Afternoon at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon WI15-67

After traveling to Mount Carmel Junction and checking into my room at the Best Western East Zion Thunderbird Lodge, I set off for Bryce Canyon, about an hour’s drive away. The rim of Bryce Canyon (it’s actually not a canyon, but a series of immense natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau), is 8,000 feet above sea level, and in the winter, it can get cold there, especially at night. In February, the average low is 13º; the average high—a balmy 38º. This is a frigid place in the winter. But when I got arrive at the park around three in the afternoon in the middle of February, it was rather mild — not cold at all. Temperatures were probably in the low to mid fifties. In fact, it was warm enough to hike in shirtsleeves. I initially assumed that there would be too much snow to do any serious hiking sans snowshoes, but this was not in the least true. While there was snow in patches, and there were sections along the trails where you had to proceed carefully, the trail was eminently navigable with just a pair of ordinary hiking boots. I chose to descend into the “canyon” at Sunset Point via the north section of the Navajo Loop trail. When I reached the bottom of the “canyon,” I traversed a connecting path to the Queen’s Garden Trail, from which I ascended to Sunrise Point. Adding the return distance to my car, I probably hiked close to five miles in all. Here’s an illustrative map:

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.51.54 PM

The following images illustrate the nature of the trail, with patches of snow followed by bare ground and/or mud:

Bryce Canyon WI15-29

Bryce Canyon WI15-32

Bryce Canyon WI15-33

Bryce Canyon WI15-3

Bryce Canyon WI15-70

There was actually a decent amount of snow at the bottom of the “canyon,” as seen in this image:

Bryce Canyon WI15-35

But elsewhere, there were only patches here and there. Some more images from the hike:

Bryce Canyon WI15-6

Bryce Canyon WI15-39

Bryce Canyon WI15-40

Bryce Canyon WI15-45

Bryce Canyon WI15-48

Bryce Canyon WI15-53

Bryce Canyon WI15-55

Bryce Canyon WI15-59

Bryce Canyon WI15-65

Bryce Canyon WI15-79

And some more traditional “vista” shots:

Bryce Canyon WI15-9

Bryce Canyon WI15-13

Bryce Canyon WI15-102

Bryce Canyon WI15-16

Bryce Canyon WI15-94

Bryce Canyon WI15-11