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A Sea of Orange in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

By: Jordan Tarver + Save to a List

We crossed our fingers as we rolled up to Bryce Canyon at midnight with no prior campsite reservations. Not knowing what was in store for us, the van wheels found their way quietly down the dirt road. I had a gut feeling we would see an open spot. Not only was there one open site, but nearly half the campground was empty. Ahh, what a relief. A quiet night ahead with no neighbors to set up for our journey through the Queens Garden bright and early.

After we woke and cleared our brain fog with a more than enough coffee, we heard about reports of a major monsoon on its way by noon. With this on the radar, we couldn’t waste a minute of our time. Without leaving time to think, we quickly filled the van with our gear like a game of Tetris.

We hurried to the ridge of the canyon with hopes of catching a hike with blue skies. Overlooking the canyon, vibrant hues of oranges, greens, and blues surprised our eyes.

It’s safe to say we scored.

Jetting from the canyon floor, orange rock formations complemented the clear, blue skies above us. We were blown away. But we didn’t have time to waste. We tried to catch our breath of amazement as we started down the path to Wall Street.

The orange dirt crunched below our feet, the walls stood with foreign textures, and trees were grounded in spaces they didn’t seem to belong. It all seemed surreal. I’d never seen a place remotely close to Bryce Canyon. Winding our way down into the Queens Garden, the wind began to shift treacherous clouds above our heads. It was our sign to leave.

The Clouds Broke and We Reacted

Within a matter of minutes, those same gray clouds began to engulf the entire sky. The clouds slowly broke and we focused on dodging heaving raindrops throughout the hike up from the base of the canyon. With our prior experience in Sedona, we trusted our guts and escaped back to the van. We were left torn between waiting out the storm or calling our time here short.

We decided to stay the night because we were lucky enough to have the van as shelter. And, you know what? This happened to be one of the afternoons I appreciated most of the trip. We kept warm over a late-afternoon cup of joe and hunkered down in the van to reminisce on the first part of our journey. It was rewarding to see a collection of our moments from Sedona and Lake Powell as we flipped through several Polaroid photos.

We Were Soon Bound for the Grand Canyon

Our time in Bryce Canyon was definitely short-lived, but I don’t think that’s something to dwell on. A park that is much smaller than ZionYosemite, and the Grand Canyon it was relatively easy to experience enough. The last stop on our travels was the Grand Canyon, which was also a place I had yet to visit much like the rest.

With Sedona, Zion, and now Bryce Canyon in the books, it was time to wrap up our trip with one last location. I’ve heard so much about the Grand Canyon and the difficulty to understand it’s size, which didn’t make too much sense to me.

I guess it’s just one of those things, you have to see for yourself.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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