Kolob Canyons and Bryce Canyon National Park
June 15, 2013 | This 3rd day of my roadtrip began by visiting the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park and ended with Bryce Canyon National Park.
When I first entered Kolob Canyons I had a twinge of anticipatory park ennui: After the spectacle of Zion Canyon, what if this northwestern section of the park proved a disappointment? All the hiking trails seemed more than I wanted to tackle, so I was left with the 8 mile scenic drive. It was just after sunrise, so the big masses of rock were pretty impressive in the morning light. And there were a few brave wildflowers ready to soak up the sun. Did I mention it was cold?
Then the road began to climb sharply, and I soon found myself at 9000 feet and able to look down on the rest of Zion NP! It was a glorious sight. I met a local artiste who was setting up her easel to do yet another rendering of Kolob Canyon in the morning light. And near the summit could be seen the traces of a recent rock fall that took out a big chunk of a rock mass.
Like Zion, Bryce Canyon has a bus shuttle system with a shuttle parking lot outside the park in what is dubbed “Bryce Canyon City” (est'd 2007). The city is basically a cluster of hotels and some schmaltzy western attractions.
When you enter the park it looks like any number of other wooded parks. Then the shuttle drops you off at Bryce Point and the sight simply takes your breath away. Whereas Zion is awesome because you are at the bottom of an immense canyon looking up, Bryce is awesome because you are on the rim of an immense canyon looking down at a bizarre collection of rock formations sculpted by Mother Nature's weapons of melting and freezing water.
They call these tall, skinny pillars of rock “hoodoos.” They stand in tightly massed ranks of various colors, depending on the minerals in the sandstone. There's a lot of iron, so much of the rock is the color of rust, but there are whites and deep chocolate browns as well.
I rode the shuttle to the farthest point and then followed the rim trail back toward the visitor center. It was an easy walk on a mostly-flat hard-surface trail. Every few feet opened up another vista, just as spectacular as the previous ones. In the distance you could see the town of Tropic where Ebenezer Bryce settled and raised his numerous children.
There are many hiking trails below the rim, but as they say, what goes down must come up! Maybe 50 years ago...
After returning to the visitor center I fetched Sophie and followed the 18-mile park road along the ridge of the plateau to Rainbow Point at 9,115 feet elevation. Then, on the way back, I stopped at several of the viewpoints, but I have to confess that after you've seen a gazillion hoodoos, you've seen a gazillion hoodoos.
This evening I'm staying at the “Grand Hotel” just outside the park (OK, it's a Best Western) and went across the highway to Ruby's Inn for a ribeye steak dinner. The steak was delicious and cooked just the way I like it. The atmosphere was log cabin chic.
Last updated on Apr 29, 2016