I’m a sucker for sunrises and I figured the sunrise over Bryce Canyon would be spectacular. I wasn’t disappointed. A dozen people or more lined the rim of the canyon as the first rays broke over the cliffs in the distance. I took a few pictures (so I could show the hubby who slept in) and then just enjoyed the view for a few minutes before returning to roust said husband for breakfast.
After breakfast, we decided to drive all the way to the end of Route 63, to Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. The view was terrific and we found the Bristlecone Loop Trail easy enough for our morning walk considering we were at an altitude of over 9100 feet. There were very few people there that early in the morning and we enjoyed most of the mile long walk alone—alone that is except for several mule deer that we startled as they were munching their morning’s breakfast of greens. They quickly moved off a ways and watched us through the bushes. The cute blue eyed squirrel however ran right down to us and practically stared into the camera lens. Like in any other tourist venue, I'm sure he was looking for a handout for posing.
An information plaque told us that the bristlecone pines were unusual trees. A part of them might die off leaving a twisted gray trunk but from that trunk fresh new growth would come regenerating the tree. That explained all the gnarly trunks we saw with fresh green growth surrounding them.
When we returned to the parking lot, the morning caravan of buses were beginning to pull in. Again we patted ourselves on the back for good planning. We had missed the crowds. As we drove back Route 63 we stopped at all the lookouts. It was easier to do this by starting at the end of 63 and coming back toward the lodge. The canyon is east of the road so all the stops were on the right hand side and easy to pull in and out of.
Each viewpoint was different and offered a new perspective of the canyon as well as unusual formations. The hoodoos abounded of course and even a natural bridge was at one stop. Oh, by the way, a hoodoo is a rock pinnacle left standing by the combined forces of weathering and erosion. Bryce Canyon is full of hoodoos.
Probably the most impressive views however were right in front of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. You can’t see the canyon from the rooms because of the stately pine trees and the rim is a little higher than the units where the rooms are. Walking the incline to the edge of the rim though results in a breathtaking expanse of color and texture and amazing structures rising from the canyon floor.
For lunch, we ventured out of the park and into Bryce Canyon City for a sandwich—a Rueben made with pastrami instead of corned beef. Delicious. From there, we went to a trail we wanted to hike that was to take us back to a mossy cave and a waterfall.
The trek to the waterfall and cave were a somewhat easy walk and very pretty. The interesting part was learning that in 1892, the pioneers of the area using primitive tools built a canal in this area to bring essential water to the area. To make the job a little easier, they used some of the more natural waterways like the one we were walking past.
The mossy cave was just that, a cave with a little green moss in it where water was seeping through. To those of us who don’t come from arid places, it wasn’t as spectacular as it would be to someone who knows a little more personally how important the water seeping through could be.
Around dinner time, the clouds that had been forming all afternoon became darker and thicker and soon we were hearing the echoes of thunder in the canyon. A lightening display sent us retreating to our room before the clouds burst.
It rained most of the night and the next morning we woke to a foggy forest but by the time we went to the rim to take a picture of a foggy canyon, the sun and wind had already dispersed most of it.
We packed the car, turned in our keys and began our journey to Zion National Park. Appropriate that we would be in Zion on Sunday.