I visited Bryce Canyon National Park as a kid on one of our road trips to see family in Kansas. I remember one particularly funny moment…
We signed up for one of the tours on horseback and saddled up and were on our way when the horse in front of me, I think it was my mom’s, ripped the loudest and longest fart I’d ever heard. Great memory for sure. It instantly popped into my head when I saw this scene in the park shortly after I arrived…
It was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend so I was hoping to get there early enough to grab a camp spot. The drive from Page was beautiful. (I really wanted to stop by at least one spot a guy I met at the Grand Canyon had recommended, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I forgot to mention in my last post how I met Jack reading a book on the patio of the Tovar Hotel. Turned out he was working on a trail crew for the summer and had actually grown up there at the park- his father is now the national head of operations for the park service or something like that. But yeah, can you imagine growing up in a national park? One of the funnier stories he told me, since I was badgering him with questions about what it was actually like, was a joke him and his friends would play on unsuspecting tourists where they’d find a rock ledge with a “hidden”, and short, drop below it, and then run and jump off of it making it look like they were jumping off a cliff. He also said he’s hiked every trail in the park multiple times. But never rafted! It’s on both of our bucket lists.)
Luckily, no problems with the camp spot. (The two campgrounds filled up within a couple hours though….this didn’t bode well for chances the following day at Zion.)
I took the drive to Rainbow Point, stopping at nearly all of the different lookout points. One thing about being back here as an adult- I just wasn’t as impressed as I remember being as a kid. Ah well, it was still nice to be there. And cool, too. Rain threatened a bit, and it even sprinkled here and there, but it made things that much nicer.
I had a real internal struggle whether to even show those last few photos. I still might take them down.
These are the better shots….you know, as far as boring landscapes go. 😉
No luck on finding a lounge to relax in here. It’s kinda boring that way, insomuch as there are not many options for food, drink, etc. I ended up staying out a little later shooting some film. At one point a guy walked up to me with his phone in his hand and I thought he was going to ask me to take a photo of his group. Instead, he had just taken a photo of me and was checking to see if I wanted a copy. Pretty cool, Dong. Hope your studies go well and you’re a real doctor soon!
Anyway, I was back to the campground and able to read for an hour before calling it a night. I knew camping in Zion might be a long shot, but was actually encouraged by how easy I got one there in Bryce. I figured I’d leave by 8am, getting me to Zion by 10. That was the plan until THIS…
This scene is near the junction of highways 12 and 89 in Utah west of the park. I ran a little later getting to Bryce the previous day, and when I saw this, I told myself I’d photograph it on the way out when I had more time. (And I’ve been really good about following up with things like this. There are few things that bother me more than the regret that comes with NOT taking the time to turn around and make the photograph I had just seen in my head.) So I did. The clouds were rolling by fast so I stayed as long as it took before that rusty frame got a nice splash of sunshine. I spent around a half an hour.
Even that was too long. Zion was a zoo.
I ended up being five cars away from getting a camp spot. Damn that old rusty car on a beautiful winding river in gorgeous light!! All the campgrounds in and near Zion were booked solid so I wasn’t sure what to do. On my way into Springdale, the little town just outside the park, I stopped at a hotel I found through AAA called Finnigan’s Inn to see what they could offer. What’s that, you say? A “smaller” unadvertised room at a lower, but still pricey, rate? I’ll think about it.
I actually left and drove 15 miles towards St. George before turning around saying “fuggit!” The expense was worth the experience.
First, my hotel was right next to a trolley stop that goes to the park entrance. (That’s the thing about Zion in the summer, you can only drive the main road through the park. The other road that takes you up to all the different trailheads is reserved for park buses. ((That’s the other thing about Zion- no drive-up views. You gotta get out there and hike if you wanna see anything.)) And with those buses came long lines. And it was hot.)
Second, I get in the long ass line that takes at least 45 minutes to reach the front of, and I met this great family, the Scharmanns. They were able to fill me in on why exactly everybody was walking around in weird shoes carrying sticks (the Narrows. It’s a hike through water in one of the canyons.) It was fun chatting with them all the way to my stop at the Grotto.
The Angels Landing Trail was recommended by several people I talked to as the one thing to see if passing through for a day. The map said it was not a hike for out-of-shape vertigo-prone bastards like me, essentially. I went anyway and regretted every step.
Nah, I’m joking. It was cool. But after the first main 2-mile paved ascent to what’s called Scout Lookout, you got to this…
It’s one of those grab the chain Half Dome-type hikes up a cliff. I barely made it to where I was. My knees were shaking. And I couldn’t get myself up that last half mile, especially with all the people on the trail. I still considered it a triumph for not turning around the 500 times I wanted to on my way up.
The one thing I knew would pay off was that I would sleep good. The first night in a proper hotel after several days camping is nice enough. Add to that the exhaustion of a hike you shouldn’t have taken….it was a good day in Zion National Park after all.
Next up, Vegas.
TWO nights in Vegas. 🙂