A Day at Bryce Canyon National Park

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We made last-minute changes during our Spring Break trip when we saw snow in the forecast on the day we had planned to go to Bryce Canyon National Park.  I was really excited to go to Bryce Canyon, so we cut our time short in Zion National Park to head to Bryce on Sunday.

We woke up early (thank you, jet lag!) and drove from our hotel outside Zion to Bryce.  It was just under a 2-hour drive, but to get there, we had a really scenic drive straight through the east side of Zion. The pictures below were taken on the route through Zion.

 

We got to Bryce Canyon just after 9:30am, and made a stop at the Visitor’s Center to pick up Junior Ranger booklets for the boys and a park map.  We headed straight out for the most popular hike at the park – Queen’s Garden to Navajo Trail.  A hike about 3 miles long, descending into and out of the amphitheater (it isn’t actually a canyon, despite its name), would be a bit ambitious for L & N, but Cameron and I both really wanted to do the hike, so our only option was to take them along.    As a really popular hike, we knew it would be busy, but it wasn’t very crowded when we headed out.

 

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It had snowed the week before, so the hoodoos were covered in snow, and the scenery was truly breathtaking!  Though snow was in the forecast for the next day,  the days immediately prior had been warmer and melted any snow on the trail where we hiked.  That sounds like great news, and it is probably good that there wasn’t snow or ice, but what we got instead was LOTS OF MUD!  Our shoes were caked in a heavy, sticky mud.  Like it was hard to lift your foot up.  Some spots were worse than others, but the whole descent was pretty muddy, until we reached the bottom.

 

 

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We had to use rocks to periodically scrape thick layers of mud off our shoes

Once we got to the bottom, we stopped to see the hoodoos in the “Queen’s Garden” including the namesake hoodoo shaped like the Queen.  It was a pretty place to stop, so we took a snack break and the boys worked on their Junior Ranger books.  Those books are a perfect thing to take and do on a hike, to make us slow down and maximize our time outside enjoying the park.

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N spent the whole time on his pencil drawing of a hoodoo

We also had some super not-shy chipmunks hanging around us.  As we learned with graphic ads/warnings showing bloody hands on the shuttles at Zion, DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!  This makes them so aggressive.  I’m kind of giving a big hint here, but guess which animal causes the most injuries at the Grand Canyon? Not Elk, not mountain lions. SQUIRRELS!

So, after our break, we continued along the amphitheater floor (canyon floor sounds better, but it isn’t a canyon, so I guess it is called the amphitheater floor??).  The scenery wasn’t the amazing hoodoos we saw on the way down, but it was more of a pretty forested walk.

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I should mention that we did bribe/reward the boys for their hard work on the hike and gave them each (L & N) a small $1 Angry Birds toy that I picked up on clearance at Target.  They were totally into those and spent a lot of time playing with them on our hike.  The picture below shows L’s Piggy and his “castle hoodoo”. And they totally did the trick to give them the motivation to do a tough hike.

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So, we were now on the Navajo Loop portion of the hike, and it required a steep hike back out of the amphitheater, but we were also climbing to see the gorgeous views again. IMG_3150

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The amphitheater floor wasn’t too muddy, but the steep climb out was almost comically so.  By this point, the hike was pretty crowded, so as we were going up, in addition to our fellow ascenders, there were quite a few heading down to start their hike.  But everyone was moving pretty slow, as unlike the beginning, when it was just the uncomfort of having thick mud on our shoes, now it was actually slippery!

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A trying to get up the slippery, muddy hill

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At this point, the little boys were pretty sick of hiking, mud and the steep uphill. I’m pretty happy that the tantrums didn’t start until now, but they really did start.  N was D-O-N-E! He basically refused to walk any further, so Cameron had to bring the big boys up to the top, then come down to get N and carry him the last few hundred yards to the top.

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N doesn’t want to walk any further (but man, what a view!)

I’m totally NOT a fan of cliff edges and little kids, but these ones were not too bad, and offered probably the best views of the entire hike

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We were proud of the boys for doing that whole hike, and despite the mud, we had a great time. This was one of my favorite hikes ever!

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