Monday, April 28, 2014

Byrce Canyon National Park

April 22 - 28, 2014:

Tuesday the 22nd we departed Kanab, Utah at 9 AM hoping to reach our destination before the forecasted heavy winds started.  It was a good idea as the wind started picking up about 3/4 of the way there and by the time we arrived at the Riverside Resort and RV Park the wind was wicked.  The campground is just outside of Hatch, Utah about 24 miles from Bryce Canyon.  It's a full hookup site with a store and restaurant.  

Riverside Resort and RV Park

View from our campsite after snow

It is out in the open and we are now rocking in the wind, may need some Dramamine !  Hatch Utah is very small, but does have a couple of restaurants and tourist shops, but not much else.  So, we then took a ride to the next town north, Panguitch, which is larger and the whole town is a designated National Historical district.  The story is that the big industry in town, back in the day, was the brick factory and everyone was paid in bricks which were used to build good brick houses.  The houses were well built and have survived as has much of the original downtown buildings.  It has a few restaurants, a nice coffee shop, a couple great antique shops and many motels.  We ate lunch at Foy's Country Restaurant and I have to say that the French Dip sandwich was the best one I've ever had.   Back at the campground store I bought a really cool Hopalong Cassidy thermometer (even if it is a made in China plastic) to hang in the RV.

Cowboy's Smokehouse Cafe in Panquitch

Butch Cassidy is a sort of local celebrity here

A really good western antique shop in Panquitch

Wednesday morning it is cold, about 27 degrees and cloudy, but we have a plan to go into Bryce Canyon, check out the visitors center and then start exploring.  First we go for breakfast at a small diner, the "Galaxy Diner" down the road in Hatch.  It is done with a route 66 nostalgic theme inside, is clean and well done.  There are several european visitors inside who are taking lots of photos.  Afterwards the owner who was extremely friendly came over and talked to us.  It turns out he was a welder who used to travel in a series of trailers living and working on the road for about 10 years.  He said his traveling days are now over, he started a diner with his wife, they love the area and are staying, hope it works out for them.  

Galaxy Diner in Hatch

Bryce Inn is across road what a deal !

Monument to early Mormon settlers in Hatch

Interesting RV in Hatch

The clouds eventually parted and the warmth of the sun felt so great.  We stopped just before the park entrance at an area called Red Canyon that was beautiful with several appealing trails that we will save for latter.  

Red Canyon view
At the entrance to Bryce, I was a little taken back by the level of development or commercialization at the park entrance.  It was also really crowded with mostly foreign tourists, felt like I was in another country at times.  It must be crazy here in the height of the tourist season.  We did the usual visitors center thing, the museum, the orientation film along with the gift shop. We then went to the impressive Bryce Canyon Lodge looking for trail snacks, nothing there, but were directed to the general store.  After a couple of nutritious cookies and granola bars we were ready for the Sunrise Point.  It was stunning, better than any of the photographs, Twinkles was amazed !  We then took the Queen's Garden trail that switchbacks steeply from the rim down through and around one amazing sight after another.  Everyone you would see on the trail had eyes filled with wonder and couldn't stop taking photos.  We then walked the rim trail to the Sunset Point, equally incredible.  Then another vista point and short hike which was all we could handle for the day, too much !!! 

View along the Queens Garden Trail

View from the canyon rim looking down on trail

Indian legend is great

Incredible Hoodoos

They are everywhere !

Another trail view

Thursday, another stop at Red Canyon where we took a short but great hike around the hoodoos, it is a really nice scenic area administered by the enormous Dixie National Forest.  We then continued on to Bryce Canyon and rode all the way out to the end at Rainbow Bridge.  The road takes you up in elevation to 9,115 feet and into another climatic zone with big Ponderosa Pine trees and pockets of snow.  We took a mile hike there on the Bristlecone loop trail that was great.  We then backtracked stopping at all the roadside pull offs to check out the views.  Several of the pull offs have short trails along the rim to get a better vantage point, we did many along the way. There were many people doing the same thing, we kept seeing the same people over and over again.  At the end of the day we were fairly exhausted. There were several strange human sights as well, people (mostly young people) seem to have this death urge to strand right on the edge of the cliff to take a photo or to pose for the camera. People letting their dog loose in hopes to get it to pose on a pile of snow for a photo, the dog was not interested.

Red Canyon trail

Red Canyon

Road tunnel at Red Canyon

View of the Amphitheater from Bryce Point

Trail view of fire area

The Natural Bridge 

Another view of the Amphitheater area

Friday and the wind is back, must be 40-50 MPH gusts so we go to Panguitch for supplies and visit the Quilt Walk Park.  The Quilt walk is a great story.  The early pioneer Mormon settlers in Panquitch were starving during the winter of 1864 and seven of the men went off on a fifty mile trip to get flour and foodstuffs from the town of Parowan.  They encountered a winter storm with heavy snow and had to leave their horses and wagons behind and continue on foot.  They decided they better pray and as they kneeled on a quilt they noticed that they didn't sink into the snow.  They then laid their quilts in front of them in the snow and walked on them to keep from sinking in.  They kept moving the quilts and eventually make it through, got the needed supplies and made it back to Panquitch.  They have a park with a statue commemorating this trek along with tablets on the each man's history, very remarkable, motivating stuff !!! 

Quilt monument

One of the walkers 

Another walkers story

Old sign in Panquitch

One of many old brick houses

We are having some crazy weather here, all day Friday were high winds followed by periods of rain throughout the night, but the temperature stayed just above freezing.  Saturday it continued with rain and sleet and snow showers on/off, a few glimpses of sun, with the temperature hovering in the low 40's.  The lows for the next few days are forecast around the mid 20's.  This cold stuff is interfering with our ability and desire to dry camp, the constant furnace noise is annoying and we are still cold.  As a result, we have ordered a portable propane heater that is designed for RV use that requires no electricity, puts out 6,000 BTU's and works up to 12,000 foot elevation.

I twisted a certain way on Friday and immediately had a shooting pain in the lower back.  As a result, I hobbled around most of the afternoon.  It felt considerably better on Saturday so what did I do ?  I went back to Bryce Canyon and hiked a strenuous trail for 5-6 miles, no real problem.  Then back at the RV, I pick up a few papers from the floor and wham, there it goes again.  Anyhow, the Navajo Trail to the Peekaboo Loop Trail and then a return on the Navajo was about the ultimate hike ever.  I can't imagine seeing anything more spectacular in this lifetime ! 

View from Sunset Point overlook

Another view from Sunset Point

Another rim view

View from the Peekaboo trail

Peekaboo trail view

Wall of windows formation from trail

Peekaboo trail view

Trail view

Trail view

Trail view

Trail view

Trail view

Next stop is Kodachrome Basin State Park in Cannonville, Utah, stay tuned for more incredible red rock formations.

Twinkles and Slick 

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