It is in southern Utah near the Zion parks and the northern are of the Colorado Canyon. Its name comes from the Mormon Pioneer Ebenezer Bryce and although his name appears to indicate that it is a canyon, it is in fact a huge natural amphitheater created by erosion. Although the park has a road of almost 30 kilometers, most people only do two visits:
- From Sunset Point to Bryce Point, along the Amphitheatre (both on foot and by car).
- Navajo Loop Trail, walking through the geological formation, hoodoos.
Here you can find are several hoodoos and pinnacles resulting from changes in temperature, as there are about 200 days of harsh winter. At this point, the Bryce canyon is very beautiful at sunrise. A tour of the Queen's garden path takes you to Navajo's trail and from there, you can go up to Sunset Point. Perhaps doing it the other way round might be easier. There is a trail from the latter to Bryce Point, but it is very long, only done during the summer and you can take a shuttle from Bryce Point to go back or vice versa. When we were there in the year 93 at this point we found a friendly deer at the canyon. I do not know if it was there at sunset. Last year I was there during the morning and the only animals that we saw were squirrels. We didn´t see anything else.
At Sunset Point the descent begins. The path of the Navajo Trail is winding and steep, zigzagging like Lombard Street in San Francisco, but it's the easiest way to lower the canyon. Down among the red rocks is where you really start experience the canyon. Once down, the landscape changes, there are trees and small caves. Always follow the signs not to deviate from the Navajo Trail. The Navajo Trail ends linking with Queen Victoria's Garden Trail and there you can go back or continue east to sunrise sunrise point. There is a trail from the latter to Bryce Point, but it's very long, and can only be done in summer. You can take a shuttle to or from Bryce Point.
If you drive past the parking sunrise Sunset Point, you come across Bryce Point. Once you leave the vehicle you have to walk a short distance, and you enter a sort of ship´s bow, a dip in the canyon, which offers a view of over 180 º. It offers one of the best views of Bryce Canyon. If you walk a little to the left there is a trail that goes around the basin and takes you away from the busy gazebo. However, as we arrived early, there was nobody there.
This road is Highway 12 (Utah). It's a National Scenic Byway, that is to say, a road recognised by the Department of Transportation of the United States for its archaeological, cultural or historical significance. Look out for the signs that say All-American Roads if you want to take one of these roads.
Highway 12 is considered one of the top ten most beautiful roads in the United States, and has been designated as an all American Road since 2002. It was really a long trip (200km), but it was so beautiful. We passed through Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon, Escalante National Park, Dixie National Forest and Capitol Reef. Along the way, the landscape changes abruptly to make way for the Escalante National Monument, a series of plateaus, cliffs, gorges, canyons and arches that rise from the Grand Canyon to reach Bryce and Canyonland. It's a natural formation, formed by the waters of the Escalante River (named after a Spanish explorer).
Then comes the Head of the Rocks. What we see today as a rock desert was a sea or perhaps a lake millions of years ago. It's hard to believe now, but the proof has been shown by the number of fossils of fish, sharks and dinosaurs, found in this area. Fossil hunting is permitted in the area, but you cannot take any home with you. Once Anasazi and Fremont Indians roamed these lands, and it was one of the last places in the entire country to be explored. It can only be entered by a few scattered 4x4 dirt tracks, so it really seems wild and very far from civilization.
One amazing thing is when you look down over the Escalante River Valley from 2000 meters of altitude. Stunning views! And shortly afterwards, you'll rise up to 3000 meters for the mountains of Boulder, Dixie National Forest, before reaching Torrey. During our journey, this area was stunning, completely covered with snow. Be careful if you want to stay here, and be sure to ask the park rangers, as the area is often isolated in bad weather, and you could find yourself stranded in the snow. Finally, we reached Capitol Reef, marking the end of this truly amazing drive.
Located just in front of our hotel, the Ruby's Inn, the old town of Bryce Canyon is a real tourist attraction. It is indeed a reconstruction of a typical village of the great American West in the Wild West days of cowboys and indians. Of course, it's quite jarring in the modern environment, but we liked the reconstruction, the houses made of wooden planks, the sheriff's office, jail, and all in all the very typical western atmosphere! The kids will love it!
With a rock that is shaped like an Indian's head, this is one of the most visited viewpoints in Bryce Canyon National Park. Nearby is a rabbit-shaped rock, so this one is often called the rabbit hunter.
On our first day at Bryce Canyon, we saw some people riding horses in the heart of the canyon, so we decided to do the same the next day. We headed to the ranch and booked our tickets for the 2-hour ride. Be aware that the cowboys have pretty thick accents, and can be hard to understand!
The next morning we arrived and waited for the cowboys! They told us some simple rules and we were called, group by group. The guy gave us each a name of the horse or mule that we'd be riding. Some cowboys were friendlier than others, but good. My family and I, along with another French family (what a coincidence!) were shown around by Ty, a young cowboy. He gave us the tour and told us about the canyon and its vegetation. It was very funny, and he even said: "If your horse gets too close to the edge, close your eyes and hope everything goes well". One funny thing about the ride was that Ty always addressed us by the names of our horses. It was a great experience, allowing us to discover Bryce Canyon from a different angle!
Adjacent to the beautiful Ruby's Inn, in the "city" (if you could call it that) of Bryce, just before the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park, Ruby's General Store is a huge shop that deserves a bit of attention. In this desert region, it's a pleasure to find a store so well-stocked, with a wide range of souvenirs, food (everything you need for a picnic while hiking in the region), and a huge selection of products for outdoor activities like camping and hiking, including the warm clothing you'll need in the Bryce winter! A great place where you can easily stay at least an hour.
When you travel the roads of the American West, you're constantly struck by the sheer size of the surrounding area, with its' incredible scenery, whether desert or mountain. On the road to beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, we go into the green mountains. The pink-orange mountains of Bryce Canyon astound us with their beauty, and we are very, very anxious to reach the site. The closer we go, the soil becomes red, and the mountains twist into spectacular shapes.
This viewpoint is named after the species of pine that fills the valleys of this spectacular national park. It isn't the only place where you can see these trees, but you can find a beautiful view of the green valleys, the orange rocks and, when we visited in May, the last of the snow.
From this viewpoint you can enjoy stunning views across the national park. In fact, at nearly 2,800 meters, it is the highest point in the park. In addition to just admiring the stunning valley, you can try a couple of treks here. One is very simple, just over 1 km, so it can be done without too much effort.