Over the last five days, we've Jeeped, hiked and shuttled around glorious Bryce Canyon. Along the way, we've taken a zillion photos. It's just that kind of place. This post is a feeble attempt to sum up our visit and illustrate the highlights of our new-favorite National Park.
The best way to see Bryce Canyon is to start at the top, up canyon, and work your way down. We started with a Jeep ride to this farthest and most photogenic spot, Rainbow Point. At an elevation of 9115 feet, this view will definitely take your breath away.
The next viewpoint is Black Birch Canyon. We gave ourselves one tough assignment to pick just one photo from each viewpoint.
Ponderosa Point offers a sweeping view of Ponderosa Canyon. The canyon is aptly named for the towering Ponderosa Pines on its floor.
The next stop down canyon is Agua Canyon. The taller formation on the right is known as "The Hunter". We didn't see the resemblance, but we definitely appreciated the view.
When we reached the Natural Bridge viewpoint, we chimed in unison, "That's not a bridge, it's an arch." Yes, this is one of several arches in Bryce Canyon. And, yes, it's official. We've spent so much time in this beautiful state we're becoming geology geeks.
Farview Point is appropriately named, indeed. On a clear day, you can see for some 160 absolutely stunning miles.
Lest you think we were the only folks visiting Bryce Canyon this holiday weekend, this was pretty much the scene at every viewpoint. There was quite a crowd of shutterbugs at Farview Point.
From Farview Point we left the crowds and took a very short hike over to Piracy Point. There, we got to enjoy the view to ourselves.
We couldn't see anything that resembled a swamp at the Swamp Canyon Viewpoint. The two creeks at the base of this canyon make this the wettest spot in the park.
The castle-like hoodoo at Paria View is the one formation in Bryce Canyon that faces the setting sun. It was hours from sunset when we stopped by and enjoyed this gorgeous afternoon view.
At Bryce Point, there are hoodoos everywhere you look. This is the place to catch a glorious sunrise. The canyon's namesake, Ebenezer Bryce, reportedly described this amazing sight as "a hell of a place to lose a cow."
We broke our own rules for this post with this second look at Bryce Point. The grottos, as they are known, guard the canyon walls in stark contrast to the rugged red hoodoos.
Bryce Point is the farthest viewpoint served by the park shuttle. We donned hiking gear, rode to the end of the shuttle line and hopped on the Rim Trail for a hike down the canyon. Nothing like a scenic morning hike at 8300-feet to get your heart pumping!
The Rim Trail gave us a chance to enjoy Bryce Amphitheater beyond the crowded viewpoints. Between Bryce Point and Inspiration Point, we shared the trail with just a few hikers.
With all of these scenic vistas, sometimes we had to give our eyes a rest and enjoy the wildflowers along the trail.
At Sunset Point we left the rim and climbed down into the canyon along the Navajo Loop Trail. It was a long hike down. How do we know?
We kept looking up! And, as every hiker knows, when you take a trail down sooner or later you must hike up.
When we reached the bottom of Navajo Loop we realized the rest of the "loop" to the top of the rim was closed. Not exactly wanting to go back up the way we came down, we opted to hike the Queen's Garden Trail. Seeing the hoodoos from this level gave us a whole new appreciation for them.
Who is that waiting on the other side of this skinny little arch? It's Paul, the worlds most patient hiker! And, I wonder why he calls me "Ansel" on the trail. Yes, I'm always taking pictures!
This hoodoo view as we approached the rim had one purpose. It was a much-needed place for us to sit and catch our breath. After nearly four miles on our feet, we were happy to catch the shuttle at Sunrise Point and return to Ruby's just in time for an afternoon thundershower complete with pea-sized hail.
Our days in Bryce Canyon inspired us to make plans to spend a few days camping in the North Campground. But, Bullwinkle's heat pump is acting up, so we're changing our plans. Instead of settling in to a rustic campsite in the park, we're hitting the road for Salt Lake City for repairs.
Our date with the North Campground will just have to wait.