Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bryce Canyon Drive-by

When we left Escalante, Utah, we continued our drive down Highway 12--the All-American Road. About an hour down the road today, the scenery suddenly changed, and we got our first glimpse of these signature pink and white rock formations. We love these crazy rock spires known as hoodoos!

That's when we knew that we were close to Bryce Canyon National Park. Two years ago when we made our first pass through Utah, Bryce was one of our main destinations. We camped close by for a week that trip. Today we couldn't stand the idea of not stopping, so we did a Bryce Canyon drive-by visit. That means we parked the motor home (with the car still attached) in the national park shuttle parking lot. A few minutes later the free bus pulled up and whisked us into the park. Awesome! While on the bus, we took a picture of a fellow hiker's map, made a plan for a hike, and managed to get off the shuttle bus at the right stop. This drive-by visit is working great so far!

We started our hike at the far end of the shuttle line at Bryce Point. The views from the top of the hike were great! We can see the tops of the signature hoodoos that continue down the canyon for miles!

We are on the Ramp Trail that descends steadily for a mile into Bryce Canyon.

Then it joins to the Peek-a-boo Trail. We think it got its name because there is a new vista that peeks around every curve. Occasionally there is a tunnel through a fin that gives a whole new viewpoint, as this familiar shadowy figure walks through it.

While it's fun to see the hoodoos from the top, it's more amazing to hike beside them and get a feel for how big they are.

This trail goes up and down in elevation, and gave us quite a work-out during our drive-by visit. While we were down on the canyon floor earlier in the hike, now we have climbed up to the top to see the windows that have eroded in the top wall. We can see the beautiful blue sky through those windows today.

We kept taking pictures because we love the colors and shapes of these hoodoos! We have definitely wandered into more of God's wonders today!

The only problem with the hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park, is you must go downhill at the beginning when you are the freshest. Then at the end of the hike, you have the difficult climb back  to the top. For us, that included a trip through "Wall Street."

The lighting at 2:30 in the afternoon makes it hard to take good pictures in the canyon. Even with the bright spots and shadows, you can still make out the many rows of switch-backs we must climb to get out of the canyon. You can also get a feel for the crowds near the top.

Going down into the canyon is optional, but climbing out is mandatory. We made it to the top, to take a picture of the tiny people from all over the world making their way into Bryce Canyon. We noted the languages spoken as we met people on the trail, and estimated that fewer than 20% of the people were speaking English.

We lingered for a moment at the top, enjoying the yellow aspen leaves and another view back down into Bryce Canyon National Park.

Mark even talked Denisa into hiking a ways down another trail for another picture. Our hike had brought us out of the canyon at Sunset Point. So now we just had to walk to the nearby shuttle stop, and ride the bus back to where our motor home was parked. Except for the angry shuttle bus driver that yelled at our crowded bus-load of tourists, our drive-by visit was successful!

We had another hour's drive to get to our next campground. There are some signs that a motor home driver (and his fearful passenger) do not like to see. One of them is a low clearance sign for an upcoming tunnel. The motor home is an inch less than 13 feet in height, and this seems too close for comfort.

But Mark had done all of his research for our driving route, and he knew we would have no trouble sailing right through the two tunnels on the Red Canyon Road.

The scenery and weather were beautiful for the last hour of our drive, and we are now camping at Mount Carmel Junction, Utah. It was a successful day on the road, doing a drive-by wander through some of God's most unusual wonders!

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