Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 10 – June 19, 2016

Mileage – 76,127

Outside Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon, like Rocky Mountain National Park, was more than we had hoped for. Our expectations from our last visit were low, but we (Jenney and Kevin) quickly realized we hadn’t really visited the heart of the park when we were here 17 years ago. Our first stop was the visitor center and an animate discussion with an energized and enthusiastic park volunteer. The rangers and volunteers really make all the difference. She had something for everyone! She hit the nail right on the head – a loop crossing over 2 trail systems – Queen’s Garden and Navajo, total distance with a brief add on at the end to view prairie dogs – 4.59 miles. We traversed along the top of a ridge overlooking hoodoos (stone towers), then descended down among then towers, walked through the cool rocky canyon complete with douglas fir and squirrels, and finally back up up through a narrow split that was little more than 1-2 people wide. The journey was like none other we had experienced; definitely not simply another canyon and more rock as expected. The temperatures in the higher elevation the park were comparatively moderate only reaching the low 90s.

We headed back to visitors center to complete the junior ranger program, following a creemee reward at the general store.

Then we were off, deciding to take the potentially longer, but vehicle friendly path to Zion (no scenic route today). Still, the drive offered breathtaking views and 7,000 peaks to climb, canyons and forest until we got to the interstate.

I don’t know how Jenney does it, but she did it again. For the forth day in a row she has navigated us to an amazing free/low cost camping location just minutes outside a national park. First there was the $15 BLM site on the Colorado Rive outside Arches, next a beautiful and free National Forest site about a mile outside Capitol Reef, a free National Forest less than a mile outside Bryce Canyon, and today a free BML site only a few minutes outside Zion. Meanwhile all these National Park Campground and many of the commercial sites were full. The only drawback is Kevin has to endure a little bit of travel on gravel, dirt, or otherwise questionable roads. Tonight we are alone though, a chance to feel the exhilaration and slight discomfort of feeling completely isolated in the hollow up a lonely gravel road. We can’t decide whether hundreds of years ago it would have felt like a great hideout or a place to be ambushed.

We are in much lower elevations. Temperature at 10pm still hovering near 100F, maybe it’s really a natural frying pan. Off to bed.