Sunday, March 17, 2013

Epic Road Trip: Day 17 - Bryce Canyon and driving to Moab

Because I had seen Bryce Canyon before, I didn't originally make it a priority to see it again on this trip. But when we realized it would be impossible for us to drive to Arches and do everything we wanted to do there all in one day, we planned 2 days for our trip there and  figured we might as well stop off at Bryce Canyon along the way. I'm glad we did! Visiting again after 20 years was certainly a different experience from a brief visit with my family when I was 10 years old and not nearly as adventurous or appreciative of the beauty of nature as I am now.

We passed a pretty red rock area along the way, but didn't linger too long since we had lots to see and a 5 hour drive ahead of us.
You can certainly hike in Bryce Canyon, but you can already see a ton from the many driving lookouts, so we didn't think it would be worth our time to plan on doing any hiking.

The first driving viewpoints in Bryce Canyon are those which overlook the Bryce Amphitheater - Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce Points. During busy times of day in the summer, you are not allowed to park at any of the first three viewpoints and can only access the area through shuttle bus. The other viewpoints can only be accessed by car. We decided to do those first and work our way backwards. Here we are at Rainbow and Yovimpa Points.

Below are Agua, Ponderosa, and Black Birch Canyons.
And Bryce Canyon's own arch - Natural Bridge.

Up until now we'd had gloriously sunny skies, but by the time we made it to Bryce Point, you could tell a serious storm was on its way. We were especially happy not to have hiked that day since the rain did come and it came hard. It was the kind of storm that causes flash flooding. Those poor people down in the amphitheater...

I liked the lighter red rock of Bryce Point.

Since the storm was coming, less people were coming into the park by the time we got back to the big three lookouts. They removed the barricades blocking cars from entering, so we were able to drive into Sunset Point before the storm hit. You can see the ominous clouds in the picture I'm in below. We got a couple of pictures and then bolted back to the car in the pouring rain. We managed to time our trip perfectly and make the correct choice about how to see the park and not to take the shuttle bus. I felt so bad for people huddled at the shuttle stops waiting for the the bus to pick them up.

I have to admit the next part of our drive was a bit hard on me. After our difficult sleeping arrangements in Zion National Park, I was dying to visit our families and be in a house with air conditioning. The drive north to Salt Lake would have been considerably shorter than the drive east to Moab, and I found myself wishing we were headed north where I could relax and rest after our "always on the go" vacationing. Plus it was July 24th, which is a Utah holiday, and for whatever reason Moab wasn't having any fireworks that evening. It's one of the few times in my life I've ever longed to relax rather than continue adventuring. 

Fortunately there were several pretty viewpoints along our drive.
And finally we arrived at our KOA in Moab. I wasn't looking forward to another night of hot camping, but fortunately the evening temperatures in Moab were a good deal lower than they were in Zion.


  1. I am happy I found this blog! I just got set up with a Bryce Canyon tour during this upcoming summer with my family. I've never been there but after seeing these pictures and reading about Bryce Canyon I think we are all in for a very special treat!