Bryce Canyon is my favorite National Park. I know I always say that each park site has its own beauty. I still feel that way, but Bryce is the absolute perfect blend of everything I want in a National Park. Its beauty is incomparable and it is very accessible compared to other parks. You can easily hike to the bottom of the canyon and back out in a day. New sights await around every curve. The trails aren’t super steep so I can push my vertigo-challenged self to explore. The crowds are manageable and spread out. And, because of the altitude, Bryce is never painfully hot. Consequently, it should be no surprise that Tom and I returned to Bryce to get some rim shots.
We got some of our rim shots when we hiked below the rim to Tower Bridge. This is part of the Fairyland Loop but, instead of doing the whole loop (8 miles), we only did an out and back on part of the loop (3 miles). The hike down, of course, was easy and the views were spectacular. We saw the Chinese Wall and lots of bristlecone pine trees. Although there were plenty of people on the trail, we were all spread out. We met one family having a picnic under a tree at a curve on the trail.
Our destination was Tower Bridge, which is cool but not the most spectacular formation in the park. Once we got down to the bottom I took time to eat a sandwich and drink lots of fluids. Then we started the hike back up. We hiked up and up and up. Actually, it didn’t feel that bad. I could tell we weren’t used to the altitude (8,000 feet) and we did lots of huffing and puffing. By the time we reached the rim (800 feet above us), I was ready to be done.
Tom, of course, still had plenty of energy. He wanted to hike the Rim Trail. I compromised by agreeing to go to the General Store, about a mile away, if we could take the shuttle bus back to the parking lot. At the General Store we had something to drink and ate our lunch. After a rest, I was willing to walk back to the truck.
Instead of leaving Bryce, however, we decided to drive to the end of it and visit the multitude of overlooks for more rim shots. We parked at Rainbow Point and hiked to Yovimpa Point. Then we walked the Bristlecone Pine Trail to an overlook of the entire Grand Staircase – spectacular! After that, we stopped at most of the overlooks on the way back to the entrance: Black Birch Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, Aqua Canyon, Natural Bridge, Farview Point, and Piracy Point.
Paria View and Bryce Point, were the most spectacular rim shots. Paria Point looks over the Grand Staircase and Bryce Point looks over the Bryce Amphitheater with its famous hoodoos and formations. Bryce Amphitheater was very crowded with everyone getting selfies. For the most part, people moved out of the way as soon as they got their shot. And there are plenty of places from which to view the amphitheater. But it is hard to stop and enjoy the view when you are constantly being jostled. Our final stop for a few last rim shots was Fairyland Point, at the other end of the park.
By the time we left Bryce Canyon I had 24,000 steps for the day – the equivalent of 12 miles of hiking. I was so tired I didn’t want to move out of the truck. But after some supper, I felt so much better that I realized I just hadn’t had enough fuel for the day. Something to remember for the future.