Just a couple of hours after waking up in the Zion wilderness, I was on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park (just Bryce from now on) as fast as I could, while still making sure to take time to appreciate the beauty around me. The road through Zion alone is something else, I’m very glad I had enough time for everything while still making my schedule.
The only purpose of getting to Bryce in time, was to get a wilderness permit. Where Zion allows hikers to sign up for one 3 months prior, Bryce requires you to report in person to the visitor center. My plan to hike the Under The Rim Trail in three days depended on me getting that permit.
So when I walked into the visitor center and the Ranger told me that half the park is closed due to a wildfire, I was shocked and had to rethink my plans.
After a nice lunch, I went back to the ranger and got a permit for the next night. I could hike the upper part of the trails (see map, black dot to yellow dot), which is only around 8 kms. Luckily there are a lot of trails in the heavier trafficked parts of the park, so I could still make it a nice day hike. This way, I had more time for the more touristic parts of the park as well.
And boy, I’m glad I hiked those more touristic parts of Bryce. The next morning my hike started at Sunrise Point and went down to the Queen’s Garden. The first sight of the Bryce Canyon amazed me and it never stopped. The sheer size and roughness of the park is incredible. Following the Navajo Trail and the Peak-A-Boo Trail, I hiked out of the canyon via Wall Street to Sunset Point.
You probably heard the saying “The pictures don’t do it justice”, I’m now convinced that the phrase was coined by someone describing Bryce. I did every loop I could find and followed the Rim Trail all the way down to Bryce Point where the views were unbelievable.
When I headed into the wilderness, I already hiked 16 km and was psyched to head into bear country. As it is in the Sierra Nevada on the PCT, I was required to carry a bear canister in Bryce, to keep bears from smelling your food and coming into your camp to get it. This was a nice test to see how it fits in my backpack and see how the weight changes the distribution.
When I got to my camp for the night, I checked my phone and I had logged 25km on my fourth day of hiking with full PCT gear. It felt good, but I sure was tired. So after setting up my tent, I rested and waited for the other group of hikers to show up. The day before I saw that I would be sharing the site with a party of four. An hour after me, I heard voices and a group of Frenchies walked onto the site. After talking a bit about our trips and hikes, we separated for dinner.
The night in Bryce Wilderness was interesting. The first 30 minutes I genuinely thought every sound I heard was a bear. After that I relaxed and had a nice and deep sleep.
The next morning I woke at dawn and headed out to the end of my trail. My hike was supposed to be a short 12 km hike, but it felt way longer due to the many climbs and descends. When I got to the trailhead, I just missed the morning shuttle and decided the walk back to the next shuttle stop. On the way there a kind couple from Lancaster, PA gave me a ride and dropped me off at the visitor center.
Bryce Canyon National Park really surpassed any expectations I had of it. The park is so rough and impressive, providing stunning views and great sceneries, and just the sheer size of it will amaze everyone. I will definitely come back there to see the rest of the park.
As my plans changed and I had a day to spare, when I got back to my car I headed towards Canyonlands and Arches. More on that in my next post, together with Monument Valley.