Friday, October 2, 2009

Thurs, Oct 1: Bryce Canyon National Park

It is 21 degrees when we wake up...Brrrrr. It is a bright sunny day with a bluebird sky. Even so, it does not get to 32 degrees until about 10AM.

Around mid-morning we head back to Hwy 89 and then south to Hwy 9, the highway that goes through Zion National Park. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the east park gate.

There are limitations on the size of rig that can enter the park. There is a spiral tunnel that is only 13 feet at the center and slopes down to 11feet. So if a rig is over 11 feet they have to pay an extra fee and then traffic is stopped so the rig can go through, exactly in the! When we get to the tunnel traffic is backed up both ways because of the rigs needing to have the road one way. Coming out later in the afternoon there are no rigs needing to use the tunnel so we breeze right through.

It is a beautiful drive to the tunnel.We are basically high on the plateau looking both up and down at formations caused by erosion.Once through the tunnel we drop quickly on a snake of a road to the canyon floor. It is a pretty spectacular descent! It is very crowded today, we have to go out the south gate and park on Hwy 9 walk back to get to the Visitors Center.

When we were here 28 years ago, we drove our motor home into the actual canyon on the scenic Zion Canyon Road, but that road has been closed to private cars since 2000 due to the traffic jams; especially in the summer. We have to ride in on the park shuttle bus. The bus is free and runs very often so it is not a bad deal. The scenic Zion Canyon Road follows the Virgin River up the canyon until the canyon becomes too narrow for a road. The bus makes seven stops and takes about 45 minutes to get to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava.

We hop on a waiting bus and ride to the end. At this point we are in a big bowl shaped area with the river winding though it. We get off the bus and walk the trail a short distance. This trail leads to the narrows after about a mile and a half, where you have to actually walk in the river to go farther.

We are not prepared to hike, so we turn back and walk down by the river until we get back to the bus stop and board the waiting bus. On the way in, we decided to get off at stops for the Big Bend, the Lodge and the Court of the Patriarchs on the way out. The Big Bend has a nice view of tall walls of the canyon and is the starting point for a climb to the top. They say that it is some view from there!

Big Bend is a bend in the river with very nice canyon walls.We can see people walking on the trails at the top of the canyon.

We stop at the Lodge just to get some information.

This is a great park and there is really a lot to do. We think we will come back next October, stay in the lodge and do a few of the easier hikes.

The Court of the Patriarchs is very pretty too. It is our last stop. There is a short walk up to a viewing platform for a nice look at four peaks Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Mount Moroni.I guess we spend about three pleasant hours in the parkplus the drive down and back to Bryce. We get back to Bryce about 5PM and head to Sunset Point. This is a great view. There are hundreds of Hoodoos in somewhat of a semi circular canyon. With the sun so low in the sky, they glow like they are on fire!If you look at the Hoodoos closely you can imagine castles, temples and all sorts of things. The big picture looks like an amphitheater full of people.We still want to see the Visitors Center’s movie and Sunrise Point, but will do that in the morning before we leave. We go back to the rig and fix Mexican food for tonight plus fix some main dishes to heat up for meals as we travel the last stretch to Texas.

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