That could be due to its higher elevations and cooler temperatures, which made Bryce Canyon a welcome respite from the extreme heat of our previous stops in Zion and Las Vegas.
We enjoyed hiking through unique and alien landscapes by day, and explored the night sky, and it’s many wonders, under it’s famously dark skies by night.
At around 80 miles the scenic drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is a very manageable distance, however the road can at times be curvy, steep and narrow or all three at once, and if you’re me, that can make for slow going.
Other times, the road seems to stretch out in front of you for what feels like forever, and it was during one of those stretches that I saw something in the distance. What is that large and strange looking formation?
The Rock Stop!
Having previously read about The Rock Stop, we decided to stop and take a look around! As it turns out we were far from the only ones! People come from around the world to visit the Wonders of Utah, and it turns out The Rock Stop is one of them.
This turned out to be a perfect place to stretch our legs and grab a drink and a snack. We even picked up a souvenir or two!
Bryce Canyon National Park By Day
If, like us, you have limited time in the Park, consider making the visitor center your first stop. While there, you can learn about the park, pick up a park map, and speak with the Park Rangers about what might be the best experience for your group’s needs.
Mossy Cave Trail – Easy
The Mossy Cave trail includes close up views of the Park’s famous hoodoos, the mossy cave, and a waterfall. At just under one mile roundtrip Mossy Cave Trail is a perfect hike for all ages and fitness levels. This hike includes parking and services.
The Navajo Loop/Queen’s Garden Combination Trail – Moderate
One of the Park’s most popular hikes, The Navajo Loop/Queen’s Garden Combination Trail, is a perfect hike if you want to get a taste of what Bryce Canyon has to offer, but don’t have a lot of time in the Park.
The hike is a loop and starts at Sunset point. For safety the NPS park service recommends walking .4 miles along the canyon’s rim to Sunrise point where you follow the Queens Garden Trail down into the canyon. Whoops we did just the opposite.
The hike took us around three hours, contains 300+ feet of elevation and includes some very steep drop offs. The views from above the canyon were stunning, but I also loved walking among the Park’s famous hoodoos. You can see more photos from this amazing hike at the end of the post!
We took our time and along the way enjoyed some light rain, the unique landscape, and the many chipmunks!
Bryce Canyon National Park By Night
Dark Rangers Telescope Tour
I discovered Dark Rangers Telescope Tours while researching the Park’s official site, and I can’t say enough about our experience. Our evening with Kevin Poe, a local park ranger, and astronomer, was perfect from start to finish.
We met Kevin at his observatory, and spent three hours learning about and exploring the night sky. We saw Saturn and Jupiter, a swan nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, Vega, star clusters, exploded stars and more. It was truly amazing!
Not only that, but I got a lesson in astrophotography, and night vision! Did you know that red is the only color light that allows your vision to stay in night mode?
Tips & Advice:
- Are you traveling with a Senior Citizen or a 4th Grader? That’s good news! Seniors can purchase a lifetime National Park Pass for $80 with access to over 2000 locations, and their companions will be able to enter along with them for free.
- Fourth grade students and their families can enter National parks for free with the Every Kid in A Park Pass. Sign up on line, print out the temporary pass, and redeem it for your permanent card when you visit your first park!
- Bryce Canyon City is located just outside the park. Food, lodging and free parking can be found here.
- Cars are allowed in Bryce Canyon National Park, but I highly recommend taking advantage of the free parking in Bryce Canyon City and using the park shuttle.
- The Visitor Center is the first stop inside the park.
- Watch your step and look where you’re going. There are many drop offs and very few protective measures in place, we saw a little baby slip and he almost fell. Really! The daddy caught him at the last second when I gasped!
- If you’re interested in astrophotography book your tour with the Dark Rangers in advance and you may be able to connect your camera directly to the telescopes.
- There are a variety of tours available, however I wanted to include astrophotography, so chose a private tour.
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