The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. - Rumi
By the time we get to Bryce Canyon National Park on a clear, starry spring night, the park entrance station is dark and shuttered closed. We've driven up from Zion after a full day of hiking and exploring, and it's sleepy time.
So we drive on into the park to look for a campsite anyway . Even in the off season, it's not a good idea to hit a popular national park without a reservation. But here we are.
We're not totally out of luck. We're traveling in a newly retrofitted camper van (its maiden voyage), which allows us to be stealth and park for the night. After looping through the one open (and full) campground, we drive slowly along the canyon rim, checking out viewpoint parking lots.
Ultimately we settle on a small lot not far past the Bryce Canyon Lodge, conveniently just a few yards from an overlook and a restroom. We join a Westfalia tucked at the corner of the lot and turn in for the night.
While I love my Pacific Northwest, I also enjoy straying beyond my region to see colorful and different landscapes. Excited to shoot the sunrise, I wake up before the alarm and crawl out into the freezing cold morning for a look.
As you can imagine, it's breathtaking! There's not much breeze, but I heed Rumi's advice. No sleeping in today. After snapping a few pre-sunrise shots, we take off for more viewpoints.
Back in the 2000s I spent a few days at Bryce, where we hiked down in the canyon around the otherworldly hoodoos. These enchanting formations are shaped by erosion over millennia into colorful limestone, sandstone, and mudstone spires, fins, pinnacles, and even arches.
At our second stop we catch this lovely arch before sunrise still. It's hard to stop shooting amidst this visual feast.
But there's still more to see, so we hop back in the van and dash back towards the lodge, passing the rising sun to the east.
By the time we arrive at the lodge parking lot, the sun is cresting brightly, illuminating the canyon below in dramatic light and shadow. I literally run to the canyon rim to start shooting. Light changes quickly at the cusp of the day.
It's so lovely that I don't notice how freezing my hands are until I've snapped about a dozen shots. Then I shrug and continue in the sub-freezing temps
Since it's close and warm, we walk into the Bryce Canyon Lodge for the breakfast buffet. I love these old historic national park lodges, although they're not necessarily known for their cuisine. But the food is hot and hits the spot.
Then we're off into the gorgeous southern Utah morning, heading north like homing pigeons.
|NOT western Washington|
In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.
When You Go
Bryce Canyon National Park is in southern Utah only an hour or two northwest of equally spectacular Zion National Park and near other destinations like Kodachrome State Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. You could spend much more time exploring and hiking than we did on this trip. But a Bryce sunrise is a must! This website has good info on lodging and particulars about visiting Bryce. BTW, how about letting your senators, Congress reps, the Administration, and others know that our national monuments deserve full protection. Just sayin'.