Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From Bryce Canyon National Park to Rockville outside Zion

We arose early in Torrey so that we would have plenty of time to get to Bryce Canyon National Park, where I had been told about half a day was really enough to see the basics of the park; then the plan was to drive to our accommodations outside Zion National Park, perhaps with a brief visit to the highly recommended Kodachrome Basin State Park.

Our drive took us through the Dixie National Forest – we could see the green that must be produced over the course of the year by apparent rain clouds that we had seen at Capitol Reef the day before but which almost never, I gather, drop their load in the National Park.  Thereafter we were into the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  I had hoped somehow to be able to spend sometime in this area, and as we drove through the exciting landscape I doubly regretted the schedule I had made for ourselves.

In the end, though, Bryce took much more than half a day.  On our arrival, we decided to walk the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Loop trail.  Here is the “Wall Street” area seen from the rim before we began our hike

Overlooking "Wall Street" in Bryce National Park
and here some fantastic hoodoos seen along the trail

Here is the hoodoo called Queen Victoria, named after a statute that the hoodoo resembles

"Queen Victoria" is on the left

This sign compares the hoodoo to the statue

We paused for a picnic lunch down among some pine trees in the valley below the “Queen’s Garden”, then headed up through the “Wall Street” section, so named because of the very high walls standing close together, like being amidst the tall buildings on narrow streets in New York’s financial district

As we climbed laboriously back to the top of the amphitheatre (strictly speaking, Bryce is not a canyon because there are walls on only one side of the hoodoos), we spotted this thin spire of a hoodoo looking every bit like a Giacometti statute

Before leaving the area, we hiked a short way back into the Navajo Loop to get a closer look at Thor’s Hammer

Thor's Hammer, Bryce National Park
Then we did the scenic drive of Bryce Canyon, heading to Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point at the southernmost end of the park. From there, we could look into Arizona in the southern distance; to the east was the top “stair” of the Grand Staircase

The highest of the Grand Staircase seen from Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

We did not have time to look out at all of the recommended stops along the scenic drive, but some of the hoodoos at Agua Canyon

and the Natural Bridge (more an arch actually), were striking

Finally we got to Bryce Point, where we enjoyed looking at the Silent City (probably Bryce’s most photographed scene)

and the Wall of Windows

To get a better view of both, and to extend our time in this special place, we decided to walk along the rim from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point (along the top of the Wall of Grottos, which has not yet turned into arches or windows)

here is a view of the Wall of Windows from the other side

Along the way, Nancy was glad to spot some pussy toes growing, a familiar plant because she had cultivated them in one of the DC gardens that she tends.  She had, however, never seen them growing in the wild

This walk took quite a bit longer than we had anticipated, and we were due to check in at our bed and breakfast in Rockville, Utah by 9 PM. Still, on the way out of Bryce, we had one last stop at Fairyland Point, where we were surprised to see that the top of the Grand Staircase was so much closer.

By the time we left Bryce, it was nearly 7 PM, but we were confident that we could make our 9 PM deadline.  We could not linger as we passed through the Red Canyon district of Dixie National Forest. which looked to be another interesting place to visit.  The hoodoos and walls here were consistently a particularly intense red, reflecting a high concentration of iron oxides in the sandstone formations.

What we had not counted on was that once we reached Zion itself, where highway 9 goes directly through Zion National Park, the speed limit would go down to 35 mph.  Because the dusk was rapidly approaching, we were less able to appreciate the landscape that loomed above us, even more spectacular than what we had seen before.

Zion National Park along Highway 9 east of the tunnel
Zion National Park along Highway 9 east of the tunnel
After passing these scenes, and catching this sighting of the elusive bighorn sheep -- right by the side of the road! --

we drove through a tunnel over one mile long, with occasional windows to the outside from which the scenery could be glimpsed as we drove by.  Two days later, when the photos above were taken, we had to wait for ten minutes while the tunnel was cleared.  Had that happened on the night of our arrival, we would have missed the check-in deadline. 

Finally, we arrive at our destination, the Amber Inn Bed and Breakfast in Rockville.  We got an enthusiastic welcome, because just as we pulled into the small parking area in back of the house, the flowers in the large datura plant at the edge of the parking area began popping open.  Datura flowers open only once; they quiver a bit, pop open, and immediately large bumblebees that have been waiting for that moment plunge into the flower to collect nectar.  about ten flowers opened, one by one.  By the following day evening the flowers are closed and wilting; but others are ready to open.  Our host is an avid gardener and expressed her full excitement at our ability to join in watching this miracle

Here is a view of the datura open, taken the following morning.

By 9 PM, we were in some danger of the local restaurants closing, so we hurriedly selected a restaurant, turning down our host’s suggestion of Oscar’s as the best restaurant in town.  I was enthusiastic about the cuisine at the restaurant we chose, the Bit & Spur Restaurant and Saloon.  I enjoyed the summer salad, really a possible meal by itself (but the wait person had warned me of that!) and the Bit & Spur ribeye, rubbed with chili and glazed, while Nancy was pleased by the Polenta Stack.  As usual, there was no room for dessert; we headed back to the Amber Inn and fell asleep quickly.  A big day was planned for the morrow.  I was hoping to hike the Narrows!

1 comment:

  1. I really love the amazing views of Bryce Canyon National Park this is the main reason why so may people really love to visit this place.

    Bryce Canyon National Park