Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Bryce Canyon National Park in One Day - Part 2: Highway 63 Scenic Drive at Sunset

The Natural Bridge - no effort required. Park and click.  

After an early dinner we set out from the campground and drove all of the way to the end of Highway 63. Click here for a detailed map of this drive.  This is one long road that makes up Bryce Canyon National Park. We drove 18 miles to the end and then started back stopping at every pull out we could. 

In March the shuttle buses are not yet running so you are permitted to drive your own vehicle. This drive is not suitable for vehicles towing trailers as the pull-outs are small. Going in the evening meant that the crowds were very light. Most stops had only 2-3 other cars. Perfect!

Take your 'sign' picture later in the day to avoid the crowds. 

Rainbow Point looking north. Mile 18.
Yes, that's snow. Don't slip, Alex!

Blue Puffle needed to get out, too. 
Undesignated pull-out around Mile 17.

These orange poles remind me of ski runs that are subject to white-outs. This might be a whole different view in the winter!
Birch Canyon, Mile 16. 

OK, then. 

Ponderosa Canyon, Mile 16.

Mile 12. 

The Natural Bridge. Low effort, high reward.
There was a collection of ball caps immediately below the railing as this is a windy place. 

Piracy Point. Mile 10.5

Mile 2.75

Inspiration Point. 

This was our last stop. With the setting sun the temperature is dropping. The Gypsy Wagon awaits with its warm furnace and few more episodes of Corner Gas. 

Bryce Canyon National Park in One Day - Part 1 Hiking Within the Park Queen's Garden and Navajo Loop

Gazing down into the Queen's Garden from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. 

Today we have one full day to explore the park. We split in into two outings. A 2 hour walk/hike during the middle of the day and a drive and hop-out adventure in the early evening as the light began to fade. 

We woke to freezing temperatures and clear skies in the Cannonville, Utah KOA. 

Instant Pot oats with dried apples. Why not throw in a few eggs? 

Let's do some hiking! Bryce Canyon National Park is about a 20 minute drive away. We have our America the Beautiful National Parks pass so we do not have to pay the $30/week entrance fee. Nice. First stop is the Visitor's Centre to watch the movie, get some advice and select a magnet. Check!

Below the Visitor Centre (top left) you will see an area called Overflow parking. This is your friend. There was no competition to park here for us. Follow the dotted green line which indicates a paved bike/walking path to Sunrise Point. It only takes about 10 minutes, and you are here to walk anyways. If you are towing, this is the lot where you may drop your trailer for the day. In March, the park shuttle buses were not yet running. Parking was hectic and hard to come by at the Sunrise Point/Lodge area. Start out stress-free and just park in the overflow lot. 

The first look is alway rich. This moment in time reminds me of our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. While not nearly as high, this place is majestic. 

We started at Sunrise Point, walked down into the Queen's Garden and did the short spur to Queen Victoria. Then, we carried on to the Navajo Loop Benchmark where a number of trails meet. The Wall Street was closed due to wet conditions so we traveled up the north arm of the Navajo Loop to Sunset Point. It is on this final leg where we found the big trees growing at the base of a very narrow slot canyon. I had seen pictures online but was not sure where to find these trees growing out of nothing. This loop took us 2 hours. 

Yes, that is snow on the north facing slopes, in the far distance. 

'Mama, I know you are taking pictures of me when your feet stop.'
Busted. Sorry, not sorry. 

Down we go!

Every few feet there is a new vista to behold. 

Near the bottom centre/right you can see the path that will take us into the Queen's Garden. 

What sustains that HUGE tree? It is clinging to seemingly nothing. 

As we approach the valley floor there are more shrubs and trees. 

Some handy hobbit holes for us to walk through. 

Do you see Queen Victoria holding her crown?
No? I didn't either until someone pointed her out. 

Queen Victoria is looking towards the left of this picture, holding her crown before her. 

So many colours and textures. 

As we begin one branch of the Navajo Loop we find the trees I had been looking for!

What goes down, must come up. This is a series of switchbacks to help us get back up to the rim of the Canyon at Sunset Point. From there we walk a short distance along to the rim to complete our loop by the Lodge. 

We are treated to fine views of Thor's Hammer near the top. 

There are a group of old cabins for rent as accommodation. I am not sure if they are original or made to look old. 

These chairs line the deck at the Lodge and gift shop. They remind me of Dad's chairs at the cabin. No fancy twine seats here. I forgot to try them out to see if they are comfortable. The seat height looks a little low. 

Check out Part 2 - Bryce Canyon 18-Mile Scenic Drive in the next post.