A Pastel Paradise in Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park is a colored rock paradise. Approachable nearly year-round, pictures don't do justice as golden light pours over ponderosa and spruce forests into deep, pastel amphitheaters.
Prepared By:

Semaj Thomas

Photographer, Traveler & Writer

Peering out of my tent at predawn hours has become pretty routine for me at this point. Listening to the final embers of last nights fire as they reach for the stars, accompanied by wisps of smoke. Waiting for the right time time to set up for the ultimate early morning prize here in the town of Bryce: a pastel sunrise in the neighborhood National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a colored rock paradise. Approachable nearly year-round, pictures don’t do justice as golden light pours over ponderosa and spruce forests into deep, pastel amphitheaters. And Bryce Amphitheater, shaped by ice and chemical erosion like most of the park, is as deep as 800 feet! Still, you can hike down into the canyon via the Navajo Loop Trail, or simply enjoy the view from places like Rainbow or Sunset Point. Though the view here is breathtaking, walking amongst these giant structures, called hoodoos, is almost alien-like! Outside the park there is more canyoneering, as well as a perfectly located campground and a desert waterfall!

 

Outside the Park

Easy Does It

Just minutes from Bryce Canyon, Mossy Cave Trail is a beautiful short hike following a desert stream. Although the “cave” isn’t much of a view and is inaccessible, the waterfall on this route is the main draw! It’s surprisingly strong, especially after rainfall or a spring melt, and you can even walk behind it! This relaxing hike is great for a day off the road, and is just a few minutes from camping outside the park!

Camping

Rubys Inn RV Park and Campground is the perfect stop when road tripping through Utah or spending extra time in Bryce Canyon. A relaxing pool, full service bathrooms and a beautiful forested backdrop all help to extend your stay. Even more, its situated in town, so gas, a general goods store, restaurants and motels are all within walking distance! A great place to unwind before jumping back into the sights and sounds of Utah!

Slot Canyons

Back on adventure road, slot canyons await discovery in the massive Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Getting here is a 4×4 dream, with a 30-mile unpaved rumble on the access road! Well worth the car massage, the Lower Dry Fork Trail leads to not one but three slot canyons! It is worth noting that the earlier you start these hikes, the better. The constant exposure of the sun in the dry, shadeless desert can tire any outdoor enthusiast, so take care, be safe and watch the weather. Dry Fork Slot Canyon is the wider of the trio on the trail, with massive stone walls that continually get narrower. Peek-a-boo and Spooky Slot Canyon are both trickier. These are the true definition of slot canyon, with smooth, beautifully curved walls less than a shoulders width apart! Seriously, wiggling through these weather carved wonders is unforgettable as you crawl into a sandstone sandwich!

 

Utah is truly a spectacle. It seems impossible to canvas the entirety of this state’s gems, but here’s to a start! From coniferous forests contrasting the colors of bizarre rock formations to crawling through rock slices, Utah has it all. It’s truly one of the most unique places in America and beyond.

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