Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Final Month at Bryce

My final month at Bryce Canyon National Park (September) was a flurry of new job experiences and a wild ride of unpredictable weather as well.

It had been a lifelong dream of mine to work at a National Park, and my job as a Volunteer Interpretive Ranger fulfilled that dream to its fullest.  My daily duties included working a few hours at the Visitor Center Information Desk, a few hours of project/program time (researching and/or presenting ranger programs), and "roving" out in the park (walking trails like these and assisting visitors).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Visiting Iconic Horseshoes & Cathedrals

As the calendar flipped into September, I suddenly realized that I only had a few weeks in southern Utah...and I'd not yet visited any of the surrounding iconic places that I'd vowed to see before leaving.  Time for some quick road trips!

My first trip was an overnight tent camping trip up to Capitol Reef National Park, three hours northeast of Bryce along the stunningly gorgeous Utah Highway 12.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Having a National Park All to Yourself

Attendance at national parks for its 2016 centennial year is up and well on-track to break last year's record of over 307 million (Update: It did!).  Around 2 million of those people are visiting Bryce this year, most of them in the warmer summer months.

What does that kind of visitation look like for a tiny park with a single access road?  Well, this is not an uncommon summertime sight at the start of the ultra-popular Navajo trail.

Is it ever possible to have a trail such as this to one's self?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Bryce's Fairyland Loop

Each ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park has their own slightly different rankings of hiking recommendations to offer visitors when they approach the information desk.  Some love to recommend the less popular hikes first (in hopes visitors will spread out a bit more), while others stick with the tried and true "Queen's/Navajo Combination," noted in the brochure as the park's most popular hike.

I always tried to listen first to what the visitor's fitness level and interests were before prioritizing a list.  If someone was only in the park for the day, and had adequate boots and fitness level, I'd recommend starting with the Queen's/Navajo 3-mile loop, and combining it with Peek-a-Boo for the very best hiking views in the park.

But if someone had multiple days, or was looking for a more solitary, intimate experience within the park, there was never a question as to the hike I'd recommend next... the 8-mile Fairyland Loop trail.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bryce's Peek-a-Boo Trail

Working the Visitor Center at Bryce Canyon National Park was far different than at Bosque del Apache NWR.  At Bosque, I'd interact with less than 100 people per day, each often asking very unique questions (i.e. showing me their camera LCD and asking "what is this bird/plant/reptile?").

At Bryce, the line of visitors waiting to speak with us at the Info Desk was often long and continuous.  No matter how hard (or how many different ways) we tried, we could never seem to meet the demand of Bryce's exploding visitation (now about 2 million a year).  Exasperatingly, the question from all these visitors was almost always the same:  "what's the best hike?"

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