Need I say more? 😉
In May of 2015, we had about a week between Andy’s spring and summer semesters – and so naturally we had to plan a trip. We started by trying to figure out how to smush Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef National Parks all in, since as road trips go they’re pretty close together. Sounds way better spoken out loud than written into an itinerary, though, and we don’t like to skimp on our park visits.
So the others remain on our ‘if only we had more vacation days’ list, and we opted for Bryce. Essentially it came down to the fact that Bryce was pretty much the perfect size for a few days — just wallop the whole park in one fell swoop.
Ok, so one of the coolest things about this is that the drive along I-70 from the front range of Colorado to Utah is awesome. In Colorado, I-70 takes you from Denver right up into the mountains. You go through a bunch of ski towns like Vail and Copper, plus you cut through Glenwood Canyon, which is lush and rocky and just so cool. Terrifying in rough conditions (which we generally hit in at least one direction), but beautiful.
But Utah is no landscape slouch, either. The highway takes you right past Arches National Park, really close to the Canyonlands, and when you take the exit for Bryce you drive right through Capitol Reef. But we were just in the great wide nowhere when I snapped these photos out our cars window:
Not the destination material we were heading for, but pretty great views to pass through.
Ok, stop letting me ramble! On to the park.
We had reserved a campsite for most of our nights in the park (the rest were in the backcountry, but that comes later) at the Ruby’s Inn Campground, which is literally just outside the entrance to the park. Since it was May and Bryce Canyon stands at about 9000 feet of elevation, there weren’t a lot of people around. Aside from one night with a very rowdy group of motorcyclists, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
We took some photos of the iconic view from the rim to kick things off.
Then we hiked down into the canyon a bit along the Queen’s Garden Trail. Or at least, I’m pretty sure that’s at least mostly the trail we were on… they sort of blend together down there, so we may have gotten onto a different trail for a little while. But we just wanted a quick little trek so we went down and in for a ways, then doubled back (we were strategic in keeping it out of our photos, but it was a bit too crowded on this trail for us).
Even after wading through ridiculous quantities of photos that we took on this short jaunt, I still have so many that I’m going to just go for it and share ’em all:
Then we decided to make the big drive all the way to the southern end of the park (Bryce Canyon is a tall, skinny park, so you can basically just go down from the entrance). We stopped a little ways down at Inspiration Point, but went up in elevation about 1000 feet to get to the southern end at Rainbow Point — where it was snowing and extra chilly. At this point we were a little over 9000 feet, which is a higher elevation than we were living in the Rocky Mountains. So, you know, pretty high up there!
Can you even believe these views? Unreal, and because of the shape of Bryce, which follows the canyon north to south, you get them almost constantly.
All in all, a pretty excellent start to our week at this little park!
Update: Want to checkout Part 2, where we explore Bryce’s Fairyland Loop? Jump on over here!