Our Scouting Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park
This past week was my April break from school (I am a teacher), and therefore gave me a great opportunity to go explore some more of the areas we will be headed to on our upcoming National Parks trip. My wife (Aimee), my buddy (Tyler), and myself decided on Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce is smack in the middle of our trip, and it is a place I have never been. Up until now.....living in Utah for the last 9 months, I had heard a lot about it, and all the research we have poured into the area makes it sound absolutely irresistible. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.
Bryce sits a good hour off the main highway I-15, at an elevation of around 8000 feet. You do a lot of driving through absolutely nothing but open desert and wildlife. It was dark as we drove, but we still managed to run into several packs of mule deer, and my passengers were able to do some serious stargazing from their seats. We later discovered the drive is full of beautiful scenery as you head towards the canyon.
One of the amazing things about Bryce is the unique nature in and around the park. While other Utah parks like Zion and Arches are set in a Mars-like desert, Bryce is nestled right next to Dixie National Forest. A MASSIVE 170 mile stretch of woods, Dixie National forest hides Bryce well, which is a real treat for the eye and makes Bryce very unique. In fact, as you enter the park you really have no sense as to what is about to sprawl out before you.
The check in area and visitor center are simply on flat forested land. As you drive the winding roads of the park, you still do not see anything out of the ordinary. Upon parking and entering a hiking path, you need walk only about 400 meters before suddenly coming upon the edge of the canyon.
The massive canyon falls away from you as if out of nowhere. When once you were walking through brush and trees, suddenly your eyes take in a vast canyon full of decadent rock pillars of bright orange, brown, and red sandy hues. Where the grand canyon may surprise visitors in terms of depth and vastness, Bryce will blow you away with its beauty and nuances.
The canyon is not simply deep, but a labyrinth of rock that has been eroded into innumerable unique formations. Random holes and crevices wind their way through the sculpted mountainside. Every turn you make offers a new spectacular view of rock formations you did not see before. At times you feel you are hiking on solid mountain, only to come across a hole on the side of the trail that gives you a peep to a drop of 500 feet or more. Every inch of Bryce is gorgeous, and shines brightly as the sun splashes upon it.
Something that is so unique to a Bryce experience as well is hiking through a canyon. A normal hike is typically up a mountain, where you work to get to a summit with amazing views before returning back down. Hiking in the canyon is very different. You start off with spectacular panoramic views, and then proceed to hike down into the canyon, all the while taking in nature's beauty from a new and exciting angle. Taking a separate path back out of the canyon (as we will be doing in August) offers the opportunity to have new breathtaking views you have not seen before all the way from start to finish.
Bryce is a truly amazing place, and I can’t wait to take our first group there in August. Especially if you have never been to a canyon, this Park is so unique and the views never get old. This August we will be hiking the canyon, and also going on a nice horseback ride through some different paths as well. It is going to be a BLAST.
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