This was to be our last proper day of holiday 🙁
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 🙂 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.
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 🙂
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.
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: Ruby’s Inn RV Park, Bryce Canyon to Fillmore, UT
Day Mileage: 246 miles
Total Mileage: 2249 miles