As we were leaving Zion National Park, Steve and I talked about how nice the town of Springdale was; I mentioned that it was a town that had really benefited from having the national park there. It had a relatively large number of restaurants, catering to several types of cuisine and pocketbooks, and a bunch of cute shops and artist galleries. We spent most of our time in the park, but I wouldn’t mind coming back and exploring the town a bit.
Meanwhile, Bryce Canyon City is a company town, owned by the descendants of landowner Reuben C. “Ruby” Syrett, and it has really suffered from it. Having left Zion National Park late in the afternoon, we arrived in Bryce Canyon City well after sunset. Arriving in town, our only choice for dinner was the Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room in Ruby’s Inn. It is true that the other restaurants in town had all closed up for the season, but the two other restaurants we could have eaten at in the summer were the Canyon Diner, also in Ruby’s Inn, and Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill, another Ruby property.
In a move reminiscent of our night in Hana, Maui a few years ago, rather than stand in line for an hour to have an expensive, but mediocre meal at the only game in town, Steve and I bought a microwaveable container of soup and some microwaveable frozen pizzas from Ruby’s Inn General Store, and headed back to our hotel room for a fine dining experience.
Getting up early the next morning, Steve was quick to check the weather and inform me it was 14 degrees outside. Bryce Canyon is between 8,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level, so it was quite a bit cooler than our stay in Springdale with its elevation just under 4,000 feet. I confidently assured him that it would warm up quickly; we hadn’t even showered or had breakfast yet, so we had plenty of time before our main hike of the day.
Fortunately, I was right (unsurprisingly) and it was in the 50s by the time we got to Sunrise Point from which our hike into the hoodoos was to begin.
We took the Queens Garden Trail down into the canyon, stopping to take lots of pictures along the way. Frankly, we didn’t make very good time, but we weren’t in a big hurry anyway.
Once down in the canyon, we continued along to the Navajo Loop, taking the western portion of the loop that would take us back up to the rim of the canyon through Wall Street.
Although the climb out was rather steep in parts, Steve and I never felt like we were having a hard time of it or like we couldn’t manage it (like we had all those years ago when we attempted to hike down into Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island).
Frankly, having done the hike and feeling like we could still go on, for the day was young, we were feeling quite strong. Strong enough to lift Thor’s Hammer even!
Cheesy camera moment accomplished, the hike up through Wall Street ended at Sunset Point, before we began the gentle walk back to where we’d parked at Sunrise Point.
After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon driving through Bryce Canyon, stopping at the viewpoints along the way.
Bryce Canyon was gorgeous and interesting, and we really enjoyed our hike down along Queens Garden and the Navajo Loop. But driving through non-descript landscapes to get from viewpoint to viewpoint did grow a bit tiring, and it was hard not to feel like windshield warriors in spite of the miles we’d already put on our feet. At Zion National Park, you spend your time right down in the canyon and there are scenes of beauty everywhere you cast your eyes; no non-descript landscapes there. Of course, there were more hikes we could have done that would take us into the canyon if we had more time, but as neat as Bryce Canyon is, I preferred being at Zion for the overall experience.
As the sun was setting, we left Bryce Canyon and the drive to Kanab for the next portion of our trip. Leaving the area we passed through Red Canyon, the hills and hoodoos there catching fire in the last of rays of sunlight.