We left Zion in the early morning on our way to our second stop in Utah’s grand circle of national parks. Our route took us through Utah’s first scenic road, highway 12, and wow, highway 12 did not disappoint. So much so that Leo kicked me out of the motor home to take a picture of the rig as we drove through one of numerous natural arches along the road, truly spectacular. We noticed a great bicycle path that paralleled our road which we may ride tomorrow if we have time after hiking Bryce Canyon.
Instead of picking an RV park at the entrance to Bryce, we decided to avoid “the hordes” and picked a state park about 20 miles away from the entrance but with Internet reviews of the park that were off the charts, Kodachrome Basin State Park. They only have a few spots large enough to accommodate a rig like ours so we booked way in advance. With a little apprehension, we drove towards the park as our GPS kept leading us into the middle of nowhere, USA! We felt we were going off the edge of the earth, but oh what a magnificent natural wonder awaited us! As we entered the park the ranger gave us some information about the park, a few lines of which I cut and pasted below because they do a much better job of describing the place.
“ Kodachrome Basin is a spectacle of towering sandstones chimneys, changing in color and shadow with the days mood- from red-tinged spires against the blue sky, to soft evening light settling over the desert…..Nearly 70 monolithic spires, ranging from six to 170 feet in height, jut up from the valley floor or protrude from the sandstone. These natural towers stand like stone sentries overlooking the park and create a backdrop that is sure to delight the senses and spark the imagination “
The next day our goal was to spend a full day in Bryce Canyon. The original settler in Bryce was a 17 year old Scotsman named Ebenezer Bryce, who was sent to this region by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to settle the Paria Valley. He and his family chose to live right below what is today known as the Bryce Amphitheater. To Ebenezer Bryce, the place was simply “a hell of place to lose a cow”.
The park is well organized with a hop on and off bus that takes you to different vantage points. We decided to divide our day with a morning “easy” but long (over 3 miles) walk along the rim of the canyon. This trail starts at Bryce Point and winds along the rim with wonderful views of the Canyon and an opportunity to observe the major rock formations. These are divided into three categories Canyon wall or “fins”, windows and hoodoos. I must say the hoodoos are the most interesting. As described by the park, hoodoos are “bulbous spires” which resemble human faces or other figures from nature and from far away, at least to me, they made the Canyon look like a giant blooming onion. I loved this hike, it was long enough but relatively easy and I’m glad this was my first hike of the morning because Leo wasn’t going let me get off that easy.
We took a drive though the park to the furthest point called Rainbow point (almost 10,000 feet elevation) for a little rest and a picnic lunch. This was a lovely 18 mile drive with various vista points along the way, a cool 69 degrees at mid day! and it gave us the inspiration to tackle our afternoon hike.
We drove back and parked at Sunset point which offers the trailhead to the Navajo and Queens Garden loop, this is a 3.2 mile hike straight down to the Canyon floor, where you get to walk through hoodoos, windows, and tunnels. We took the advice of the map guide and walked in a clockwise direction which gave us (me) a fighting chance on this trail. The beginning of the trail is a gentle but straight down, switch back route (which reminded me of the natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns) where the switchbacks take a wicked slant at every turn. I kept thinking that I was not looking forward to walking back up, and Leo kept assuring me that we would connect with another trail and that I had nothing to worry about, he would have been in serious trouble with me if that wasn’t true. Fortunately for him, we connected with the Queens Garden trail that was challenging enough but doable. I would rate this trail as moderate because it’s well groomed, but caution, take lots of water, sun screen and a good hat. We drank 7 bottles of water on these hikes and the temperature was a comfortable 75 degrees, but the sun was merciless.
When you finally do complete the trail you get a sense of accomplishment and it gives you a feeling that you have visited an unique and ancient place where dinosaurs roamed and where Mother Nature has outdone herself in painting one of the most fanciful landscapes I have ever seen.
Tomorrow we’re up bright and early for our drive to Moab, I plan to take a we’ll earned rest and do a little grocery shopping as our supplies are getting down to critical levels. We love sampling the local food marts and restaurants. Moab will be our hottest desert stop yet, but I’m ready for it!