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We survived and thrived in Zion, and now it was time to move to Bryce Canyon National Park, a drive of an hour and a half. We packed up the camper and hoped to park it in the “day visitors lot” for RVs so we could hike in Zion a little more, but it was already full.Oh well, another time!
We drove in to Springdale to get ice and some groceries, but parking was at a premium in the town as well, so Justin ended up staying in the van while Emma, Will and I ran into a little grocery store and picked up a few things. We decided to also stop at a Family Dollar to round out our shopping on the way to Bryce since the grocery store in Springdale was a little pricey.
The drive to Bryce Canyon was beautiful. I was nervous for the van as we climbed and climbed, but it seemed to be fine! We got into Ruby’s Inn RV Park in the afternoon. Ruby’s Inn is a pretty big complex right outside of Bryce Canyon National Park. While not as picturesque as staying in the park, it definitely had conveniences such as free showers, a pool and laundry facilities that we appreciated. It was also noticeably cooler at our new higher altitude. We checked in, got the camper into our assigned campspot, unhitched and drove into Bryce to visit the Visitor’s Center and plan out our hikes and get the camper a sticker (our camper, Rocky the Rockwood, gets a new sticker for every campground he visits; he got one for Grand Canyon as a consolation prize).
Then we drove out to Bryce Point and Inspiration Point to see the hoodoos. Hoodoos are the main attraction at Bryce Canyon N.P. They are tall, skinny rock formations, and nowhere else in the world are they found in such abundance. They were definitely cool, but we were tired and the overlooks were a little crowded.
It was Father’s Day – we didn’t celebrate it much, but I was thankful for Justin who as a husband and dad had probably had the most stressful vacation to date!
Initially, I was a little disappointed with our campground. Our campsite was right next to the road going into the park, and it was not very private. However, I loved the clean bathrooms and showers. And we did some laundry! I had brought $20 in quarters for laundry, but those washers didn’t hold very many clothes, so I had to use three to do all of our clothes at once. If the showers had been coin-operated also, we would have had to get more quarters. Thankfully the showers were included in the price of the campsite. And there were lots of them and they were very clean. It’s hard to overemphasize how nice that is when you’re traveling and just want to shed some dirt without standing in someone else’s hair or bandaids or other such grossness.
This was our first shower since leaving Atlanta on Monday. So yes, six days without showering, which is not ideal. That first shower was HEAVENLY. Being clean and wearing clean clothes was life-giving.
Jack thought he saw a pronghorn antelope in the campground as dusk was falling, so we went to investigate, but couldn’t find anything. Then Jack and Will played Frisbee. There was a nice little grassy spot between us and the campstore which was perfect for the boys. That was also a perk of Ruby’s Inn!
That first night was super windy, and it was really hard and frustrating to fix supper with the wind blowing so hard. Everything kept trying to blow away, and our little Coleman gas stove even fell over once. Not ideal conditions, but we did eat finally.
The next day we got up, ate breakfast and headed into the park. We decided to take the shuttle since it was so convenient (another bonus for Ruby’s Inn: the park service shuttle stopped there!). We got off at Sunset Point and did the Figure Eight trail, which consisted of going down into the canyon via the Queen’s Garden trail, going back up the canyon rim on one side of the Navajo Loop almost all the way up to Sunset Point and then back down to
the other side of Navajo Loop.
Bryce Canyon is basically a big bowl, and all of the roads are on the rim of that bowl. To hike within the canyon necessarily always means a pretty steep descent down and ascent back up. Once you’re in it, it’s not flat, but usually not super steep either.
Navajo Loop is not easy; I was glad we went down the Wall Street side instead of up. I had high expectations for Wall Street – I had seen so many pictures and it looked beautiful. But again, so many people; it just wasn’t the experience I thought it would be.
You’d have to go early or late in the day when it wasn’t so crowded I think to fully enjoy it. I did not think Bryce would be as crowded as it was, but there were a ton of international tourists.
I came to realize that I really like nature better when there’s not so many people around, but you know, they want to see it all too. It’s not just for me and my family. So the takeaway for me was to either come during non-peak hours or be willing to do longer hikes that not as many people would be able or willing to do.
Long hikes for the win!
Anyway, this one was a long hike. I was so glad we had those hydration backpacks. And the national parks are pretty good about having water stations available as much as possible. After doing the Queen’s Garden and the Navajo Loop, we did the other part of our Figure Eight, which was the Peek-A-Boo Trail. The ranger who had suggested this hike the day before said this was
her favorite hike, and it was really great. So many beautiful views!
A lot of ups and downs though for sure; it was a strenuous hike. But there were times when it was just us, and to be down in the hoodoos was so much better than just looking at them from the top of the canyon.
This was probably my favorite day of the trip, with the Narrows coming in second place. The weather was beautiful, the sky was so blue, we were out in all of this amazing scenery…it was great.
It took a while, but we finally made it through the Peek-A-Boo Trail. We still had to come back out of the canyon, so we decided to take the short but steep hike back through the Thor’s Hammer side of the Navajo Loop.
I was so glad to get to the top! We sat with the kids for a minute and then headed down to the shuttle stop. We took the shuttle back to the campground and had some downtime at the campsite, which was nice. We also stopped at the visitor’s center to get our “I Hiked the Hoodoos” sticker. They gave you the sticker for free if you showed them you went to these different stopping points along the trails.
Showered (again! Two days in a row!) and went over to the little diner/restaurant at the hotel portion of Ruby’s Inn and got a burger, and then we drove our car back in to the park to watch the sunset at Paria Overlook. The ranger had suggested that and we went with it because we were afraid Sunset Point would be crowded. We saw some prairie dogs on the way in, which was fun.
Paria was beautiful, but I think I’d have gone to Sunset if I had to do it over again because I really loved seeing the sun hit the hoodoos, and this overlook did not really feature the hoodoos.
However it was fun because a guy from the Netherlands came up and asked if one of us would video/take pictures of him asking his girlfriend to marry him. And it was definitely not crowded. I took a billion of the exact same pictures and Emma read out loud to us. We watched a chipmunk scamper around and looked way down in the valley where you could see a little bit of water still in the river bed. The sunset was pretty but not as amazing as the one we saw at Zion.
We went back and the boys played Frisbee in the dark. It was a really amazing day.