Thursday, September 29th
**Don’t forget if you click on a picture it will open much larger in a new window.
We planned to leave at 9:00 am this morning to make the 52 mile trek to Bryce Canyon National Park but ended up sleeping until 8:15 am so we didn’t end up making it out the door until closer to 9:30 am.
As we entered the park we showed our America the Beautiful Pass and save ourselves $30 as they only have a 7 day pass and with our pass we got in FREE!
Our first stop was at the Visitor’s Center. We sought out the park stamps and stamped our Passport book and picked up a couple of long-sleeved t-shirts that have all of the National Parks in the area depicted on them (no need to buy one for each park now!).
We watched the 25 minute ‘orientation’ video which was interesting at times but just kinda droned on and on at other times.
We also walked through the small exhibit area and were stopped by a gentleman who asked if we were heading to the Las Vegas rally. I was a bit confused at first until I realized I was advertising being a Heartland Owner by wearing one of my many Heartland rally shirts! Come to find out he’s a Heartland owner on his way to the Vegas rally (we are not, but are going to Vegas) and he’s not part of the Utah rally.
After parting ways with him we rain into Keith & Carol (affectionately known as Santa & Mrs. Claus). They had driven down the canyon road and stopped at a couple of overlooks and could barely seen 6 feet in front of them and decided to turn around and try again another day. We contemplated doing the same but figured we had all day and would see if it cleared up some. Turns out….they should have stuck it out!
There are two campgrounds at Bryce and we decided to take a spin through both. The first, Sunset Campground, was way small…no way could we even think about staying there. The second, North Campground, had some bigger spots we could have probably snuck into but we decided it was still a bit too tight and expensive at $30 per night for no hook ups.
Our first stop for views of the canyon was at Sunset Point – 8000 feet. From the parking lot it looked like we wouldn’t have much of a view because of the fog/low-lying clouds but we ventured out anyway and were pleasantly surprised by all that we could see and the fog kind of made a mysterious back drop. It was gorgeous!
We were able to make out Thor’s Hammer….kind of the parks unofficial mascot…it’s used in a lot of brochures and advertisements for the park. There’s a trail heading down that goes by Thor’s Hammer and there were several people who were walking along the trails.
As we were enjoying the views more fog rolled in and obstructed the views but it was really rather cool to watch it come in…and then just as quickly and quietly…roll back out again.
We decided to eat our lunch in the parking lot before moving on…hoping that the fog would clear up even more. Kelly’s Kitchen had neighbors…on our right was a couple enjoying the same kind of lunch as us and on the left was a small tour van full of people enjoying a box lunch all in the comfort of their own vehicles.
After a leisurely lunch we headed south on the park road and all the amazing overlooks! Some were right off the road, others were a bit of a hike but we stopped at pretty much all of them.
Inspiration Point – 8100 feet. There’s a nice spot to view the canyon pretty much just off the road. BUT…there’s an uphill trek to Upper Inspiration point where the views are even more spectacular…if you’re able…take the trek up…it’s well worth it!
Bryce Point – 8296 feet. Named after, Ebenezer Bryce, one of early Mormon pioneers that settled in the area. Being toward the end of the canyon and at one of the highest altitudes I thought that this was the prettiest view.
Paria Point – 8331 feet. This is off the same road that Bryce Point is on but your view is totally different because you’re on the opposite side of the point. We didn’t stay long as it started to sprinkle a little as we arrived and as we walked down to the furthest point it rained a bit more and as we turned to walk back to the truck it started raining harder and harder until by the time we got to the truck it was coming down pretty good.
Bryce and Paria Point are furthest points that the shuttle bus runs but we wanted to stop at all the views so we drove 15 miles to the end of the road hoping for rain to stop and then stopped at each of the overlooks on the way back.
Rainbow Point – 9115 feet. It was quite foggy and raining pretty good when we go here so it was pretty hard to see anything…although we were still able to see just not as clearly. Yovimpa Point is here too… but with the rain it was too far to walk so we skipped this overlook.
Black Birch Canyon – We decided to skip this stop as it was still raining pretty good and the fog was still fairly dense.
Ponderosa Canyon – 8304 feet.
Aqua Canyon – From here you can see portions of the Grand Staircase of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument…if you know what you’re looking for…and we didn’t!
Natural Bridge – This was the stop I’d looked most forward to and it didn’t disappoint! It’s actually more of an arch, in my opinion, since a bridge usually crosses something….but it was gorgeous nonetheless! Believe it or not were not the only nuts wandering around in the mist!
Farview Point – 8819 feet. At this stop there are two overlooks. Farview is a quite view right off the parking lot but Piracy Point is a short walk and with the rain (and we were getting pretty chilly too!) we chose to skip the walk.
Swamp Canyon – 7998 feet. Our last overlook…another quick stop but enjoyable. The fog had lifted pretty well several overlooks back so the views we awesome.
After leaving the park we headed west on highway 12 looking for Foster’s Family Steakhouse. I had a coupon from Restaurant.com for $25 off of $50 or more that we planned to use for dinner. The building is old and in need of upgrading but not scary dingy. Mikey ordered a New York Strip with french onion soup and baked potato and I had the chuckwagon (hamburger steak) with chicken and rice soup and salad. While the ambiance might have been lacking the food was pretty darn good and we both left satisfied.
To round out our $50 meal we both order a piece of homemade pie to take home. Michael went with cherry pie a la mode and I had a piece of chocolate cream pie.
By the time we left the restaurant and headed further west and then south it had pretty much stopped raining so our drive was a fairly easy one. We continued on through Red Canyon and then headed south on 89 getting home just before 7:00 pm.
Back home we picked some fruit (plums and apples…pears are up too high!), chatted with Jay and Trace for a short while and then headed inside a shower, some TV and planning for tomorrow’s adventure!