Bryce Canyon is visually stunning- you don’t see anything unique until you get right up to the rim. Then you are surrounded by thousands of enchanting hoodoos- rock spires formed from erosion. I think this was my husband’s favorite park, if you can have such a thing, due to all the photo ops.
It’s a small park, and you really only need a day at the most to see. We saw it all basically in one afternoon as we undertook our most difficult hike of the trip- the 6-7 mile Figure Eight loop that combined three trails to take you past the most spectactular sites of the canyon. It was a constant elevation change- ascending the canyon one minute, then descending back to the floor the next. We unwisely kept predicting after each steep climb that we MUST have reached the top. The last 1/2 mile or so was a steep series of switchbacks past ‘the hoodoo’ of the park, Thor’s Hammer. My glutes and quads were screaming at this point, so I basically charged up that last portion just to get it over with.
It was the coldest place we visited- temps didn’t get out of the 50′s and it was so windy, I got wind burn that haunted me for the remainder of the trip. It was also the most deserted park, which was great. Most of the time we felt like we had the run of the park to ourselves. It was awesome.
Even better was how good I felt the next day (well not my face, the wind burn did a number on it!). No notable soreness in the legs, despite their fatigue at the end of the previous day. I chalk this up to my somewhat rigorous and consistent fitness routine, strength training and cardio both. In another era, I would have been pretty sore, and probably could not have done the hike in under the recommended 3-4 hour time suggestion (go me!). But I felt great and totally up for it. The elevation change threw a bit of a wrench into it- Bryce stands at 8,000 feet so initially I would get out of breath a little faster than normal. But I found that if I stopped for a quick rest, I would get a second wind that would propel me up the steepiest, muddiest climbs the canyon could throw at me. Once again, I learned to really appreciate the good I do my body every time I exercise, and how much it enables me to enjoy so many other aspects of my life.
After a very cold night- where we wisely abandoned camping plans in favor of a hotel after predictions- of low 20′s, howling winds and snow- we were off to Moab along the historic and unbelievably scenic Highways 12 and 24….