I decided to make an impromptu trip to Bryce Canyon (the last National Park in Utah that I had yet to have been to) and wowzers is it a cool site. The trip added another 1,200+ miles to what I’ve driven in the past couple weeks, bringing my total to over 4,500 miles and about 70 hours of driving. I’m glad to be done driving for a while.
The first three miles of the park, known as the Bryce Amphitheater, are the most popular and scenic sections of the park – and for good reason. The views are absolutely stunning. The major stops along the way are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. The park itself is mostly focused on limestone spires that they call hoodoos. The hoodoos are eroded out of the cliffs over many years from a combination of frost and rain.
I arrived in the park about an hour before sunset so I started my venture into the park at one of the first stops, Sunrise Point, at an elevation of 8,017 ft. Its sister site, Sunset Point, is a 0.5 mile hike away at a slightly lower elevation of 8,000 ft. I was only able to see these two sites and do a short hike down into Queens Garden on this day.
For my second day in the park, I headed out before dawn to catch the sunrise. It was a frigid morning but was more than worth the wait in the cold to catch the rising sun. Everything looks a lot more beautiful when the light is low in the sky. Inspiration Point is easily my favorite stop in the park to get a great view of all the hoodoos. I love how much color is visible in all the rock at this time of day. If you’re ever in Bryce Canyon, this is the place to watch the sun come up; don’t be fooled and think Sunrise Point is the place to be. Inspiration Point is 8,100 ft high with a spectacular view of the valley below.
Sunset overlooking Bryce Point. I find it really interesting that it looks like there’s snow in the pictures, but there isn’t. What you’re seeing is the different colors of rock. I’ll be honest – I was hoping the entire park would have been covered in snow when I started my drive there. I even brought a pair of snowshoes along. I think being in the Rockies the day before messed with my head too much.
Queens Garden Trail is the shortest (0.9 miles, one-way) and easiest hike to get down to the valley floor and see the hoodoos up close. It is so incredibly awesome to see them closer up. Definitely do this hike if you ever go there.
Theres a few other scenic spots in the park, most notably the Natural Bridge and Fairyland Canyon. The drive across the park only takes about 30 minutes and is surrounded by a forest.
Bryce Canyon is a really awesome park and I’m glad I finally took the time to get out there. Most of the hikes there are longer and I’m definitely going to go back some day to do more of them.