In the morning, we go back to the Red Canyon Visitors Center to hike around the hoodoos. There are ponderosa pine trees whose bark smells like butterscotch! There are douglas firs, oregon grapes and flowering manzanitas. A tri-generational French family is also hiking this trail – including granny who navigates the steep trail with only the help of her cane.
Nature continues to impress me with her dynamic artistry. She works slowly, but what scale! Grandeur! Magnificence!
Bryce is just up the road, in a bit from Bryce Village on the main road with its hotels, restaurants and other tourist amenities.
When you enter Bryce Canyon National Park, it doesn’t seem that impressive. We find a campsite and then head out to the farthest point. The road climbs to the edge of a cliff and goes along the rim. We’ve risen from below sea level to 9115 feet above sea level. And this is where you finally see what Bryce is all about.
It is the most jaw-dropping amphitheater of red rock formations! We’ve seen a few formations like the individual ones, but this scale is simply outrageous. It makes me want to scream like a teen overcome with Beatlemania. From the best view spots, you can look down into the amphitheater which looks like an elaborate fortress for a Dragon King.
One side, at the top, is white limestone and sandstone. Actually, the red parts are too, except they are colored by iron oxide. Wind and water have eroded them into walls of spires. It’s like Morodor or something and is just one of those places that have to be SEEN. It’s quickly rising to the top of my Best National Parks list.
From some spots you can see the giant steps of Escalante. There are horse trails everywhere. Snow in patches, melting slowly. Down below, closer to our campground, there is a small prairie with a “Prairie Dog Crossing” sign. The ravens who know that people mean food are unafraid and everywhere.
There are plenty of people, too. Because the Park is not narrow like Zion, it feels less packed but there are as many people if not more. Busloads of Russian and Japanese tourists on package tours. Carloads of French, German, Italian, Danish, and Chinese visitors. We’re seeing a lot of rental RVs, too, from camper vans to station wagons, to the Big Campers. There are very few Asians in the campgrounds, though, which are filled with Anglo- and European-Americans, Europeans and Latinos.
Our campground has hot water and a utility sink area! Dinner improves with water! Tonight, it’s rice, pork slices, veggies, nori and katsuobushi.