Canyon de Chelly – Breathtaking Views Under Vibrant Skies

April 2017 – We left the wondrous Petrified Forest National Park with its incredible hikes and nearby Route 66 nostalgia and headed due north from Holbrook, Arizona, on Route 77 towards Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

Route 77 in the Navajo Nation Arizona

Wide open lands on Route 77 in the Navajo Nation, Arizona

This interesting (although occasionally bumpy) rural road goes through the vast Navajo Nation. We were mesmerized by the classic southwestern vistas that filled our views for the first twenty miles or so. My long lens was in the trailer (sigh), so I didn’t get good shots of the amazing rock formations we passed.

A few years back we made a similar trek on the parallel Indian Route 12 and really enjoyed it. So, again, we decided to forego the more major highway (US Route 191) and take another scenic route instead.

Little did we know it was going to snow on us as we got into the higher elevations!

Snow on road Navajo Nation Arizona

When we climbed from 5,000′ to 6,500′ elevation, we got a spring snow storm!

This was our third trip to Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon d’Shay), but like all of the National Parks and National Monuments, there always seems to be something new to see.

In past visits we explored the overlooks along the northern scenic rim road through the park and hiked to the jaw-dropping White House Ruin. So, this time we decided to explore a few spots along the southern rim road.

Tunnel Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Tunnel Overlook, Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly is a massive canyon formed by uplifts and the relentless flow of water, and today the sheer red rock canyon walls tower 700 feet above the lush green valley floor.

Far below us we saw trucks bashing through the water from recent rains.

Tsegi Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Tsegi Overlook.

The only way to see the valley of the canyon is to take a private guided tour offered by the Navajo who live on the reservation that surrounds Canyon de Chelly National Monument. However, the North and South Rim Drives are open to everyone to enjoy for free without a paid guide.

Car driving in wash at Tsegi Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

The only way to get into Canyon de Chelly is on one hiking trail (White House Trail) or on a commercial tour.

As we zipped in and out of the overlooks, the skies began to brood…

Tsegi Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument RV trip Arizona

The clouds were moving fast at Tsegi overlook.

…and the red rock cliffs seemed to swirl around each other in fabulously exotic shapes.

Junction Overlook Canyon de Chelly South Rim Road Overlook Arizona

The rocks formed beautiful shapes that were so much fun to climb on.

Sliding House Ruin Overlook at Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Sliding House Ruin Overlook

Eventually, we made our way to Spider Rock Overlook, one of the iconic images of Canyon de Chelly. We reached the overlook right at the golden hour before sunset when the rock itself was lit in rich burnt orange hues.

Spider Rock overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Spider Rock.

The day had been very cloudy and windy, but as if by magic, right as the sun began to set, we were blessed with the most astonishing display of colors in the sky.

Sunset spider rock Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

As the golden light faded on Spider Rock and the red rock cliffs, the sky began a light show of its own.

We each ran back and forth on the rim, unsure where to get the best views and which part of the sky would light up next.

Sunset at Spider overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Mark lines up his shot on the next rock outcropping (upper right corner).

Spider rock lost its glow but the fire in the heavens was just getting started.

Spider Rock sunset Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona RV trip

Sunset’s brilliant display begins at Spider Rock.

Once the drama had played itself out in shades of orange, the skies turned vivid pink.

Pink sunset Spider Rock Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

.

The light show intensified and our two-way radios crackled as we called each other from opposite ends of the overlook.

“Did you see THAT??!!”

Colorful sunset Spider Rock overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

.

That sunset was breathtaking, but when morning came the next day and we ventured back out on the south rim drive, the drama in the sky was gone. We returned to Sliding House Ruin overlook because there is such a huge area to prowl around there, and looking down into Canyon de Chelly was as astonishing as ever.

Valley at Sliding House Ruin Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Sliding House Ruin Overlook.

At Sliding House Ruin overlook there are endless stretches of flat and undulating boulders that head out in all directions on a promontory. Before we knew it, we had been there for hours running around on the tops of these cliffs and peering down into the tree-filled valleys below.

Of course, if you get too close to the edge in a place like this, it’s all over. A sign near the rim was a good reminder!

Sheer cliff warning sign Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

.

Red rock cliffs and green valley floor Sliding House Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

It’s a long way down…but what a view!

When I finally had gotten my fill of staring at the immense views in front of me, I glanced down at my feet and was taken with the rich hues and artistic patterns of the colorful lichen that was growing in and around the creases in the rocks.

Nature's artwork Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Nature’s artwork on the rocks.

Standing back and surveying the vast flat lichen covered boulders that stretched in all directions around me, I felt like I was looking at a modern art painting. Perhaps this is where Jackson Pollack got his inspiration!

Lichen on red rocks Jackson Pollack painting Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Jackson Pollack — Or colorful lichen on red rocks?

A little movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention, and I turned to see a lizard scampering past. He stopped and stared at me as I snuck closer and clicked my camera’s shutter.

Lizard Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

A lizard looks over at me as he runs by.

The spring wildflowers had started blooming, and Mark found a beautiful bouquet of Indian Paintbrush flowers.

Indian Paintbrush Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

A dash of scarlet…

We stuck around and soon the sun was sinking low in the sky, and the shadows were growing long and deep.

Shadows at sunset Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

Long shadows made for a surprise selfie at Sliding House Overlook.

The clear sky meant there were no colorful theatrics in the sky for our sunset at Sliding House overlook, but the sun gave me a coy wink for a split second before it slipped out of sight.

Starburst sunset Sliding House Ruin Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

A fleeting starburst at sunset…

It was hard to set the alarm for a pre-dawn hour the next day, but we bundled into our truck with hot tea and coffee in hand and drove out to Sliding House overlook once again where Mark caught the sun giving us a wink on its way up.

Sunrise Sliding House Ruin Overlook Canyon de Chelly National Monument Arizona

…and another at dawn.

Canyon de Chelly is a special place deep in the heart of the immense Navajo reservation. There is a dry camping campground in the town of Chinle that is run by the Navajo, and a few sites are big enough for a big RV.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Canyon de Chelly:

Other blog posts from the beautiful red rock country of America’s southwest:

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

Petrified Forest National Park RV Trip – Magic in Jasper Forest

April 2017 – One of the highlights on Route 66 is the Petrified Forest National Park where the enormous trunks of 200 million year old trees have turned to stone.

Photography at Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

The solid stone tree stumps at Petrified Forest National Park are truly impressive!

We have been to Petrified Forest National Park twice before, but it was on this trip that we finally found the true magic there.

Stumps Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

Those tree stumps are solid rock, through and through!

We knew that the best way to see Petrified Forest National Park, like all the National Parks, is to get out on the hiking trails away from the crowds.

Jasper Forest petrified logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

We loved seeing how the logs split over millenia, due to the pressures of moisture and ice,
and revealing the tree rings — still perfectly intact — inside.

But it wasn’t until this visit that we discovered which hiking trails are the most stunning.

Logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

Was the woodsman just here with his ax?

On our first foray into the Park on this trip we explored the area called Crystal Forest.

Logs Petrified Forest National Park Crystal Forest

The logs were scattered everywhere. But there wasn’t a living tree to be seen anywhere!

In every direction we saw the enormous trunks of trees that had been growing millions of years ago.

These trees had toppled over during torrential rains millenia ago, and had floated downstream only to end up in a deep and muddy logjam where they slowly and very gradually crystallized.

Over time, the pressure of moisture and ice within the logs broke them into segments.

Out on the vast treeless plain, we saw countless tree trunks that looked like a lumberjack had just sliced them up with a chainsaw in preparation for splitting them into firewood!

Petrified log Petrified Forest National Park Crystal Forest

We saw many 50+ foot long logs lying on the grass and split into sections.

Here and there, the stump of a tree trunk stuck up from the ground and looked for all the world like the tree had just been felled.

Wildflowers with petrified wood tree stump Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

A rock and a wildflower.

All the tree rings were perfectly visible in a rainbow of crystalline colors.

Tree rings Petrified Forest National Park Jasper Forest

Brilliantly colored minerals have crystallized the tree rings in this ancient tree.

The logs lay scattered all over the place, and in between were beautiful shards of petrified wood.

Colorful agate Petrified Forest National Park Jasper Forest

There were exquisite shards of rock EVERYWHERE as far as the eye could see in all directions.


Some logs had been split so the tree rings were visible while others had been severed lengthwise showing vertical striations from the interior of the log.

Colorful agate Petrified Forest National Park Jasper Forest-2

.

In one area the shards that surrounded the logs look like woodchips. It was as if the lumberjack had just laid down his ax! These pale wood chips were very thin, just like ordinary wood chips, but these slivers of rock tinkled like a bell when dropped on each other!

Petrified wood chips at Petrified Forest National Park Jasper Forest

The light colored “wood chips” on the ground were brittle rock shards that sounded like bells
when they fell on each other.

We had wandered out at the “golden hour” about an hour before sunset, and as the sun sank below the horizon we were blessed with a beautiful sunset over these exotic rocks.

Sunset at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

Sunset in Petrified Forest National Park.

Even better than Crystal Forest, however, is Jasper Forest which is just a little further north. The overlook takes in a sweeping view.

Jasper Forest Overlook Petrified Forest National Park Arizon

Jasper Forest overlook has an incredible view — see the logs below? — and the trail to the plain below took us down among thousands of logs.

In the distance, far below the Jasper Forest overlook, boulders and petrified logs intermingled.

Overlook at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

Huge waves of eroded rock formations were littered with tumbled boulders and petrified logs.

When we stopped at the Visitors Center to find out where the best collections of petrified wood were in the Park, the ranger took out a large 3-ring binder labeled “Off The Beaten Path Trails.” He took out the trail directions, complete with photos, for a few trails and handed them to us. One set was for Jasper Forest.

Sitting on petrified logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

Down among the petrified logs at Jasper Forest.

The trail directions were a bit confusing, but they are actually very easy:

  • Go to the north end of the Jasper Overlook parking lot and look for a narrow trail heading north from the last parking space in the lot.
  • Follow this trail north and then west onto the wide plain that stretches out below the Jasper Forest overlook.
Petrified logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

Two faces from the same log reveal gorgeous tree rings.

From there you can go in any direction you want, and we quickly ran off in opposite directions!

Log with a knot Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

The “bark” on this 200 million year old log even had a knot in it.

We were there in the harsh light of noon, so even though the rock logs were mind boggling, we knew they would be even more beautiful in the rich light of late afternoon.

Petrified logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

.

Petrified wood logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

.

So, we returned a little later with our cameras, and suddenly the logs came alive in vivid shades.

Petrified tree stump Petrified Forest National Park Arizona Jasper Forest

At the “golden hour” an hour before sunset,
all the logs began to glow.

The skies were darkly overcast but the sun snuck through underneath and cast a brilliant light on all the stone tree logs.

Storm clouds Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

Storm clouds darkened the skies while the sun peeked through.

Golden light at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

Looking at the tree root ends of the logs — in rich light.

As the sun sank towards the horizon, we were in awe of the beauty around us. We were also frantically running around trying to capture it as best we could while the sun teased us mercilessly!

At one moment the sun would pierce through the clouds and light everything up in bright orange and yellow, and at the next moment it would disappear all together behind the clouds!

Petrified logs at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

.

The clouds were flying across the sky, making an ideal opportunity to use long shutter speeds to make them blur dramatically just as the sun set in a starburst.

Sunset at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

Drama in the sky above an ancient world of stones.

Wild skies at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona

.

Dramatic clouds at Jasper Forest Petrified Forest National Park Arizona 2

.

Petrified Forest National Park is a great place to go with an RV, and it is surrounded by many of the most spectacular natural wonders of America’s southwest.

RV motorhome in Petrified Forest National Park Crystal Forest

A motorhome passes the Crystal Forest turnoff.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Petrified Forest National Park:

Other blog posts from our travels in Northeastern Arizona:

National Parks and World Heritage Sites – by RV, sailboat, and airplane!

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

RV Trip to Zion National Park “West” – Gorgeous Kolob Canyons!

October 2016 – Zion National Park in Utah is one of America’s most beautiful National Parks, and we were loving our RV trip to the main part of the park at Zion Canyon. A side trip to Kolob Canyons at Exit 40 on I-15 took us to a much less visited but equally dramatic area on the west side of the Park.

Kolob Canyons Road Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Kolob Canyons Road is a spectacular scenic drive.

The stunning scenic drive through the Kolob Canyons region of the park is truly breathtaking.

We had been blown away by the fall foliage season on the San Juan Skyway in Colorado in late September where the aspen trees were cloaked in gold. Autumn comes four or five weeks later in Zion National Park, but the colors in the last days of October were wonderful.

Autumn Foliage Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

The trees were vivid colors.

As we followed Kolob Canyons Road, Taylor Creek accompanied us. Hardwood trees along the edges of this thin trickle of water were resplendent in their fall colors.

Fall Foliage Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

Fall foliage was at its peak in late October – Wow!

The red rock scenery was awe-inspiring too, with jagged cliffs towering in front of us and then surrounding us.

Fall Foliage Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

Kolob Canyons

Autumn Leaves Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

.

There is no shuttle bus on Kolob Canyons Road, and there is very little traffic, especially in the early morning. We stopped at several pullouts to take a deep breath and savor the incredible views.

Scenic Drive Kolob Canyons Road Zion National Park Utah RV trip

.

Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at the beginning of the scenic drive is at about 5,000′ elevation, and Kolob Canyons Road climbs about 1,000 feet to the Kolob Viewpoint at the end, about 5 miles down the road.

In comparison, Zion Canyon is at 4,000′ elevation.

So, there was a delicious mix of evergreens and deciduous hardwood trees that stand out against the red rock backdrop.

Kolob Canyons Red Rock Fall Foliage Zion National Park Utah

Fall foliage and red rocks – yum!

Red Rock Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

Trees perched on outcroppings of the red rock cliffs.

Kolob Canyons is an awesome area for photography, and our cameras were going wild.

Photography Kolob Canyon Road Zion Canyon National Park RV Trip

.

Some of the best fall colors seemed to be down along Taylor Creek, so we decided to hike the Taylor Creek Trail to see if we could immerse ourselves a little deeper in the fall foliage.

Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah RV trip

The Taylor Creek Trail headed right into the fall color.

Taylor Creek Trail was an easy hike that took us under lovely archways of colorful leaves.

 Fall Color Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

We walked under an arch of autumn color.

We had the trail almost entirely to ourselves as we walked into a wonderland of fall color.

Taylor Creek Trail hike Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

.

Because the elevation in Kolob Canyons is slightly higher than in Zion Canyon, late October was the ideal time to see the autumn colors along this creek.

Autumn color Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Utah

.

Red rocks autumn leaves Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

.

Being there at the right time for beautiful colors was a nice surprise, because, over in Zion Canyon we had found we were just a little bit early. The best time for that part of the park is the first week of November.

Fall Color Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

.

Fall Foliage Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

.

The red rocks of the surrounding peaks of Kolob Canyons jutted into the brooding sky, adding a wonderful burnt orange to the brilliant shades of the trees around us.

Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

.

We were just having too much fun with our cameras here!

Photography in Fall Colors Zion National Park Utah

.

As is always the way when we go on a gorgeous hike with our cameras, we soon got separated as we each scrambled off the trail here and there to explore inviting and hidden spots. Mark found himeself surrounded by maple trees and had fun with their bright red leaves.

Maple Leaf and acorn from Zion Canyon

Fall comes to Zion National Park.

Who knew there were maple leaves in the red rock desert canyons of Southern Utah?!

Colorful autumn leaves Zion National Park Utah

.

We spent many hours on Taylor Creek Trail and didn’t even make it to the end of the hike!

Autumn colors Taylor Creek Trail Hike Zion National Park Utah

.

Keeping tabs with each with our two-way radios, we finally made our way back to our truck. When I got there I found Mark had put pretty fall leaves all over my seat!

Autumn leaves in a truck

I came back to our truck to find my seat covered with fall leaves — fun!

It is days like this that make our crazy lives in our trailer so special.

Zion National Park RV Trip Kolob Canyons

.

For RVers heading to Zion National Park, the one hour drive from Zion Canyon around to the west entrance at Kolob Canyons is really worthwhile. There is a campground on the west side of the park that is designed for tent camping and is suitable for truck campers and very short Class C’s.

Camping Zion National Park Utah

A full moon rises at Zion.

There are links with more info and big rig RV parking ideas below.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park:

Other blog posts from our RV travels near Zion National Park in Utah:

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

Zion National Park RV Trip – One AWESOME Canyon!

October 2016 – Zion National Park in Utah is filled with towering rock formations that rise up alongside the Virgin River. It’s located in the heart of National Parks country, just 70 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, 70 miles from Cedar Breaks National Monument and 110 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

RV Camping on an RV trip to Zion National Park in Utah

Zion National Park is a fantastic destination for an RV trip

The views in Zion Canyon are utterly breathtaking.

View of Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah RV trip

Zion Canyon view – spectacular!

We had visited Zion National Park before, both in a tent and also with our first full-time RV. But each of those visits had been more of a survey trip than an in depth immersion. This time we took our time exploring.

The Watchman Zion National Park Utah

The Watchman at sunset

There are many ways to enjoy Zion National Park. One of the most fun ways to get an introduction is to walk along the Pa’rus Trail that goes alongside the Virgin River right from the Visitors Center.

Hiking Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park Utah

We walked the Pa’rus Trail and crossed several bridges over the Virgin River

This is a popular trail both for walking (including dog walking) and for riding bikes as well.

Bike Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park Utah

Biking is a great way to get an overview of Zion National Park, especially on the Pa’rus Trail

We took our bikes on it one day and saw some fabulous views.

Bicycling Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park Utah

Cycling the Pa’rus Trail

Biking in Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah

Pa’rus Trail – What a ride!

Rock pinnacles thrust up from the earth on all sides, and the trees were changing colors here and there in the cool October air.

The Watchman Zion National Park Utah

The Watchman in fall color.

We saw some little critters. A bird flitted between the branches of a tree and a ground squirrel paused to have a look at us.

Bird at Zion National Park Utah

.

Ground Squirrel Zion National Park Utah

.

The main road through the park is the 9 mile long Zion Canyon Scenic Drive which dead ends in the heart of the main canyon. Cars are restricted on much of this road and are forbidden for the last half of it from Spring to Fall, making it absolutely fabulous for a bike ride.

Bike Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Cycling Zion Canyon Scenic Drive into the heart of Zion’s main canyon: Zion Canyon

Cyclists share this road with both chartered tour buses and the Park’s free shuttle buses, but the buses are infrequent enough that for most of the ride we had the entire road to ourselves. Awesome!

Cycling Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

We LOVED riding our bikes on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The erosive power of the Virgin River is responsible for Zion Canyon, and the stunning scenic drive runs alongside it.

Virgin River Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah

The Virgin River cuts between the rock walls.

The Virgin River is shallow and filled with small rocks in some places.

Virgin River Zion National Park Utah

.

As we got deeper and deeper into Zion Canyon, the towering rock walls closed in all around us.

Virgin River Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah RV trip

Tall cliffs and magical light in Zion Canyon

The canyon walls grew steeper and steeper, rising up around us on all sides as we approached the end of the road.

Bike Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Views everywhere

Early in the morning, much of Zion Canyon was in shade because the rock walls are so high.

Zion Canyon RV trip Zion National Park Utah

Light and shadow change all day long on Zion’s cliffs.

But later in the day the sun rose high enough to light it up. As the sun traversed the sky, the walls on one side of the canyon were lit first. Then they became shaded and the walls on the other side lit up.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

A gorgeous view from Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Amazingly, Zion Canyon National Park has a brewpub right outside the park. After a day of sightseeing, no one had to twist our arms to join the other happy tourists and find a table with a view to quaff a pint!

Zion Brewery Zion National Park Utah

What a great way to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

Zion Canyon Brewing Company Zion National Park Utah

A brew with a view!

In the late afternoon we watched the full moon rise through the sunset.

Full moon Zion National Park Utah

.

Full moon Zion National Park Utah

.

Zion Canyon is essentially an enormous (and enormously beautiful) box canyon, i.e., a dead end. And Zion National Park is immensely popular. A ranger told me 4 million people had already visited the Park in 2016 when we got there in October.

So, getting all these people in and out of the box canyon is no small trick. Zion National Park has done an amazing job of handling the traffic and the crowds.

For starters, car traffic is highly restricted for all but the Winter season. The parking lot at the Visitor Center fills as early as 8:00 a.m. during the peak season between Spring and Fall.

RV Parking Zion National Park Utah

Forget about parking at the Visitors Center after 8:00 a.m.
Luckily, there is parking in the town of Springdale, especially at the south end of town.

There are two excellent free shuttle systems to ferry people around both the town of Springdale and Zion National Park.

The Springdale Shuttle takes visitors through town and runs all the way to the Zion National Park entrance and visitors center.

The Zion Canyon Shuttle takes visitors from there all the way through the National Park to the end of the box canyon (which is also the start of the very popular Narrows hike).

Shuttle Bus Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Free Shuttle Buses
The Zion Canyon shuttle (at bus stop #3 above) is efficient and easy to use.
A different shuttle — the Springdale Shuttle — serves the town of Springdale where you can park.
So… Park in town, take the Springdale Line to the Canyon Line which goes into the Park

There are about 9 stops on each route, and each one takes about 40-45 minutes end to end.

Passengers on the Zion Canyon Shuttle get to hear an interesting recording that tells all about the park, both its natural history and its human history. We took both shuttles quite a few times during our stay, visiting various overlooks and doing various hikes, and we found it easy and convenient.

Cars can drive into the park as far as the turn-off onto Route 9 East that goes through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. People staying at Zion Canyon Lodge, which is beyond that point, can get a pass to drive as far as the lodge and park their cars there. However, during the peak season when the shuttle runs (Spring to Fall), all cars are forbidden beyond the Lodge. During the Winter, the shuttle runs only on holidays, and at that time cars are allowed to drive the full length of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Anyone entering the canyon with a big dually truck like ours, or towing a trailer or driving a motorhome, will be informed that their vehicle will require a pilot to go through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on Route 9. There is a fee for this, as traffic in both directions has to be stopped. Years ago, we went through the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel and drove the wild switchbacks of Route 9 in a minivan, and the drive is out of this world. So, if you have a car, do it!!

South Campground camping Zion National Park Utah

South Campground is right next to the Pa’rus Trail

There are two campgrounds that can accommodate small to mid-size RVs. Both are close to the Park entrance. South Campground is, ironically, the more northerly of the two. Watchman Campground is the more southerly one!

During our stay in October, the leaves were just beginning to change into their autumn colors. The peak for fall color is generally around the first week of November.

Fall color The Watchman Zion National Park Utah

Fall colors peak at Zion in the first week of November (this photo is late October)

RV trip Zion National Park Utah

.

Zion National Park is a world class destination and we absolutely loved our stay this year! We’ll have more blog posts from our time there. In the meantime, we’ve got lots of links below to help you plan your visit.

Zion Canyon RV camping Zion National Park Utah

Zion National Park is an incredible destination

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Zion National Park:

More blog posts from our RV trips to Southwestern Utah:

Blog posts from all our travels to National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Magnificent & Intimate by Day or Night!

October 2016 – After driving through the red rock wonderland of the Vermillion Cliffs in northern Arizona, we found ourselves at 10,000′ elevation on the Kaibab Plateau in beautiful pine forests. This is the home of the Grand Canyon where the earth seems to have split apart, revealing the massive crimson hued jagged walls that rise up from the Colorado River thousands of feet below.

Red cliffs of North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Red cliffs at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon runs east to west for 277 miles and spans as much as 18 miles between its north and south rims.

A huge region towards the middle of the chasm has been set aside as Grand Canyon National Park, and it has two entrances you can drive to, one on the north side of the canyon and one on the south side. At each of those spots you can wander along the rim and peer over the edge to look 6,000′ down.

North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona view through trees

A glimpse of the Grand Canyon through the trees.

The South Rim is much more popular than the North Rim and is quite overrun with tourists, many making a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list trip from far distant corners of the planet. It is wonderful, but it is extremely busy.

Colorful cliffs North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

View from the North Rim.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a bit out of the way, so far fewer people go there, and most visitors are from the surrounding states. The North Rim sees 10% of the tourist traffic that the South Rim does and is 1,000′ higher in elevation.

Chasm North Rim Grand Canyon Arizon

Looking across the Big Ditch!

The North Rim has a very special lodge that was built by the National Parks Service in 1927. This wonderful and inviting stone building is perched right on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and the huge picture windows look out on a spectacular view.

View from Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim – What a view!

There is also a huge dining room where diners can eat dinner while watching the sun cast its golden glow across the ridges of the canyon right next to their table!

Dining Room Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

A historic and beautiful spot for a dinner…with a world class view!

Outside the lodge there is a low stone wall and a line of big wooden chairs where you can sit and take in the view over a beer.

View from deck of Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

The deck behind the Lodge offers a relaxing spot to enjoy a drink and take a few pics.

What a fantastic place!

View from deck Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim Arizona

Tourists kick back at the North Rim.

There is a feeling of intimacy and wonder on the rim here as strangers chat with each other and snap pics and take in the incredible view, enjoying a unique National Parks experience.

Deck view North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

A short trail leads from the edge of this deck out onto a peninsula that just into the Canyon and ends at Bright Angel Point.

Hiking to Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

The trail to Bright Angel Point at the North Rim

This is a fun paved path that provides endless opportunities for jumping up on the rock pinnacles on either side to get a better view.

Hke to Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

There are lots of places to scramble a little higher for a better view.

Of course, the best light in the Canyon is early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona View

Late afternoon’s golden light brings out the contours of the jagged cliffs at the Grand Canyon.

The sun was sinking in a very hazy sky when we were there, but the towering walls of the Grand Canyon still radiated a soft light, as if from within.

Golden hour North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona overlook

.

Rock formations North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

Here and there couples and friends staked out a spot on a precipice to watch the sun fade away.

Sunset North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Catching the sunset at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

As the shadows crept up the canyon walls from the bottom, the tips of the craggy peaks held the light the longest.

View of Red cliffs North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

In the final few moments of daylight, a thin ribbon of orange hovered over the Canyon.

Chasm view North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

As the sun sank deeper behind the horizon, the colors in the sky grew ever more rich.

Sunset North Rim Grand Canyon

.

Once the sun was gone from the sky, the contours of the Grand Canyon flattened out, revealing beautiful patterns.

Color Patterns North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Patterns in the view at the Grand Canyon after sunset.

Without any shadows to show depth, near and far blended together.

Patterns North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

Cliffs North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

Because of the 10,000′ altitude at the rim, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is very cold, except in midsummer, and the Grand Canyon Lodge closes October 16. The 45 mile drive on Highway 67 between the hamlet of Jacob Lake and the North Rim remains open but isn’t plowed, and the self-service gas station in the park closes December 1.

In mid-October we shivered in overnight temps that dipped into the 20’s. Nevertheless, we snuck out onto the trail in front of the lodge in the pitch dark, lighting the way with our new and very cool Lumintop flashlight (we reviewed it here) and got set up to take some shots.

Overlook night stars North Rim Grand Canyon

Night photography at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Above us, the lodge was well lit and looked very cozy and inviting. Occasionally we heard the excited conversation of revelers out on the deck and saw flashes from their cameras.

Stars over Lodge at North Rim of the Grand Canyon starry night and fifth wheel trailer RV

The Lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Slowly the stars began to shimmer above us, forming a dome full of glitter over the Grand Canyon.

Stars at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Stars began to fill the sky

Both rims of the Grand Canyon are decorated with the skeletons of dead trees whose gnarly branches reach out in all directions. The Milky Way formed a majestic backdrop in the sky.

Tree and Milky Way North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

The moon was setting and slowly sank into the horizon. It was nearly full and glowed orange.

Milky Way at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

.

Seeing the moon at the horizon below the Milky Way reminded us of our many nights at sea on the Pacific Ocean. Sailors doing their first overnight passages are often shocked as they fly along in the pitch dark at full speed, squinting hard to distinguish the sky from the ocean, and then suddenly see a very bright light on the horizon right in front of them.

More than a few hearts have skipped a beat, and more than a few frightened sailors have dashed to their radar display in a total panic as they tried to figure out what kind of mammoth ship was about to crash into them.

Then they’ve suddenly collapsed in embarrassed laughter when they realized the enormous ship approaching them was actually the rising moon.

We’d read these stories before our cruise, and of course we knew we were far too smart ever to fall for Nature’s little nighttime tease. So, it was particularly funny when it happened to us too!

Milky Way at the Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona

Good night, Grand Canyon!

If the Grand Canyon is on your horizon for your RV travels, you can camp right on the rim in the campground at the North Rim. How totally cool is that?!

However, you need to have a small to mid-size RV to fit into the campsites and drive the camground loop, and it is best to reserve a spot in advance. There are other RV camping options for slightly bigger RVs in Jacob Lake.

For folks without an RV, the Grand Canyon Lodge has a collection of charming small cabins that surround the main lodge building, and they are just steps from the rim as well.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is quite vast, and many of the overlooks require a drive of 50 miles or so round trip to reach them. We breezed through the North Rim on this RV trip because it was late in the season and we couldn’t drive through Jacob Lake on our route from east to west across northern Arizona without dipping down to say “hi” to the Grand Canyon, if only for a moment.

However, like all the National Parks, the Grand Canyon deserves a week or more to enjoy its many nooks and crannies in depth. During our second year of full-time RV adventures, we stayed for a month at the North Rim.

More info and links below.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

Some details about Arizona’s North Rim of the Grand Canyon:

Other blog posts from our RV travels in Northern Arizona:

All of our blog posts from Arizona
National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites we have visited

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

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

.

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

.

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

.

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

.

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:

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

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

.

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

.

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!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

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

.

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

.

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

.

Rainbow Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

.

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.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Bryce Canyon National Park:

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

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.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Bryce Canyon National Park:

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!!

<-Previous || Next->

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.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Bryce Canyon National Park:

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!!

<-Previous || Next->