Monday, October 5, 2015

Good Bye to Bryce

Of the southern Utah Parks, this has been my favorite stop so far. 

I mean, come on … !

I've heard from many folks who say this is their favorite National Park.  It's hard to imagine otherwise, but I have yet to visit Zion.

What a great boondock site here in the Dixie National Forest - a quiet, cozy haven exactly ½ mile from the entrance to the Park (and the crowds).

On work days, I've enjoyed this lovely office in the lobby of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. With delicious grilled cheeseburgers right around the corner. Believe me, in every way, a vast improvement over my old brick and mortar office! 

 On my last afternoon, I hike the Upper Rim Trail from Bryce Point ...

... to Inspiration Point.

As expected, the trail travels along the canyon's rim in this southern part of the Park.  Some of the footpath weaves through the edge of the forest,

 but majestic views are always just a few steps away.

The trail ends with a great view of the grottos behind me.

The next morning, I say goodbye to my deer neighbors (7 stop by for a morning graze, just feet from the GDB) and also to Fairlyland Canyon. 

Indulge me with a few more photos of this bewitching place.

Shipwreck Rock

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rim Shots

Scenic Drive Along the Rim

For some 17 miles one-way along the Bryce Canyon rim, every view is magic.  Bonus: the temperature is in the mid-60s!  The GDB purrs like a kitten along the road, climbing to 9,100 feet – the highest elevation in the park.  

For such a complex landscape, the geology of Bryce is pretty simple: once underwater, then lifted from sea level to over 8,000 feet, then eroded. 

We are in the Aspen-Fir-and-Douglas Pine-territory. But it’s hard to see the forest for the hoo-doos!  

The rock formations chew the scenery, yet the forest is a wonder of its own. 

I stop at all the viewpoints save Inspiration Point.  I have plans to hike there later.

Natural Bridge is the jewel in this crown. 

Bryce is a popular Park so, naturally, crowds are everywhere.  Today, I’m mostly lucky with some solitude until I reach Bryce Point, just as the Park shuttle disgorges its contents. 

Fairyland Canyon

Later I hike the rim trail along mindblowing Fairyland Canyon. 

This canyon is smaller and more intimate than the others and much less crowded as it is situated outside the Park entrance gates.

The light is perfect for an early evening hike along its rim. 

My photos in no way do Fairyland Canyon justice. 

 Yep, Mother Nature gets her freak on here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park

Leaving Capitol Reef, I set a course for Bryce Canyon National Park along Utah’s Scenic Highway 12.  The drive was so very scenic but the constant change in elevation and frequent hairpin curves kept me on my toes. Not to mention the open-range livestock.

At 9,500 feet, it was so exciting to finally find welcoming AUTUMN!

I find a lovely boondock in the Dixie National Forest, less than a mile from the Park entrance. Though getting a rig larger than mine back here would be impossible.  So, it’s just me and the deer among the pines.

Long just breathtaking images in some coffee table book, I can hardly believe I’m here.  

I’m eager to hike and explore this wonderland up-close.  Before hitting the trail, I stand on the rim at Sunrise Point and gawk. 

With 200 days of ice and rain annually, the features that define Bryce - the hoo-doos - are formed by the relentless thawing and freezing of ice that pushes the sandstone rocks apart. 

My first hike is the combination of Queen’s Garden and the Navaho Loop through the Bryce Amphitheater.  Waaaay down there. 

The trail begins near the notable figure of Thor’s Hammer (center). 

With every step, in every direction, the scene is like some rocky Wonderland.  

It’s hard to stop taking photos. (I realize my selfies need more work).

Thinking it can’t get any better, I enter the Navaho Loop.

A main feature of this area is the Wall Street formation.

Soon after, the trail enters a slot canyon. I'm reminded that I have a colonoscopy scheduled in December. 

Lastly, to exit the canyon, there is a heinously steep climb with a series of switchbacks.

The trail ends at Sunrise Point.

What an memorable introduction to Bryce NP! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Capitol Reef National Park

Yet another of Southern Utah's geological wonders. 

On the road from Moab, you traverse remote and mostly desolate Highway 24. Until, that is, you enter the Park. The drive suddenly takes on a jaw-dropping aspect.

Eponymous Capitol Dome

and impressive Chimney Rock.

I did some hiking within the Park but the intense heat, in the high-80s, greatly diminished the enjoyment.  On the Fremont River Trail, I simply turned back after finally admitting to myself I wasn’t enjoying all that sweating. 

One of the remarkable features of this semi-arid region is the oasis known as the Fruita District. It’s one of Nature’s ironies that a desert environment is so dominated by water.

How odd to find these lush orchards covered with fruit, ripe for the picking. 

The Fremont River provides irrigation for agriculture – a fact that many Mormon farmers duly noted as they settled the area.   

Fresh fruit pies are available at the historic Gifford House.

Mine was mixed berry. ;-)  Sorry no photos; it all happened so fast!

I particularly liked my boondocking spot about 8 miles outside the park. I was in ideal position to view Sunday's spectacular lunar eclipse.

It wasn't until I was going through the photos that I realized there were people on this far ridge, also observing.

If not for the heat, I would have stayed longer.  Instead, I opted for the altitude of Bryce Canyon National Park.  It was the right decision.