As the saying goes…”The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That being said, before I left Maui I had intended to drive to Bryce Canyon National Park to catch a sunrise from the aptly named Sunrise Point. After yesterday’s adventure my intentions changed.
Not wanting to begin my day three hours before sunrise, I slept until six-ish and hit the road around seven. It only took an hour to get up to Cedar City, my destination for the night, so I attempted to check in extremely early. The room I was assigned hadn’t even checked our yet, so I decided to take my time heading to Bryce Canyon NP.
Bryce Canyon, as with most National Parks in the Southwest United States has amazing geological features and broad vistas to be marveled at. The pink and red sandstone hoodoos are architecturally astounding and the canyons run deep and wide.
Bryce Canyon NP has one road that brings you into the park and when you get to the end of the 18 mile road, you simply turn around and go back out the way you came in. It reminded me of the same setup found at Arches NP in Moab. Just like when I drive the Road to Hana back on Maui, I drove all the way to the end of the road first, then worked my way back towards the beginning. I don’t have to play leapfrog with the same group of tourists and if I get tired I can always skip something and head home.
Bryce Canyon offers a lot of hikes, but they all seemed a bit too intense for my current level of walking ability. Most go down into the canyon to get a closer look at the hoodoos and towering canyon walls. Since I did not hike as strenuously as I did yesterday in Zion NP, I was able to explore all the park’s vistas or lookout points.
In between the lookouts I kept a weathered eye out for wildlife. I have this new fancy lens for my camera and I have been itching to shoot some wildlife with it (the lens was purchased specifically for this trip to Yellowstone NP). My vigilance paid off today! I was able to snap a few shots of a lone pronghorn, families of mule deer and even a den of prairie dogs (a personal favorite of mine). Taking pictures of wild animals in their environment is such a special experience for me. It makes the journey well worth it if you can get one or two good shots without disrupting their lives. Today’s wildlife success made me that much more excited for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NP next week.
As I was driving from lookout to lookout, I began to see some dark clouds rolling across the sky. As you walk to the vistas the park has big signs that say, “when there is lightning, remain in your car.” The first sign of lightning, me and my metal lighting rod of a crutch hobbled back to the rental car at a brisk pace. Once inside the car, the sky opened up and a downpour ensued.
The visitors to Bryce Canyon were much less disciplined than at Zion NP. They were walking all over areas that were blocked off, or a few were climbing over fences to get closer to the edge of the canyon. Is it wrong of me to want people like this to go over the edge? I don’t need them to die, but a serious injury might be a good deterrent for the rest of the sheep that follow the head lemming.
The rain was relentless for a good 30 minutes, then drizzled the rest of my time in the park. I had intended to stay and watch the sunset from, again aptly named, Sunset Point, but the clouds changed my intentions for me.
I drove back to Cedar City in a torrential downpour and warmed myself up with a home-cooked meal from the good people at the All American Classic Diner on Main Street. I went with the server’s recommendation of pork chops, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and applesauce. It was a very good dinner and a nice end to my adventure today.
Tomorrow I am heading to Ogden, Utah and Sunday I will arrive in Jackson, Wyoming…gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. I’m excited.