September 2016 – Bryce Canyon National Park knocked our socks off at the main overlooks of Inspiration Point and the Rim Trail, where we shared our awe with thousands of other visitors. But a foray out onto the Fairyland Trail from Fairyland Point gave us a wonderful feeling of solitude and peace.
Driving into Bryce Canyon National Park, Fairyland Trail is the very first left-hand turn-off, and it comes up quickly, right after the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance sign and before the fee station.
During our visit, one of the reasons this trail may have been so little visited is that there was no sign at the turn-off for people driving into the Park!! We zipped right by it on our first drive in.
We first visited the Fairyland Trail in the wee hours of the night to do some star gazing. It was an incredible experience that was both eerie and awe-inspiring.
After navigating the trail with flashlights in the pitch dark, it was quite an eye-opener to hike the Fairyland Trail by day and see what it actually looked like, minus the stars!
After a few twists and turns, the views opened up with rows of hoodoos close at hand and cliffs in the distance.
The far south end of Bryce Canyon at Rainbow Point is home to a collection of ancient Bristlecone Pines. However, a few of these gnarly trees reach out over the Fairyland Trail too!
We started our hike shortly after sunrise, and we were utterly alone on the trail for the first two hours.
We are slow hikers these days, because our cameras are very demanding, and they insist that we stop every few feet to take yet another photo! But we gradually passed through both wooded areas and beautiful open areas too.
As we got deeper into the canyon, the pinnacles rose higher.
The red rocks are mostly a burnt orange kind of hue, but in certain places we found a rainbow of sandstone colors.
Finally we came across some other hikers on the trail. They were coming from the other trail head for Fairyland Trail near the center of Bryce Canyon and had been enjoying total solitude on their hike as well.
The Fairyland Trail is an 8 mile loop with one trail head near Sunrise Point and North Campground in the heart of Bryce Canyon’s visitor area and the other trail head, where we started, by the Park entrance.
After following the Fairyland Trail through the canyon, you can return to your starting point by hiking on the Rim trail from one trail head to the other.
Or, in the summertime when the free shuttle bus is running, you can leave your car (if you drive into the Park) at one trail head, hike the loop to the other trail head, and then catch the shuttle back to your parked car and skip hiking the Rim Trail portion.
One of the things we found really intriguing on our hike was all the dead and denuded ponderosa pine trees. Each one had a fascinating twisted wood grain like a candy cane that was clearly visible without the bark on the tree.
It made me wonder if, when they were alive and growing, the trees loved their surroundings so much that they continually turned around and around so they could take in the views in every direction!
Hikers we met on the trail told us a tour guide had explained to them that Ponderosa pines spiral spontaneously and instantly when they are hit by lightning!
This sounded a little far-fetched to me, so I poked around online and discovered that the current theory of why the ponderosa pines have a twisting wood grain is actually because it helps distribute water across the full breadth of the tree. By spiraling as they grow, each root can supply water to the entire tree. If one root dies, the impact on the health of the tree is minimized.
In addition, the angle of the spiraling turn of the wood grain is such that the tree can be as supple as possible and bend without breaking as it withstands high winds and heavy snow.
If you enjoy mathematics and mechanics, here is an interesting paper from the University of Utah that explains the theory in lots of detail: Why Grain in Trees’ Trunks Spirals
Along with the twisted wood grain in the dead ponderosas, we were equally fascinated to find some Abstract Art on another tree trunk where some worms or bark beetles had etched an elaborate pattern.
As we hiked and the sun rose higher, the red rock formations began to take on an ethereal glow.
We got down to the base level of the hoodoos, and the pinnacles soared to immense heights.
Even though we had completed a good portion of the Fairyland Trail loop hike, we decided to turn around and retrace our steps. On our return trip, all of the views we had enjoyed all morning had a slightly different look now that we were in the light of midday.
If you plan to take your RV to Bryce Canyon National Park and you have time to do some of the less visited hikes, Fairyland Trail is really rewarding, and early in the morning you will have the trail to yourself!
There are links for planning an RV trip to Bryce Canyon below.
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More info about Bryce Canyon National Park:
- Bryce Canyon National Park Official Website – National Park Service Website
- Maps of Bryce Canyon National Park – National Park Service Maps
- Fairyland Loop Trail and Rim Trail – Google Maps
- RV/Tent Campgrounds in Bryce Canyon – Dry camping for small / medium RVs inside the National Park
- Ruby’s Inn RV Park – Full hookups and Big Rig Friendly in nearby Bryce Canyon City
- Red Canyon Campground – Beautiful dry camping with 6-8 campsites big enough for our 36′ fifth wheel trailer.
More blog posts from our RV trips to Bryce Canyon
- Spring in Sarasota FL + Bryce Canyon’s Night Skies – in Trailer Life 04/04/17
- Bryce Canyon’s Rainbow Point – Bristlecone Pines and Sweeping Vistas 11/01/16
- The Waterfall at Bryce Canyon National Park – “Mossy Cave” 10/18/16
- Red Canyon Utah and the Bryce Canyon Bike Trail! 10/13/16
- Bryce Canyon Gone Wild – Tempests, Rainbows & Wildlife 10/09/16
- Bryce Canyon – Hiking The Rim & Navajo Loop + A Tourist Time-lapse! 09/29/16
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah – Inspiration Point – OMG! 09/27/16
- Bryce Canyon, UT – Fairyland of Pink Turrets 08/25/08
Related posts from our RV travels:
- Our RV travels in Southwestern Utah – Bryce, Zion and Capitol Reef area
- Our RV travels in Southeastern Utah – Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands area
- Our RV travels to Sedona Arizona – Red Rock Country in AZ
- Our travels to North America’s National Parks – National Parks and World Heritage Sites in the US, Canada and Mexico
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- Buffalo Wyoming – Cowboys, Cowgirls and Sheriff Walt Longmire! 08/27/17
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