Spring in Sarasota FL + Bryce Canyon’s Night Skies – in Trailer Life

We are very proud to announce that the March 2017 issue of Trailer Life Magazine features our article about beautiful Sarasota, Florida, plus a back page column about hiking Bryce Canyon National Park under the stars.

Sarasota's Three-Ring Circus Trailer Life Magazine

Trailer Life Magazine, March 2017
Text by Emily Fagan, Photos by Emily & Mark Fagan

Sarasota, Florida, is a fabulous place to visit in April, and we enjoyed five wonderful weeks there. For RVers that are heading north these days from the hotter parts of southern Florida, a stopover in Sarasota is a true delight.

Venice Beach Sarasota Florida

Venice Beach just south of Sarasota, Florida.

We have been fortunate to visit tropical beaches all over the world, most recently in Thailand but also in many parts of southern Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Frankly, not one of them has sand that is quite as pure white and fluffy soft as Siesta Beach in Sarasota. It is the texture of confectioner’s sugar! And the turquoise water is ever so inviting too.

Siesta Beach Sarasota Florida

Siesta Beach — Where the sand is like confectioner’s sugar!

But what surprised us was the many other things Sarasota has to offer. A century ago it was just a small fishing village, but the Ringling Brothers decided to settle in the town and make it the home base for their circus, and that changed it forever.

The Ringling mansion Sarasota Florida

The Ringling – Former home of the founders of the circus

Now, The Ringling is a fabulous museum that offers so much for tourists to see that you can get a three day pass — and you need it if you want to see it all.

Ringling Mansion Ca-Dzan Sarasota Florida copy

Ornamentation galore!

The Ringling estate’s mansion is a phenomenal building that is loaded with decorative arches, fanciful cornices, and an altogether fairy tale type of air.

Tourists at The Ringling mansion Sarasota Florida

The Ringling is a “do not miss” Sarasota excursion!

Out front there is a fabulous and enormous rock tile deck that looks out on Sarasota Bay. Standing there I tried to imagine what it was like back in the day when John and Mabel Ringling held parties there. Oh my!

Tile deck at The Ringling mansion Sarasota Florida

Even the deck is absolutely stunning, with inlaid colorful stone tiles.

The Ringling also has a museum that houses the stunning collection of European art that John Ringling collected. Mondays are “free admission day,” and when we got inside we were blown away by this immense art collection.

The Ringling Art Museum Sarasota Florida

The Ringling art museum is free on Mondays and is home to a stunning collection of European masters.

Out back there is a rose garden that was the pride and joy of Mabel Ringling as well as a gargantuan banyan tree.

Banyan tree The Ringling gardens Sarasota Florida

Out back we found a massive banyan tree shading a very cool bar!

Sarasota is one place where it would take a whole season of outings to run out of things to do. One excursion we really enjoyed was going to Jungle Gardens.

This is a zoo of sorts whose welcoming committee is a flock of pink flamingos who go out of their way to say, “Hello!”

Flamingo and photographer Jungle Gardens Sarasota Florida

At Jungle Gardens they hire pink flamingos to be the greeters!

They are extremely friendly birds, and even though they had plenty of natural spaces to stand around and do their flamingo thing in the water and under the tropical trees, one flamingo took a particular liking to Mark and rubbed his beak all over him!

Flamingo Jungle Gardens Sarasota Florida

True love… for the flamingo at least!

Jungle Gardens also has a wonderful bird show, and we were delighted by the antics of the various parrots. One parrot, a 79 year old cockatoo named Snowflake, was a seasoned professional when it came to performing. He was so old that he had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show before I was born!

He can still do great tricks, though, and we watched him ride a bike on a tightrope while a buddy macaw perched on a swing and went for a free ride below him.

Snowflake rides a unicycle with Andy riding underneath copy

Snowflake’s still got it at 79 years old!

There are lots of parks in the Sarasota area, and we got a huge kick out of watching native birds fishing, swimming and flying by us in some of these parks.

Great Blue Heron Sarasota Florida

The native wild birds are a sight to behold in many parks around town.

Sandhill cranes like Sarasota as much as people do, and to our utter delight and complete surprise, a pair of sandhill cranes had a nest with two eggs near a pond at a strip mall.

Sandhill crane with chick in nest Sarasota Florida

A sandhilll crane mom checks on her brand new chick.

On the day that they were due to hatch a large group of fascinated birders and photographers gathered near the nest and began to watch the arrival of the baby chicks through huge telephoto lenses and binoculars.

Sandhill chick and egg in nest Sarasota Florida

“Yawn…It was a lot of work getting out of that egg!”

This little guy was absolutely adorable.

Sandhill crane with chick in nest Sarasota Florida

“Oopsie!”

And the first little one was soon joined by its sibling while the parents pushed the egg shells aside.

Two sandhill cranes in nest Sarasota Florida

“Are you my brother?!”

Sarasota has lots of quirky charm, and there is a mascot that adorns many homes and businesses around town. Nicknamed the Tube Dude, this guy can be seen holding a toothbrush in front of the dentist’s office, wearing a baker’s hat in front of the bakery and sitting in a Kayak at the local surf and kayak shop. What fun!

The Tube Dude in Sarasota Florida

The Tube Dude at a coffee shop with a water bowl for his dog.

Trailer Life has posted our article on their website and you can read it here:

Sarasota’s Three-Ring Circus – Trailer Life Magazine, March 2017

Flipping to the back of the March issue, there is a photo of a wonderfully starry night taken from the Mossy Cove trail at Bryce Canyon National Park. We spent quite a bit of time at Bryce Canyon last summer, which gave us a chance to get out on the trails in the dark several times.

Stars over Fairytale Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park

Hiking Bryce Canyon under the stars is very rewarding.

It is a little eerie hiking in the pitch dark with a flashlight, but we managed not to fall over the edge and we saw some really cool skies.

Fairy Tale Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Night Stars

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Bryce Canyon doesn’t have super dark skies, so there is always a big of a glow on the horizon from nearby towns, but even so, the stars jumped out of the heavens.

Fairy Tale Hike Bryce Canyon National Park Night Stars

We ventured out into Fairytale Canyon

We were there fairly late in the season, in September, so catching the Milky Way was a little tricky as we had to get out into Bryce Canyon’s amphitheater of hoodoos in order to look back up towards the rim to see it. But we caught it sailing across the sky on several occaisions between 3:00 and 5:30 in the morning.

Milky Way Bryce Canyon National Park Fairytale Canyon

The Milky Way is easiest to see in late spring and early summer.

Milky Way and tree silhouette Bryce Canyon National Park

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Milky Way Bryce Canyon National Park

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Of course, we stayed out so long on these crazy midnight hikes that by the time we got back to our trailer the morning sky was just beginning to lighten into rich shades of blue. And sure enough, there was the Orion constellation hanging over our rig!

Orion constellation over RV Utah

Orion sails high above our trailer.

Trailer Life is an excellent magazine, and we were subscribers for years before we became writers and photographers for them. Whether you are a new RVer or have many years under your belt, if you own a towable RV like we do, you might enjoy subscribing for a year. You can subscribe to Trailer Life here:

Trailer Life Subscription

It’s not expensive, and what I like is that it is professionally edited by terrific editors and it is professionally laid out by a graphic artist which gives it a polish in the print edition that just doesn’t exist online, whether on magazine websites or on folksy blogs like this one.

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Interested in visiting Sarasota? Here are our blog posts from our stay there:

More Blog Posts from Florida

Curious about Bryce Canyon and/or Hiking Under the Stars? Check out these posts:

Night Skies in Waterton Lakes + All Night Timelapse of the Milky Way07/31/16

    A Few of the Other Articles We’ve Published in Trailer Life:

    Trailer Life Articles by Emily & Mark Fagan

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

    Bryce Canyon’s Rainbow Point – Bristlecone Pines and Sweeping Vistas

    September 2016 – Our stay in Bryce Canyon National Park had been a wonderful immersion in orange and pink spires along the Rim Trail and on the new bike path that runs between Red Canyon and Inspiration Point. We’d even found a waterfall at Mossy Cave.

    Shelter at Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Visitors’ shelter at Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

    At the far south end of the Bryce Canyon National Park, we hiked the Bristlecone Loop around Rainbow Point. We didn’t see a rainbow over the canyon, as we had at Fairyland Point, but the views were sensational.

    Hiking Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    What a view! Rainbow Point at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

    Rainbow Point View Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Rainbow Point, Bryce Canyon National Park.

    The orange and red rock cliffs had interesting windows and holes carved in their sides. Mark nudged me as we stared across the canyon and said, “See the Alice Cooper eyes over there?” Sure enough!

    Alice Cooper eyes at Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Alice Cooper eyes…

    This end of Bryce Canyon is the highest point in the whole National Park, about 9,100 feet in elevation, and it is just the kind of wind blown, rocky place that ancient bristlecone pines love to make home.

    Brislecone Pine Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A bristlecone pine at Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon

    As we walked out on a bluff, we came across a large stand of bristlecone pine trees that had finally given up the ghost. Unlike the living 1,600 year old bristlecone pine we’d seen a month earlier at Cedar Breaks National Monument whose gnarled branches were vibrantly alive and covered with soft pine needles and pine cones tucked into its craggy skeleton, these trees were totally bare.

    Three bristlecone pine trees Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Ghosts of bristlecone pine trees

    They stood together, as if continuing an ageless conversation that had begun long ago, and their wood was bleached by the sun.

    Bristlecone Pine Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    When I touched their branches and knocked on the trunks with my knuckles, their wood was as hard as rock and felt very dense.’

    Bristlecone Pines Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    The stand of bristlecone pines numbers just a few dozen trees, but each raised its branches to the heavens in its own graceful way.

    Bristlecone Pine Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    At our feet, the trees cast beautiful shadows across the ground.

    Bristlecone Pine Shadow Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A bristlecone plays with its shadow

    The trees stand near the edge of a sheer cliff, and as we walked along the rim and looked back, we got an eye-popping view of the scale of people standing on the cliff, the tree skeletons, and the huge drop down.

    Cliffs Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    People get a selfie by the bristlecone pines and cliffs at Rainbow Point

    The National Park Service wisely warns people not to go too close to the edge, but it’s hard to resist…

    Overlook Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    Back near the start of the trail we came across a group of people staring intently into the woods, their cameras and cell phones held high.

    People photography a buck deer at Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Nature’s paparazzi

    Tip-toeing over to join them and see what they were looking at, we saw a beautiful buck nibbling on leaves in the bushes. He paused to stare at us all and then went back to munching the tender leaves.

    Buck deer at Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A buck becomes the star of the show at Rainbow Point

    We wrapped up our hike around the Bristlecone Loop and began to say our sad goodbyes to Bryce Canyon National Park.

    We’d had an extraordinary visit this year, and we’d had a chance to take in some of the most beautiful spots in the Park. But we still haven’t seen it all, and we’ve made notes of the places we want to visit next time…

    Posing Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Bryce Canyon’s siren song will lure us back again and again.

    If you are planning an RV trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, there is an awful lot to see and experience. Below are some links to help you plan your adventure:

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    Here are some more links for planning a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park and doing the Mossy Cave hike:

    More blog posts from our RV trips to Bryce Canyon

    Related posts from our RV travels:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    The Waterfall at Bryce Canyon National Park – “Mossy Cave”

    September 2016 – Just as headlines sell news stories, the same thing is true with hiking trails at the National Parks.

    Red rock pinnacles Mossy Cave Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Bryce Canyon has beautiful red rock hoodoos everywhere, even on the less visited trails.

    At Bryce Canyon National Park there are lots of great hiking trails and overlooks with fabulously inviting names like: Fairyland Trail, Inspiration Point, Sunrise and Sunset Points and Peek-a-boo Trail to name a few.

    Colorful trees and red rocks Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Wonderful colors on the Mossy Cave hike.

    But up in the northeast corner of Bryce Canyon National Park, well off the beaten path, and not even on the main drive through the Park, there’s a hiking trail called Mossy Cave. This is an interesting name, perhaps, but it sure didn’t jump out at us and beg us to come check it out!

    Bridge at Mossy Cave Trail Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The Mossy Cave trail crosses a cool bridge at the beginning of the hike.

    I wonder if because of this rather drab sounding name, other visitors respond like we do and don’t bother to drive outside the Park and around to its far northeastern edge to find out what Mossy Cave is all about.

    Whatever the cause, this hiking trail is very lightly used compared to the other more popular trails at Bryce Canyon National Park.

    Red rock windows Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    “Windows” appeared high above us among the red rock formations.

    My suspicion is that if this trail bore the name “Waterfall Cascades” or “Glittering Pools,” both of which is has, the trail would be overrun with visitors!

    How fortunate that the feature this trail is named after is the other thing you’ll see on the hike — a shallow overhang that seeps water and is covered with various types of moss — instead of the beautiful waterfall!

    Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The waterfall on the Mossy Cave hike takes a lot of people by surprise!

    Mossy Cave Trail Waterfall Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A beautiful waterfall in the desert!

    To a naturalist or biology expert, the mossy cave is probably the more fascinating feature on this trail. And photos we’ve seen of icicles in the cave during the winter are beautiful.

    However, to everyday hikers and tourists, it is the waterfall and cascades upstream from it that are the real draw!

    Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah Waterfall

    Who knew Bryce Canyon had a waterfall?!

    The branch canyon that Mossy Cave is in is called Water Canyon, and rightfully so. In the early 1890’s, mormon pioneers diverted some of the East Fork of the Sevier River to flow through here so they could use the water for irrigation purposes. With picks and shovels they carved a ditch and let the water flow.

    Mossy Cave Trail Waterfall Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Silky falls and pools.

    So, it is not a natural water course. But the waterfall itself is totally natural, and the water drops down over a red rock overhang as if this year-round stream were meant to be here and had been here all along!

    Mossy Cave Waterfall Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A rush of water over the desert rocks.

    The overhang is fairly large, so Mark slipped in behind it to get some very cool images.

    Hiking under the waterfall Mossy Cave Trail Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The overhang makes it easy to walk under this waterfall.

    Under waterfall Mossy Cave Trail Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    View from under the waterfall on the Mossy Cave hike.

    View under waterfall Mossy Cave Trail Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    How refreshing on a hot day!

    We walked upstream from the main waterfall and found that the stream is a babbling brook for quite a distance, tripping over stones and rocks along the way.

    Stream Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    We turned the corner at the waterfall and found the hike continues upstream.

    There are other smaller waterfalls too.

    Waterfall Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Looking upstream.

    Mossy Cave Waterfall Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    We discovered another smaller waterfall too.

    We wandered back down the trail to a fork and took the path leading to the Mossy Cave. A short distance down the trail we came to the cave. The water was seeping through the rocks in such quantities that it was dripping from the roof of the cave onto the gravel floor below. Patches of moss covered the rocks, and the air was cool. The trail didn’t go inside the cave, but we could stand on one side and peer in.

    Water seeps through rock and drips down moss in Mossy Cave Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Water seeps through the rocks and drips from the moss at Mossy Cave.

    We ended up doing the Mossy Cave hike several times during our stay in Bryce Canyon. It is a short and easy trail that is lovely in both morning and afternoon light. And there are some wonderful hoodoos high up on the ridges.

    Red rock window Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    One morning, as the sun was rising, Mark caught a fantastic starburst in one of the red rock windows.

    Starburst Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    If you have already enjoyed some of the major hikes and overlooks at Bryce Canyon National Park, the Mossy Cave trail makes for a very pleasant trek. And on a hot day, what could be better than hanging around a waterfall!

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    Here are some more links for planning a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park and doing the Mossy Cave hike:

    More blog posts from our RV trips to Bryce Canyon

    Related posts from our RV travels:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    Red Canyon Utah and the Bryce Canyon Bike Trail!

    On the way in to Bryce Canyon National Park, visitors pass through stunning Red Canyon. The red rocks in this magical canyon are such a vivid color and such a huge surprise that visitors are instantly in a quandary — should they stick around and check out this gorgeous canyon they’ve never heard of before, or continue on the remaining 12 miles to Bryce Canyon, full speed ahead??

    01 721 Hoodoos in Red Canyon Utah

    For many visitors to Bryce Canyon, the warmup act at Red Canyon is a fantastic surprise.

    Red Canyon is a beautiful area the has several wonderful hiking trails and lots of incredible scenery.

    Hiking Pink Ledges Trail in Red Canyon Utah

    Hoodoos at Red Canyon

    We hiked the easy Pink Ledges trail that took us right into the heart of the red rock hoodoos in just a few uphill steps.

    Hiking Pink Ledges Trail Red Canyon Utah

    Views on the Pink Ledges Trail

    We’ve hiked the beautiful trails in Red Canyon before, and it was wonderful to be immersed once again in this lovely red rock canyon that so many tourists blow right by.

    Huge caves and holes in the rocks

    Huge caves and holes in the rocks

    The various hiking loops in Red Canyon can be mixed and matched to make a hike of any length, and the Pink Ledges Trail soon merged into the Bird’s Eye trail.

    Heading out on the Bird's Eye Trail Red Canyon Utah

    Views on the Bird’s Eye Trail

    This took us out along the edges of the red rocks and rose higher and higher.

    Hiking the Bird's Eye Trail Red Canyon Utah

    Hiking the Bird’s Eye Trail.

    Bird's Eye Trail hike in Red Canyon Utah

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    We wandered back to the central part of the canyon and admired the twin hoodoos that stand like sentries high up on a ledge.

    Closeup Hoodoos in Red Canyon Utah

    Enormous stone sentries guard Red Canyon

    Below them, we ran into a young couple sitting on a park bench enjoying the shade of a ponderosa pine and the views all around them. We found out they had just gotten engaged moments before, and they proudly showed us her beautiful brand new ring!

    Couple on park bench in Red Canyon Utah

    What a lovely spot to get engaged!

    Red Canyon holds a special place in our hearts, because it was where we discovered the wonders of the RV lifestyle.

    We were on a whiz-bang weeklong tour of Grand Canyon’s South and North Rim, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park with our tent and bicycles, back in our workaday lives long ago, and we wound up camping at Red Canyon on the suggestion of a forest ranger we spoke with when we stopped in at the ranger’s office on the way to Bryce Canyon.

    After a beautiful day at Bryce Canyon, we returned to the Red Canyon Campground to a massive deluge and thunderstorm that was followed by two days of rain.

    Tent camping Red Canyon Campground Utah

    Camping at Red Canyon Campground holds special memories for us

    After scurrying from coffee shop to lunch bistro to dinner restaurant around Panguitch and Brian Head, desperately trying to stay warm and dry, we returned to the campground to find all the other campers happily kicking back in their RVs. They were reading books and playing board games with the lights on in their rigs, while we crawled back into our dark soggy tent.

    RV Camping in Red Canyon Campground Utah

    Life can be pretty sweet in an RV

    Within a few days, we were the proud owners of a Toyota Tundra truck and a popup tent trailer!

    RV Camping in Red Canyon Campground Utah

    Camping at Red Canyon in a popup – Fun!!

    Of course, tent camping is absolutely wonderful too, and we look back on our tenting days with fondness. But there’s nothing like being warm and dry and having a comfortable place to sit that is sheltered and high up off the ground when Mother Nature decides to let loose with a storm!

    Tent camping under the stars

    Camping under the stars

    Red Canyon Campground is an absolute delight. You can camp within view of the red rock hoodoos, and there are a few campsites that are big enough for a big trailer like our fifth wheel.

    Another treat at Red Canyon is the paved bike path. Being at 8,500′ elevation, we had to work a bit with each pedal stroke, but the scenery was second to none.

    Red Canyon Bike Path in Utah

    Riding in the Red Rocks at Red Canyon

    The Red Canyon Bike Trail goes all the way from Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon City, the little hamlet that used to appear on maps as “Rubys Inn” because it is home to Ruby’s Inn, a family run operation that includes an inn, restaurant and an RV park.

    Biking on the Red Canyon Bike Path Utah

    We love this bike path

    Every time we’ve been to this area in the past, we’ve wished that the bike trail went all the way into Bryce Canyon.

    Bicycling the Red Canyon Bike Trail in Utah

    There’s a little bridge on the east end of Red Canyon

    Bicycling the Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon Bike Path

    The bike path runs parallel to the highway for some of its route

    Lo and behold, the National Park Service granted our wish this season and extended the paved bike trail all the way into Bryce Canyon as of a few weeks before our arrival!! It is now 17 miles long and you can ride from the west end of Red Canyon all the way to Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon.

    This project was undertaken and completed for the 100th anniversary of America’s National Parks this past August, and it takes a wonderfully winding route through the ponderosa pine forest right to the Bryce Canyon Visitors Center.

    Bicycling on the Bryce Canyon Bike Trail Utah

    The new paved bike path in Bryce Canyon passes through Ponderosa Pine forest

    From the Visitors Center, the Bryce Canyon bike trail passes all the main overlooks and wanders away from the rim for a bit too as it swings by the Bryce Canyon Lodge.

    Bryce Canyon Lodge Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Bryce Canyon Lodge is on the route for the new Bryce Canyon bike trail

    We had to get off our bikes and walk when we visited the overlooks in Bryce Canyon, but what a fabulous addition this bike trail is to one of the National Park Service’s premier parks. We were absolutely thrilled by the new bike path, and we rode it many times during our stay.

    New Bryce Canyon Bike Trail to Inspiration Point

    In Bryce Canyon we walked out to the overlooks

    Hopefully the National Park Service will continue building bike paths at other National Parks. The bike trail at Grand Teton National Park is superb as well, and keeps getting longer each time we visit.

    The best way to experience a National Park is to be outdoors in the thick of it, and how fantastic it is to be able to fly along and enjoy the views from the seat of a bike!

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    More info about Red Canyon and the Bike Trail:

    Our previous RV trip to Red Canyon:

    Red Canyon Utah – An Overlooked Treasure09/15/11

    More blog posts from our RV trips to Bryce Canyon

    Related posts from our RV travels:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    Bryce Canyon Gone Wild – Tempests, Rainbows & Wildlife

    September 2016 – Bryce Canyon National Park is enchanting, and during our stay we were mesmerized by the beauty at Inspiration Point at sunrise, along the Rim Trail at the peak of midday, and descending into the Canyon along the Fairyland Trail in the early hours of the morning. We had lovely sunny weather for these excursions, but suddenly the skies went dark and storms threatened.

    Storm Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    An afternoon thunderstorm rolls into Bryce Canyon National Park

    Watching a storm develop in Bryce Canyon National Park is a thrill, and they are regular afternoon occurrences in late summer.

    Storm at Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    A storm brews over the red rocks.

    We had some all day rains, and on one of these days we drove down towards the south end of the Park. On the way, we stopped at Agua Canyon.

    Colors at Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Looking down into the depths of Agua Canyon.

    This is a beautiful part of Bryce Canyon in any weather, but as we climbed the trail that rises above Agua Canyon on its north side, we were blown away by how the colors of the soaking wet red rocks came alive.

    Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Brilliant colors of wet rock pinnacles at Agua Canyon

    With no shadows to define each vivid red and white pinnacle, the shapes blended together in fantastic patterns.

    Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    A woman stepped out on a precipice to take a photo, and her tiny blue figure looked like a mere speck against this vibrant backdrop.

    Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A woman is engulfed by the radiant red rock landscape.

    We hiked higher and higher above Agua Canyon, smitten with the beauty of this canyon in these wet and miserable conditions. What luck to have discovered this spot on just such a day.

    Photography at Agua Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    They always say, “Bad weather makes for great photography,” and how true that was on this rainy day!

    At the far south end of the park at Rainbow Point, lots of tourists were huddled under a shade ramada, bundled up to the hilt. The usually stunning vistas were invisible because of the mist and fog, but we found a spot where the fog lifted just enough to peer through.

    Fog and mist Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The mist clears for a moment at Rainbow Point.

    Out on the ranch lands around the edges of Bryce Canyon National Park, we saw some incredible storm clouds brooding in the sky.

    Storm clouds in Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A storm sweeps across the plateau near Bryce Canyon.

    Suddenly a bolt of lightning split the heavens above us.

    Lightning strikes Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The gods let loose their fury!

    We hopped in the truck to go do some errands in nearby Panguitch, and in no time we heard the unmistakable sound of hail pelting the truck’s roof. This was crazy! We were barely into the first week of September!

    Hail at Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    We’re in a hailstorm!

    The hail piled up and made a wonderful contrast to the wildflowers that were blooming by the curb.

    Hail on roads Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The roads between the wildflowers turned white with hail pellets!

    The hail was pea sized, but it made an incredible racket as it struck our truck’s roof. When we got back to the trailer, we were relieved that nothing had broken or been dented on our RV roof!!

    Hail on the ground

    Yup, that is definitely hail!

    Wild thunderstorms and hailstorms brushed across the landscape more than once during our stay in Bryce Canyon, and at Inspiration Point one afternoon, we met a very soggy pair of hikers who had been hiking on the Peek-a-boo Trail for the last hour while we enjoyed the storm from the comfort of inside our heated truck!

    Hikers in hail storm Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Soaked to the bone!

    Getting caught in an afternoon storm turned out to be pretty common in Bryce Canyon at this time of year. During our visit we became accustomed to the gathering clouds and eventual torrents that took place every afternoon, but they caught lots of hikers and visitors by surprise.

    The show must go on, however, and a wet group of tourists on a guided tour passed us as we arrived at Sunset Point, and each was adorned in rain poncho of a different color.

    Photography tour in hail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    The gods took pity on all of us drenched visitors, however, and one afternoon as we drove along the wet scenic drive through the park we could see the sun shining beyond the black clouds.

    We whipped our heads around looking for the rainbow that had to be shimmering somewhere, and saw it was hanging over the canyon. We flew out to Fairyland Point, the closest part of the rim we could reach, and there was the rainbow, in all its glory, spanning the canyon.

    Rainbow Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A rainbow sails over Fairyland Canyon

    We watched in awe as it hovered over the canyon, and then grew brighter and dimmer at each of its ends, intensifying first on one side and then on the other.

    Rainbow Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    Rainbow Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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    The wild weather we were experiencing at Bryce Canyon National Park was an adrenaline rush, especially as we dashed around from place to place trying to catch the drama in the peak of action.

    Back on our computers Mark had fun playing with some of his photos in Photoshop Elements. Suddenly a simple image of a tree against the red rocks was mirrored as if in a pond.

    Mirrors Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A little wild magic applied later!

    We were loving witnessing “Bryce Canyon Gone Wild,” and we soon saw lots more evidence of this National Park‘s untamed heart as creatures of all kinds wandered in and out of our cameras’ viewfinders.

    One morning we took our gaze off the stunning red rocks at Sunset Point and noticed a young buck with fuzzy soft antlers peeking over the bushes.

    Young buck deer Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A young buck appears behind the bushes.

    How funny, a week later, to catch a mature buck with a beautiful rack standing in the bushes in almost the exact same pose a few miles away at Rainbow Point!

    Buck deer Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A week later and many miles away another older buck strikes the same pose!

    At Piracy Point we noticed a little chipmunk munching away on a pine cone. He was making quite a mess and had bits of his breakfast on his whiskers and fur.

    Chipmunk Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    One morning we saw a sweet little face peeking out at us from the front tire of our truck. This little guy was the size of a chipmunk, but he was some other kind of critter.

    We looked him up online, and discovered he was a little stoat. We hoped he’d stick around, but we never saw him again after that morning.

    Stoat on a truck tire in Utah

    A stoat peeks out at us from the front tire of our truck!

    On another afternoon, we spotted a beautiful pronghorn antelope in the grass.

    Pronghorn antelope Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A pronghorn antelope pauses in the grass.

    He was part of a small group of pronghorns, and a few minutes later two more ran across the road.

    Pronghorn Antelope Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A pair of pronghorn dash across the road.

    As happens to us on every visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, we were utterly bewitched by everything we saw, from the turbulent weather to the animals that call the place home. It is pure magic!

    RV camping in Utah

    Fast moving clouds at sunset.

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    Fairyland Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park – A Beautiful Hike!

    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.

    Hoodoos Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Looking down at Fairyland from the rim of Bryce Canyon

    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.

    Dawn Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Spires in Fairyland Canyon.

    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.

    Flowers at Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Wildflowers at sunrise.

    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!

    Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The beginning of the trail leading down into Fairyland Canyon

    At the outset, the Fairyland Trail promptly descends into the depths of Bryce Canyon, and we walked between delightful spires and hoodoos that rose up around us.

    Hike Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hikers slip between the hoodoos as they descend into Fairyland.

    After a few twists and turns, the views opened up with rows of hoodoos close at hand and cliffs in the distance.

    Hike at Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    Turret formations Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    White and pink pinnacles.

    Hiking Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    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!

    Bristlecone Pine on Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A Bristlecone Pine defies gravity and hangs out over the hiking trail.
    What a way to spend a few centuries!

    Bristlecone Pine Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hanging on by a thread!

    We started our hike shortly after sunrise, and we were utterly alone on the trail for the first two hours.

    Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The trail snakes its way through Fairyland Canyon.

    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.

    Trees and walls Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    The woods were thick in spots.

    Red rock walls Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Red rock walls frame our view.

    As we got deeper into the canyon, the pinnacles rose higher.

    Hoodoos and trees Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hoodoos clustered on one side of the trail.

    Hoodoos and spires Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Towering spires…

    The red rocks are mostly a burnt orange kind of hue, but in certain places we found a rainbow of sandstone colors.

    Colorful hoodoos Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Shades of pink…

    Pink orange hoodoos Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    …and shades of yellow too

    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.

    Fairyland Trail Hike Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    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.

    Hiking Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hoo dat in da hoodoos?

    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.

    Beautiful Fairyland Trail Hike Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    What a view.

    Glowing hoodoos Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A little closer.

    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!

    Spiral wood grain ponderosa pine Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Spiraling wood grain of a dead ponderosa pine tree.
    Did it turn as it grew to see 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.

    Wood carving Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Nature’s wood carving is a work of art!

    As we hiked and the sun rose higher, the red rock formations began to take on an ethereal glow.

    Windows Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    We got down to the base level of the hoodoos, and the pinnacles soared to immense heights.

    Size of scale Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A tree is dwarfed by a stone pinnacle.

    Magic Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    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.

    Glowing spires Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    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!

    Hiking Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hikers on the Fairyland Trail.

    There are links for planning an RV trip to Bryce Canyon below.

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    Bryce Canyon – Hiking The Rim & Navajo Loop + A Tourist Time-lapse!

    August 2016 – The views in Bryce Canyon National Park are absolutely breathtaking from the Rim Trail. This easy walking path extends for 5.5 miles along the edge of the canyon, going from Fairyland Point in the north and taking in the all the major overlooks until it arrives at Bryce Point in the south.

    Sunrise Bryce Canyon National Park Utah View of Amphitheater

    Bryce Canyon National Park at sunrise.

    During our stay, we wandered up and down the Rim Trail many times, and we were stunned by the beauty every single time.

    View from the Rim Trail 01 721 Sunset Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Good Morning from the Rim Trail

    View of hoodoos from Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Huge orange pinnacles dwarf the evergreens – Fantastic!

    But the magic of Bryce Canyon is to get down in among all those hoodoos.

    Sunset Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah View from Rim Trail

    A hiker snags a photo of this incredible view.

    There are lots of hiking trails that wander between the peaks like thin pink ribbons strung all though the park. The tricky part is choosing which one to do!

    Hikers Navajo Loop Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A ribbon of trail leads down into the hoodoos.

    As we descended down the Navajo Loop trail from Sunset Point, the rock walls and pinnacles rose higher and higher around us.

    Navajo Loop Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hiking down into the hoodoos.

    Navajo Loop Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Hikers pause on the trail to take in the magnificent views.

    The spires soared into the sky like turrets on a fairy tale castle.

    Hoodoos Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    This is a fairy tale landscape.

    We hiked through this wonderland of rock formations utterly mesmerized.

    Hiking the Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    Here and there, the rocks would open up, offering a view through a window to the canyon beyond.

    Window Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    The rock formations seemed to grow up from the depths of the desert floor.

    View from Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    Some rocks formed thin walls, creating craggy partitions within the canyon.

    Windows Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A tree perched on top of a rock wall showed us just how big the wall is — Immense!

    The trail heads down many steep switchbacks, offering peeks into enticing nooks and crannies on its way to the canyon floor far below.

    Navajo Loop Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    A glimpse down into the depths…

    These hiking trails are extremely popular, especially in the summer months when families from around the world are on vacation. It doesn’t make the trails any less appealing, but it is truly astonishing to watch the throngs of people climbing up and down these trails.

    One afternoon I got chatting with a traveler from Germany, and as we talked idly about his travels in Patagonia, I set up my camera to do a time-lapse video of the hikers walking up and down the top few switchbacks of the Navajo Loop Trail at Sunset Point in front of us.

    The result was fabulous. Check out the action not just at the top of the trail on the right but in the lower parts of the trail on the left. This is one of Bryce Canyon’s most popular hiking trails at its peak in August – Yikes!!

    To replay, click the circular arrow in the bottom left corner

    Of course, not all of Bryce Canyon National Park is crowded, and it doesn’t take much to get away from the masses. But these popular trails are a total thrill, and they are well worth doing, even if you’re sharing the experience with a busload of tourists and all their Facebook friends!

    For a more solitary hike, we set out on the much less visited Fairyland Loop Trail one morning at dawn. That was an exquisitely serene experience which I’ll share in the next post.

    If you are planning an RV trip to Bryce Canyon, there are links with more info below.

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    Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah – Inspiration Point – OMG!

    August 2016 – We have been fortunate to visit Bryce Canyon National Park three times in the past, and we often refer to it as our favorite of America’s National Parks. But this fourth visit with our RV was sensational.

    View Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    Inspiration Point – Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

    We overheard a ranger telling a newcomer that the best way to see Bryce Canyon National Park is to drive the 20 miles or so straight to the very far south end of the Park at Rainbow Point and then to turn around and drive back slowly, stopping at all the overlooks on the way back.

    If you are into saving the best for last, then this strategy is fine. It’s also great for easing traffic congestion at the main part of the park.

    Pink and White Spires Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    Orange, pink and white spires seen from Inspiration Point.

    However, we say, “Life is short, so eat dessert first!” and “Go for the gusto!”

    Our suggestion is to drive (or take the Park Shuttle) directly to the Inspiration Point parking lot, walk straight out to the rim, and feel the breath get sucked right out of you as you gape in awe at the wondrous landscape laid out in front of you.

    Overlook at Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    View from Inspiration Point.

    Then, just like every other one of the thousands of tourists alongside you, you’ve gotta get a selfie. Of all the backdrops for self-portrait, this has to be one of the best.

    Bryce Canyon RV trip Inspiration Point

    Happy campers at Bryce Canyon.

    The thing that sets Bryce Canyon National Park apart from all other magnificent, world class canyons, including its nearby little sister, Cedar Breaks National Monument is the jaw-dropping symmetry of the red rock formations.

    Red rock patterns Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    Dizzying symmetry.

    That wind and rain can join forces to carve sandstone into rows and rows of nearly identical pinnacles is extraordinary. There are legions and legions of hoodoos in this red rock army!!

    Pinnacle closeup Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Bryce Canyon National Park is a fantastic area for photography, and we shot five thousand images between us during our stay.

    Photography at Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    What a place for photography!

    Bryce Canyon National Park is a massive amphitheater of red rock pinnacles and pink and white striped spires. It’s as if the gods were playing on a huge red sand beach and created a million giant dribble castles.

    Closeup spires Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    These are hundreds of feet tall! A person would be a mere speck.

    There is a wonderful trail along the rim of the canyon that is wide and smooth and easy to walk on. There are also many hiking trails into the heart of the canyon where you have a view from the base of these towers looking up towards the sky. From Inspiration Point we could spot a few of these trails in the distance.

    Hiking trails Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    A hiking trail weaves between the spires.

    Some of the hikes are really popular and we could see people starting their hikes on the far side.

    Hiking trails Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    People head into the canyon on a hike.

    Here and there on the rim, a pine tree clung to the edge with a tenacious grip.

    Pine tree Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Following the Rim Trail up a steep climb past a series of overlooks, the final overlook is on top of the world and has a view across the entire canyon to the mountains, cliffs and valleys beyond. What a place to spot a soaring eagle!

    Top overlook Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    Bird’s eye view!

    We are morning people, and we love getting out on the trail at dawn. One morning, the sun peaked through storm clouds in dramatic fashion.

    Sunrise over Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    The sun works its way through storm clouds at dawn.

    The rising sun lit a ponderosa pine in beautiful shades of vivid orange.

    Sunrise Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    Sunrise at Bryce Canyon.

    Even at this early hour, we were far from alone on the trail. Some people brought cups of coffee and wrapped themselves in blankets to see the sun rise. Others brought fancy cameras and tripods and staked out spots for beautiful photos.

    All of us lined up and faced the far side of the Canyon, which is due east, like little birds sitting on a telephone wire.

    Sunrise on the Rim Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    As I walked along the rim enjoying the glow of the sunrise light, I noticed a camera sitting on a tree branch. It was still displaying the image of a guy holding his hands out towards the rising sun. But the guy was nowhere to be seen!

    Camera Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    When the final shades of pink faded to gray and the sun peeked over the horizon, everyone at the rim seemed to let out a collective sigh and begin to chat with each other. There were smiles all around.

    Sunrise Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

    .

    The Rim Trail goes both north and south from Inspiration Point, and a walk in each direction is worthwhile, especially when the sky lights up at sunrise.

    Trees at Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Of course, Bryce Canyon National Park is all about vivid color, and the oranges, pinks, yellows and whites of the sandstone blending together in mesmerizing patterns. But even when the color is taken away, a black and white image of the Park is alluring.

    Bryce Canyon National Park Utah Inspiration Point Black and White

    .

    Heading south a few paces from Inspiration Point one afternoon, we came across a different kind of red rock hoodoo than the precision cut ones seen in the views as you face north. These were more haphazard and jagged and they glowed in the afternoon light.

    Tree at Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Rim Trail Hoodoos Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Pine tree Bryce Canyon National Park Utah Inspiration Point

    .

    As the sun lowered in the sky, the craggy rock formations seemed to be lit from within.

    Spires Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Pinnacles on Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    Rim Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    In the same way that sunrise casts an angelic glow across Bryce Canyon in the morning, the light in the late afternoon becomes a rich orange, and it lit up the backside of a pine tree perched on the rim.

    Sunset Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah

    .

    The sun sets behind the Canyon, that is, it sets behind your back as you face Bryce Canyon’s views. But once it has sunk below the horizon, the eastern sky takes on the unique pink and blue hues of dusk in the desert.

    Sunset Bryce Canyon National Park Utah Inspiration Point

    The desert sky turns pink and blue at twilight.

    Inspiration Point is truly the most dazzling part of Bryce Canyon National Park, and whether you have three hours or nearly three weeks to explore the Park, as we did, it is a thrilling place to start.

    RV camping in Utah

    .

    For RVers planning an RV road trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, there’s more info and links below:

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    More info about Bryce Canyon National Park:

    More blog posts from our RV trips to Bryce Canyon

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    Bryce Canyon, UT – Fairyland of Pink Turrets

    Inspiration Point overlooking Bryce Ampitheater

    Inspiration Point overlooking Bryce Ampitheater

    Bryce Canyon Point

    Bryce Canyon Point

    Smiles everywhere at Bryce Canyon

    Smiles everywhere

    Stunning views at Bryce Canyon, Utah Stunning views at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Natural symmetry

    Stunning views at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    The regularity and precision of

    these formations can be dizzying.

    Trees cling to the rim at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Trees cling to the rim

    Bryce Canyon Ampitheater

    Bryce Ampitheater

    Rim views, Bryce Canyon, Utah Beginning of Queen's Garden hike Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Beginning of Queen's Garden hike

    The spires give way to a smooth, orange and red moonscape at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    The spires give way to a smooth, orange and red

    moonscape

    Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Trees from another planet

    Queen's Garden Bryce Canyon, Utah

    End of the trail -- at Queen's

    Garden

    Nature's Wall Street at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Nature's Wall Street

    Looking down from the top of the Wall Street switch backs at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    The top of the Wall Street switch backs

    Bryce Canyon, Utah Bryce Lodge has many cute cabins for guests

    Bryce Lodge has many cute cabins for guests

    The Peek-a-boo hike at Bryce Canyon defies nature's laws and seems to ascend for the entire loop.

    The Peek-a-boo hike defies nature's laws and seems

    to ascend for the entire loop.

    Serenity along the hiking trails at Bryce Canyon

    Serenity

    Spires and spikey trees surrounded us at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Spires and spikey trees surrounded

    us

    Peek-a-boo, the namesake of the Peek-a-boo trail at Bryce Canyon

    Peek-a-boo

    Seeming chess pieces at Bryce Canyon

    At times it seemed as though we were wandering

    among towering chess pieces.

    Stunning view at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    A promontory hangs into the canyon for an awe

    inspiring view.  A good place to take a breather!

    Tunnels and arches at Bryce Canyon, Utah

    Little tunnels and hobbit doorways invite the hiker to

    vast views on the other side.

    Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    July 20-August 20, 2008 - We had

    arrived in the lower elevations of

    Kanab, UT and visited Best

    Friends Animal Sanctuary,

    during a peak week of monsoon

    activity.  Monsoons are a

    southwest phenomenon that give

    the deserts much needed

    moisture and relief from the heat

    in mid-summer.  I had learned

    about them living in Arizona, but

    had never known that they could

    spread their salve as far north as

    southern Utah and even over into

    southern Colorado.  It is magic to

    watch the sky cloud over promptly

    at noon every day, and there is a

    lusciousness to being drenched

    by brief downpours every

    afternoon.  These storms leave

    the air crisp and clear, and they

    keep the ferocious heat to a minimum.  Once the monsoons abated, we

    found ourselves in an oven, baking by noon, and burnt to a crisp by

    evening.  Full of energy at the break of day, we were lethargic sloths by

    nightfall.  It was time to get back to the higher elevations.  We left Kanab

    for Ruby's Inn, a settlement just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park at

    7,500 feet.

    Bryce Canyon

    is a wonderland of pink and white

    spires, laid out with amazing

    symmetry.  The open bowl of

    crystalline formations carved from

    the surrounding flat plains

    resembles an ampitheater.  The

    man who first ranched the area

    around Rubys Inn in the 1800's

    had no idea the canyon was just

    beyond his land.  Imagine the

    look on his face when, at the

    suggestion of a knowledgeable

    neighbor, he took his family on an

    excursion to the rim!  It is a place that evokes smiles

    in everyone, and as we rode the shuttle bus to the

    view points and walked the many trails that lead

    along the edge and down into the canyon, I was

    struck by how happy everyone was.  Children love

    this place.

    We walked along the Rim, from

    Bryce Point to Inspiration Point,

    and watched a fantastic summer

    thunderstorm creep over the

    valley until we had to run for

    cover ourselves.  This land was

    carved by a divine hand using the

    tools of wind and rain to erode the

    rock into fantastic formations.  I

    was awed by the regularity of the

    carvings.  Rows upon rows of

    spires stand in perfect military

    formation.

    At the top the

    trees cling to the rim for dear life,

    their roots clawing at the

    crumbling gravel as their

    branches wave ominously in the

    breeze, threatening to rip the

    trees from the edge.  At the

    bottom the trees pierce the air

    above them, the dark green

    spikes contrasting with the

    orange and white striped spears

    of rock.

    We hiked down into the canyon to

    the Queen's Garden.  As you descend on this hike

    the land becomes otherworldly.  Between the spires,

    the land forms smooth, rounded slopes and the

    trees are short and twisted.  The noise of the

    tourists at the rim fades away behind you and the

    solitude and odd surroundings seem like a

    moonscape.  The emotional

    anchor of the ordinary looking

    grassy fields and ranches that

    surround Bryce Canyon

    disappear from view, and you

    find yourself on the moon, or

    mars, looking up at the red rock

    spires, repeating the mantra:

    "wow."

    The gravel path winds in and out

    of the spires, abandoning one

    spectacular sight as it takes a

    sharp turn around a bend

    towards another.  We walked

    through several doorways and

    tunnels, emerging from each to

    find ourselves staring at yet

    another splendid work of art by

    Nature.  People linger on these

    trails. Llittle groups and pairs line

    themselves up for photos, posing

    all over this spectacular setting.

    Cameras are handed around

    trustingly between strangers in

    order to get everyone in each

    group into the pictures.  "I'll take

    one for you if you'll take one for

    me," is the phrase of the day,

    sometimes said in broken English,

    and often accompanied with gestures and sign language.  Cameras are all

    shapes and sizes.  "Just press the button."  Lots of nodding and pointing.

    Everyone is grinning.  None of us can wait to show these pictures to our

    friends back home.  All the photos turn out great.

    At the very bottom we came to a plaque that showed us

    Queen Victoria.  This was the Queen's Garden.  She is

    at the tippy top of a spire.  She looks very regal, and

    very wee.  In time she will erode away and be replaced

    by other shapes.  Looking around at the other hoodoo

    rock formations, we made out a medieval friar and a

    great horned owl to accompany the queen.

    We had descended about a thousand feet and had to

    climb back up again to the rim.  We chose the route that

    goes through Wall Street, where the red rock walls

    close around you like skyscrapers but much closer.  A

    switch back trail takes you up until you look way down

    on the tiny pine trees at the base.  Then you climb

    higher til the people seem mere specks.  Your heart

    pounds from the exertion of climbing

    straight up, and when you reach the

    top the view takes your breath away

    yet again.

    We wandered along the rim and met

    a little girl holding a camera that was

    as big as she was.  What a smile she

    had as that camera clicked away.

    The Bryce Canyon Lodge is the

    oldest original National Park lodge still

    standing; the others at Yellowstone,

    Grand Canyon and the rest all

    succombed to fire at one time or

    another and were rebuilt.  Bryce isn't immune to

    wildfires, however, and there were many "prescribed

    burns" in action while we were there as the Park Service

    attempted to keep the woods thinned so they wouldn't

    be prone to future fires.

    We spent a few days riding our bikes and hiking in the

    areas away from Bryce Canyon and then returned to do

    the Peek-a-boo hike.  We were both surprised at how

    the grins came back to our faces and the "wow" formed

    on our lips again as soon as we walked up to the rim.

    What a place.

    We had no idea why the Peek-a-boo hike has its name,

    and we descended into the canyon away from the

    crowds wondering what laid

    ahead.

    Once again, as we walked down

    into the canyon, we felt an

    almost physical sensation cloak

    our bodies as the immense quiet and peace of this place enveloped us.

    Suddenly, we looked up at a wall of spires and saw one hole, and then

    another.  "So that's why it's called Peek-a-boo!"  Mark said, mugging for

    the camera.  We walked with our heads up and our eyes on the peaks,

    tripping occasionally.  But you can't look down on this hike, even as you

    stumble.

    The trail

    twisted and turned and double-backed on itself between formations.  I

    felt like a rat in a maze, or a child stomping around on an enormous

    chess board.

    We did a lot of climbing on this hike, more than seemed physically

    possible for a loop hike.  Mark walked faster than I did (he didn't

    bring his camera and mine kept slowing me down!), and I turned a

    corner and looked up to see him happily surveying the view from

    an ideal vantage point.  Once I caught up to him we sat together

    for a moment.

    When we turned to continue on, we were facing a little doorway.  As we passed through the door

    to the glittering view on the other side, I felt like Dorothy as she steps out of her Kansas house

    into the colorful Land of OZ.

    After a few weeks at our "ranch

    house" outside of Bryce Canyon,

    among the cattle, ponderosa pines

    and pronghorn, overlooking grazing

    lands that stretched to the horizon,

    we felt like it was home.  Our TV got

    great NBC reception, so we stayed to

    watch most of the Beijing Olympics.  It

    was very hard to tear ourselves away,

    but eventually the day came, and

    once we hit the road, the excitement

    of discovering new places propelled us forward and made us eager to

    leave.  We bumped into the sweet village of Alton and gradually made

    our way over the mountains to Parowan and Cedar City.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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