Sunrise. Breakfast. Off to Bryce Canyon, the next stop on our National Park Road Trip. The drive between Arches and Bryce Canyon worked out to be about five hours so we broke it up with a stop at Capitol Reef Park.
Along the way, we were amazed at how the landscape was constantly changing. I’m sure Bob got tired of me saying “Wow!” but over every ridge, around every curve, a new vista of colors, stone shapes, trees, grasses, and animals presented itself.
We arrived at Capitol Reef Park and decided we would hike to the Hickman Natural Bridge. I should have checked out the trail a little more carefully. The sign said it was only a mile trek. What it didn’t say was that most of it was on an incline, a steep incline. It was the longest mile I’ve ever hiked. Several places were a little tricky to navigate but eventually we saw the natural bridge. After all the arches in Arches National Park, this was a bit anticlimactic. We took some pictures using the telescopic lens and turned around, deciding we’d had enough and didn’t have to stand under it to feel we’d accomplished our goal.
The walk back was a bit easier but still extremely hot since the trail was all rock and the sun’s heat bounced off the cliff walls. By the time we were back in the car, we could hardly wait for the A/C to cool us down.
A little farther up the road, we found a great little place for lunch called Slackers Burgers. It was a diner straight out of the fifties. We had burgers and fries, of course.
Part of our trip took us through the Dixie National Forest. Stately tall green pines were softened by white barked aspens whose leaves were a brilliant yellow gold. Fall had arrived in these higher altitudes. As you looked across at neighboring mountainsides, you could see patches of golden color interspersed with a touch of orange and of course the deep blue green of the pines. Breathtaking.
Bryce Canyon National Park was bustling with activity when we arrived at the visitor’s center. We picked up the information we wanted and continued on to the Bryce Canyon Lodge, our accommodation for the next two nights. The lodge is a national historic site. Our room was in the Sunrise Unit, a separate building from the lodge. The room was quite comfortable and had a small deck that looked out into a stand of pine trees.
Bryce Canyon is named for Ebenezer Bryce, a converted Mormon who was sent by Brigham Young to settle new areas. He and his wife settled near Tropic and he built a road into the canyon to harvest timber. It became known then as Bryce’s Canyon.
After settling in, we walked up the path in front of our unit and got our first look at the canyon. What a view! It whet our appetite for the planned activities the next day. Meanwhile, we would have dinner in the lodge restaurant and return to the rim to star gaze. A spectacular sight greeted us that night at the rim of the canyon. The night was clear and moonless making the stars appear even brighter and the Milky Way was clearly visible. Just amazing.