We awoke early morning a few weeks ago in a wonderful, clean, picturesque hotel in the Utah Wilderness near the town of Panguitch. The hotel is a Quality Inn by name but appears to be an old western themed mountain resort hotel with numerous small buildings each named after some western theme. The rooms were huge, had a fridge and a microwave, a huge king bed, separate shower, were super clean, and came with a free simple but good breakfast as well: all for about $60/night!
The night before, freezing rain had made our drive a bit nerve racking but we made it safely and by the time we awoke to a beautiful, cloudy day, the roads were clear again.
Today’s adventure: run through Bryce Canyon before making the 1.5 hour drive back to Zion National Park. Bryce Canyon was to be a scouting mission to see if it was worth coming back to.
Snow covered the landscape as we made the journey in. Soon red rocks and pine forests began to dominate the landscape with some snow covered fields and an occasional village completing the scene. We arrived at the park and found the roads snow covered and icy but still passable in a small car. Whipping around curves created a bit of drift which was fun.
Bryce Canyon National Park is quite interesting to enter into for the first time. You are completely surrounded by a dense pine forest with no sign of canyon anywhere. When we finally arrived and parked at Bryce Point, our first overlook, we could still barely see that there was a canyon through the trees.
As we walked down the ice covered gentle slope to this first view, the epic landscape unraveled before us revealing one of the most gorgeous sites of our trip: Bryce Canyon, covered in snow, shrouded in mist, dark moody clouds looming overhead, read and orange rock formations peaking out everywhere beneath us, and stately pine trees both old and new surrounding the landscapes. Soft light snow flakes began to float from the sky and continued the rest of our visit here.
After soaking in Bryce Point, getting close to the icy edge, attempting a few photo-shoots and some jumping shots, and basking in the gorgeous views, we went on to our second stop in the park: Inspiration Point! Inspiration Point is one of the best places to see the famous Amphitheater, one of Bryce Canyon’s most famous formations. It literally looks like the ruins of an ancient Roman Amphitheater of even Coliseum.
For the most part there was hardly anyone in the park given the weather which was amazing. However, at this point we did run into a large bus tour of middle age travelers from all over the world (we heard French and Spanish among other languages). When they saw us approaching the edge of the cliff for some epic shots some of them began to completely loose it, yelling and waving their hands for us to back away. We asked one poor fella to take a photo of us, and despite being 20 feet from the edge himself, he was so nervous he couldn’t figure out how to take a photo! He literally pushed every single button on my DSLR except the right one. We found it all quite amusing and did a bit of drifting in the parking lot on our way out to complete their show.
And that was it! Will we be back? For sure! Are there longer trails? Tons of them! I would like to venture down the Fairyland Loop Trail and the Rim Trail my next visit. There is also a ton more to the park than just the area around the main vista points. We were surprised how big the map was. You can see the main parts of the park in a day or even a few hours. But you probably need a good 3 days to truly do it justice.
Before I go, let me highly recommend the National Park Annual Pass. Most parks charge about $20-30 per car per visit (Bryce and Zion are $30). However, with this pass you pay $80 once and go in and out of all national parks as often as you like, with a car full of people, without paying again! And no, this isn’t a paid endorsement. Just some good sound travel advice 🙂
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