day 12: Bryce Canyon NP - Zion NP


.                                              Our route on day 12 (lenght: 95 miles / 154 km)

Already the twelfth day and we had yet another two National Parks to discover. First of the two was Bryce Canyon National Park. We arrived at Bryce Canyon already the day before, crossing it partly on the way to our night quarter, the Rubyís Inn RV Park, adjacent directly to the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park.

After a visit to the parkís Visitors Center at the entrance we had to drive a few miles to the view points at the canyonís rim and to the trailhead to start our hiking loop through the canyon.

    .    Nick at the canyon's rim, Bryce Canyon NP                          Bryce Canyon NP                              On the trail loop at Bryce Canyon NP


Bryce Canyon National Park belongs to the Colorado Plateaus and is located in southwestern Utah. Itís actually not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Formed by erosion the colorful limestone turned into thousands of spires, fins, arches and mazes. All these geological structures, mostly colored in red, orange and white, are called hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon sits at a relatively high elevation. The rim varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m). Visitors may drive through the 20 mile long park and stop at scenic viewpoints. They can also hike along trails into the canyon. Perhaps the best experiences at Bryce Canyon come from descending on trails among the amphitheaters and hoodoos.

    .                    Bryce Canyon NP                                   Nick walking through a rock gate              Petra & Nick on the trail at Bryce Canyon NP
Bryce Canyon hiking

To see the most diversity on one hiking trip, we decided to combine the Queens Garden Trail with the Navajo Loop Trail. We started at Sunrise Point descending into the canyon, walking along a lot of hoodoos mainly in bright orange color.
After about 1 mile and 300 feet downhill the landscape changed to a more wooded area. Mostly small, but also some bigger trees standing in red and orange colored earth. We reached the deepest point of our hiking trip about 550 feet below our starting point at the canyons rim.
Starting to climb back in some sections the limestone walls standing so close to each other that there was only a narrow walkway left. The last section before arriving at the rim at Sunset Point is a very steep way with switchbacks, climbing up more than 500 feet in less than a mile. After we arrived at the rim we walked the rim trail back so Sunrise Point enjoying the fantastic view from into the amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon.

    .                     Bryce Canyon NP                                             Bryce Canyon NP                          Klaus at the canyon's rim, Bryce Canyon NP

After leaving Bryce Canyon National Park we headed to Zion National Park. This was a short trip. To the East Entrance itís only about 70 miles and 1.5 hours to drive.
As we had already spent most of the day at Bryce Canyon, we planned to cross the park from the East Entrance, driving on the ZionĖMount-Carmel-Highway and through the Tunnel down to the South Entrance. On the way are many view points where we got spectacular view of the park.
Leaving the park at the South Entrance we arrived at Springdale, located directly to the parks border. Here we had our place for the next night at the Zion Canyon Campground & RV Park.

    .    Zion-Mount-Carmel-Highway, Zion NP, UT                   Checkerboard Mesa, Zion NP                                        Zion NP


Zion - Mount Carmel Highway

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, also known as Zion Park Scenic Byway, is the stretch of road (UT 9) between Mount Carmel and the south entrance of Zion National Park at Springdale. Coming from Mount Carmel, you enter the park by the east entrance. Stop at a view point parking area at the Checkerboard Mesa, a classic view of weathered sandstone with cross hatching. Continue on the road and you'll pass through the narrow 1.1 miles long Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. After the tunnel the landscape changes dramatically to Zion Canyon with its massive cliff walls and the 400-foot Great Arch of Zion, a blind arch carved high in a vertical cliff wall. At the Canyon Overlook parking area there is trail access for a short one-mile hike. Further on UT 9 you will reach the visitor center and the south entrance.

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway was completed in 1930 and was considered an almost impossible project, an engineering marvel of its time. Built across rough up-and-down terrain, it connects lower Zion Canyon with the high plateaus of the east. Two narrow tunnels, including one 1.1 miles long, were drilled and blasted through the cliffs to finish the construction job.

    .                            Zion NP                                                        Zion NP                                         Zion Canyon RV Park, Springdale, UT

For the next night we stayed at Zion Canyon Campground & RV Park in Springdale. It`s located very close to the Zion National Park entrance and directly to the Virgin River.
The sun was still shining as we arrived and it was very hot. Nick enjoyed to explore the river, only a few meters away of our RV. We all enjoyed the pool at the RV Park, where we could relax after a long day with a lot of walking and sightseeing at two national parks.
At dawn we walked along in Springdale, stepped into some of the shops and saw the sunset with red glowing mountains in Zion National Park.

    .     Nick at the Virgin River, Springdale, UT          Nick at Zion Canyon RV Park, Springdale, UT          Nick at the Virgin River, Springdale, UT

    day 12 travel dates:

    Route: Bryce Canyon NP, UT - Zion NP, UT - Springfield, UT
    Miles: today = 95 / total = 1729
    Visiting: Bryce Canyon NP, UT & Zion NP, UT & Springfield, UT
    Night at Zion Canyon RV Park, Springfield, UT



USA Southwest 2002 ----- Travel ----- Klaus Tueshaus ----- Established: 08-APR-2002 ----- Last Update: 11-MAR-2018