Bryce Canyon National Park

National Park Number: 51 of 59

Bryce Canyon is a tiny park, full of rock castles and colored like sherbet and pretty as anything. We spent two days there because two days is what we had and we loved them because loving parks is what we do now.

The first day was my birthday, my thirtieth, and David made it wonderful and so that I didn’t have to lift a finger. I had breakfast in bed and didn’t change a single diaper, and those are both markers of an excellent day.

We started at the visitor center, watched the movie, got the skinny. Then we headed farther down the road to hike the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop Trails. It was hot and dusty and gorgeous; the kids spotted windows in the rocky fins and we tried to find familiar shapes in the hoodoos. The kids also took turns falling to pieces, collapsing like limp noodles, demanding drinks and snacks and arms to carry them. Sometimes that’s how hikes go 😉.

 Ok, this is actually Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Ok, this is actually Cedar Breaks National Monument.

We made it out of the canyon in one piece (or four pieces, as it were) and drove out to Rainbow Point for birthday dinner and angel food cake, my favorite, though Margie yelled that she didn’t want any angels on her cake, just whipped cream, and we pretended to oblige.

The next morning we drove the park road, taking in the views, then after lunch we set out on the Fairyland Loop. Considering that our hike the day before had not been our best and that the day was hot and that Bryce’s elevation is between 7000 and 9000 feet, this was probably too ambitious a hike. We brought our usual long-hike amount of water (which turned out to be not nearly enough) and set off into the canyon.

It was an extremely beautiful hike, I’d say one of our most scenic ever, and everyone was a much better sport for Day 2. But halfway through, we ran out of water and then it was a struggle to get up out of the canyon and around the rim back to Sunrise Point. For the last 2 miles, we talked of nothing but popsicles and water and when we finally came to a spigot, it was as though we’d found nirvana.

Utah’s parks are, I think, some of the very best, but I can’t choose a favorite from among them. For me they form a whole, a geologic story that gets better and better the more you learn about it, the more you explore it.

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