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Bryce Canyon Car Camp
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
August 27-31, 1998
by Dawn Lavigne
pictures by Chuck Parsons
Not a good place to lose a cow.
Great stone columns on the march.

On Thursday August 27th, ten of our hiking club members traveled to the Sunset Campground for a long weekend of camping, hiking and fun in the beautiful and majestic surrounding of Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Chuck Parsons and my son, Adam traveled with Thierry and Alexandra Cassagnes, while I shared the drive with Joyce Parish and my daughter, Tracy.

Spires and arches dominate the skyline at Bryce Canyon.
The seven of us arrived expecting to be the first ones there, but Todd Houser had obviously driven a lot faster that we had (or maybe he didn’t stop at as many places).

We traveled north from Flagstaff on Hwy 89, but at Bitter Springs opted for the AAA recommended route to Kanab, which takes you via Hwy 89A.

The Towers: anyone care to climb up there?

This was a beautiful route close to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We stopped to see the bridge across the Colorado, the home made from fallen rocks at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs, and one of the many stops where one can purchase Indian art.

While we were seeing the sights, so was my son Adam, but he also got the chance to check out MacDonalds in Flagstaff (while his nutritious, packed lunch was conveniently forgotten about ... and found days later). Adam enjoyed his ride up with the Cassagnes and thought them to be one of the nicest couples he has ever met.

Joyce, Tracy and I left Phoenix at 10am and arrived at the group campsite at about 6pm. An eight-hour drive all total. Todd was already set up and out sightseeing at Sunset Point. The Cassagnes’ van arrived shortly after us and then Todd returned and helped us all set up. What a great guy! After setting up and throwing together supper, we left to hear the ranger presentation on the night sky being given at Sunset Point. Todd had learned of the presentation and recommended we go. The ranger had an 8" Mead telescope set up and pointed at Jupiter (then, later, at the Andromeda Galaxy). All in all, a fascinating evening.

The great outdoors, Utah style.

Early the next morning, Rudy Arredondo arrived. He had left Phoenix at 10pm and driven all night and was ready to hike! So off we went. We hiked the Fairyland Loop Trail. A fairly strenuous eight-mile hike down through a Bristlecone Pine and Pinyon-Juniper forest. During our travels, we passed the Chinese Wall, Tower Bridge and the remains of Oastler’s Castle. While most of the group finished the loop in just under six hours, a few took a few additional hours to take photos and yet a few others jumped off at the 5.5 mile point (opting for the shorter one mile flat hike back to the campground!). All had a great day. The evening was spent toasting marshmallows by the campfire, learning new card games and magic tricks and simply enjoying the company.

When we woke up the next morning there was a new tent in the campground. We woke Ingrid Nelson up to join us for the Peekaboo Loop hike off Bryce’s Point.

Needless to say, Ingrid was dubbed “the wee voice from the tent”. She didn’t want to get up because of the lack of sleep, yet she somehow managed the hike anyway.

How do you like the view from this window?
Hikers descend the Navajo Trail into The Narrows.
We enjoyed many grand overviews of Bryce Canyon.

Another strenuous hike over a foot and horse trail. The mile long hike to meet up with the three mile loop trail was fun going down and even more fun coming up! There were step-like switchbacks to amaze all, sudden tunnels (great photo ops) and many startling panoramas of highly colored formations around unsuspecting corners.

Erosion has given us magnificent spires and columns.

No one quite knew where the name “Peekaboo” came from. Perhaps the astounding vistas around every corner, and through every natural bridge, gave the trail its name.

I (Ingrid) especially like the view of the Wall of Windows.

The five mile hike doesn’t sound like it’s very long, but they forgot to tell us that we would be doing the 1,500 elevation change many times. Whew! This was a spectacular hike.

Later, some of the more adventurous sorts headed down the Navajo Trail to see the huge old trees hidden from time and the elements. That evening was spent, again, by the fire. This time we had red wine, banana boats (an ex-girl scout in our group showed us how to make them...hmmmm they were great), popcorn, and many, many laughs (thanks Rudy!). We all hit the sack rather late, and woke up even earlier than the previous two mornings as we had to catch a horse/mule ride that Sunday morning.

A two-hour ride back down into the canyon, letting the horse/mule do all the work was just what I needed and it was also a great finish to a wonderful weekend. Ingrid and Todd had to leave early on Sunday and therefore missed the ride, but the rest of the group all went. Even the timid! They rode the sure-footed mules through the trails deeper into the canyon, yet next to the Queen’s Garden Trail.

Let’s move out, riders!

Our guide pointed out wonderful sights such as the Dolly Parton formation and the strongest twig in the world! His sense of humor was also welcome (mostly by the men). From the smiles I saw as everyone dismounted, it was obvious that memories had been made.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the group that Sunday as well. Work calls.

Rudy also left after his mule ride. Left behind to enjoy another wonderful evening and day at Bryce were Joyce, Alexandra, Thierry and Chuck.

Ingrid woke up around 7:30 am Sunday morning, once it was light and not quite so cold. Somehow she managed to leave Bryce Canyon without paying a park fee. It must have been that midnight arrival.

On the way, back to Phoenix, Todd and Ingrid stopped off at Upper Antelope Canyon. This part turned out to be shorter than we expected (read Dawn’s perspective below).

Welcome to Utah.

Adam, Tracy and I traveled back to Phoenix via Hwy 89 out of Kanab so that I could pass by beautiful, blue Lake Powell and stopped at Antelope Canyon. We didn’t arrive at Antelope Canyon (just outside of Page) until 3 PM and almost missed seeing the best part of the canyon – the Lower Antelope Canyon. The guides took our money (lots of it) and drove us up to a small little above ground canyon-like spot (Upper Antelope Canyon) that didn’t add up to all I had read about the canyon. It was only upon inquiring further that I learned about the other canyon entrance – the lower canyon just up the road. Now this canyon was everything I had heard about and more.

This rock knob is for the birds.

We were guided down into a narrow crevice in the earth which grew bigger and bigger. Light filtered in from above and made the canyon dream-like. Yes, I shot off a whole roll of high-speed film and at least 30 minutes of video. I placed the video camera on my right shoulder as I negotiated my way out of the canyon – what an experience! I’m hoping my panoramics will turn out. We’ll see.

A gnarled tree shows us the way.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful, except for the wonderful view we had of the beginning of the Grand Canyon from a well-marked lookout point not far from Antelope Canyon.

We arrived home at about 8:30 PM to a very excited dog, very glad to have her masters back!

from Joyce Parish:

Had a wonderful time the last night with Alex and Thierry and Chuck. We pooled all our leftover food and had a feast under the roof in front of the ladies room, it had started to rain. “The French and Spanish people” are a super couple. The 3 of us played cards and laughed a lot, but we all went to bed before the Camp Ranger had to come and tell us to.

The rain started just as we were packing the van and of course the window was open till Page, so Alex placed a trash bag around the opening and we drove that way (freezing) to Page. You will definitely want to hear Thierry’s “cowboy accent”. Every time I think of it I start laughing.

We are all looking forward to meeting again at the 9/15 slide show Chuck will be giving. I lost a whole role of film that didn’t advance, so my memories will have to be in my head. And there are many! It was the most beautiful, awe-inspiring place I have ever been. I would go back in a minute. Wonderful trip, wonderful people and I am so happy I didn’t miss it.

from Todd Houser:

Ingrid and I only saw Upper Antelope Canyon, and although it was very interesting and beautiful, we were a little disappointed. I hope your pictures come out O.K., I’d like to see them. Overall I think Bryce Canyon is the most scenic place I’ve been to. I would highly recommend going there to anyone.

from Thierry Cassagnes:

Dawn, thank you for organizing this week-end for us, we had a lot of fun! See you soon.

From Ingrid Nelson:

(also see comments added to main report above) All in all, the trip was incredibly scenic. I have never seen such beautiful rock formations. Even the return trip to Phoenix was scenic, as I passed Paria Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs, and the Lake Powell area. Bryce Canyon was definitely worth the distance.

from Chuck Parsons:

Dawn, thanks so much for putting together such a great hiking/camping trip to Bryce Canyon. I know each of us will carry away our own individual special memories of this experience that will no doubt last a lifetime. From my own prospective, I could not help recalling a remarkable trip my Dad and I took thru Utah twenty-four years ago in June, 1974. We spent three weeks criss-crossing the state from Arches and Bryce National Parks to Zion and all the way up to Flaming Gorge on the Wyoming border. It was a great experience that we talked about for many years to follow.

This was my first trip back to Utah since 1974, and it brought back many wonderful memories of those great times we shared back then. My Dad is no longer here to share those 1974 memories with me, but I can share my new 1998 Bryce Canyon memories with each of you now. And what memories they are – hiking and horseback riding through some of the most inspiring and awesome canyon country in the world, with rainbow-colored ridges, walls, columns, and spires reaching endlessly toward that amazingly clear blue Utah sky. To each of you who shared the August, 1998 Bryce Canyon trip with me – Thanks for the memories!

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updated October 22, 2017