When is a canyon not really a canyon? When it’s Bryce Canyon National Park. This “canyon” is actually the eroded eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau distinguished by hoodoo-lined amphitheaters above the Paria River Valley.
Scottish immigrant Ebenezer Bryce with his wife Mary, settled the land below what is now known as the Bruce Amphitheatre, over the years other settlers called the area Bryce’s Canyon and eventually it became Bryce Canyon. When asked about the hoodoos and amphitheaters, Ebenezer Bryce was reputed to reply, “It’s a helluva place to loose a cow.” (For the record, the only cows we see here are plated.)
We pull in mid-week before noon and we have our pick from a number of campsites. We choose one in a back corner just below the rim trail. One road with a series of turnouts, parking lots and viewpoints affords a top view of the park. The vistas are vast and stunning, but we have to wait for parking and inch through crowds to get a few shots of the hoodoos.
Hiking is a much better option. The rim trail runs parallel to the road and connects all of the viewpoints. Within a hundred feet of the viewpoints we have the trail pretty much to ourselves. After a few days of hiking the rim and some of the easy trails, we decide to challenge ourselves and tackle the Fairyland Loop Trail.
From our campsite we climb the hill to the Rim Trail and head south to Sunrise Point, here we take the Tower Bridge Trail and continue onto the Fairyland Loop Trail. This eight-mile hike is considered strenuous, with a total 900 ft elevation change and three uphill grades (a total of 1,716 ft of ascent) and all this takes place around 8,000 ft above seal level.