This park is an overlooked gem. We took a drive over there one morning, just to take a look at it, and ended up hiking a good share of the day. Maybe it's busier during the summer (were there early Sept.) but we only saw one other couple in the campground and nobody on the trails. Great views from the top of the buttes, and the colors (for which the park is named) are wonderful. The campground looked clean and pleasant: a very good option if Bryce campground are full or you want to lose the crowds there. They also have some tidy little cabins (for a tidy little price) with bathrooms, fridges and microwaves - a nice alternative to pricey Bryce lodge rooms:
Nice little station with trail maps - the lady working there was enthusiastic and helpful.
A great break from the crowds at Bryce.
22 miles east of Bryce and adjacent to Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument
$6 day-use fee, $16 for camping, $25 for hookups
Campground showers, bathrooms and drinking water
Camp store with the basics
Great little website with lots of helpful area info/links.
Located 65 miles west of Bryce Canyon on Scenic Byway 12 is Calf Creek Recreation Area. The drive alone is worth the trip as you will pass some spectacular scenery along the way.
However, once at Calf Creek, you can take a 6 mile return hike to a secret waterfall that descends 120 feet into a tree lined grotto.
there is also a small campground here.
The temperature is 12 degrees and that's without factoring in the wind that rips across the canyon, stinging my eyes and cheeks as I struggle for a few feet along the Rim. All thoughts of hiking the Fairyland Trail are gone as it is buried in the white powder that covers the bench, walkways and nearly all of Bryce Canyon. When the wind dies down, silence envelops the scene and its a moment of peaceful reflection.
Who am I kidding? Its 12 degrees out and I'm not about to sit on a block of ice and reflect. That's an activity reserved for the summertime. But its nice to know my spot is still there.
This park is nearly as impressive as Bryce; well getting close in some regards. I hiked on the trails here, and some were moderate, to getting a bit difficult. The park is located on Hwy 12, and 9 miles west of the turnoff to Bryce at Hwy 63. It has red rock, hoodoo's, arches and quite solitude in the woods. They have 14 trails to hike, and 7 of those also can be used for ATV's and horses. I liked the park atmosphere and the fact that less people come here to enjoy it.
This first hike is 3/4 miles and up 300 feet ascent. The hike is a loop back to the parking area, and you walk through one large arch to go behind the ones you just saw in front. There are 15 arches in the area along the hike. Location is about one mile west of the visitor center, and turn right going west unto Casto Canyon Rd. Park and hike in where shown.
The Bryce and Red Canyon parks are surrounded by the National Forest Service Park territory. The forest areas actually cover many different sections in Utah from the west edge to the east. It has 2 million acre area and stretches 170 miles. Elevation range is 3,000 to 13,000 feet. A large number of people come here to camp in the woods. At REd Canyon, there is a campground that would hold about 150 campers in two sections.
There are 3 combined trails that connect behind the visitor center. Overall the hike is 2 1/2 miles round trip. The hike is worth it in that it takes you right up close to the red hoodoo's and through some even. The hike is designated moderate, and elevation change may be200-300 feet at one point, and some rock climbing. That is the fun part.
This is called the Golden Wall because you literally climb a narrow stretch; like as in a wall to get to the top of the rock walls. The hike is rated moderate to strenuous, and it is 3 miles in length. It was around 400 feet ascent, and the trail had loose gravel/stones to watch you footing. You start up the trail behind CAmpground #23 on the south side of Hwy 12. Climb up the hill, and take about 10 switchbacks to get to the plateau. Then go on toward the narrow path heading to the end. Return the same way you went up. The vertigo got to me a bit going over the path on the ridge
Most people know them simply as Christmas Trees but the Douglas Fir does exist outside the world of such customs. I must admit I never thought of such trees in what otherwise seems like a desert but at this high elevation it appears they grow quite well. They adapt well by self-pruning the lower part of the trunk if there is not enough sunlight. You will see some in Bryce where only the top looks like a the tree you know and another two thirds of the trunk look like a telephone pole! This one is obviously getting plenty of sun and looks more typical.
The pronghorn is often mistaken for an antelope but is in its own family. Though the second fastest mammal in the world after the cheetah, the sure footed and sturdily built speedster actually sustains fast speeds for longer lengths of time. Their horns are particularly interesting with both males and females having the forward “pronged” racks. Males use them fiercely to guard their female harems during the mating season. We saw our first ones at Bryce but enjoyed seeing them around many of the Utah parks.
The Steller's Jay is a beautiful jay of black and blue. Noisy to a fault, they can be found begging for food at picnic areas. Unlike most jays, the Steller's Jay is generally not found in groups except during the mating season. This solitary bird if often found on the canyon rim posing for a prize. Take the photo but do not feed or encourage them.
We were drawn to this great old tree and on checking the Internet the only thing it looks remotely like on the Bryce National Park website is a Bristle-cone Pine. If that is the case, it is no wonder it was so enticing. These trees are the oldest living things on Earth. One in California is approaching 5000 years old. At any rate, this old tree was an amazing testament to nature's resilience against the elements. He stood a strong sentry on the rim's edge, just as impressive as the hoodoos below. Perhaps more so, he was breathing.
Another fine carved spine is seen from Sunset Point – The Sentinel – towering a little hoodoo section at the beginning of Navajo Loop Trail.
Looking almost as a warning finger stretched into the air to remind the hikers to hike safe and carry enough water, it might even be considered as orientation if you are down in the trail – he will help you to locate the place where you finally will arrive.
BTW: The Sentinel is the orange thin thing in the middle of the pictures, not the bit more chunky figure on the right…..
Well, I don’t know the exact name of this spot seen from Ponderosa Canyon – but for me it’s artists’ palette. It superbly presents all the different limestone colors of Bryce Canyon, depending on the oxides and their concentration, the calcite contains.
It’s your choise – which color do you prefer ?
Red – as where limestone is enriched by high content of iron oxide in the haematite form ?
Yellow – where limestone contains limonite, a hydrated iron oxide ?
Purple, blue or lavender – where bears has impurities of manganese oxide ?
Fresh white – which is limestone’s color when there are hardly any impurities present.
Capital Reef is another great place for hikes. Honestly, we have traveled around the world, and it is hard to find many places that compare to the scenery in this part of the country. As comparison, we loved northern Argentina (similar topography) but it has nothing (geologically) on the National Parks in and around Utah. Capital Reef National Park being one of them.
All of the trails lead from the rim of the canyon into the depths and eventually reach the bottom. There is a 1.8 mile (2.9 km) Bryce Creek trail that leads to the east boundary. Along this route, you'll peer into numerous side canyons, less ornate than those near the rim. As you walk down into the canyon, you'll be passing the newest spires and walls. With each step, you'll be walking forward (or is it backward) in time. The spires become less ornate, the walls shorter and simpler. Then you'll see the canyons widening out and the wall less imposing. When you reach the east boundary, you'll be in a forest of pines, having travelled back to the oldest part of the canyon, or forward to what 'today's' rim will look like in the future.