Bryce National Park

We had an uneventful day of travel from SLC to Richfield.  Richfield was a place we stayed at on the way to Bryce Canyon.  Richfield was a nice town and we stayed at a KOA, Kampground of America.  These campgrounds are all over the US, but so far we have avoided them as they are very family focused which can mean lots of kids and kids activities etc.  We would rather stay in a quieter place.  This KOA was actually very nice, and quiet.  As with St Anthony in Idaho, many owners of RV’s here at this park have ATV’s as there are 1000’s of miles of trails in the surrounding mountains.

We left Richfield the next day for a short drive to Red Canyon.  This was the closest we could park the coach for Bryce Canyon.  The campgrounds in the canyon and nearby were full.  Bryce Canyon though was only 14 miles away and a very pleasant drive through Red Canyon.

When we pulled into the RV park At Red Canyon it was hot and the Red Canyon a mile up the road looked amazing in the afternoon sunlight.  However, as the afternoon progressed the sky began to darken until the first few raindrops fell.  These were very big raindrops and at this 8500 ft altitude it doesn’t take long for those drops to turn to hail.  The temperature plummeted and the hail came down.  It was noisy, with large hail stones, some 2.5 cm wide.

These made a terrible destructive sound on the coach and all we could do was look outside as the ground got covered in white icy stones.  The road through the campsite that was dry and dusty when we arrived became a fast running river on either side of the coach, luckily most of the water missed us.  We were astonished at how a hot sunny day could turn into a winter scene in such a short space of time.  This is clearly an environment where the weather is to be observed and respected.

The hail pounded the coach for about 30 minutes, and when it ended the skies cleared and the sun came out.  S inspected the coach and car for damage and found nothing but a coach filthy with red mud.

The next day we woke to a beautiful clear bright day.  We got our back packs packed and drove off to Bryce Canyon, aware that the weather could repeat the same pattern as yesterday.

Bryce Canyon is all about Hoodoos, Spires, Stacks, Canyons and colours.  It’s sandstone that is carved by the elements.  For 180 days of the year, the nights here are freezing.  Rain also falls a lot here so typically rain falls on the sandstone, it runs down into grooves made by previous rain falls.  It freezes over night expanding as it freezes and widening the groove.  Over millennia, amazing formations are created.  This in itself is something to see, but along with the colours of Bryce Canyon it’s a real spectacle.  Mostly the colours range from deep red, crimson in places to browns, pinks, oranges and creams.  This with a blue sky and green pine trees make for a beautiful contrast of colour, shape and texture.

We walked along the rim track and eventually walked down into a canyon which was very dramatic and made for some great photography.

After about 3 hours we made our way back up to the top just in time to hear thunder.  We had been watching the sky and seeing some clouds form and get darker.  As we approached the car it started to rain.

Being in the bottom of a canyon would be bad news when there is heavy rain nearby.  These canyon floors flash flood and each year people are swept away to their deaths.  Also, standing on top of a canyon can be dangerous when there is lightning.

Within the Bryce Canyon area there are Pronghorn Deer, Mountain Lions and Rattlesnakes.  All we saw was a chipmunk, but that was something and better than seeing a Rattlesnake.

It was a great day exploring.  Back at the coach the sun came out and we enjoyed a warm afternoon, looking back over Bryce Canyon it looks like it might have been a wet afternoon.  Our timing was good.

Tomorrow we drive to Zion National Park.  It’s not far from here, but to get to it means going through a long tunnel and is a marginal height for our coach.  It’s so risky that you have to have a guide to follow.  We have decided to go the long way.