Driving down the darkness : Bryce Canyon, Utah, United States - NPOTWS #1

1/01/2014 10:38:00 PM

IMG_0385 copyDixie National Forest, Utah, United States 
we need to go through this entrance to reach Bryce Canyon.

"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." 
~Frank Lloyd Wright, quoted, 14 August 1966" 

What better way to start new year than writing, and what better to write than about my most favorite places on earth. One of my lifetime wish is to visit all the national parks in the world, and when I wish for that, I am being very smart. Ask me how? Well, there are more than 6000 national parks in the world in over 100 countries. Almost every eco-space, each piece of land that need efficient natural resources and wildlife protection and conservation is designated as national park, So, with this just one wish, I am pretty much asking to roam around the whole entire earth. smarty. told you. Now I hope I not only get to talk about it, but get to do it too. fingers crossed.

I don't have the exact count at this moment, I am guessing I have visited about 20 plus national parks in both Asia and American continents. But none I believe, I've written about yet, so its only fitting that we have this series coming up this year, and as I go on adding more number in this new year, Lets begin the series with Bryce Canyon, one of the most popular national park in United states of america, that I visited last year in november during my week long trip to south-west.

A Visit to Bryce wasn't part of the plan, but I couldn't resist the idea of getting a glimpse of the place after coming so close to it, and that is exactly what we got. We ( two of us, girls) were staying in Page, Arizona, which is about 190 miles on Hwy 89 South from Bryce. Kanab and Glendale are the only two good size town in b/w, and both are on the highway.

We started a bit late and thanks to the season, It was already dark while we were still in Zion National Park. Honestly As difficult as it is to commute in US with out a car is, it is equally easier to think for a split second and take a left-turn once you start driving. Straight highway, and not too much of traffic, It hardly took us an hour or two before we were at the entrance, that is because we were blabbering, you know those roomies issues and cribbing about old mates etc. the conversation were deep enough not to get us scared about what we were passing from, through what area, and where ultimately we were headed to.

Bryce Canyon Utah United States

Fairyland point, Bryce Canyon National Park

Unlike what we see in images, the amphitheatre, that Bryce canyon is, Its not just one but many. Not canyon, but actually hoodoos, and hundreds of thousands of them in brilliant hues of red, are what you would immediately imagine as you think of Bryce. and Bryce has at least a dozen such magical amphitheaters or galleries or view points, the most popular being Bryce point, Sunset point, and Inspiration point and also wall of windows and natural bridge. Very close to the entrance of the park, is the fairyland point ( in above image) and at the end of the road is the Rainbow point. ( between A to C in map below)

Bryce Canyon Utah United States

View Larger Map

We might have skipped all the horror and anxiety of driving in the dark in  to nowhere, by talking non-stop, I was atleast hoping to see some open space as soon as we entered the gate of the national park. but it was surrounded by all rocks and trees. Even in this moon-lit night it was hard to see anything beyond 20ft. It must've been about 7PM, and unlike Zion there was no one out here. I could have cursed AT&T forever, but at least T-mobile had signal and we were able to google-map the roads inside the park. so as soon as we saw the fairyland point, which forks off on a side road, one mile north of the national park entrance station, we took a left turn. The spot is very near to the turn or so I remember. As I drove close to the parking spot, and saw one car parked out there, I was trying to decide I should be happy to find another living being around here or Should I be feeling scared. I could see two creatures w/ torch in their hands coming out of the bushes and I asked Nandita to wait and let them approach us first, so at least we could see their faces in brightness of car headlight. A couple in their 50s perhaps, and Yes we jumped out of the car, and started talking.as it turned out they were more scared than us, and they kept repeating how brave we were to drive all the way here in the jungle alone. I couldn't agree less. (scary cats)

The fairyland point is just a glimpse of what Bryce truly is like. the real beauty of bryce begins at sunset and inspiration point where the open space becomes bigger and hoodoos gets even prettier. we took some time embracing the view. the moonlight while made the place a little less scary, it definitely hindered the good view of the milkyway. the shot I took was just 30sec shots w/ tokina 11-16 f2.8 with aperture < I think, but they were still too bright. with all honesty such situations are huge on adrenaline rush and I realized it hard. I rarely wanted to take images. my mind was somewhere else, and whatever few I took was more for the memorabilia than to take some serious shots. with in minutes of us being there, 2 more car reached the point w/ 7-8 folks in them, I might have been warming up for setting up my tripod for good milkyway shooting and suddenly everyone was gone, we had this pin-drop silence, It was time for us brave-hearts to leave.

Driving back from fairypoint, in the hope for catching the better view ( since it was moonlit night anyway) we drove deep inside the park. This is when we figured the Park is actually inhabited. there are multiple campgrounds. a couple of entrances looked like ranch entrances. of course it was difficult to figure out much anything in the night time. we drove around the well-lit beautiful lodge in order to get some signal to figure out how far the next point ( inspiration it was i believe, that we almost reached ) was, and we drove another 15-20 minutes but the road kept getting narrower, scarier and difficult to drive as chipmunks, rabbits and squirrels kept crossing our way. so about 10 PM and we headed back to our hotel in Page and that was the end of our Bryce exploratory trip part -1.

Bryce canyon has many trails that can be explored via driving, trekking, horse-riding. it does get dark pretty quickly in winters, but skiing and snowshoe hikes that can only be done in this season are something very unique. the above image is also one of a winter image taken at Bryce point during snow storm. The park has good camping and lodging facility and it definitely deserve a good full week to be spent there to enjoy the vista and wildlife as diverse as 59 species of mammals, 175 species of birds, and about 15 species of reptiles and amphibians. The Park is accessible via road from There major cities in US that are Salt Lake City, Utah, Las Vegas Nevada and Phoenix Arizona.

Here's wishing to soak some more hoodoo beauty and  have few more crazy adventures in Bryce this new year. Do post your experiences. Be back with story from another national park soon. Have a happy new year.

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