Monday, February 27, 2012

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah - Winter Hiking

When I was in elementary school, Bryce Canyon National Park became my first experience in Utah.  My grandparents took me on a trip to the Grand Canyon and along the way we made a few stops in Utah, including Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.  I remember thinking Bryce Canyon was even more beautiful than the Grand Canyon and I took a small container of the impossibly red-orange dirt home with me to Massachusetts (my apologies to the National Park Service for not knowing better).  That container sat on my nightstand until I left for college in Utah many years later.

Bryce Canyon National Park at sunrise - Bryce Point

I spent this past weekend in Bryce Canyon with five great friends, revisiting familiar territory and checking out a few new trails as well.  Dave and I drove down from Salt Lake on Friday and made it to the canyon in time to visit some of the famous overlooks and enjoy some good beer as the setting sun illuminated the distant cliffs and plateaus.  We met up with Brandon, Kristen, Jarret, and Shawn at the great cabin that Brandon reserved for us in nearby Tropic, complete with a patio and hot tub for stargazing late into the night.

Looking into Bryce Canyon from Sunset Point

Dave at Sunset Point

The next morning, Dave, Shawn and I hiked from the cabin in Tropic into Bryce Canyon via the Tropic Trail, then the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail within the canyon, and exited the canyon on the Navajo Loop trail at Sunset point.  The weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular as we all agreed that this was one of the best hikes any of us had done.

Enjoying the view with Shawn along the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail - photo by David Newkirk

Loving the hike with Shawn - photo by David Newkirk

Along the Tropic Trail

Shawn and Dave starting up the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail

Shawn and Dave on the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail

Brandon, Kristen, and Jarrett had just finished cross-country skiing on the canyon rim as we completed our long trek from Tropic and we spent some time relaxing by the fireplace at Ruby's Inn before checking out Bryce Point and calling it a day.

Jarrett getting ready to show us his yoga moves at Bryce Point

No trip to Bryce Canyon is complete without watching the sun rise.  On Sunday morning we braved some fierce winds and cold temperatures at Bryce Point for a beautiful early morning show.

Brandon and Kristen loving the early morning chill in the air at Bryce Point

Sunrise at Bryce Point

Before heading back to Salt Lake we did a couple miles of  snowshoeing and hiking from the canyon rim at Bryce Point to the canyon bottom at the junction with the Peek-a-boo Loop Trail.  The sun was out and the scenery was fantastic as usual - a perfect way to end an amazing trip.

The whole group - photo by David Newkirk

 Shawn and Dave

 Shawn checking out the amazing views

Kristen and Jarrett snowshoeing down from Bryce Point

Snowshoeing from Bryce Point

Kristen and Brandon

A big thanks to Brandon for organizing this trip and making it happen!  Also, thanks to Dave, Kristen, Shawn, and Jarrett for making the weekend so much fun.  I have a lot of great memories in this canyon where my love of Utah first started, and this trip will certainly be one of the best!