A hearty meal from the Cowboy Buffet and Steak Room at Ruby’s Inn prepared Taylor and I for exploring Bryce Canyon’s scenic views and hiking into the canyon to camp for the night. The bus system that would ferry Taylor and I around the park was always punctual and rarely full. At any stop in the upper area of the park, a bus was guaranteed within fifteen minutes.
Our first stop was the visitor’s center to acquire a camping permit for the night. They do not take online reservations for backcountry passes so we were going in blind hoping to get a site, and lucky for us we got the last one and it was at the site we wanted. Unbeknownst to us, we would also be acquiring a bear canister to pack all of our food; fortunately the extra container didn’t take up too much room once we filled it with our belongings. With our packs reorganized, we loaded a bus and set out to see Bryce Canyon.
The most spectacular of the developed viewpoints is Inspiration Point. Looking out over the amphitheater of hoodoos from 8,100 feet was breathtaking. The complexity of each hoodoo in sight was enough to capture my attention for an entire evening, but we had to move on. Sunset and Sunrise Points were impressive as well, but all three would have been more impressive had we been able to afford the time to explore the hiking trails that descend into the canyon.
The last bus of the day dropped Taylor and I off at Bryce Point for our roughly three mile hike to our reserved campsite at Right Fork Yellow Creek. Along this hike, I discovered just how diverse Bryce Canyon is; from large pines surrounded by grasses and shrubs to hillsides of loose rock and massive boulders, there is something new to see around every corner.
We passed the ‘Hat Shop’ at about two miles into our hike. This natural phenomena echoes Arches National Park’s ‘Balancing Rock’ in smaller and more frequent occurrences. The fifteen or so balanced ‘hats’ would be an unknown signal that we were approaching our campground.
Situated next to a bubbling canyon stream, the clearing that is Right Fork Yellow Creek campground couldn’t have been a more welcome sight. We assembled our tent and deployed our Reehut Camp Stove with only a few minutes of sunlight left in the day. The ban on campfires in Bryce was off-putting initially, but I was sold on using a portable burner when Taylor began cooking less than ten minutes after we’d arrived at camp.
The Under the Rim Trail continues on for approximately 19 more miles, but Taylor and I had a schedule to honor, and sadly had to meander our way back out of the canyon the next morning. We made a quick breakfast and closed down our campsite and got back on the trail. We made the climb back out of the canyon in the midday heat (big mistake) and praised the sight of a bus waiting as we reached the rim.
All-in-all, Bryce Canyon was one of my favorite places along our Utah route, and I can only hope to go back and continue exploring the many trails that twist through those mystifying hoodoos.