Friday, June 28, 2013

Taking in Bryce Canyon from the Rim Trail

As part of our "grand tour" of the southwest during the fall of 2012, Kathy and I moved on to our next stop at Bryce Canyon National Park where we spent two days of hiking above and within the canyon walls.

Our first hike was a relatively short one, but a classic. It traversed the rim of Bryce Canyon from Sunrise Point to Inspiration Point.

The entire Rim Trail extends from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, and offers hikers the opportunity to see Bryce Canyon from "on top" along a one-way route that extends for 5.5 miles. Since the trail more or less parallels the main road through the park, hikers have the option of taking the shuttle to various points along the trail and hiking as much of it as they want. The most popular section runs between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. We extended that section to include Upper Inspiration Point.

The section of trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point is an easy, flat paved surface. However, just beyond Sunset Point the trail starts to angle upwards, with the last quarter-of-a-mile up to Upper Inspiration Point being very steep.

Down through the millennia Bryce Canyon has been sculpted by geological forces, and continues to be shaped by the freezing and thawing of water. The red, orange and pink colored limestone in the canyon is the result of iron oxidation. The deeper colors of red indicate higher concentrations of iron in the rock. White colored limestone, on the other hand, represents an absence of iron.

One of the overlooks along the canyon is called Fairyland Point - a very appropriate name for this park.

Although the hike gave us a nice overview, dropping down into the canyon the next day provided a far more intimate view of the park. The next day we would explore the Queen’s Garden Loop.

Trail: Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Inspiration Point (and back)
RT Distance: 3.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Max Elevation: 8316 Feet
TH Location: Sunrise Point
Map: Bryce Canyon NP Trails Illustrated Map

Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks covers 56 hikes in the two parks, as well as the surrounding areas, such as Cedar Breaks National Monument. From day hikes to backcountry treks, the books provides comprehensive trail descriptions, trail maps, route profiles, difficulty ratings, recommended hiking seasons, as well as invaluable trip-planning information, including a checklist of essential equipment and supplies.

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