Its the stuff Wiley E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons are made of. Rocky spires, dramatic cliffs, and towering canyons all painted with dramatic shades of red. Even the road to the park has a dramatic flair to it with drive through arches and brightly colored boulders.
An 18 mile scenic drive takes you along the length of Bryce’s many amphitheaters and scenic viewpoints. Our first stop was Sunset Point. Sunset Point is a viewing area along the Rim Trail and its magical. You walk out towards what appears to be the end of the earth on to discover a vast amphitheater filled with hoodoos. “Wow”. That’s all I could say when I first saw it all. Wow.
I immediately wanted to climb down to the bottom and stand amongst those hoodoos. The Navajo Loop Trail was the path to the bottom and the bottom was 500 feet below us. As we started the downhill portion we were immediately told that we were crazy for bringing a couple of two year olds on the hike. Naysayers warned us that the climb up was much too hard for toddlers. I smiled politely and told them our kids were pros. They shook their heads and mumbled under their breath. Yes, the trail down is steep and there are lots of edges but if you keep your kids on the inside of the trail and hold their hands, they CAN do it. We went from one switch back to the next until we were suddenly surrounded by steep narrow canyons carved by eons of wind.
Trees sprouted up in the narrow canyons, reserving their needles for their tops where the light was plentiful. We walked from one slot canyon to the next, amazed at just how high those canyon walls were. the view from the bottom was just as incredible as the top. I remember hearing somewhere that an early settler once said “its a hell of a place to lose a cow”. I can’t even imagine. Without the trail, I never would have found my way out.
Eventually, we had to begin our climb back to the top. At first we jogged but as things got steeper, the only one who still had a skip in their step was Mari.
Towards the end, Paul picked the kids up and ran a couple switchbacks just to speed things along. Ben was much more interested in throwing rocks off the switchbacks than walking up them. 1.3 miles later, we had completed our loop and conquered another hike.
We gazed out into the Bryce Amphitheater once more before getting back in the car and heading further into the park. I pondered what it must have been like to be the first settlers to stumble upon this place. We knew what was coming but they had no idea…
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