- Northern California
- Colorado Rockies
- 1 Week in Quebec
- Southeast Coast
- Graduates' XC Trip
- NH Backpacking
- Martha's Vineyard
- Yosemite & Nevada
- Southern Alaska
- Colorado & Utah
- Canadian Maritimes
- Best of Utah
- Southern Loop
- Pacific Northwest
- Midwest & Rockies
- Los Angeles to NYC
- East Coast Trips
- RV Rentals
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Thursday, July 9, 2009 - 6:45pm by Tommy
558 miles and 10 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay
Along with Day 9 came shower number 2.
We left Grand Teton around 6am to start the 10 hour drive to Bryce Canyon. For the 10 hours through Utah we basically didn’t pass another car and the only things we saw were cow’s backsides and street signs with shotgun holes through them.
We did however pass, and then stop, at the Mecca of all outdoors stores: Cabela's. Our planned short pit-stop turned into quite an event. After touring the store’s aquarium and looking through every imaginable section, we went upstairs to discover more sections and a restaurant that we continued to eat lunch at. We ended up buying a couple pair of socks, but it was a good break in the day.
We arrived at Ruby’s Inn (our campground) in the late afternoon and were pleasantly surprised. Not only did campground have free showers (which everyone but John utilized), but they also had an indoor and an outdoor pool with accompanying hot tubs.
I would have to guess that no one there had ever seen five teenagers from New Jersey before, because almost everyone else who was there camping in their Opera Houses (what we have nicknamed RV’s) was just blatantly starring at us while we were hanging around the campsite. It may have also had something to do with the fact that we were the only English speaking people there.
On our way over to the pool, John showed us that there are few things in life better than a good Speedo. Tommy packed this fluorescent orange Speedo that was made to fit what looked like a 12 year old and John wore it over to the pool. And we though people were staring earlier.
Just like the campground we were the only English speaking people at the pool and we struck up a conversation with a kid who looked about our age from France. Tommy was the translator.
After we cooled off we ate at this little place they had at the campground and showered. When we got back to our site the decision was made to not set up the tent. Firstly because, Bryce Canyon is one of the best places in the country to see stars. But more importantly, we were just too lazy to want to set up and then take down our (broken) tent.
So we fell asleep, under the stars, to me giving a wonderful astronomy lesson to the crew. And we all have the amazing science department at Northern Highlands to thank for that.
Tommy slept through the alarm so we ended up sleeping in and not getting up until 8:30.
We ate breakfast, with the same families as the day before still staring at us, and then headed off to our new campground in the Park, Sunset View. On the way in there was a “Take Some, Leave Some” table, so we grabbed a spare gas can for the car and left some Lysol wipes. (Thanks Mrs. Marotta!)
Instead of doing one of the hikes that are planned and mapped for visitors, Tommy figured out a “best of” hike that traversed certain parts of a bunch of different hikes. So we kept switching trails all the way down and back up the Canyon based on which ones offered the best beginning, middle, and end.
After the hike we decided to try and sneak back into the pool that the campground we stayed in the night before offered. We were victorious. After, again, being the only English speaking people at the pool, we tried our luck again at sneaking into the showers. We got the lock combination to the bath house and we all (John included) successfully showered.
We did some more shopping and then John burned the rice for dinner, and we ended up eating pasta.
For the second night, we didn’t want to make the “tent-ball” appear again because we’re lazy, so we slept under the stars again. Unfortunately for the group, I was fresh out of astronomy knowledge from the night before.
Bryce Canyon National Park, which is located in southern Utah, is a geological fairyland, an intricate maze of wondrous shapes and formations. The oddly shaped pinnacles of rock, called hoodoos, display a mysterious blend of colors--warm yellows and oranges, and more dramatic pinks and reds--that provide a continuous show of changing colors with the rising and setting sun.
Like Zion National Park, Bryce is part of the Grand Staircase, which is a series of plateaus formed by the uplifting and tilting of the Colorado Plateau millions of years ago. Bryce occupies part of one of these plateaus of the Grand Staircase called the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce Canyon is not really a canyon at all, but rather a series of amphitheaters cut into the Pink Cliffs of the Paunsaugunt Plateau by millions of years of erosion from flowing streams. The centerpiece of the park is the 6-mile square Bryce Amphitheater with its intricate maze of whimsically-shaped hoodoos.
The rock spires (hoodoos) are the result of erosion in rock layers that vary in hardness. When water flowed through the cracks in these rocks, the softer rock wore away leaving behind the harder, erosion-resistant caps. The ongoing cycle of freezing and thawing continues to dissolve the softer rock, constantly changing the shape of the hoodoos. This continuous erosion is also causing the plateau cliffs to recede at the rate of about one foot every 60 years.
Bryce is much smaller and less intimidating than Zion and the Grand Canyon and much easier to explore. You can stand at the edge of the plateau rim and gaze down into the maze of hoodoos below or descend the trails from the rim and wander around among them. There are several good hiking trails. The Rim Trail runs 5.5 miles along the edge of the canyon, rather than taking you down into it, providing splendid views from above. Another great choice for a hike is the Queen's Garden Trail down into the canyon itself. Or if hiking isn't your thing, you can take the 17-mile scenic drive through the park, stopping at the numerous viewpoints along the way. You can either take your own vehicle or the free shuttle bus.
There are 2 campgrounds in the park. Both of them work on a first-come first-serve basis.
Bryce Canyon National Park location map in "high definition"