Our week at Bryce Canyon National Park flew by. We spent the last part of our stay there exploring the park on our bikes and hiking. In case you missed part one or the mid-week drive on Scenic Byway 12, you can click on these links to catch up – Breathtaking Bryce Canyon – part one or Add Utah Scenic Byway 12 to Your Bucket List.
The bike path through the park provides a great alternative to riding the shuttle but keep in mind the elevation ranges from 7,200 to 9,000 feet inside the park which means sea level dwellers are going to be sucking some serious wind along the ride. Me, I just went slow and managed to survive but we have been living at 4,000 – 5,000 feet for the last month, which helped a bit.
There are some great options to ride inside and outside the park. The Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon Bike Trail is a paved trail that starts at the West entrance of Red Canyon on Scenic Highway 12, running for more than 6 miles past hoodoos and red rock formations along Scenic Highway 12 to the top of the canyon. The rest area at the top of Red Canyon has restrooms and large parking area. This is also the connecting point for the Thunder Mountain Trail. This popular mountain bike trail parallels highway 12 back to the bottom of Red Canyon, making a great looping connection. The paved trail continues East for another 14 miles along Highway 12 across the Paunsagant Plateau, turning South on Highway 63, continuing through Bryce Canyon City & Ruby’s Inn, and connecting to the new Bryce Canyon multi-use path.
We choose to ride the new trail which begins next to the Bryce Canyon Shuttle Parking and connects to Bryce Canyon National Park. The trail runs past the Visitor Center, Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon Lodge, Sunset Point, and ends at Inspiration Point.
It was a beautiful ride with many great places to stop and enjoy the incredible views of Bryce Canyon. Biking was fun but hiking in Bryce is seriously amazing! In addition to hiking part of the Fairyland Trail which takes you down inside the canyon, (that’s means you have to hike out fyi) we really enjoyed hiking the Rim Trail from Bryce Point to Sunrise Point.
The advantage of hiking the rim this direction is that you are going down hill! Sweet…really at this elevation you need to plan your route unless you enjoy needless suffering!
The hike along the rim took us up close and personal with the grandness of Bryce. Much of the hike is truly right along the rim, with nothing between you and a 1,200 foot drop into those magical spires. Because we can travel on the weekends, we enjoy being in places on the less busy days and our hike along the rim was just that. We saw a few couples and one family on our 5 mile walk, not bad for a big national park! Being able to stop along the way and enjoy the sheer vastness and beauty is a gift.
Another great, short hike was the Mossy Cave Trail, which depending on the season, takes you to a beautiful waterfall and a cave with a hanging garden. This trail is in the northern section of the park, located on Highway 12, approximately 4 miles east of the intersection of Highways 12 and 63. Look for a small parking area on the right-hand side immediately after crossing a little bridge. The Mossy Cave itself is at the end of a short trail. Here too you can see hoodoos and windows without having to hike a steep trail.
At first, this canyon known as Water Canyon, might look like any ordinary Bryce kind of canyon. It’s not. From 1890-1892 mormon pioneers labored with picks and shovels to carve an irrigation ditch from the East Fork of the Sevier River, through the Paunsaugunt Plateau, into this canyon. Ten miles and an elevation drop of 1,500 feet – wow, what sheer determination to settle in this beautiful, wild area of the country.
Every year since its completion in 1892 (except during the drought of 2002), this canal known as the Tropic Ditch has supplied the communities of Tropic and Cannonville with irrigation water.
All that exercise sure works up an appetite and when we are not enjoying our own culinary creations it is is fun to step out for dinner. There aren’t many great dining options in Bryce City, which is just outside the park so we decided to try the restaurant at Bryce Canyon Park Lodge one night. I really enjoy cooking and to be modest, I don’t suck at it but sometimes you just want someone else to cook and do the dishes! Our meal at the lodge was good. Yay, someone did the cooking and dishes which was much appreciated but the food was not spectacular. So advice for those foodies out there…just enjoy a modest meal with no cooking or dishes!
FYI, there are not many great grocery store options in or around Bryce Canyon either so any of you who are planning a trip here in an RV or are camping, make your grocery stops in another nearby town like Cedar City or St. George.
So last but not least, how did Bentley rate his stay near Bryce Canyon National Park? He loved Ruby’s RV Campground. Lots of open space, places to play ball and run off leash, grass lawn right outside his coach with a sprinkling of deer poop – that’s doggie nirvana! National parks aren’t very dog friendly and he doesn’t really even like to hike so a four paws up rating from Bentley.