Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

After an amazing but stressful adventure hiking The Wave, Kai and I decided to stop in Kanab for a late dinner. After a quick glance on Yelp, we drove to Rocking V Cafe, where we were seated with a smile despite our hiking clothes covered in dried clay. One by one we took turns washing our hands and freshening up in the bathroom, before ordering a feast of beer and carbs. We relaxed into a delicious homemade meal (trout for me, linguini for Kai) taking a deep breath for the first time that long day! Honestly, we felt like zombies, having rushed in a panic to get to The Wave, and then hiking on turbo-speed, essentially running more than six miles through the dessert! It was all SO worth it, but ending the day with a cold beer was essential. As the dinner rush at Rocking V Cafe had ended quite some time before, we chatted with the restaurant owner who had no other patrons to look after. We mentioned that after the meal, we’d be driving up to Bryce Canyon, to which he warned ‘Look out for deer on the drive up 89!’ As a Maine gal, I know all about deer, so we chuckled about it and finished up our meal. To our surprise, when we left the restaurant and crossed the street to our car, we saw a deer sanding in the yard right next door! We hadn’t even made it 10-feet from the restaurant before bumping into our first stag – deer warning taken!! Fueled and ready to go, we piled into the convertible and hit the road north towards Bryce. In total, we counted 14 deer on the drive!! Beware on route 89 in Utah, especially at night! Some deer sprinted out onto the road in front of us, while other stood silently on the street-side, curiously watching us cruise by. Kai drove carefully and quite slow to avoid hitting any of our deer friends. I have to say, Kai can be a bit pie in the sky when it comes to remembering appointments or keeping the apartment clean, but he always steps it up when we’re in a situation where we need to be cautious. I felt very safe and relaxed in the car with him, despite the dark hour and all of the deer we were playing Frogger around! Although Google Maps said the drive from Kanab to Bryce would take 1.5 hours, it wound up taking us a bit more than 2h as we drove pretty slow. We checked into Ruby’s Inn well after midnight, and hit the bed SO hard.We started the next day slowly. We spent some time soaking in the inn’s hot tub, and made breakfast in the hotel room. We then loaded up on big bottles of water and set out to hike Bryce!In the parking lot of the general store, I saw this guy, and it was the most Utah looking scene! We arrived at Bryce by mid-morning, and were happy to find that we could park the car and simply walk to the trailhead we intended to hike, no shuttle required.That said, we spent a bit of time cruising around looking for a spot, but with a healthy dose of determination, we finally beat out some of our fellow hikers who were also circling around and around, hunting for a parking space! As we only had one day at Bryce, we decided to do The Queen’s Garden-Navajo Loop, as it runs through the most spectacular section of the park.We’d read online ahead of time that this hike is 2.9 miles, which sounded pretty reasonable considering the long hike we’d gone on the day before. We were ready to give our legs a break!We were also advised that the best way to the hike was clockwise, beginning at either Sunrise or Sunset Point.So we started at Sunrise Point, and were BLOWN AWAY by the views as we set off on the Queen’s Garden Trail. Before this trip, I’d never heard of a hoodoo, and suddenly, we were surrounded by hundreds of them!A hoodoo is a tall, thin rock formation, carved over thousands of years from intense ice and rain. The rock’s resistance to erosion creates a tall, undulating shape, otherwise known as a hoodoo!And boy did we get up close and personal with them!Some are younger, and are only in the start of their long journey to be a tall, skinny rock (below). I’m putting this next photo here for scale – they’re HUGE!This hike was really enjoyable, with evolving landscape and a well maintained trail, yet with enough peace to enjoy nature and snap a good, people-free photo!We hiked through tight doors that had been carved into the rock, and around hoodoos that have stood for millions of years.And then Kai took over the camera, and many Ali photos ensued :)

I was also surprised to find at least 20 random shots of dirt and chipmunks on my camera card, Kai clearly over excited by these cute little rodents! After a bit of fun wandering through the valley of the canyon, we started our hike up, with approximately 550 feet of climbing and MANY switchbacks to go!We hiked into what felt like a deep slot canyon, where the sun completely disappeared. Soon, we were winding our way back and fourth, with all of the other minuscule ant people scurrying about.And soon we were back at the top! The hike took us a little more than an hour, but honestly we moseyed along, took lots of photos, and intentionally took our time as our legs were a bit stiff from our hike the day before.Back at the lookout, we marveled over Bryce Canyon. I wish we could have spent another day or two exploring the park, but there were other hikes that were high on our bucket list, so we stopped for some snacks and souvenirs in the gift shop, and then hit the road for the next part of our adventure!Until next time! xo

Ali

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