Day 9-10: Quick Trip to Bryce National Park

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Sunrise Point at Sunrise — creative, right?

When we were planning the Utah portion of our trip, I made sure to add Bryce National Park to the agenda. I’d seen photos of the park, of course, and I really wanted to see what it looks like in person. Travis originally passed right by it on his planned route from Arches National Park to Great Basin National Park, but I insisted we stop at Bryce for at least one night.

We didn’t start the drive to Bryce until after the mid-day slot canyon tour in Page so we arrived in the area around dinner time. All we had eaten was the free hotel breakfast, so to say we were hungry was a bit of an understatement.

After some initial hotel confusion (why would you have two Best Western Plus’s across the street other?) we found the correct hotel, checked in, then set out on a quest for dinner. Travis wanted a steak, so we drove to the steak restaurant with the best reviews in Bryce – they were closed. He decided everywhere else was sketchy so we eventually ended up at the buffet/steak restaurant at the wrong Best Western. I decided to get the buffet because it looked good enough and it was faster than ordering off the menu. Travis followed suit. I was content with my dinner, but Travis wished he had only eaten the mashed potatoes & gravy and desserts. Oh well.

After the meal we ventured into the park. It was overcast so we didn’t get much afternoon light on any of the hoodoos (Hoodoo! What a fun word!). I may or may not have repeated “hoodoo!” to Travis randomly throughout this excursion and for the majority of the next two days. Hoodoo.

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Bryce View with a Tree Shadow! From Inspiration Point.

There are fourteen scenic overlooks in Bryce National Park. Five of them are within the “Bryce Amphitheater” and the other nine are along a scenic route driving south. As we were strapped for time, we only visited the five points in the Bryce Amphitheater and vowed to visit the rest when we return someday.

For sunset we visited Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point and the aptly named Sunset Point, which is where we eventually watched the non-sunset. The sun sets behind the canyon walls, so you lose light on the hoodoos far before sunset. Due to the weather, we never had much light to begin with, but we hung out at the vistas until official sunset.

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It was overcast, so light was pretty spotty.
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And the official sunset, looking east (west wasn’t much better).

The next morning we rose nice and early to continue our tour of the park. We were exhausted, but figured we could survive a few hours then go take a nap.

We picked Sunrise Point for sunrise (I know, we’re creative in our overlook selections). The sunrise was heavily clouded down at the horizon, but once the sun peeked over it lit up the hoodoos well. Then some interesting fog rolled in over the amphitheater.

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Sunrise at Sunrise Point — the creativity continues!
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Low fog over Sunrise Point.

After chasing fog at Sunrise Point, we checked out Bryce Point and Paria View (both very nice) before heading back to the hotel for free breakfast and take a nap.

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Bryce Point — I kinda wish I’d gone here at sunrise.

Travis called the front desk to see if we could get a late checkout – usually they’ll give you an extra hour, but this time they gave us two! We were ecstatic for the extra two hours for our nap. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but this trip is exhausting. The road trip combined with sunrise/sunsets, plus the fact we change hotels nearly every night does not lend itself well to a good sleep pattern. We take what we can get though, and we were happy for our 4 hour morning “nap.”

Overall, we didn’t see much of Bryce – there are a variety of hikes that take you into the canyon, as well as some other trails around the park. We walked partially down the trails that start at Sunrise and Sunset points, but that’s about it. It was a timing issue more than anything else – we arrived late on our first day because of the slot canyon tour in Page, and we had to leave at a decent time the following day because we were first-come first-serve camping in Great Basin National Park and needed to ensure we got a spot. Plus it’s easier to set up a tent in the daylight.

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Sunrise Point, another view.
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And Sunset Point on our first evening.

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