Part 4 of my awesome road trip around Utah and Arizona carries on from Torrey…
Day 7 – Capitol Reef National Park/Torrey to Bryce Canyon National Park
While most days have been dominanted by the hiking, today is definitely about the driving. Kick off the day by driving the Capitol Reef National Park’s Scenic Drive (if you stayed in nearby Torrey it is only a 10 minute drive away). You won’t need to waste time on your morning coffee because this trip will definitely liven the senses. The tour will take you through more grand sandstone rock formations, finishing at the narrow Capitol Gorge.
After navigating your way through one national park, it’s time to head off to another, taking Highway 12 to Bryce Canyon. Now, while Bryce Canyon will reveal itself to be a truly amazing place, right now it’s about the journey, not the destination. Highway 12 is a stunning drive: an ever-changing landscape that will take you through snow-covered alpine forest (snow-covered if you’re there in the winter), desert, gaping canyons and dramatic rock monuments. Allow extra time for the drive because you’ll be stopping off at the many conveniently placed scenic viewpoints to capture the amazing landscapes on film.
You should reach Bryce Canyon with time to spare. Set up camp, get some dinner and perhaps use the opportunity to watch the sun set over the canyon. I didn’t get the chance to do this myself but I can assume that Sunrise Point is a good spot to watch it from!
Day 8 – Bryce Canyon National Park
Just when you think you’ve seen everything, you arrive at Bryce Canyon. I know I’m starting to say this about almost every place I recommend on this road trip but Bryce Canyon is definitely a contender for top stop in the spectacular stakes. I absolutely loved Bryce Canyon.
Again the canyon is dominated by the vibrant, orange/red sandstone which is stunning but not especially different from anything else you’ve seen so far. But then there is more to this magical national park. The dabs of greens and browns of the high apine trees and the splashes of pure white snow (you’ll find snow here for much of the year) add beautiful colour that contrast with the rock’s reds and oranges. And then there are the hoodoos: thousands of pointed sandstone spires that blanket the canyon. The first time they reveal themselves as you approach the rim of the amphitheatre is definitely a “wow” moment.
The other great thing about Bryce Canyon is that it all feels very accessible. I’d recommend driving the park rim’s Scenic Drive, stopping at every viewpoint to take in the stunning panoramic views. Many of viewpoints also provide the starting points for most the hiking trails, many of which take you right among the hoodoos within a short walk. It’s difficult to pick any one trail to recommend but I particularly enjoyed the Navajo Loop trail that takes you through Wall Street – a narrow canyon where the sandstone glows inexplicably bright despite the limited light.