We got up pretty early and both super motivated for our Bryce Canyon hike. We drove into the park, again to Sunrise Point, and walked down a recommended combination of trails that led us, in about 4.7 miles, up and down the canyons until we got to Bryce Point. We then took the bus back from Bryce to Inspiration Point, and walked back to Sunset and to our car. Then, we drove out to the end of the road through the national park (to Rainbow Point) and looked at various stops on the way back, including one with a huge and fragile-looking arch. The geology of this park and the crazy “hoodoo” formations due to the very soft sandstone that is constantly eroding throughout Bryce is really interesting, and I loved the “amphitheater” formations and the fact that we could actually be on the bottom of some of the canyons, and that we could see the erosion in action. And the temperature was about perfect for hiking, even with a little bit of rain at the beginning of the day. But again, the scale is just rather small after the Grand Canyon, and I think Mark was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t bigger (“I like to drive small cars and look at big stuff!” was how he summed it up). So it was very nice that Zion, which we also didn’t know much about, turned out to be much, much bigger in scale than Bryce.
We left Bryce around noon, and had lunch at a Subway’s (after a great surprise: my phone showed up in the car after three days of looking all over for it!), and then headed toward Zion, which is only about 80 miles from Bryce. We entered on the Eastern side, via Road 9, and that was really impressive. We stopped several times, including at Checkerboard Mesa and at a turnout where we could take a short hike to an Overland View Point that showed us a huge part of the park below. The trail was really cool and again, I wasn’t scared, although Zion has really massive dimensions and was very impressive that way. We drove through a long tunnel, and on the other side, we could see the point above that we had hiked to–above this enormous half-arch in a huge sandstone cliff. Very cool!
By now, it was after 4 pm and hot (about 85, but it felt like the 90s) and we decided to drive on through the park to Springdale, the very touristy village outside Zion where our hotel, a very new Best Western, was located. We checked in, and took the shuttle to a very nice Thai restaurant where we had something other than a sandwich or pizza for the first time in a long time. The food was lovely, we took the shuttle back and had some ice cream before we walked the rest of the way back to the hotel. We spent about 20 minutes in the hotel pool, again alongside many, many French and German travelers, who seem to be the biggest group of tourists, and many of whom travel in rental RVs that we’ve been seeing all over. Then we went to take our evening shower and deal with photos and journaling for the evening.