June 18 – 20
After the rocky, desert landscape of Zion, getting to the thick, green forest of Bryce Canyon was sheer bliss. It was also 20 degrees cooler. Ahhh.
We rolled into town in late afternoon and our first stop was Ruby’s general store to get some cold drinks and a few more food items. Since Bryce Canyon park isn’t very big we planned to use the next two days to rest up and not do a whole lot. We were all pretty excited about that. After our quick food stop we headed to find our free campsite for the night. After missing the turn and driving into the park and back out, we found the road we were supposed to have taken. It’s right outside the park and winds through the woods. You can see where other people have camped before so we knew we were in the right area.
We found a spot with lots of shade and trees to hang our hammocks on. Surprisingly, we had pretty good cellphone service so we all spent some time catching up with things on our phones. We made dinner then Ethan suggested we try to find a nearby reservoir to see if we could swim in it. To get there we continued down the road we came in on and it turned out to be a really gorgeous ride through the woods and then a few open prairies with grazing cows. The sun was setting and it was a lovely night to drive with the windows down. It took about 25 minutes to get to the reservoir, but it was well worth it. It looked more like a mountain lake than a reservoir and was a real treat after the heat of Zion.
It was pretty cold so I didn’t get all the way in, but I did wash my hair and it felt amazing. We were right down the way from some people fishing and we hoped they didn’t think we were crazy. Oh well! Gotta get clean somehow! After our lake bath we headed back and made a fire and s’mores and went to sleep under the stars.
In the morning we headed into park to see what Bryce Canyon had to offer. Our plan was to drive to the end of the park and work our way back toward the visitors center, but the road was completely closed for construction. We thought it was kinda crazy that they didn’t mention that most of the park was closed when we came in. The good news was that most of the interesting stuff was still open so we headed to the main overlook. The canyon, which isn’t actually a canyon, is pretty amazing. The rock formations, called hoodoos, look like soldiers all lined up in neat rows. The different colors of the rock are stunning and it seems very other-worldly. Definitely nothing on earth like it.
Our hike for the day, called the Navajo/ Queens Garden loop, left from down the road at the Sunrise Viewpoint. We hiked down into the canyon and snaked around through the interesting hoodoos. There were quite a few other people, but the park wasn’t even close to being as busy as Grand Canyon and Zion, which was nice. The hike was only a couple miles and on our way up we stopped and chatted with a super nice park ranger who told us about a waterfall we should check out and where the best place was to watch the sunset.
It was pretty hot at this point, so we decided to head back to the reservoir and hang out there the rest of the day. We stopped at the store for some cold drinks and spent the afternoon with our camp chairs in the shallow water. We used the sand to scrub the dirt and dead skin from our feet. It was heaven and I did not want to leave. But, we had to head out and make dinner, see about showers and we wanted to see the sunset.
After dinner we headed back into the park to check out the general store which was rumored to have showers. The rumor turned out to be true, but it was 7 and they closed at 7:30. We hurried around and Ethan paid $3 each for Huntar and I to have an 8 minute shower. It was a steep price to pay but it was our first real shower in 8 days so we gladly paid. The shower area left a bit to be desired, but the water was hot and felt amaaazing. Well worth it. Before heading to our sunset spot we grabbed a few cold drinks from the store and hung out on the front porch and charged our phones. We were sad we hadn’t known about the store the day before – great spot to hang out!
After our drinks we found a perfect spot for the sunset. Ethan hooked up the hammock and while we weren’t actually watching the sunset sice we were facing east, the colors of the canyon were pretty spectacular. We stayed out there until it was almost dark and decided to go back to the store to wash our dishes and fill up our water bottles and our big water jug. We spent the rest of the evening packing up and prepping for our next destinations – Capital Reef, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. I was reluctant to leave the cooler temperatures in Bryce, but ready to see the other parks and see what else Utah had to offer.