Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon. A magical land full of hoodoos.

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Although we have lived in Utah for nearly 4 years, until this Labor Day we had still not made it down to one of Utah’s most fantastical wonderlands.  Unfortunately, we only had three days to explore TWO National Parks.  We had decided to spend one long day hiking through Bryce Canyon and to see as much as we could.

So what do you do when you only have a day to explore a vast expanse of land with secret twists and turns?  DO THE FOLLOWING HIKE:  (Trust me here)

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THE DETAILS: There is a loop through Bryce Canyon that is basically a giant figure eight that takes you on snippets of the park’s top hikes. The loop is 6.5 miles long and makes for a long day because it is all hills- steep long up hills and steep, narrow switchback downhills. But it is amazing, and definitely your best use of time.  When you look it up online it is referred to as the PEEKABOO/QUEEN’S GARDEN LOOP.  It is appropriately categorized as strenuous and takes some attention to detail, as it crosses over several other trails throughout the hike.

BryceCanyonNtlPark_006You start at Sunset Point Trailhead, 1.5 miles south of the Visitor’s Center.  The hike begins with tons of switchbacks going down and immediately puts you into a cold canyon at the base of towering hoodoos.  They really don’t waste any time getting you into the thick of things.BryceCanyonNtlPark_004As you spend the next few hours going up and down the sandy hills you are just in awe of what is happening around you.  The spires seem to kiss the sky and there’s not just a few of them… there are thousands.  The trail guide we used referred to this area as a “fantasyland of pinnacles and spires” and that couldn’t be more accurate.  After being on the Navajo Trail for a little while, you take the trail to the right to Peekaboo Loop and the view just keeps getting better!  You will pass the “Wall of Windows”on your left which looks exactly like you would expect, a fabulous wall of conjoined spires with little window cutouts.

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BryceCanyonNtlPark_051You follow the loop for miles and eventually descend down into what is called “The Queen’s Garden.”  It is called this because some weirdo thought that one of the spires looked like Queen Victoria.  We stared at the “Queen Victoria” spire and the plaque showing us the statue it apparently resembles… and think that guy was on crack. But so be it. Queen’s Garden is a great place to hike, especially if you have a family with you or aren’t an avid hiker.  For the young or the not as able, this is the easy part of the hike that CAN be accessed without doing all the difficult sections.  You don’t get the same viewpoints and rewards as doing the longer loop, of course, but you get a nice cross section of what the whole hike was like.  After finishing up the Queen’s Garden section you end at Sunrise Point and hoof it back to your car at Sunset Point.  This hike took us from about 8am-3pm with snack and photo breaks along the way.  We absolutely loved it.  Here’s some more photos and then more details about the town of Bryce itself:

BryceCanyonNtlPark_022BryceCanyonNtlPark_064BryceCanyonNtlPark_007BryceCanyonNtlPark_062Usually after a day in a National Park, Brad and I like to clean up and then check out the art galleries, souvenir shops, and local restaurants in the inevitably small town where the park is located.  Bryce is a whole different story. It is so absolutely minuscule that there are literally a handful of restaurants and a couple cheap motels in the entire town.  It’s ok though- we were there for the park, not some big city to roam around.   There is one touristy little strip called “Old Towne Bryce” located right outside of the park that is really just one long gift shop made up to look like a bunch of old timey storefronts.  It’s worth about five minutes to check out the cute theme and buy a postcard for your postcard album (yes, we have one.)  Brad does love rock shops though, so we were stuck in there for a bit.

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As far as “where to stay…” We stayed in this little crappy, crappy motel I can’t even remember the nameof. There are literally like 2-3 in the whole town.  Most people we know in Utah just camp while they are down in Bryce but we didn’t feel like hauling all our camping gear that particular weekend, so we booked this little motel.  It was enough for our purpose, a place to crash before hitting Captiol Reef the next day, but nothing “nice” to talk about.  Next time, we will camp.  Here’s a funny ELF-like photo to make you smile though.

Shoot us any questions/feedback/love in the comments!

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