No trip to Utah would be complete without a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. My only regret is that we didn’t give the park more time as we underestimated just how much we would fall in love with it. Bryce is home to delicately carved rock spires in varying colors of red and orange with the most unique of names…. hoodoos. The colors change in intensity and hue depending on where the sun sits in the sky, meaning you will see the park differently every time you visit. Bryce is the place that you want to get up early for the sunrise and stay a little late to catch the sunset. Although you don’t get to see the sunset per say as the canyon features all face east, you do get to see the famous flow on the hoodoos as the sun sets beyond the mountain.
We spent two days in Bryce, and it wasn’t nearly enough time. Since we were recovering from a 17-mile hike in Zion the day before, we took advantage of the scenic road that runs along the plateau rim. For 18 miles, you are blessed with countless turnouts that although to see the park from a different angle each mile. We started the drive at Bryce Amphitheater, which is the most visited section of the park. Here you have the privilege to marvel at the cliffs, hoodoos and castles that make Bryce famous and took nature millions of years to create. Along the drive, we got to see Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point, which include various “steps” of pink, white and grey. Natural Bridge was our favorite thing to see from the scenic drive. We were able to catch it in the morning in just the right light so the red/orange hues reflected inside the arch all too perfectly.
On day 2 of our trip, our feet were still pretty wrecked from the 17-miler from days previously, however, we didn’t want to miss out on hiking Bryce so we did a little research and found the hike that would be the best bang for the buck….. Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Combination Trail. I did the hike partially barefoot and partially in my Chacos because of the blisters on the feet that made my Danners impossible to put on. The total length of the hike was only 2.9 miles with an elevation gain of 600 feet, so it was doable on weathered feet. The hike took us to outstanding views from the rim, past Thor’s Hammer as it descends along red ridges into the canyon and meanders among the towering hoodoos. Towards the end of the hike, as you begin the gradual ascent out of the canyon, you have the option of Wall Street or Two Bridges. We chose the Wall Street route because we were told it is a must see in Bryce and there are no words for it that truly capture its beauty. Wall Street is a short slow canyon in which you are at the bottom between towering red and orange walls with incredible lighting. Once we passed through Wall Street, we ascended through a steep series of switchbacks (although not nearly as steep as the Walter Wiggles in Zion) and we could the cutest hiking mates, two small white dogs and their owner.
We have seen Yosemite, Joshua Tree, the Redwoods, Crater Lake, Zion and the Grand Canyon, but the beauty of Bryce National Park is something else entirely. If Bryce is not on your travel list, you are missing out on arguably one of our top 5 favorite national parks. It is a truly magical landscape that will capture your heart and keep you coming back for more.
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