In September of 2013 we did a U.S. road trip loop which started in Montana and passed through Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington. Our ultimate destination was an Iron Maiden concert in Las Vegas (and yes, we made it!) but along the way there were plenty of sightseeing, hiking and camping opportunities. One of those destinations was Bryce Canyon National Park in southwest Utah, located approximately a four hour drive south of Salt Lake City.
Our trip through Utah just happened to coincide with the period of massive flooding in Colorado. There was a brief moment of sunshine as we passed through Dixie National Forest, which looks like something out of a Disney movie:
But from then on we encountered rain, rain and more rain as we drove on. We had quite a few choices for our campsite so we drove around a bit to try to find a spot that looked the least flood-prone. The ground there was clay-like and we could see the patterns of pine needles and debris where the rain had washed through the whole area rather than being absorbed. In the end we chose a site where the tent spot looked like the rain would channel around us. We made a grocery run to the little tourist shop and then made dinner in the pouring rain. We headed to bed fairly early as we wanted to get an early start on the trail and then be in Las Vegas by that evening.
We woke the next morning in the dark, and it promised to be a gloomy morning. We pressed on, however, as this was what we had come to see.
We decided to take the Queen’s Garden trail, as it seemed like one of the shortest but most scenic. The hike down had lots of interesting hoodoos, including “Thor’s Hammer”.
On our way down we ended up meeting a British man who was hiking in one of those bright pink tourist ponchos and sandals.
We hiked along together and soon came to the highlight of the trail (spoiler alert), the “Queen”. Possibly also riding backwards on a camel?
From here we kept going on the Navajo Loop, which ends up at a slot canyon called “Wall Street”. This section of the trail turned out to be closed. We had a choice of doing a long backtrack, or taking a risk of falling rock in the canyon. We elected to take the shorter route, and our British friend was glad because he said he wouldn’t have done it alone.
After that it was time to head out. There are many more trails in the park and this would definitely be a place worth revisiting some day.