Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Arches, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks

We have been moving pretty fast between national parks, for various reasons. Arches was hot and busy, full of tourists and buses, so we saw a few things, went for a short hike, then left. 

We had a nice surprise the next day in our way to Bryce Canyon, following a scenic route, Hwy 12, when we drove through and stopped at Capitol Reef NP. It wasn't on our list, but it wasn't crowded, had interesting rock formations, a museum, and a history of settlement and farming (the town was called Fruita!) that was fascinating. This was a nice find after the craziness of Arches. 

We arrived at our hotel in the afternoon on July 1, then drove to Bryce Canyon around 7pm to see one of the astronomy programs the rangers (Dark Rangers!) put on at 9pm on Tuesdays.  This one was about the history of astronomy, and Griffin loved it. Then they had huge telescopes set up near the visitor's center, so we waited in a few lines and saw Saturn and its rings, plus Titan, a whirlpool galaxy, and the moon. Griffin gasped when he saw Saturn through the telescope, which made the whole trip worth it. Bryce Canyon is so dark that we could see the Milky Way easily. Amazing. 

Mule deer by the road

Griffin waiting for the ranger program. 

Cool cabins near Sunset Point

Today we slept in, then headed over to see what ranger activities we could do. There was a geology talk, so we listened to that and learned a lot about the geology and history of the area. Then we decided to do a hike down into the Bryce Amphitheater, down a steep switchback trail from Sunset Point through a slot canyon called Wall Street. Then we looped back around and had to climb back up!  Not easy at 8000 feet altitude!

From the top. Didn't look that bad.

It got steep. 

Slot canyon. But we went down from there. 

Fascinating to see single trees living in these canyons. 

Dry stream bed at the bottom. 

Tomorrow we are off to Zion, where we were going to camp, but now we are not. It is 100 degrees there, and apparently this campground has very little shade. No thank you. So next camping is at the Grand Canyon!

Great trip so far, lots of memories and places to visit again someday. 

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