Bryce Canyon National Park

View from Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park.

May 27 – June 2, 2020.

Bryce Canyon National Park is full of interesting birds, beautiful flowers, adorable critters, and oh yeah – lotsa amazing rocks!

Although we have been to Utah many times we had never visited Bryce since the park is at such a high elevation it has alway been cold in the spring. In the past, we had to rush back to the southeast every early to mid-May for house sitting and painting jobs. But this May we didn’t point east, we headed north, arriving in Bryce at the end of the month. It ended up being the absolute best time to visit the canyon.

The weather was perfect (two blanket nights, and shorts and short sleeves days). And since the park had recently just opened back up (being closed due to the pandemic), visitation was way down meaning we didn’t have to deal with the big crowds that normally descend on the park this time of year. To top everything off, we had no problem finding a good free camping spot in the nearby Dixie National Forest.

The canyon at Bryce stretches north to south. A road running along the west side of the colorful chasm is dotted with overlooks revealing the amazing rock formations below. I’m not sure Greg was all that interested in visiting this park. We have been to many National Parks in Utah (unfortunately many of them were during our first season of land travel and we never had a chance to write about them), and besides we had just spent the previous two weeks camped in the shadow of the Red Rock-secret Mountain Wilderness in Sedona. But once we stopped at a couple of overlooks and saw the stunning red spires rising up in the canyon it was obvious that Bryce was pretty special.

But the real treat of Bryce was hiking down into the canyon among the eroding towers of rock.

We spent our last few days in the area exploring a couple of spots in the forest. There was a lake nearby so, of course, we kayaked it. And on our last morning, we hiked in the Dixie National Forest’s Red Canyon, before heading on down the road looking for more birds, flowers, and critters and saying goodbye to all the stunning red rocks of the southwest for a while.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Natural Bridge overlook.
Ponderosa Point overlook.
Pale Swallowtail
Paria Point overlook.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Rainbow Point overlook. These hoodoos are part of the top “step” in the Grand Staircase Escalante. This geologic “staircase” is composed of layers of strata exposed when the Colorado Plateau was lifted up two miles around 75 million years ago.
The top of the grand “staircase” is here at Bryce Canyon, From here pink, vermillion, white, and gray “steps” stretch southward through Utah down to the Grand Canyon. Here is a view from Bryce’s Sunset Point Overlook.
These hoodoos are made of limestone. For about 200 days each year here at Bryce the temperature drops below freezing overnight and rises above the melting point during the day. When water in the rocks’ fissures freezes, it expands. It widens cracks in the rock, splitting the rocks into tall columns. Further erosion removes one to four feet of sediment every century. Here’s another view from Sunset Point.
Sunset Point overlook.
Red Crossbill
Common Sagebrush Lizard
Tree at Sunrise Point.
Waterfall at Mossy Cave.
Western Bluebird
The Utah Prairie Dog was hunted out of this area decades ago. But has been re-introduced recently.
Queen’s Garden hike.
Queen’s Garden hike.
Queen’s Garden hike.
Wall Street.
Violet-green Swallow. This is a rare sight of one sitting still. Usually they are seen flying around the rim catching bugs.
Steller’s Jay
Tower Bridge hike.
Tower Bridge hike.
Tower Bridge hike.
Tower Bridge.
Mountain Chickadee

Dixie National Forest and Tropic Reservoir

Grey-footed Chipmunk
Translucent Cicada
Kayaking at Tropic Reservoir.
Mallard with her babies.
Baby Mallards.
They have big families in Utah!
Greater Short-horned Lizard.

Dixie National Forest Red Canyon

Ponderosa Pine bark. It smells like butterscotch.
Least Chipmunk.
Birdseye trail at the Red Canyon Visitor Center.

15 thoughts on “Bryce Canyon National Park

  1. We loved Bryce Canyon! What gorgeous pictures. Did you know Bryce has some of the cleanest air in the US? Thanks again for sharing your travels.

    1. Thanks! I didn’t know Bryce has some of the cleanest air. Glad we were able to refresh our lungs there for a week!

  2. What gorgeous pictures. I love the birds but the rocks–oh my. The history of the planet is in their layers. It’s hard not to stop and stare, for hours. I need more paleogeology knowledge!

    1. Thanks.Yes, I love birds too but it was kind of nice to be back to looking at some amazing rocks. I’m going to let Greg some posts coming up soon. He loves geology and history.

    1. Nature is so wonderfully hopeful. Those rocks have been around for a long time and will be here a long time to come.

    1. It is sort of like the Grand Canyon as far as photos go – you really have to visit to see and understand the depth of the place. So 3D.

  3. Duwan we have never been to Bryce but these photos definitely stir up future wanderlust. I also appreciated the explanation of the freezing and thawing and the effect on the rock formation.

    1. Greg wrote those captions. He’ll be writing the next few post so be prepared to learn lots more stuff!

      I highly recommend exploring Utah. The National Parks are amazing. I think Bryce is my favorite so far. And besides the parks there are lots of other great places to explore on public lands in the state. Hopefully I will get a chance to write about everywhere we have been in Utah someday.

  4. Bryce Canyon came as a surprise to us as well and became one of our all-time favorite National Parks. We had zero expectations and didn’t do research or looked at photos ahead of time. I still remember staring down the canyon at our first viewpoint and be utterly impressed and fascinated. What an amazing place! And there was boondocking within half a mile from the park entrance.. I’m glad you finally managed to go and at an optimal time. Worth the wait! You captured the park beautifully. I recognize many sites and walks. 🙂

    1. I think Bryce might be one of my favorites too now! We did get very lucky with our visit – and now that we are birders and get up way too early every morning we have found that visiting anywhere is so much better.

      I think the camping you mentioned is no longer there. The National Forest have put up signs on individual campsites close to Bryce saying camping is no longer allowed.

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