It would be a bit much if I said this park was like heaven on earth….pretty sure someone would flick me on the nose and say “hush”, so I won’t write that. But know that i’m thinking it very hard.
We explored Zion on our last day in Utah, on the day I turned 25. Which, was probably not the best idea because I have never had the best luck on my birthday, ever. And this day was no different, for a multitude of reason that I won’t get into because lets not drag this post down, yeah? I will say that as horrible as my birthdays usually are, this one was at the top of the list of not-so-bad and most of that was because of the bf’s unfailingly sweet and patient demeanor throughout the whole day and also, because of how beautiful the whole area is. It’s hard to let bad luck drag you down when all you have to do is take a look around and feel richly blessed to even just have eyes to look at all the splendor.
We stayed in the park until the sun started setting and then started wandering back towards the main road out to grab a good spot.
More posts (and words) to come soon, for now I just wanted to post these photos taken after spying a wandering herd of deer by the side of the road coming back from our last stop on Hwy 12, Boulder-Utah, and stopping by the side of the road on top of a decently sized cliff that the road wound through. The sky ended up fading to dark in an explosion of brilliant and utterly magnificent pink when we got back in the car and made our way back to Zion, but no photos were taken of that….only these and the more quiet riot of splendor in the sky and the way the light illuminated only chosen parts of the enormous spread of land before us.
After leaving Bryce Canyon, we debated on whether to head back to Springdale (a two hour or so drive) or head out towards Boulder, UT on Scenic Byway 12, also know as “Highway 12 — A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway”. We decided to press on, because of course we did.
At first there’s just not much to see, the land carves out low and steady as you wind down into the basin of the surrounding hills and the bf was quite right when he commented that this felt like something out of “the Hills Have Eyes”. It didn’t help that we seemed to be the only car on the road for mile and miles. We passed through tiny closed up towns and after about a half an hour of this we were wondering what exactly rated this highway the title of scenic.
That changed of course, the further we got from Bryce, but what also changed was our mindset for what exactly you could call “scenic” or even interesting. After the veritable splendorous riot of beauty that Bryce laid out, the scenery we were encountering here was anything but comparable.
Once we let go of that idea of beauty and stopped the car on the side of the road to sort of breath in the isolation and emptiness out there…it quickly became clear that the desolation out there is fiercely beautiful. It hard to explain or even show in these photos how huge the landscape is out there, how far exactly your eyes can see towards the distance that holds the horizon. But it is very much worth the drive to find yourself out there as a tiny racing towards the sunset.
I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places, and been witness to more amazing views than I could recount….so believe me when I say that Bryce Canyon is worth a spot in most anyone’s top ten. Not just because of the amazing geological features that are unique to this park, or the particularly bright stain of color on the land that feels more vivid here than anywhere else, or even the way that the land builds on itself for miles and miles as far as you can see through the crisply clean air.
No, I would say what places it in my top ten list of anything worth seeing again before I die, is the way the land and sky complement each other in the best of ways. Its hard to describe, and these photos don’t do it justice, but there is this sense of….wholeness, or completeness, that just covers this whole expanse of land. The way the skies roll over the earth, and you feel like you’re almost standing outside of it looking down, this feeling of enormity without feeling dwarfed by it, just standing at an overlook gazing out at the miles and miles of land in front of you and tilting you head back just a bit and seeing the sky stretch out even further, the clouds pillowed on top of each other and slowly racing towards the horizon.
Me and the boyfriend both agree that Bryce (as well as Zion and most of Utah in general honestly) is worth a second visit and while my next post will be about a different kind of beauty that we found on Hwy 12, Bryce Canyon is fully cemented in my heart as a favorite.
After leaving The Grand Canyon and passing through Zion to get to the place we would be spending the next 3 nights in the lovely and utterly charming town of Springdale (more on that later), we woke up somewhat early Tuesday morning, had breakfast at Wildcat Willies (more on that later as well) and headed towards Bryce Canyon.
I guess as a quick aside, I should mention that this trip took place at the beginning of last month and while here in Texas March is pretty much the transition to Spring from whatever weird kind of Winter we had, in other less odd states, March is still somewhat on the Winter end of the spectrum when it comes to weather. It would perhaps have been good for me to remember this but then again if the rest of this trip has been any indication, I literally plan nothing so, what can you expect? This is also the reason I ended up at Bryce Canyon in really inadequate Vans that had literally zero traction and therefore couldn’t really do any of the trails that were still covered in ice at the most inopportune of places. Not that I didn’t try, after walking most of the Rim Trail me and boyfriend came across the Queen’s Garden Trail sign and well, of course I had to see if it was doable, even in my at this point utterly-covered-in-mud-vans. It is a straight up miracle that I didn’t fall on my butt heading down that trail, and while the boyfriend was actually surprisingly optimistic about our chances, I was the realistic one and had us turn back before someone got seriously hurt. Who says I can’t be responsible?
We walked the muddy and at times icy Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Fairyland Point and it was honestly more amazing that I had been expecting. With the Grand Canyon, I had certain expectations going in and while they where all met and at times exceeded, with Bryce it was completely different. I had decided to visit Bryce because I had mistakenly googled Bryce Canyon instead of Carlsbad Caverns (don’t….just don’t ask how I messed that up so badly, even I don’t know) and after seeing photos of the red rock formations called of all things, “hoodoos”, I had bugged the ever living life out of the boyfriend until he agreed to add it to the roadtrip itinerary. His face when we crested the first overlook and gazed out at the startlingly orange formations was priceless, as were his first words, “holy crap, this is really cool!”.
We drove to the rest of the viewpoints which were amazing and which i’ll cover in the next post, but I will say this was the most enjoyable part of the visit to Bryce, just walking around the rim of the Amphitheater and while visiting here continued the tradition I picked up at the Grand Canyon of random tourists asking me to take their photo (and I still can’t figure out why no one ever approached the boyfriend for this) I can say I still didn’t mind it and we even had a lovely woman come across us taking a selfie at Sunrise point and offer to take our photo so, fairs fair.