Saturday, November 22, 2014

On to Bryce

While it was lovely to see the two National Parks in Moab again (Arches and Canyonlands), the true excitement about planning this year’s visit to Utah would be finally getting to see 2 new National Parks that had long been on my bucket list—Bryce Canyon and Zion. 

I originally thought I’d fit in visits to Capital Reef, Escalante, and drive the entire scenic Highway 12 byway all within the one week I had to get from Moab to Zion.  But, I quickly realized I’d made the classic “new full-timer” mistake of trying to cram simply way too much into too short a timeline.   So, most of those plans got tossed onto the “next time” list, and I focused solely on Bryce for the next few days (with a stop beforehand to “Camp Wally” in Richfield to take care of boring life stuff like grocery shopping and a hair cut!).

The last week of October at Bryce Canyon had a few sunny days forecasted in the low 60’s (with night temps dipping down below freezing).  But it was “now-or-never” as the following week’s temps would go even colder with some first snows predicted.  So, I topped off the propane tank, bundled up, and headed up to 8,000-feet!

As I turned onto Scenic Highway 12 towards Bryce, the sun was beginning to set onto Red Canyon.  The views were getting better and better!

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I didn’t make any advanced reservations as I thought there’d be a half-dozen campground options nearby, but everything seems to close by mid-October at these elevations, so as I rolled into Bryce, my only remaining options were a single remaining “first-come-first-served” loop of the North campground within the park, or the super-pricey Ruby’s Campground just up the road.

Luckily, I was able to snag a nice site within the park.  I picked a pull-thru site that had no trees above it and no trees to the West thinking I’d get plenty of sunshine for my solar panels.

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But, note to self—watch out for tall trees to the south!

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Those darn trees shaded my panels nearly all day long every day, and I ended up having to run my generator quite a bit to recharge the batteries!  Apart from that newbie mistake, I enjoyed being in the park and close to all the  viewpoints and trailheads.

For my first full day of exploration, I followed the herd of tourists and visited Sunrise Point in the morning, and Sunset Point in the afternoon.  Still, the colors and views of the canyon full of “hoodoo” rock formations was just stunning to finally see in-person.

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It’s hard to get a sense of the size of these hoodoos until you look closely and see full-sized fir trees dwarfed by the stone formations on all sides.

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The late afternoon sun reflects and illuminates the hoodoo tops at Sunset Point.  I loved watching these rocks glow!

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I walked down the first few turns of the Navajo Trail to get a preview of the hikes I had planned for the next day and it more than whet my appetite!   More about that hike in the next post!

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20 comments:

  1. OMG the colors and the photos are outstanding. Anyone who has never been there will surely be planning their trip for next year.

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  2. Replies
    1. and you haven't even seen the good stuff yet ;-)

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  3. Some of the most incredible photos of Bryce that I've seen yet!

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  4. Fabulous photos! Bryce and Kodachrome are two that are still on my list. And, a return to Zion is very possible too. Wonderful post.

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    1. I saw a few plein artists at Zion-- what a way to spend a lovely day! I can't wait to return to Bryce and do the rest of parks along Hwy. 12 including Kodachrome. Just got there a bit too late this season. But simply jaw-dropping gorgeous country!

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  5. Great photos! I love the colors at Bryce, its one of my favorite parks.

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    1. I was there 3 days and only scratched the surface (or the rim I guess I should say). Look forward to exploring it further again someday!

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  6. I've been to Bryce, but it was only a quick stop at noon when the sun wasn't at its best for photos. Your beautiful photography is teaching me how important the right light is, especially when photographing such beautiful scenery. Can't wait for your next post!

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    1. Oh yes, you'll see some of the differences between mid-day sun (when I was hiking), and sunrise (when I was seriously photographing). Lighting really does make the difference!

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  7. For once I'm speechless at the beauty! Who knew? I sure didn't.

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    1. You, speechless? I can not imagine it! Ha ha! But, indeed, Bryce is a very unique place and fully worthy of its national park status!

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  8. Stunning again, love your blog. And shared on fb.

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    1. Thanks Peter. I just noticed your travel blog and added it to my blogroll. I hope to explore Europe more one day and your travelog and photos are great so far. Looking forward to more posts!

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  9. Gorgeous pics of Bryce Canyon. We think it is more impressive than the Grand Canyon. Been there a few years ago.

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  10. Yet another great post. Glad you're loving Bryce. Definitely worth deeper study on a repeat visit. And ... Red Canyon!

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  11. WOW for sure. I have never seen photo's like yours before either. the colors are just well I can't even come up with the right word. Gorgeous doesn't even seem enough.

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  12. Beautiful pictures! Visiting different times of the day gives you so many different views. Never tire of seeing these places.

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