October 12, 2019
We got up at 7:30 (to 11 degrees) because we were taking the free Bryce NP 3 ½ hour tour of the remote areas of Bryce. We were moving quickly. I didn’t realize that the space heater was on when I plugged in the coffee maker. We blew all the plugs. To make a long story short we found one plug that worked near the baseboard and made coffee and toast on the floor.
The Rainbow Tour shuttle picked us right outside of camp. The bus looked like an old school bus but I suspect was made for NP tours. Bob had plenty of room in the seat and they even offered water! We drove to the furthest point, Yovimpa Point, on top of the Grand Staircase and worked our way back stopping a various viewpoints. The road was built in the 1930’s by the CCC.
Our guide April (born on May 1!) was a native of Tropic, a nearby town, where fruits and vegetables can be grown in season. She and her husband (4th generation native) own an 800-acre ranch where they raise sheep and cattle. She was (until joining the school board) a PE teacher and bus driver. Her husband is the school principal. April was one of the best guides we have ever had anywhere. She was articulate and added so much local color along with many legends, tour guide stories that the time passed quickly. She also mentioned that this last week saw peak tourist numbers which is unusual.
We saw much more than the usual because it was such a clear day. She pointed out areas as far away as the Grand Canyon! Some of the interesting things we learned:
• Ruben Syrett was an English Morman who settled and built a house on property now known as Sunset Point. I mentioned yesterday how he came to purchase all of the property abutting the park. It is the 4th generation that now operates the businesses in Bryce Canyon City
• Bryce was a Scott and ship builder. He arrived in the area in 1875 and went from community to community to build thing s for folks. His wife was ill with the altitude so they moved to AZ and lived in a town named for him
• The lodge was commissioned and built 95 years ago by the Union Pacific RR. It was designed by Underwood who also designed several other NP lodges including the Awhanee. The roof appears to be wavy but is not!
• Bryce is the smallest of the Grand Circle NPS, 35,000 acres compared to Zion’s 200,000
• Erosion in Bryce is about 4 feet every 100 years. It was apparent as we saw the original tourist railings in comparison to those in place now. The hoodoos freeze and thaw 200 days of the year
• Bristle cone pine is the oldest tree in the world. Oldest on record is 5,000 plus years old In CA. There are many growing among the hooDoos
• Limber Pine Nut Cracker( a bird) can hide 20-30,000 pine cone seeds per year and remember the locations
• Aquarius plateau is 11,000 feet
• No rock climbing in Bryce because there are no rocks!
• Prong Horn can run up to 60 mph (babies when first born can run up to 40 mph)
• The Natural Bridge is not a bridge but an arch because there is no water that flows beneath it (technically)
Dropped off at camp about 12:30. I made lunch while we tried to find GFI switches, fuse box , circuit breaker etc. After an hour we learned the location of the inverter plugs and GFI, other GFI plugs and circuit breaker that really was a nondescript covered panel below the fridge. All is working!
Headed off to Zion past Red Canyon, a great hiking spot. As we entered the park on Hwy 9 we were told we would have to pay a tunnel fee of $15 ( for 2 trips) because we were too wide. A ranger would stop tunnel traffic so that we could drive through the middle of the tunnel. Neither of us remember anything like this! Fortunately, when we got to the tunnel the ranger let us go through. The tunnel was long, dark and a thrill we did not need! The line entering from the west that was waiting for us was at least a mile long! We will not return that way but continue west through St. George.
Beautiful, slow drive through Zion to Springfield, the town quite near the NP campgrounds and Visitor Center. Springfield was non-existent 7 years ago when we visited and stayed in the NP campgrounds. Zion Canyon Campground is associated with the Quality Inn Management and is very conveniently located with good facilities. For the most part you must park in Springfield and take the shuttle throughout Zion. Fortunately, we are 5 minutes from the shuttle or a mile walk to the Visitor Center.
Loving the 65-degree weather. Walked to the Whiptail Grill for a Cut Throat IPA and chips/salsa/guac. (You can’t drink in UT without food). Also made reservations at the highly recommended Spotted Dog for dinner tomorrow night.
Zion is as touristy as Yosemite. Such a change from 7 years ago. We think Bryce could be won our favorite National Parks.