HIking · Travel

Zion Half Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park

Hi everyone!  I’ve had a few days to recover from the Zion Half Marathon (missed the recap?  Check it out here with a few extra course pictures I took from our car yesterday!) and I’m feeling great!  It’s almost like hiking is some kind of magical bandaid that fixes everything.  I knew during the race that I didn’t want to aggravate my old running injury, but I also wanted to make sure I was able to hike all week after the race.  Let’s be real, a national park vacation without hiking would be awful!  But I knew that I’d be pretty sore after the race, and I wasn’t sure what to hike in Zion that wouldn’t aggravate my legs, especially since I wanted to start hiking on Sunday (the day after the race) so that I wouldn’t waste any time.  It was also HOT in Zion on Sunday (80 degrees) and we kind of wanted to get somewhere cooler.  So we were excited to discover that Bryce Canyon National Park was 2 hours away, had a pretty easy trail to the bottom of the canyon, and it was only 50 degrees there!  We left St. George around 10:00 after Andrew let me sleep in to recover from the half.  I was completely unaware of the elevation of Bryce – Zion maxes out around 6,000 ft above sea level at the top of the hiking trails, but Bryce goes over 9,000 ft!  As we drove there we started to feel a bit sick from the elevation change.  It felt like we had a lot of pressure on our heads, and we both started to get weird headaches.  We drank a ton of water but didn’t really feel back to normal for a while.  We also noticed that as we drove higher, there was snow on the ground.  And when we arrived at the entrance to Bryce we were greeted with more snow than we’ve had in Anchorage all year!

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We found out that they’d had 3 feet of snow a few weeks ago which I didn’t even think could happen in a desert!  We stopped by the visitor’s center and based on the snow we decided to do a loop from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point via the Queens Garden Trail and the right branch of the Navajo Loop Trail (the left branch was closed for the winter).  The whole thing was 2.8 miles round trip, and the Queens Garden Trail was the easiest trail to the bottom of the canyon.

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First of all, I need to tell you about hoodoos!  They are crazy rock formations that are formed from a combination of wind, rain, snow, and time.  Here’s more info on what they are and how they form.  Bryce is full of them and they were a crazy sight.

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They kind of looked like crazy sand castles, and they were all huge!  We kept climbing down into the canyon until we reached the bottom.

IMG_4377Seriously, how is this a real place?

IMG_4372Hoodoo tunnels

At the bottom we found ourselves in a forest – and found the trail covered in snow!

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IMG_4387Desert mud and snow

We slowly made our way back up through some switchbacks on the side of a canyon wall.  And at the top we had some incredible views!

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We spent a lot of time just sitting and staring at the canyon from up here.  It was amazing and we’ve never seen anything like it – and probably never will again!  We were able to take a quick paved trail from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point to get back to our car, and then we drove around to a few overlooks.  If you only have time to do one thing at Bryce, go to Bryce Point!  The actual overlook was “closed” because of snow, but we hopped the log fence and hiked out to the point in the snow – in our flip flops  🙂  The view was so worth it, especially since the sun was setting!

IMG_4479Hoodoos everywhere!

Overall it was an incredible day trip and I highly recommend it if you’re anywhere close by.  The scenery was so unique, the hiking was pretty easy, and it was much cooler in temperature than the rest of southern Utah.  And I loved that my legs were feeling great afterwards.  It was so nice to be out in the sun hiking again!

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Have you ever been to Bryce or seen a hoodoo before?  Where is the craziest place you’ve ever seen?

8 thoughts on “Zion Half Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park

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