Friday, May 18, 2012

Bryce Canyon National Park

"Your so brave," a middle aged lady commented as we loaded H into the Ergo in the Bryce Canyon Lodge parking lot. "We never even left the house until our littlest was five."

We learned several things today. First, people think we are completely nuts for bringing a five-week old to a national park. Second, everyone over the age of 60 wants to meet H, guess his age and/or weight and tell us about travels with their kids. Third, with a little patience and a sense of humor, anything is possible.

Bryce Canyon was hosting its annual astronomy festival, making it more crowded than your typical Thursday in May. It also meant more activities and rangers.

We started our visit by picking up H his own National Park passport book at the visitors center and watching the 22 min overview video. There is a shuttle that runs into the park, but you can't leave your car at the visitors center, so we drove to the lodge to park. (You could also park in the lot on Bryce Canyon City and ride into the park.)

From the lodge, we loaded H into the Ergo carrier and walked along the rim trail. We opted not to hike into the canyon with the little one, due to the steep grade of the trails. The Rim trail was mostly flat and afforded changing views of the canyon. We hiked from sunset to sunrise point and back.

We decided to hit the lodge early for dinner, a smart move since the dinner crowd peeks around 7. The food at the lodge was excellent! J enjoyed river trout, while I had mini crab cakes and a beet and arugula salad. Whatever you do, save room for dessert - the chocolate mouse pie was delicious.

After dinner, we walked from the lodge back to the rim to watch the changing colors of the canyon at sunset. Then it was off to one of the astronomical festival presentation by one of Bryce's "dark rangers." We chose a presentation on the moon that was fascinating and provided info on Sunday's solar eclipse. After the hour long presentation, there were shuttles waiting to drive everyone out to the viewing locations where volunteers had telescopes set up. This is where we bailed - typically this is our type of activity, but H was getting snoozy, and so was I (having a 5 week old will do that!)

Bryce is known for being one of the places you can see the Andromeda galaxy with your naked eye - but clouds were starting to roll in. Even when the astronomical festival is not going on, Bryce offers star gazing programming most nights in the summer. Just ask at the ranger station.

There are not a lot of lodging options and we had reservations at a little place outside the park. The Bryce Canyon Pines Motel may have a few letters burned out on their sign, but it was clean and the staff was friendly. We were upgraded to a cabin behind the restaurant, which gave us plenty of room. The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the attached restaurant and headed back into the park.

We drove all the way down the park road to rainbow point - the highest elevation in the park and then worked our way back hitting all the pull offs and enjoying short walks to the rim. Our favorite stop was Natural Bridge! Then the rain started, so we headed out of the park, picked up sandwiches at the Subway and took them to Moss Cave and Waterfall for a short hike and car picnic. The waterfall runs year round - although our May visit meant lots of water. The cave and falls are on park lands but are outside the gates. Just as we were finishing lunch, the rain found us again so we packed everything back up and hit the road headed for Capitol Reef National Park by route of the Scenic Byway.

1 comment:

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