Bryce Canyon is one of the true gems of the National Park System. Nothing prepares you for your first step overlooking its vast openness. Colorful hoodoos point towards the bluest skies you have ever seen and fresh air fills your lungs. Your eyes have a hard time focusing, your brain has a hard time comprehending what it is seeing with all its rich colors. The colors seem surreal and look more like a painting than real life. You leave here a changed person, thoughts come mind for years to follow dreaming of returning to such an incredible place. Your mind knows it was too much to take in on one visit.
Bryce Canyon is a park that everyone can enjoy. There are numerous viewpoints with easy access for all fitness levels. A short walk from a parking lot can have you overlooking one incredible viewpoint to another. Several even have trails leading to the next viewpoint for a short hike. Remember to pace yourself as most of the park over 8000’ in elevation. It can quickly cause you to loose your breath from not only its beauty but from the lack of oxygen too.
To get a real feel of Bryce Canyon and all its incredible beauty you have to take a hike, and by hike I mean you have to descend down and walk within the hoodoos. This will take some effort but is well worth it. Remember that the hike down is the easy part and if you go down you also have to come back up.
There is something incredible about walking through these rock formations. Perhaps its the large pine trees that seem so small next to them or maybe it’s the contrast of so many vivid colors. Maybe its walking around the next corner and seeing something as iconic as Thor’s Hammer that stops you as you stare in amazement.
I found myself constantly stopping and taking photos as it was just one incredible view after another. I also found myself staring off and just soaking up the moment.
The most common mistake made by the first time visitor is having an itinerary to visit multiple parks within the “Grand Circle” leaving themselves only a few hours to explore each park. Bryce Canyon, along with most of the parks within the Grand Circle are huge and impossible to see with such a short timeframe. Three hours at Bryce Canyon means stopping at the visitor center and trying to hurry and see each viewpoint taking a picture and getting back in your car and get to the next viewpoint never really experiencing the true beauty of this place.
One of my favorite hikes in Bryce Canyon was a hike off Scenic Highway 12. There was only a couple other hikers there and it felt like we had the place to ourselves! There was also a waterfall along with the beautiful rock formations that made it all the more special.
When you visit Bryce Canyon make sure to spend at least a full day exploring. Sunsets can be breathtaking and it is a great location for stargazing. There is lots of wildlife to see along the way including deer, elk and antelope so there is much more than just red rock.