanyonHoodoos in Red Canyon
Hoodoos in Red Canyon

We enjoyed a short walk on the trail through the hoodoos.
Solar PanelsSolar Panels
Solar Panels

The Bryce visitor centre was pretty good but these solar panels outside were even more interesting. They rotate to take maximum advantage of the large amount of sunshine they get in Bryce (despite the hail storm).
View from one of the rim walksView from one of the rim walks
View from one of the rim walks

This was one of many spectacular sights in Bryce Canyon.
Bryce CanyonBryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

Another view of the canyon
Enjoying the rim walkEnjoying the rim walk
Enjoying the rim walk

With the camera on self-timer, we could both be in this shot.
Remnants of the hail stormRemnants of the hail storm
Remnants of the hail storm

This was after we had driven a couple of miles.

This raven was a bit cheeky. He really wanted handouts. But he settled for snacking on chunks of hail left over from the storm.
The amphitheatreThe amphitheatre
The amphitheatre

This part of Bryce Canyon is called the amphitheatre
The amphitheatreThe amphitheatre
The amphitheatre

It goes on forever!
Another view Another view
Another view

No matter where you looked in Bryce Canyon, the scenery was amazing.
Bryce CanyonBryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

An interesting arch (or maybe a bridge)!
Waterfall at Mossy CaveWaterfall at Mossy Cave
Waterfall at Mossy Cave

We drove to Mossy Cave, part of Bryce Canyon, and came across this waterfall.

In May, there were wildflowers everywhere.

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