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665 Bryce and Capitol 2012-06-22

Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon

Leaving Zion National Park, we headed toward Moab, Utah. Since we were going to pass Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park along the way, we decided to at least pay a brief tourist visit to each.

The drive from Zion to Bryce was quite pleasant. The road was lined with a very large bicycle touring group. There were serious riders and those who just looked like they were just out for a pleasant roll through the country. They all seemed to be having fun.

When we entered Dixie National Forest at Red Canyon, a bike path appeared and continued paralleling Hwy 12 almost until the junction with Hwy 63, the road to Bryce. We were wanting our bikes!

Just outside of Bryce is the Ruby Inn, the Ruby Campground, the Ruby General Store, the Ruby ... so it seemed the Ruby's were the purveyors of all that was Bryce. It sort of reminded me of the Johnson's in Blazing Saddles.

We were in the Park early and did not have much trouble finding a campsite. They didn't have tent pads for the sites and did have some odd restrictions for where you could pitch your tent.

As soon as possible we went to the General Store and took a two dollar shower. We just beat a tour bus load of tourists also wanting to take showers. I know, we couldn't figure that one out either. Maybe, they were trying to take a shower in each National Park???

Feeling refreshed, we began our tour of the Park. We hiked along the Rim Trail to Sunrise Point and then down the Queens Garden Trail. It really was an amazing place. The hoodoos (small weathered pinnacles) were very unique. We were sure they all had names, how could they not?

After the short hike, we then took a driving tour of the Parks road. We stopped at most of the (many) pullouts and each overlook was amazing. A few short hikes brought us even better view points. Oh, the natural bridge was an especially good view.

Finished with the motor tour, we took a break and then walked from the campground to Sunset Point and the Navajo Loop. If you only have time for one trail in Bryce, the Navajo Loop is the one. It's a great trail with so many picturesque points, just be glad you have a digital camera, so you can snap away.

The next morning we left for Capitol Reef. The drive to the Park was amazing. For a while, Highway 12 followed a rib high above the canyons on either side. We drove very carefully!

The Headquarters of Capitol Reef is near the historic settlement/town of Fruita, Utah. Fruita is an oasis in the desert. Shaded by cottonwoods, the small area has a creek (or small river), and is, believe it or not, green with grass and orchards.

We camped in the Park and once again were there at a reasonable time and had our choice of campsites. The ten dollar fee was very reasonable for a shaded tent site with grass along the Fremont River.

After setting camp we explored the area a bit. We stopped by the Visitors Center and then took a drive to the south on the main Park road. The area reminded us more of Moab than Bryce or Zion. On our trip back toward camp, we took a short hike down the Grand Wash. It was a worthy hike, but was very hot so we cut our trip short.

Grand Wash hike

Grand Wash

Back at the camp, we were entertained by a large family from Georgia. There are a few stories to tell about this clan - more in the future!

We were very sorry we were at Capitol Reef during a hot spell in June. There were many places to explore and many trails to hike. We would definitely like to return some day and play in some of the famous slot canyons.

As a brief summary, Bryce Canyon could easily be visited in a couple of days, just make sure to have a camera ready. For Capitol Reef, it would require more than a few days, if you are interested in hiking the many remote canyons. The Fruita area of the Park is easily seen in a day.

We are very glad we stopped in both Parks and just wished we had more time (and less heat) for an extended stay in Capitol Reef.


Happy Bryce and Capitol trails


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