When we went down for breakfast at about 6:30am, we were greeted by a crowd of Chinese tourists finishing their breakfast. They had their luggage with them. They were about to board their bus and be on their way to their next destination. They all looked sleepy. They must have arrived at the hotel after us. In fact, the lady in Luo’s Cafe had been preparing the dinner tables for about 30 tourists the previous night as we left. It might have been for these folks. I was wondering if it was the same noisy crowd we had encountered at Horseshoe Bend the previous day. And we did encounter another noisy crowd at Bryce Canyon that evening, shattering the quiet of the evening with their constant chattering and rushing hither and tither to take all kinds of pictures.
We left Kanab for Bryce Canyon National Park by 8am. It was a relatively early start for us. We had a somewhat long drive of an hour and a half before we reached our destination. According to the thermometer in the car the temperature outside was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, below freezing. It was cold! The drive was uneventful. On our way we passed Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon. We drove through this tunnel of red rock.When we reached Bryce, after the obligatory picture at the entrance,we went to the Visitor Center and talked to the ranger to set up a plan of action. After watching the documentary about Bryce, we took the shuttle bus to Bryce Point for our first view of the hoodoos. (It turns out that we did not need to have used the shuttle. There was ample parking available at the different viewpoints.) It was still cold outside, but in spite of that there were a lot of enthusiastic fellow tourists with us on the bus. It did become comfortably warmer later in the day.
Until you come to the rim of the Canyon you have no idea about the natural wonderland that lies below you. We walked on the trail along the rim of the canyon, stopping at viewpoints along the way, soaking in the dramatic scenery below us. It was like another alien land. Here are some of the many pictures I took. The primary feature of this park are the hoodoos that dominate the canyon floor.We passed Inspiration Point and then stopped at Sunset Point for some lunch. After lunch, we walked further along the rim to Sunrise Point, and then took the Queen’s Garden Trail down into the canyon valley to walk among the hoodoos. The way down was quite steep, and we could see people going the other way having a hard time with their efforts coming up. This looked even harder than our climb in Zion National Park, but, fortunately, it was only about 600 feet. At the bottom of the canyon we walked among the hoodoos and the evergreens. The minerals were a light color when seen closeup. There were lots of signs of heavy water flow and erosion. Birds and chipmunks abounded.We saw people riding horses on the horse trail.
There were a lot of people walking on the trails. It was great to see the families with the little kids.
We had gotten on to the “Wall Street” section of the Navajo trail at the bottom of the canyon to make our way up to the top. As we walked this trail, we entered a slot canyon. Ahead of us were a series of switchbacks that took you straight up the canyon wall. It was a challenging and fun climb.We were tired at the end of the climb, and this, and the noisy Chinese tourists, were signs for us that it was time to quit the hiking. We had walked over 6 miles, some of it under challenging conditions, by then.
We took the bus back the Visitor Center, and hopped into our car for a drive to the viewpoints at the far end of the park. Yovimpa and Rainbow Points, at the end of the road, were the highest parts in the park (over 9000 feet), and the coldest. I was not able to get a good picture here, but at the next stop, at Agua Canyon, we saw these colorful formations,including a rock that looked like it was balancing.This is a picture at Natural Bridge viewpoint.Then it was on to our hotel in Cannonville, UT, a few miles away from the park. We were quite tired and left the park relatively early.
Cannonville turns out to be an interesting place in the middle of the countryside. To get here, you first pass the little village of Tropic, with its old fashioned General Store, restaurants, gas station, and motels, and with quite a few tourists, perhaps mostly European.
Then you arrive at Cannonville, and this motel is the only big building in town that you see as you turn the corner on Route 12. There are gas pumps in front of the building, and you walk into a small country market where the lady who is handling the counter checks you into the hotel. It is all owned by the same people. The rooms in this motel are huge and comfortable and have modern facilities, although they have older furnishings. The place is very nice, and it seems to have gained some popularity even though it is in an isolated space. There were a couple of bicycles parked at the front of the building when we checked it. This was a good find!We had dinner last night in Tropic in a small western themed restaurant called Rustlers that was attached to the General Store. The food was good. Everything was fresh. The waitress had an East European accent, which was strange to encounter in a place like this.
I think it is going to rain steadily today as we make our way up to Capital Reef National Park. Perhaps one should take it easy.