logo Arizona Trailblazers
Home
Outdoor Links
Hike Arizona
Trip Planning Guide
Trip Report Index
Calendar of Events
Library
Bryce Canyon Car Camping Trip
Utah
May 30-June 4, 2021
by Carl Lunde
  Map 
view
Grand view of Bryce Canyon. [photo by Lin]

A group of The Arizona Trailblazers (22 folks – 16 campers and 6 stayed in hotels or cabins nearby) made this multi-day camping and hiking trip to Bryce Canyon National Park and a day trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument, between 30 May and 4 June, 2021.

Bryce Canyon National Park – Overview, by Carl Lunde
Excerpted (in shortened form) from Wikipedia:
Bryce Canyon National Park is in southwestern Utah—it lies within the Colorado Plateau geographic province of North America and straddles the southeastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau west of the Paunsaugunt Fault (Paunsaugunt is Paiute for "home of the beaver"). The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce Canyon National Park Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet.
The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a national monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and was redesignated as a national park by Congress in 1928. The Park covers 35,835 acres.
Bryce Canyon was not formed from erosion initiated from a central stream, meaning it technically is not a canyon. Instead headward erosion has excavated large amphitheater-shaped features in the Cenozoic-aged rocks of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. This erosion exposed delicate and colorful pinnacles called hoodoos that are up to 200 feet high. A series of amphitheaters extends more than 20 miles north-to-south within the park. The largest is Bryce Amphitheater, which is 12 miles long, 3 miles wide and 800 feet deep. A nearby example of amphitheaters with hoodoos in the same formation but at a higher elevation, is in Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is 25 miles to the west on the Markagunt Plateau.
Rainbow Point, the highest part of the Bryce Canyon National Park, at 9,105 feet, is at the end of the 18-mile scenic drive. From there, Aquarius Plateau, Bryce Amphitheater, the Henry Mountains, the Vermilion Cliffs and the White Cliffs can be seen. Yellow Creek, where it exits the park in the north-east section, is the lowest part of the park at 6,620 feet.

Day 1 – Arrival at the Group Campsite at Sunset Campground at Bryce Canyon National Park, by Carl Lunde and Lin Chao.

The group campsite allowed eight vehicles to be parked there—any additional vehicles had to be parked at the overflow parking across from the Visitor Center. The group campsite had its own nice bathroom with hot/cold water and a nice camp-sink setup. This was a large area that was separated from the rest of the campground. The check-in time was noon.

We arrived at noon and got the camp host to unlock the bathrooms and camp sink area and shortly after that a few folks arrived. Once more people had arrived, we drove to visit the Mossy Cave and the nearby waterfall, about a a mile hike total. The hikers included Ann, Barry, Carl, Cheryl, Heather, Julie, Lin, Maria, Mark, Michelle, Mimi, Rich, Terry, Viki, Victoria, and Jade.

Then, we all ate an early dinner and then went on a sunset walk about 8 PM to the Sunset Point, which is about 0.3 mile from our campsite. It was a spectacular sunset with the sun illuminated the mountains off to the east, as well as some great clouds and a lot of virga that was around the area. The colors kept changing, and it was enjoyable to see.

sun
Bryce Canyon. [photo by Lin]
picture
Sunset at Sunset Point. [photo by Lin]
view
Sunset at Sunset Point. [photo by Lin]
group
Enjoying our first sunset: Terry, Carl, Lin, Kim, Ann, Victoria, Rich, Bud. [photo by Lin]

We went back to the campground and had a campfire and guitar playing and singing. Joe, Barry, Julie, and Cheryl were the last to arrive about 11 PM or so.


Day 2 – Figure 8 hike, by Carl Lunde, Lin Chao
map

The Figure 8 is a combination loop that combines Queens Garden, Peekaboo Loop, and Navajo Loop into one hike. For us, we started at the Sunset Campground and went first to Sunrise point, so the Figure 8 was about 8 miles, though a few folks made it longer, at 11.7 miles with some additions. 2 miles: Jade, 4 Miles: Carl; 5 miles: Mimi, Maria, Vicki; 8 miles: Ann, Barry, Bud, Cheryl, Heather, Kim, Lin, Mark, Michelle, Rich, Victoria, Rudy; and 11.7 miles: Julie, Tom, Li, Terry. This was a fun trail to hike. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful and wondrous hoodoos!

We also did a potluck dinner and then another Sunset Point walk followed by a campfire and guitar playing and singing by Rudy and Jade.

group
Group Picture. [photo by Lin]
back: Bud, Heather, Carl, Li, Kim, Jade, Mimi, Maria, Michelle, Mark, Vicki, Ann
front:  Rich, Tom, Victoria, Julie, Cheryl, Terry, Barry, Rudy
group
Group Picture. [photo by Lin]
Rudy, Terry, Mark, Michelle, Ann, Bud, Heather, Li, Rich, Tom,
Carl, Lin, Jade, Vicki, Kim, Cheryl, Mimi, Victoria, Julie, Maria
group
One More Group Picture. [photo by Lin]
Li, Tom, Cheryl, Heather, Terry, Julie, Mark, Michelle, Rudy,
Ann, Victoria, Barry, Bud, Mimi, Kim, Maria, Rich, Carl, Jade
hikers
Ready for our first hike this trip. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Maria is ready to hike. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Kim is telling Rich which way we should turn. [photo by Lin]
mule
A mule ride is always fun at Bryce Canyon. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Take a break, Michelle and Mark. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Rich and Victoria are enjoying this moment. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Take a break at the double windows, Rudy, Ann, Barry, Cheryl, Victoria. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Best friends, Victoria and Ann. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Cheryl, Lin, Rudy, Victoria and Barry. [Ann]
hikers
Isn’t it beautiful? [photo by Lin]
hikers
Marching on the trail: Ann, Heather, Barry, Cheryl, Rudy. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Rudy is making friends on the trail. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Before the Wall Street section. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Barry and Ann are working hard on those steps. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Cool off at Wall Street: Rich, Cheryl, Rudy, Victoria and Barry. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Barry and Ann are ready for the last Zig-Zig. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Looking back from top to see the Wall Street section. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Barry still going. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Yes, we hiked up all those zigzags. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Ann. [photo by Rudy]
hikers
Barry finally made back to the trailhead. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Maria is enjoying her dinner. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Yummy Dinner, Michelle and Mark are happy. [photo by Lin]
Bud
Bud is enjoying his dinner. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Birthday girl, Heather. [photo by Lin]
hikers
We love Maria's sunglass. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Bud, Heather, Michelle, Mark, Tom and Li are enjoying the cool evening. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Walk at Sunset Point, Maria, Vicki and Mimi. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Li and Tom are enjoying the sunset. [photo by Lin]
view
What a beautiful Sunset! [photo by Lin]

Supplemental Report for Sunset-Bryce-Sunset Loop, by Leader Tom Simonick

Li, Julie, Terry and Tom left the group at the junction of the Peekaboo and Bryce Point trails and began climbing up to Bryce Point. The beautiful views continued with many windows and fascinating hoodoos. It was a steady climb, passing through a couple more arches which provided temporary shade. The trail was less busy, which was nice, especially after the combination of hikers and horses on the Peekaboo Trail.

We hiked about 1.5 miles to Bryce Point, climbing 600 feet. After pictures at the point, we found a comfortable log in the shade for lunch. After lunch we hiked back down the way we came. The temperature was warmer and we were sweating. We got a pleasant surprise as we approached a larger arch in that there was a wind tunnel effect and our sweat cooled us down to the point of feeling chilly. Moving ten feet put us back in the sun and the chill became a memory. We continued enjoying the views as we hiked down to the Peekaboo junction, picking up that trail heading north towards the Wall of Windows.

Reaching the junction with the Navajo Loop Trail, we found some of our friends and began climbing to the rim. Our last challenge was climbing up the switchbacks in Wall Street. After that we were on the rim at Sunset Point, breathing hard and walking walking slowly back on the flat trail to the campground.

hikers
Tom (leader), Li, Julie and Terry. [photo by Li]
hikers
At Bryce Point after hard work. [photo by Li]
hikers
Group picture at window. [photo by Li]
hikers
Group picture. [photo by Li]
hikers
Julie and Terry. [photo by Li]
Li
Happy Li. [photo by Tom]
hikers
Energized Julie and Terry. [photo by Li]
hikers
Double windows and double happiness. [photo by Li]
map
Long version of Figure 8 hike. [photo by Tom]

Day 3 – Drive to Cedar Breaks National Monument, by Carl Lunde, Lin Chao

At about 10,000 to 11000 feet, it is a similar set of Hoodoos as Bryce Canyon (6600 feet to 9105 feet). Excerpted from Wikipedia:

Cedar Breaks National Monument is located in Utah near Cedar City. Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater, stretching across 3 miles, with a depth of over 2,000 feet. The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet.
Cedar Breaks National Monument was established in 1933. A small lodge designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood and built and operated by the Utah Parks Company once existed near the south end of the monument, but it was razed in 1972. The Cedar Breaks Lodge was the smallest of the park lodges in the Southwest. It was deemed “uneconomical to operate” by the Park Service, but protests associated with its demolition caused the Park Service to re-examine its policies concerning lodges in other parks, contributing to their preservation.
The rock of the amphitheater is more eroded than, but otherwise similar to, formations at nearby Bryce Canyon National Park. The amphitheater, located near the west end of the Colorado Plateau, covers the west side of the Markagunt Plateau, the same plateau that forms parts of Zion National Park. Uplift and erosion formed the canyon over millions of years, raising and then wearing away the shale, limestone, and sandstone that were deposited at the bottom of an ancient lake, 70 by 250 miles, known as Lake Claron, about 60 million years ago. It continues to erode at a pace of about 2 inches every 5 years. Atop the plateau, much of the area is covered by volcanic rock known as rhyolitic tuff, formed during cataclysmic eruptions around 28 million years ago.
The rocks of the eroded canyon contain iron and manganese in various combinations, providing brilliant colors that led Indians to call it the Circle of Painted Cliffs. Iron oxides provide the reds, oranges and yellows, while manganese oxides provide shades of purple. The color of the rock is soft and subtle compared to the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon.
The area is a form of badlands—canyons, spires, walls, and cliffs so steep and confusing that the land, while of great aesthetic value, is of little utilitarian worth. Early settlers called them badlands or breaks and created the current name by combining breaks with cedar for the many juniper trees (often incorrectly called cedars) that grow in the area.
The bristlecone pine, a species of tree that is known as the longest living single organism, can also be found in the high country, with some local specimens known to be more than 1600 years old. Subalpine meadows dot the canyon rim in such areas as Alpine Pond, which is an easy hike from the road along a clear trail. Aspen, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir trees, and limber pine also grow here.
map

We, this group of exploring Arizona Trailblazers, did two hikes in Cedar Breaks. The first was the South Rim (Ramparts) Trail (2.2 miles for those who went to Spectra Point and 4 or so miles for those who went to Ramparts Overlook) – Jade did not do either hike, and then we did the Alpine Pond Loop Trail (depending on route, Carl and Jade took the 1.4 mi route, everyone else took the 2.5 mi route).

group
Group. [photo by Lin]
Barry, Rudy, Kim, Bud, Julie, Terry, Carl, Ann, Michelle, Rich, Li, Mark, Lin, Heather, Tom
hikers
Work hard first, enjoy it later. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Ann, Barry, Rich, Mark, Michelle. [photo by Lin]
Ann
Ann is enjoying the view. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Blue sky, white clouds and Arizona Trailblazers. [photo by Lin]
Barry
Snow? Yes, there was still snow on the trail. [photo by Lin]
tree
One of those oldest trees in the park. Is it beautiful? [photo by Lin]
hikers
Of course, they are beautiful Arizona Trailblazer women. [photo by Tom]
hikers
Arizona Trailblazer handsome men. [photo by Li]
hikers
Michelle and Mark. [photo by Li]
hikers
Carl, Rudy, Terry, Julie, Barry, Michelle, Mark. [photo by Li]
picture
The Strong & Tough hikers: Tom, Li, Terry, Rich, Rudy, Bud, Julie. [photo by Lin]
view
A beautiful day at Cedar Breaks National Monument. [photo by Lin]
view
Cedar Break National Monument Visitor Center. [photo by Lin]
group
Group picture at Alpine Pond Loop. [photo by Lin]
view
A beautiful viewpoint. [photo by Lin]
group
Carl, Rudy, Kim, Bud, Julie, Terry, Li, Tom, Michelle, Heather, Mark, Barry, Ann, Rich. [photo by Lin]
hikers
At the highest point in the park, Tom, Li, Lin, Ann, Terry, Julie, Bud, Barry and Rudy. [photo by Lin]
sign
Highest point in the park, North View Overlook Point. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Dinner at Ruby’s, Mimi, Kim, Terry and Maria. [photo by Lin]
hikers
(Table, Far to Near) Rich, Bud, Victoria, Ann, Jade and Carl. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Michelle, Mark, Julie and Heather. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Rudy, Barry and Joe are waiting for the beer. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Always smiling Li and Tom. [photo by Lin]

The food at Ruby’s Inn was good, very very good. I think we all ate too much. Why not do a short hike at Mossy Cave again! A group of us, Ann, Lin, Rich, Jade, Julie, Terry got in the car and enjoyed a after dinner hike at this awesome Waterfalls Trail.

This was followed by a campfire and more guitar playing and singing—everyone enjoyed Rudy and Jade playing their guitars and singing—it was a fun evening.

A little history of Ruby’s Inn and Bryce Canyon City excerpted from Wikipedia:

Bryce Canyon City, sometimes shown as Bryce on maps, is a town in Garfield County, Utah, United States, adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. The town, formerly known as Ruby’s Inn, was officially incorporated on July 23, 2007, under a short-lived state law. The population was 198 at the 2010 census.
Reuben C. “Ruby” Syrett built a lodge and cabins at this location in 1916, when the promotion of Bryce Canyon for tourism was just beginning. Syrett’s business grew along with the park’s popularity, particularly once it was made a National Park in 1928. Ruby’s Inn became an important junction; its travelers’ services developed into a small community. Syrett donated land to the state for construction of a road (now Utah State Route 63), strategically placing Ruby’s Inn right at the entrance to the park. The Syrett family, owners of Ruby’s Inn, had been seeking municipal incorporation for some time, hoping to qualify for a portion of county sales tax revenue to help fund the water system and other community infrastructure. They jumped at the opportunity to incorporate under the new law, filing a new petition soon after its passage.
A majority of the residents are members of the Syrett family, and nearly all of the adults are employees of Ruby's Inn. The year-round population is only a fraction of the people who occupy the town at the peak of tourist season, when employment swells to 600, and the number of visitors is in the thousands, more than the total population of Garfield County.
view
Another Mossy Cave hike after dinner, beautiful sunset. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Rich, Jade, Julie Terry and Lin at Mossy Cave. [photo by Ann]
hikers
Ann, Julie, Rich, Terry, Jade. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Jade and Lin. [photo by Ann]
hikers
Lin, Jade, Rich, Terry, Julie, Ann. [photo by Lin]
picture
Waterfall at Mossy Cave Trail. [photo by Lin]
car
Beautiful sunset. [photo by Lin]

Supplemental Report for Cedar Break, by Leader Tom Simonick

After leaving Spectra Point, seven of us hiked west to Rampart Point. I was surprised that the trail took us away from the edge of the amphitheater and through the forest. The trail was clear, and we walked near a small creek. After one mile we were at Rampart Point. Although lower than Spectra Point, I think the views were equally beautiful, especially along the rim looking west.

We saw a social trail heading west in the direction of the now fallen Bartizan Arch. But that destination will have to wait for another hike. We returned on the same trail, stopping at a “cabin”, really an out-building, from the historic, built in 1924.

hikers
Rich and Terry are taking a break. [photo by Li]
hikers
The Fast and Tough group: Julie, Rudy, Bud, Tom, Li, Rich, Terry. [photo by Li]

Supplemental Report for Vicki’s Group, on June 2, 2021, by Vicki Kassel

While the group headed to Cedar Breaks, a few of us stayed at Bryce Canyon to explore additional trails and viewpoints. Vicki K, Vicki W, Cheryl, Mimi and Maria enjoyed hiking along the Mossy Cave Creekside trail to the waterfall and cave.

After lunch at the campsite, Joe and Chewy joined us on a scenic drive to Rainbow Point and we stopped to explore many of the viewpoints along the route. One of our favorite stops was at the Natural Bridge Overlook.

view
The Waterfall. [photo by Vicki K]
hikers
Taking a break along the trail. [photo by Vicki K]
hikers
Mossy Cave Trail. [photo by Vicki K]
hikers
Ladies in front of the waterfall. [photo by Vicki K]
Mimi
Mimi at the Natural Bridge. [photo by Vicki K]

Day 4: Fairyland Canyon hike, by Carl Lunde, Lin Chao

The Fairyland Canyon hike was an interesting hike, but warmer than everyone had wanted. Some did a short hike about 2.5 miles (Carl, Barry, Cheryl, Julie, Maria, Mark, Michelle), please read leader Michelle’s trip report. Some did about 8.5 miles or so (Ann, Bud, Lin, Mimi, Rich, Terry, Victoria, Rudy, and Kim). There were a few folks who did not do either the short or long hike, but rather enjoyed relaxing and doing other things.

group
Group Picture. [photo by Lin]
Carl, Kim, Mimi, Bud, Victoria, Maria, Ann, Cheryl, Julie, Bud, Rich, Michelle, Mark, Rudy
view
Window. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Keep going, my ladies. [photo by Lin]
hikers
Beautiful trail. [photo by Lin]
view
Beautiful view at Fairyland loop. [photo by Lin]
hikers
It was warm! We all try to find shade to take a break. [photo by Lin]
view
View at the end of end of the trail (or trailhead). [photo by Lin]
view
One more look of the trail we just hiked. [photo by Lin]
Mimi
You did it, Mimi, [photo by Lin]

Day 4: Fairyland Canyon hike, by Michelle Jelsma
group
Group picture. [photo by Michelle]
Julie, Mark, Cheryl, Carl, Michelle, Maria

Six Trailblazers decided to take a short hike on the Fairyland Trail, knowing today’s high temperatures were the highest of the trip at 83 degrees and the trail had little cover from the sun. We knew our hike was going to take us down into the canyon and, as we all know, when you go down you must come up.

At about 8:45 we start our trek down into Fairyland. The views were magnificent. It seemed like we were one with the hoodoos in this fairy land. We enjoyed our hike down into the canyon and took frequent stops for views and picture taking. After about 1.5 miles we came upon a high point where we could see into the valleys on both sides, with the hoodoos overlooking from above.

It is here we decided to turn around and head back up to the top. We did the 1.5-mile ascent in about an hour. Better than we expected. It was a beautiful hike. We will go back another time to complete the loop.

view
Beautiful view in every view. [photo by Michelle]
view
Blue sky, white clouds, and red hoodoos. [photo by Michelle]

This was followed in the early evening by a potluck dinner and another Sunset Point walk. Then came the campfire and guitar playing and singing by Rudy and Jade—another great day and evening and camaraderie with this great group of Arizona Trailblazers. Another successful camping/hiking trip!

Jade
Jade is playing her guitar at the campsite. [photo by Lin]
sun
Another beautiful Sunset. [photo by Lin]
sun
Sunset at Sunset Point. [photo by Lin]

Day 5 – Departure Day, by Carl Lunde, Lin Chao

This is always a sad time – the packing up, saying goodbye to great friends, saying goodbye to the fun times, the great camaraderie, and the wondrous and spectacular settings of the natural beauty and serenity of these places, then driving off back to the reality and hubbub of the urban life of today.

We were all out of the campground by about 10 AM – until the next time of getting together and hiking in this spectacular world of ours.

Note from Leader Lin Chao

Thank you everyone for texting, calling, and emailing me, letting me know that you are safely home. I appreciate it all.

It was a fun trip. Thank you everyone for participating and helping to make this trip a great one.

Thanks to the hiking co-leaders (Bud, Michelle, Tom and Vicki S).
Thanks to our potluck helpers, and everyone else for helping where help was needed..
Thanks, Rudy and Jade, Maria’s talents, who entertained us at campfire at nights.
Thanks to everyone who bring yummy food to share on our potluck party.
Thanks for the drivers who drove us safely from the the to the campground and home.
Thanks, Terry, for taking care of the sign-in sheet every morning and keeping stats update.
Thanks, Michelle and Mark, for going the extra mile to take Barry, Julie, and Cheryl home.
Thanks to all of you for singing the Birthday Song to Heather and making a very special day for our new member Heather Davis. Happy Birthday Heather Davis, you are looking great, I am looking forward to celebrating your 2022 birthday on the trail again.

Well, what an awesome trip, take it easy for next few weeks, I am looking forward to seeing you on our North Rim Trip at end of June.

→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by Li
      top Top of Page
Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
Comments? Send them to the AZHC .

updated July 12, 2021