We left Phoenix with temperatures in the 80's and '90s and landed in Bryce Canyon, Utah which was a good 50-to-60 degrees cooler. We had snow for many of the ten days we were there, but it didn't prevent us from enjoying Bryce Canyon National Park and its surroundings. There is definitely something to be said for visiting in the offseason.
The park is truly beautiful, with gorgeous orange hoodoos and deep canyons. Only further enhanced by the snow. There are lots of great viewpoints and overlooks as well as moderate trails that allow you to enjoy the canyons from several vantage points. Of course, there are also more advanced backcountry hiking and even snowshoeing, but we didn't attempt any of those.
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Here are my highlights.
Bryce Canyon Viewing Points
Sunset Point is command central for a lot of the activity in the main park. Sunset Point is the first big viewing area to visit. Sunset and Sunrise Points are both accessed from the same parking lot. We did a lot from this area. It gets full fast, I have no idea how they handle the crowds in the summer, but we were usually there by 6 AM for sunrises, so it was never an issue for us.
Despite the name sunset, Mr. Misadventures said the park's orientation lent itself better to sunrise photos so we were up many days at the crack of dawn to capture them. It was freezing. I know I was cold during my January trip to Detroit last year, but I definitely felt I was as cold as I've ever been! (The RV suffered too!)
Labor of Love, Mr. Misadventures' photography. Labor of Love! He was happy with how his shots turned out, that's all that matters! He took a lot of panoramas that are too large for the blog, so please go check them out there, they are gorgeous.
Rainbow Point is the last viewing point at the end of the road that runs through the park. This is a very nice vista and Mr. Misadventures took a lot of photos here although a couple of mornings it was closed due to snowfall.
Hiking in Bryce Canyon
The Rim Trail runs along the rim of the park and allows you to get to the Navajo Loop which starts and ends at Sunset Point. There are other trails that feed into this one. (The famous Wall Street Trail was closed due to weather conditions.)
We hiked from Sunset Point down into the canyon and back up through the Queen's Garden ending at Sunrise Point.
The Queen herself:
The trails are moderate the only really tricky part is the ascent and descent – going up is harder! Little did I know in the photo below that I still had more uphill to complete!
We also hiked the Rim Trail between Sunset Point and Bryce Point in order to see some of the ancient Bristlecone Pine trees. Mr. Misadventures took an amazing shot of one in the Northern Sierras and I've always wanted to see one for myself. These ancient beings grow in high altitude in harsh conditions and are thousands of years old.
There is a little grove along the trail, but the conditions were pretty icy so I did more looking down to watch my footing than I did up to see the trees. The hubby has a couple of more photos of the Bristlecone on his site, one in black and white and a lovely specimen on the edge of the canyon.
There is a bike path that starts on Highway 12 and continues on Highway 63 into the National Park. We had every intention of riding our bikes on this lovely path, it just kept snowing on us! It's a great way to access the path along some amazing canyons and the Sevier River.
Fun for kids (and maybe adults too): along the hiking trails are spots where you can take a photo with a medallion or make a tracing of the medal and return to the Visitor Center for a badge or pin, it was cute.
– Use the toilet in the Sunset Point area before heading out. All the other toilets in the park are pit toilets.
– I know some of you may not be early risers, but you will see more and enjoy the park and trails to yourself if you get there early. By 10:00 everyone is at the park and you are sharing your experiences with a lot more people.
How about you? Have you been to Bryce Canyon National Park? Is it on your park bucket list? Do you like visiting parks in the off-season?
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