exploring Utah – bryce canyon national park

bryce canyon national park

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After a few days of pretty exhausting exploration, the three of us were pretty relieved to see that the Bryce Canyon itinerary would be significantly lighter. There had been so many people hyping us up on Zion and Moab, but quite honestly, Bryce Canyon was probably the most jaw dropping of the 5 Utah parks that we explored. Covering only 56 square miles, it’s a pretty easy jaunt to the main attraction, the Bryce Amphitheater. There, you have an array of options to hike around to explore the park’s stunningly beautiful hoodoos. We started our walk through Navajo Loop, continued onto the Queen’s Garden and somehow ended up at Inspiration Point. We were in complete awe the entire time and ended up extending our hike the longer it went on. We didn’t want it to end!

…..more below.

cliff notes

hikes. queen’s garden to navajo loop to inspiration point

things to do. visit Old Brycetown and get some ice cream

coulda, shoulda, woulda. come back to the park for primo stargazing. hike fairyland canyon.

tips.

  • get all up in it – it’s great to take a photo at the viewpoint, but until you hike into them you’re not getting the full experience
  • turn around every once in awhile. this is a place that is stunning at every angle don’t miss it by only looking forward.

Learning more about hoodoos, they are a pretty fascinating creation. The drastic change in temperature that Bryce Canyon experiences coupled with the snowmelt that creeps into the cracks of the rock and you get a pretty spectacular example of erosion. The water starts as liquid, but as the temperature turns to freezing, it turns into ice which expands. This process is called frost wedging. To me, frost wedging sounds like what I have to do to my car when I leave it in an uncovered parking spot in a Colorado winter. Anyway, they are the stars of the show and with the stark contrast of the blue sky and sheer amount of them every where we walked, it definitely made me realize how much I had underrated Utah and all of it’s beauty. I really want to come back here and do some of the longer hikes, but for this trip, the past two parks had tired us out.

On our way back to the cabin, we wanted to stop by a souvenir shop and grab some postcards. We stumbled upon Old Brycetown which has a strip of shops and restaurants that were nice to check out after a long day. Yes, it’s probably a tourist trap, but it’s a very cute one. You can take pictures in their jail, eat ice cream and get a fun hat at the gift shop. We popped by really quickly and then drove back to our spot in hopes of getting dinner ready before sunset. Mike and Elka’s house was an amazing AirBNB win. The homeowners had put a lot of TLC into the place and even had one of the wooden beams carved out as an eagle on the outside (favorite part, obvs). We made it just in time to catch the sunset and enjoy a few alcoholic beverages alongside our dinner.

We were wrapping up when Mike came in to check in on us. We had noticed that an amp and a guitar had been setup next to the living room. When Gaston had made the AirBNB reservation, his profile picture was one of him playing the guitar. Mike was very excited to have a musician as a guest and had been looking forward to our visit for a bit! It took him back to a time when he spent hours playing the guitar himself. At first, Jamie, Mike and I spent some time watching Gaston play, but eventually we needed to coerce Mike into participating as well. There was almost a spark that occurred in Mike as he starting playing some of the songs he used to love. As he started one riff, Gaston complemented what he played. It went back and forth for hours and became this incredible moment where you saw two complete strangers share something so dear to their hearts in such a natural way. Though we were from different generations, there was a common bond in music, and specifically this year, it really showed me how important human connection is and how powerful it can be. Over time water eventually seeped past the harder rock that protected a much softer, more erodible stone and that combination created the hoodoos that surrounded us all day. Time will continue to erode what we and future generations see at Bryce, and time will also change the circumstances of our lives as we get older. We may get married, have kids, move a few times, experience death of loved ones, but in this moment I felt incredibly grateful for the silver lining that 2020 was bringing me. This evening was definitely one that reminded me to savor these special moments and have gratitude for the life we have.

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