Utah loop road trip: Bryce Canyon

Next on our itinerary was Bryce Canyon, about three hours from the Grand Canyon North Rim (and only 1 ¼ hours from Cedar Breaks National Monument or two hours from Zion, had we skipped the Grand Canyon).

On the way to Bryce Canyon with a very minor detour was another recommended stop, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Not surprisingly, we saw exactly what we expected to—sand dunes made of the finest coral pink sand. We stopped long enough to climb up the first dune and across a ridge and take in the rosy vista.

A few miles outside of Bryce Canyon National Park, we checked out a possible boondocking spot. The road was pretty rough and there were only one or two sites that might work, but it was too early in the day to snag one since we need our vehicle to get anywhere. When we arrived at the Bryce Canyon gate, we found out two important bits of information: one, that any vehicle over 20 feet long (ours is 22 without the bike rack) cannot park in any of the four major viewpoints, and two, that there was space available at the campground that was just a short walk away from the visitor center and shuttle stop.

We took a quick loop around the campground and made our decision—we would stay at the campground for at least one night.

After our experience at Zion the first afternoon, we settled Artie quickly, grabbed our pack, switched sandals to runners, and walked over to the visitor center. Much smaller and less organized than Zion’s center, we were still able to gather the information that we needed between the park newspaper given to us at the gate and sandwich boards and interpretive signs around the center. Outside of the visitor center we hopped the shuttle to ride to the farthest and highest viewpoint, Bryce Point, for a bird’s eye view of the canyon and its incredible structures.

Though you can walk between all of the viewpoints, we took the shuttle to the next one, Inspiration Point, and then felt inspired to walk the canyon rim to the two remaining viewpoints, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, gradually descending until we were at eye level with some of the tallest of nature’s sculptures.

As it was closing in on dusk, Sunset Point was, unsurprisingly, getting quite busy.

We finished up at Sunrise Point a few minutes after the last shuttle bus (we think) but we had planned to walk back to our campground in any case. It would have been a much quicker walk if we hadn’t got a little lost. Don’t tell anyone, but we had to tromp a ways off trail to get to the pathway that would lead us to Artie.

Up early the next morning, we grabbed the first shuttle at 8:00 (well, ours might have been the second) and disembarked at the stop across the road from Sunset Point. We had decided to hike the Navajo Loop Trail, which would zigzag us down 500 feet into the canyon and then zigzag us back up a different route.


TripBits

  • Entry to Bryce Canyon: $35 per vehicle or free with Interagency Pass.
  • Camping at North Campground: First come first served at the moment as campgrounds are being upgraded (and closed) on a rotating basis. $30 per night ($20 for tents) with washrooms but no showers or hookups. Dump for a fee (not sure how much as we didn’t use it).

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