Tag Archives: Utah

Rim Run and Zion

Bryce Canyon Sunrise!

This was to be our last proper day of holiday ๐Ÿ™

Tomorrow was to be taken up with packing, travelling back to Salt Lake City, dropping the RV off and then hopefully relaxing in the hotel at SLC.

Today, we had two more things planned and the first required an early start.

We wanted to try to get up to see the sunrise over Bryce Canyon. Contrary to the names of the vista points along the rim, we had been told that ‘Inspiration Point’ was the best place to see the sunrise, as opposed, ironically, to ‘Sunrise Point’.

Luckily, since we were now on daylight saving time in the mountains, sunrise was at 6:55am (the previous day in Arizona, it had been 5:55am! We tried to make our way, as quietly as possible, out of Ruby’s Inn RV park, disconnecting our amenities in a flash – seasoned RV’ers after only a couple of weeks ๐Ÿ™‚ We then drove up to nearly the highest point of the Bryce Canyon rim, where the first vestiges of sunlight were starting to illuminate the eastern sky.

Liz rushed up to the high point with her camera to start to take photos of what promised to be a magnificent event; indeed, there were several other people there who had had the same idea. Dad wondered up to the first point and after ‘settling’ the children down, I followed to the mid point of the rising rim and found a boulder on the edge of the cliff to sit on.

For a brief instant in time, we had a spectacular and privileged view of the sun rising, as it slowly crept its way above the horizon and stuttered behind the distant blanket of clouds, releasing a red warmth onto the chilly mountain side. A daily event, for sure, but unique to see the patterns within the canyon, illuminating the hoodoos which had taken thousands of years to form and which were ever changing in the slowly rising light.

After the spectacular sight, I got back to the RV to find the children going wild! It is difficult sometimes to have such emotive experiences, and then be brought down to reality so suddenly by the practical needs of the youngsters. However, after Liz had returned as well, and settled them down, I was ready for my next exploit while they had breakfast. A run along the rim.

Since we were only a couple of kilometres from the high point of the rim, I decided it would be rude not to go all the way to the top first and then turn round and come back ‘down’ the edge of the precipitous cliffs to the most northerly view point of the park, although this was a desire vs. time constraint compromise.

Bryce Rim Sunrise – Not a bad place for a Run

As I started out from the car park and up the first incline, I hoped my initial breathlessness was simply a result of a ‘standing start’ and going up hill without having warmed up for a few km; that and the 8,200ft altitude, of course. I was reminded, for the second time this vacation, of the Western States 100, which starts out with a vicious 3-4km climb from Squaw Valley, up to the highest point of the course, before the undulating one way route descends over 100 miles into Auburn. Perhaps I should practice my uphill running from cold.

Only half an hour after the sun had risen, I was already beginning to feel the heat, on first my left side and then, after reaching the summit at Bryce Point, turning and retracing my steps, on my right side. I stopped briefly every few moments, as I reached another corner or crest with another new and stunning view of the canyon to the east, to take some remarkably pleasing picture with my iPhone.

If I thought that the route was to be all downhill from the turning point I was sadly disappointed as it too was an undulating route along the ridge of the canyon, but this at least gave me a good workout. I ran through my start point and them on for another 2-3km before reaching Sunrise Point where I had arranged to meet my breakfasting family. They had had an adventure of their own and, being confused about where they were to meet me, had travelled around the various vistas but luckily had arrived at the perfect time to meet me.

What a fantastic day so far, and it wasn’t even 9:00am yet ๐Ÿ™‚

After a quick bite of breakfast and shower, while the children played in the surrounding woods, only at the end of which did we discover that ‘rattlesnake activity’ was HIGH :shock:, we then continued our journey, but went south for 40 miles or so, back along the road we had previously travelled to Bryce, back down in elevation, and then 20 or so miles west to Zion National Park, our second treat for the day.

Zion is more popular than Bryce, as it is more accessible and lower elevation, but is just as beautiful albeit for different reasons. We entered the canyon and realised that approaching the route through the park from the east, we were actually descending further into the valley which after the climbs of the last few days to get to our destinations was an unusual feeling. The canyon walls were beautiful though, and etched in unbelievable way as if someone had spent a lifetime with a cold chisel and hammer drawing a myriad of designs of the rock faces, some etched vertically in contrast to the horizontal sedimentation lines, some horizontal weathering effects and some diagonal and cross-cross herringbone lines produced by heaven knows what effect! Beautiful though.

We had been warned at the entrance to the park that there were two tunnels, the second of which we were considered an ‘oversized vehicle’ for and hence needed a ranger ‘escort! This amounted to only allowing one way traffic through the tunnel so that we could drive down the middle of the 1/2 mile tunnel hewn through the canyon wall.

Zion National Park – After the second tunnel – Click for Panorama

As we emerged from the other side, we were exposed to a final perilous descent down a switchback through the almost unfeasibly steep cliff valley on either side. The pictures we took, on stopping will never do it justice.

At the bottom of the valley and the other side of the park, we stopped for some some lunch and found a Thai restaurant which although incongruous in its location, was a great meal.

Setting off again we were soon back on the interstate, with ‘only’ 160 miles to go to our final evening stop in the RV. We had decided to push on to a place called Fillmore, simply because it had a hot-tub as well as a swimming pool at the KOA RV park; such are the simple demands of under-11 year olds.

As it turned out the park was well enough presented with a great view of the mountains to the east and although several miles away, there was nothing between us and them except, as it turned out, a couple of thunderstorms. At least they whipped up a nice breeze while we were packing. Fillmore itself was a small place, a bit of a one horse town perhaps, but the restaurant we ate at for our final evening meal in the RV did us proud.

RV Trip, Day 15: Rubyโ€™s Inn RV Park, Bryce Canyon to Fillmore, UT
Day Mileage: 246 miles
Total Mileage: 2249 miles
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Bryce Canyon

Morning Run

After a late night, way too much sugary dessert and losing an hour after we came into Utah (daylight saving Mountain Time), none of us woke up particularly early.

I had worked out a route to try to get a run in along some of what looked like trails just to the south of where we were parked up, and slightly to the north of Bryce Canyon proper, but it was 8:30 before there was any sign of movement. Breakfast was going to take some time to sort out so I donned my trail shoes and prepared to experience the trails at 7,700ft.

The children were happily playing when I left with my water and phone (with GPS) to check my directions. In the end I probably didn’t need the phone but is is alway comforting to know where you are when in strange locations, with no signs, in the wilderness.

Admiring the View

I ran an easy 5 miles or so through the forest trails which had been ‘prepared’ for the ATV activities around here. It was a hot run and had a couple of gentle rises, but nothing taxing and nothing technical. I think I was lucky in that I only saw two groups of ATVs as well – one stopped as I was crossing the main road and one passed me towards the end of my run, the majority of whom looked extremely nervous, so I can only assume that they had only just recently set off on their steeds for their adventure.

Breakfast was just in progress as I returned so after grabbing cereal and a quick shower I was ready to join the others for the day.

We got the shuttle bus which ran from right outside the RV park all around Bryce Canyon, stopping at the visitor and information centre and then to the highest point of the park at 8296ft, appropriately named Bryce point.

Grottos at Bryce Point

The sights that beheld us as we came up to the view point were astounding.

The ‘amphitheatre’ basin of Bryce Canyon is made up of deposits laid down millions of years ago during the cretaceous period when this part of North America was a seabed. The sandstone deposits were pushed up to their current height by the same continental uplift which created major numbers of structures in North America.

Bryce Canyon, has the highest concentration of structures called hoodoos anywhere in the world; they are formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks.

We stopped at bryce point for a picnic lunch and the children, although surrounded by wonderous sights, delighted in taking pictures of the half-tame squirrels and chipmunks along the precarious paths. The heat was oppressive in the exposed, high altitude location though and Dad was struggling a bit, so we soon got the bus down to the next vista point – ‘Inspiration point’ where the astounding views continued; the reds, oranges and yellows of the eroded formations looking like hundreds of cathedral spires.

Cathedral Spires at Inspiration Point

We carried on our tour via the bus to the next point, ‘Sunset Point’ where we saw the amphitheatre from a different, and lower, vantage point and spotted the named structure called Thor’s Hammer, a large Hoodoo standing out from its smaller neighbours, with a large rectangluar block on the top.

There was one more stop which the bus took us to, but the heat was taking it’s toll on our party at this stage and we stayed on the bus to get back to the village and just outside the RV park.

The children insisted on swimming in no time at all, but we all needed 10 minutes and a cup of tea (how English!) to relax before the pool antics continued.

We meandered our way back to the village and the hotel restaurant for an early supper (pot roast and apple pie, mmmmm!) but the children, who were probably still on Pacific Time, had a few false starts getting to bed. Eventually we finished the rest of the evening next to a fire under a clear sky, with stars and a nearly full moon updating our diaries, photos, and blogs.

RV Trip, Day 14: Ruby’s Inn RV Park, Bryce Canyon, UT
Total Mileage: 2003 miles
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