October 14-19, 2014
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Bryce Canyon. There was no problem getting a campsite though we first went to Sunset Campground and were not impressed with the lumpy, uneven, short sites in the RV loop. We skedaddled back to North Campground and found a beautiful, reasonably level site and snagged it quickly (the camera is tilted left, not the campsite – the rig is level).
What you can’t see in the picture is a very nice bathhouse up the hill behind us with flush toilets, HOT water and a separate dish washing room on the side with double sinks and counter. There are no showers and no hookups but they do have potable water spigots throughout the campground and grey water can be dumped in the dish washing sink. There is a dump station up the road that costs $5.00 per dump. We were moving a short distance to a full hookup campground next so we took our waste with us and dumped there. We had excellent Verizon signal in camp and throughout most of the upper portions of the park (dicey in the canyons). Camping is $15.00/night or $7.50 with the senior pass. Sites are first come/first served and probably fill up faster when temps aren’t hitting the low 30’s at night.
There is a short trail out one side of the “A” Loop of the North Campground that leads to the visitor center and a shuttle stop (not running while we were there). There is a road out the other side of the campground past the “D” Loop that leads to the General Store with washers and dryers and pay showers and then on to Sunset Point and eventually the Lodge. And there is one more trail off of “C” Loop that takes you onto the rim trail. If you are there when the shuttle is running, you probably don’t need a car.
We hiked many trails and many miles while at Bryce and loved it. The photo above was taken at Bryce Point. We had just hiked 3 miles with a decent uphill trail for a good way and a really big 800 foot elevation gain on the last leg climbing up to Bryce Point – but what awesome views! We still had over 2 miles to go on the Rim Trail to get back to the car. What we SHOULD have done is hike the rim trail to Bryce Point, gone down into the canyon on the long, steep trail, then climbed back up the lower rim at Sunset Point. We thought of that just about the time we hit the bottom of the canyon. Note that if the shuttle was running, we would have simply hopped onto it at Bryce Point and rode back to Sunset Point where our car was parked. Since we were there in the off season, with no shuttle, any hikes that went into and out of the canyon via different access points (which is every hike we took), meant an additional walk along the Rim Trail to get back to the car or camp. The upside is that we had ever changing canyon views to distract us.
“I Hiked the Hoodoos” and have a really cool hat pin to show for it. You can earn a hat pin too. All you have to do is “collect” three of these metal medallions by either take a rubbing or taking your picture with it. There are at least 5 of them in the park, out there on the trails. Once you have your photos or rubbings, you take them to the Visitor Center and the Ranger gives you your cool hatpin. The sign says you can also hike three miles on the trails that have these medallions. I’m not sure how you show you did that so if you plan to earn your pin that way, it would be best to check with a Ranger first to make sure you have what you need to get your pin. We never were able to get a map showing where the medallions are located but it apparently is frequently in their little park newspaper, just not the one they had while we were there.
The visitor center has a nice movie of how the park came to be and the geology of the area as well as a small but good museum and a huge gift shop. They have video displays showing things to do in the park, ranger program schedules and weather forecasts. There are Rangers on hand to assist you in finding the perfect adventures for your time at Bryce. They offer a lot of Ranger Programs including evening star gazing as this is another “dark sky” park.
I took pictures of the Geologic Cross Section display in the museum. It was curved with glare but two of the three sections came out decent with a slight blurring on the middle piece. I really like their diagram as I can visualize not just the surface features but what is going on underneath the earth’s crust. All the visitor centers and park displays we’ve seen so far on the Colorado Plateau did not click with me the way this one did. I can see fault lines and volcanic rifts. It kind of makes you wonder when the next earthquake will hit this area and what will happen to the really tall hoodoos when it does. Hopefully any seismic activity will occur after we leave.
They also had a 3-D map showing the Escalante Grand “Staircase” but I thought the diagram was clearer.
There is a lodge in the park with a restaurant, gift shop that carries some beautiful upscale items as well as the standard souvenirs, and an auditorium where evening ranger programs are held. There is also a General Store a little up the road that has hot dogs, pizza, soup, chili, lots of snacks and beverages as well as camping gear and souvenirs (and ice cream, don’t forget the ice cream).
We did leave camp for one dinner and went out to Ruby’s Inn where they have an all you can eat buffet. The food was good, the prices not outrageous and we enjoyed it a lot. The night we were there they were expecting 16 tour buses for dinner so go early if you go. Ruby’s also has a general store but a box of basic cereal was $8.00 so we decided we needed to eat what was in our cupboards instead.
If you leave the park and bypass Bryce City, about six miles west on Rte 12 is the Bryce Pines Restaurant with large portions of good, home cooked food for a reasonable price. We actually moved to Bryce Pines Campground after leaving Bryce Canyon. Nice campground, full hookups, laundry, showers, etc. It’s behind the Chevron station which is actually kind of convenient. It is also on a paved bike trail that runs west all the way through Red Canyon. I’m not sure how far it goes to the east.