Saturday, May 20, 2017

Visiting Southern Utah - Part 4

May 8 to May 11:

With the forecast of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, we decided to do our long hike to the bottom of Bryce Canyon on Monday. We had been told that the trails that go to the bottom of Bryce Canyon stay muddy for several days after a rain, so we decided to do the hike today. We got to the entry gate at 8:00 AM and this time drove our Jeep into the park. We parked in the Sunset Point parking area which was already starting to fill up.

We decided to combine two trails to make a longer hike: The Queens Garden Trail down into the canyon and then the Navajo Loop Trail to complete the loop and make our way back to the top of the canyon. We ended up hiking about 3.5 miles with an elevation change of 600 feet.

The weather was cool at the start of the hike but we quickly warmed up once we got going on the trail. We hiked from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point and then proceeded down the Queens Garden Trail. You have a completely different perspective from the bottom of the canyon and you get close to the fins and HooDoo's.

We going to hike back up an area called Wall Street where the walls of the canyon are close together. However there had been a rock slide and only a portion of the trail was open. We hiked up to the rock slide and then retraced our steps to rejoin the main trail up to the rim.

 Once we reached the last section of the Navajo Loop Trail we had to climb a series of switchbacks (they call them wiggles) to reach the rim. We took our time and had to stop and rest several places as we climbed up.

We reached the Sunset Point parking lot, got out the lunch we had packed and ate in the picnic area. After finishing lunch we drove up to the top of the park, Rainbow Point, to hike the Bristlecone Loop. This is a 1 mile hike (at 9,000 foot elevation) that takes you out to another point at the top of Bryce Canyon.

Since there was plenty of daylight left in the day we decided to drive along Utah Hwy 12 to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument which is a 1.9 million acre that includes a number of bluffs, high plateaus, canyons and mountains to the west of Bryce Canyon. Clint, the deputy sheriff that had opened our Jeep earlier in the week, had told us we needed to drive across the "hog's back" section of Hwy 12 so we decided to take his advice. There are wonderful scenic views all along the highway and we commented that in places it looked like we were on a different planet. The "hog's back" is a several miles of two lane road, no shoulder with drop offs of 500-700 feet on each side. This road was built during the 1930's as part of the WPA program to put men to work. Definitely would recommend that RV stay off this road (although we did see a couple during the afternoon).

Scenic overlook along Hwy 12.
Once we crossed the "hog's back'' we turned around and headed back home. Another long day where we saw some amazing sites.

Tuesday and Wednesday we had rain off and on so we stayed around the campground. We did laundry and got caught up on e-mails, Facebook and financials. On Wednesday we got good news that the Little Hollywood Museum had found Connie's prescription sunglasses. So we drove into Kanab to pick up the glasses and do some grocery shopping.

Thursday we drove up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. The road to the monument was closed but we were able to stop at an overlook near the entrance. We were at 10,500 feet in elevation and there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground.

Since the weather was nice, we drove from Cedar Breaks to the Red Canyon Visitor's Center to do a bike ride. There is a two lane paved bike trail that runs 13 miles from Red Canyon all the way to the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park. There is quite a bit of elevation uphill on the section we biked on: we took 40 minutes going uphill and 15 minutes to make it back down. It was an early finish to our day since we made it back to the campground for a late lunch.