Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Explore Bryce Canyon

As we were planning our trip to Utah for the Young Living Convention we just knew we had to go back to Bryce Canyon.  We fell in love with this incredibly unique National Park 10 years ago when my husband and I spent 30 days camping cross country after he returned home from Iraq.  Our very first impression was, "We just landed on another planet!"  

We had heard that Bryce Canyon was no longer the hidden gem it was 10 years ago and that it was now quite popular.  I was a little nervous about heading in with our 35 foot RV without reservations, and fears of unavailability mounted as we approached and saw signs everywhere urging you to park outside the park and take a shuttle in.  Because we stayed right down the road at Red Canyon (http://www.pocketfuloftreasures.net/2016/08/don-miss-these-gems-outside-bryce-canyon.html) we arrived fairly early in the day (approximately 9am) and took our chances.  Although the campground did fill up by the end of the day, there was still plenty of availability.  The campsites are spacious and our little ones enjoyed plenty of little critters around to eat their veggies for them. (Please don't intentionally feed the animals)

Bryce Canyon certainly has plenty of trail systems for hikers, bicyclers, and equestrians.  A shared-use path runs from Bryce Canyon City (outside the park), past the campground, on towards Sunrise and then Sunset Point, and continues all the way to Inspiration Point.  Watch for deer, prairie dogs, and other wildlife on and near the path.

If you do not have a bicycle or are not up for the challenge (some steep, though not terribly difficult elevation climbs), there is a shuttle that also runs past these points.  We really enjoyed biking the trail to  Inspiration point, taking out time along the way to enjoy the many lookouts.
Also along the Shared-Use path you may enjoy resting or shopping at Bryce Canyon Lodge or the General Store.  Bryce Canyon Lodge was not there the last time we visited, which shows how much this National Park has grown in 10 short years, but the accommodations appeared very nice for those that do not wish to camp.  And for parents needing some bribery along the trail, the General Store had 5 cent taffy by the check out counter 👍

The last time my husband and I visited Bryce Canyon we hike the 8 mile Fairyland Loop.  It was certainly a strenuous 8 mile trail with a 1,716 ft elevation change, but it offered some incredible views of tall hoodoos, China Wall, and Tower Bridge.  

Because we have 5 children ages 7 and under, we opted for an easier trail this time.  At approximately 3 miles and only 600 feet elevation change, the Queens/Navajo Combination Loop will take you past some picturesque formations, including the impressive Wall Street.  I loved watching the look of wonder expressed on our children's faces.

Remember to save plenty of water for the climb back out of the canyon!  

A little bit of CoolAzul and AgilEase helps too 😉

I'd love to see your pictures and hear your stories!  Follow me on Instagram @pocketful_of_treasures

Also be sure to check out my other blog posts on our adventures in Utah!  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Don't Miss these Gems outside Bryce Canyon

Don't get me wrong, I love Bryce Canyon (in fact, it's one of my top 5 favorite places), but there are lots of beautiful places surrounding Bryce Canyon.  

If you are driving from Salt Lake City down to Bryce Canyon, Little Cottonwood Campground in Fishlake National Forest is a convenient stop off of I-15 just outside the community of Beaver.  There are 14 primitive (no hookups), shaded campsites that can accommodate RVs up to 40ft.  We enjoyed sleeping nestled in the woods with our windows open.  We need to plan a visit back here to explore more of the hiking trails and spend some time fishing on Beaver River.

From there continue south on highway 15 to Panguitch where you will take 89S to Scenic Byway 12.  Stay at Red Canyon Campground (part of Dixie National Forest) for access to an extensive trail system.  We decided that you could easily spend a week or two exploring the limestone formations and ponderosa pine forests found here.  Unfortunately, we only had one day there, but we were able to pack in plenty of adventures. We spent the morning biking Red Canyon Bike Trail, which parallels Highway 12 but offers superb views of Red Canyon.  The best part of this trail is that what goes up must come down, so the return trip back to the campground is mostly downhill!
The trail run particularly close to this rock tunnel, make it easy to grab some photos.

After a quick stop back at the campground to refuel and reload (remember to hydrate often!), we decided to check out some of the hiking trails.

Buckhorn Trail leads out of the east of the campground (between site #24 and #26), and can be coombines with Goldenwall Trail and Castle Bridge Trail.  The trail begins with a moderately difficult climb (approx. 500 feet elevation change) up switchbacks through the forest before leveling out a bit and giving some breathtaking views of Red Canyon.  Towards the end of the trail it is extremely narrow with drop offs on both side.  At one point we took a sit and scoot approach (moving slowly and carefully, on the lookout for snakes and scorpions).  Here is a link to a printable trail map: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5436846.pdf

Despite the heat and long day of adventures, we finished the way every good day should with a campfire and s'mores!

Be sure to check out our other adventures in Utah!

Goblin Valley State Park: http://www.pocketfuloftreasures.net/2016/07/goblin-valley-state-park-explore-nature.html

Moab: http://www.pocketfuloftreasures.net/2016/07/hike-to-corona-arch-moab-hidden-gem.html

Follow me on Instagram: @pocketful_of_treasures