Saturday, April 16, 2016

Planning Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the many spectacular parks in southern Utah. If you are limited to hotels and motels, as I am, then figuring out where to stay is a problem. A few years ago, I learned that hotels near Zion tend to cost more, but those in St. George cost less. St. George is a bit of a drive to Zion but it can be worth if you're on a budget. This time around, I thought I'd hit Arches in Moab. The motels in Moab are $90 or more a night, and it does not look like there are other nearby options with cheaper hotels. So what about Bryce?

The hotels in Bryce itself will cost you... but the hotels in Panguitch, UT, cost less. In fact, there's one place, the Knights Inn, that will run you just $42. Count me in.

Next, there's transportation. I'll be driving, and I'd like to take I-80 across Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming to I-15 in Salt Lake City and then head south from there. Zion's right on the way. Moab is out of the way. Bryce is just slightly out of the way but close enough. You take I-15 S for 211 miles from Salt Lake City, then turn off at I-20. It's about a 4 hour trip from SLC.

Recommended trails include:

Peekaboo Loop: According to "The most spectacular part of Bryce Canyon National Park, with the largest and densest formations, is the two mile section between Sunrise Point and Bryce Point, centered on the upper drainage basin of Bryce Creek. A network of hike and horse trails wind through the ravines and ridges, accessed from three points on the rim, so a variety of loop hikes are possible, but the best path is probably the Peekaboo Trail, itself a 3 mile loop, but viewable via a minimum hike of 5 miles if starting from Bryce Point." The trail includes 1500 feet of elevation gain.

Navajo Loop: 3 miles, 659 ft elevation gain.
Note: The 2 above trails can be done together as a "Figure 8" that is 8.7 mi and 2,267 ft elevation gain.

Queens Garden: Often combined with the Navajo Loop, the Queens Garden is only 1.8 miles.

Fairyland Loop: 8.25 mi roundtrip, 1500 feet elevation gain. According to ProTrails, "The Fairyland Loop runs 8.25 miles through a vivid landscape and two very distinct canyons. Fairyland Canyon (north) is geologically younger than the main amphitheater, distinguished by a labyrinth of towering hoodoos and spires. Campbell Canyon (south), on the other hand, is a virtual hoodoo graveyard; its once tall hoodoos have eroded into soft, multi-hued clay mounds. Visitors will enjoy geologic diversity and light crowds on the Fairyland Loop."

Last, there's weather. I plan to go in May, when average temps are highs of 64, lows of 37, and less than 1" of precipitation for the entire month.

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