We finally nabbed our first glimpse at Bryce Canyon National Park. OMG. It’s unreal. The whole day we just been looked around like… is this really earth? Earth is SO COOL. I’m a geek and I don’t even care. The planet is just the coolest.
Bryce Canyon National Park Day 1 – Driving From Capitol Reef
We woke up and the heavens were shining down on us because the WIND HAD LESSENED. Sweet lord above! And there was no snow!!!! Packing the car with two kids underfoot is always fun, so I’ll just gloss over that and pretend it went smoothly and without yelling, whisper yelling, or sassy comments between any family members. Mmmkay?
Randomly on the way out we found the one coffee shop in the area and snagged some seriously amazing muffins.
The drive from Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park takes you on highway 12, which is a scenic byway. VERY SCENIC. Shitballs so scenic. I wish we had any pictures to do it justice, but it’s so hard to capture the scale of the landscape in a photo. Maybe a better photog could do it, but me and my selfie stick are struggling.
We ended up taking almost twice as long as expected to get between parks, because we needed to stop for many scenic pullouts, numerous (so numerous) bathroom breaks, and one incidence of smoking brakes and then subsequent stops to cool said overworked breaks.
I complain about the endless potty breaks, but apparently Abby can sense when Odell the minivan needs to stop. I pulled over (next to some adorable deer) to address her potty concerns, and noticed a distinct aroma when I hopped out of the van. I was busy with Abby so I yelled to Jake, DO YOU SMELL THAT? And he immediately replied “yeah, the brakes are smoking”. All nonchalant like.
UMMMM WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN THE BRAKES ARE SMOKING? WE ARE ON A FUCKING MOUNTAIN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE? HOW ARE YOU NOT PANICKING? THIS IS THE END OF DAYS!!!
He assured me that it wasn’t, in fact, the end of days. He claimed that it was fine, we just needed to stop after steep grades occasionally, and it was just because the brakes were new. He promised me that the brakes wouldn’t fail and send us careening off a cliff.
Seriously. I don’t know if any of that was true of if he was just attempting to convince me to leave the side of the mountain any way he could, but we did eventually make it safely to Bryce Canyon without any more smoke.
We got to Bryce later in the day than we originally planned, so we opted not to do too much. We checked out the visitor center, ignored repeated cries to buy stuff, and got our maps.
We grabbed the shuttle bus from the visitor center over to Inspiration Point, hoped off and walked the Rim Trail for about a mile to Sunrise Point. Our kids legit cannot get over the excitement of riding the shuttle bus. At dinner, Abby told us her favorite part of the day was riding the bus.
That probably was her favorite part because she HATED the Rim Trail.
The Rim Trail is exactly what it sounds like, a trail around the rim of Bryce Canyon. And it’s like… RIGHT on the rim. No guard rails, no nothing. Abby was totally freaked out and wanted to be carried the entire time.
Jake obliged because it removed the possibility of her running over the edge. Or dancing off edge. Or tripping, as clumsy toddlers are known to do.
Olivia was hot and cold on it. Occasionally she was fascinated and exclaimed it was so beautiful, but then just as often she was asking when we could get back on the bus. I felt a little guilty because we weren’t quite dressed warm enough for the wind situation on the rim.
Again with the wind. It’s the theme of this trip. Ugh.
I put all the layers I had on them, but I could tell they were pretty cold, freaked out, and done with the day by the time we got back on the bus.
We attempted to have a *scenic* picnic dinner in the park, but it was cold and the kids were tired, so we came back our cabin for a quick dinner and bedtime. Hopefully tomorrow the kids will be well rested because we are tackling a bigger (for the kids) hike and I’m super excited to hike down into the canyon!
Bryce Day 2
This was our one full day in Bryce Canyon National Park, and we were determined to make the most of it. Even though it was a little chilly, and you know, windy. Yes that’s right, our old friend excessive wind had continued to follow us.
The hike of the day was the Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Trail. This is a 3-mile trail that takes you down into the canyon via a series of switchbacks and back up again via more switchbacks. Tackling this one with the kids was a bit ambitious, but I’m glad we went for it.
The kids were great on the descent into the canyon. While it looks intimidating from the top, it really isn’t too dangerous and I wasn’t nearly as nervous about the girls falling off a cliff as I thought I might be. Abby spent the majority of the trail into the canyon saying “HI” to all the other hikers we passed, and it was basically the cutest thing I’ve ever heard on this earth.
Olivia enjoyed the hoodoos and canyon walls, and I have several pictures of rocks she found to be totally fascinating. She loves to collect “fossils” but we’ve had to nix that because:
1) We can’t be taking rocks from national parks
2) The van is bursting at the seams. Extra rocks are the last thing we need.
Once we made it into the canyon, the kids suddenly lost their minds. After a 550 ft descent into the canyon with zero complaints, the flat easy walk through the canyon was suddenly the most challenging physical feat they have ever been forced to endure. They were tired, they were hungry, they were really hungry. Abby was mad at everything.
It was pretty annoying, to be honest.
Jake and I have this theory that the harder the hike, or the more obstacles it contains, the less the kids complain. Basically they are bored if it’s too easy. We’ll take them out on a paved bike or walking path and they act like their legs are broken, yet climbing over boulders for hours is no problem.
After a little pep talk (stern frustrated scolding) we reminded the girls that this was the easy part, and that they could each only pick one more stop from that point forward. Obviously we let them stop more than once on the way up and out of the canyon, but we wanted to them think they needed to ration it.
Eventually the trail began to climb up out of the canyon, and they complained less on the way up than they had when it was way easier. Jake got the girls racing, which is genius way to keep them moving when it’s tough. They ran most of the way up to Sunrise Point. Towards the very top it got challenging even for us adults, so we took plenty of breaks. Jake ended up carrying Abby for the last few switchbacks, but other than that the kids did it completely on their own.
Proud Mom Here.
It was definitely one of the more challenging hikes they’ve completed, and other than their brief lapse of sanity, they were really good sports. Olivia even said the views were worth it!
After our hike we scarfed down some lunch and treated ourselves to some goodies from the camp store. We hopped back on the ever popular shuttle bus and headed back to our cabin. The shuttle bus is like a fair ride to our kids, go figure.
Let me tell you a little story about that shuttle bus.
I fell out of it.
In an epic, terrible tumble. Right onto the roadside, spilling my backpack, Liv’s backpack, and my body, into a giant heap of embarrassment. I could not even tell you how it happened. My hiking poles got caught as I was going down the steps, and in my fumble to untangle them, I lost my footing. Jake says it was a spectacular fall. The bus driver was very concerned. I, in all my infinite wisdom, thought I would just roll my backpack and body out-of-the-way of the bus and everyone was all OMG ARE YOU OK. While i’m just scooting along the ground because I couldn’t stand due to rolling my ankle. Don’t worry, I’m fine and totally laughing about it now.
Yes. I can hike into a canyon and up mountains just fine, but the shuttle bus will be my downfall.
We loaded the kids up in the van and drove the scenic drive out to Rainbow point, and the kids crashed hard. They took a much needed nap we enjoyed our scenic drive in relative quiet. Too bad it was so freaking windy. It was beautiful though, and the overlooks are amazing, so let’s just focus on that.
The remainder of the day was spent doing laundry, trying (and failing) to upload blog posts, and getting dinner sorted out. Olivia hardcore requested some s’mores, so for dinner the girls and him made a fire and we roasted some marshmallows and hot dogs. We also enjoyed the entertainment of having legit cowboys camping next to us. They brought their own chainsaw so you know it’s for real.