Hoodoo Bryce Canyon and Free Camping? We do!
“A vast landscape of mini cities that have been etched into the canyon walls, and over the centuries have been brutally attacked by all the ferocity that mother nature could throw at it, yet this supreme creation still stands, quite possibly more beautiful than ever“.
…yep, that’s how I’d describe Bryce Canyon National Park in one sentence or less.
With only one day to explore the park we drove in after a quick sunrise breakfast and started our day hike at Sunset Point, a strenuous yet rewarding drop deep into the canyon. We started on the Navajo Trail, took a piece of the Queens Garden Trail and finished up with the Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail.
With this hike we experienced multiple elevation changes, some extreme, which offered vastly different scenery. We began our hike with coffee and pastries around 10am and ended as the sun was dropping behind the cliffs with a cold beer and nuts (thanks to the inventors of backpacks and insulated coolers)…now that’s what I’d call a successful day hike.
At some spots the Hoodoo’s seem to reach miles into the sky, while other locations provide endless symmetry and repetitive shapes. I wonder if this is where the famous architect Antoni Gaudi captured his inspiration for La Sagrada Familia?
The photo-ops are never ending (kinda like this photo essay) and when you’re there in-the-flesh the majesty is amplified 10-fold compared to the images I’ve captured. For the amateur photographer, and the professional alike, Bryce provides a wonderland of enchantment and a post trip headache for editing!
The weather was cooperative, but a little on the chilly side in the wee hours: Low of 21 and high near 60 with plenty of sun (well, until 3:30 when the shade starts taking over the canyon walls). We’ve heard November can be hit or miss when it comes to exploring Bryce, so make sure you plan well (unlike us) and have a backup plan in case the roads close due to bad weather. The big plus side of exploring in early winter: We hiked all day and only saw a few people, the temperature was beautiful at the bottom of the canyon, and the snow can add some drama to photographs. (we visited November 2013)
Free Camping Near Bryce Canyon National Park Entrance Gate
We arrived late, much later than we should have, and the Bryce Canyon website specifically recommends NOT to arrive at the campground after dark. So Nikki put her Free Camping search skills to the test and found us a safe place to wild camp just a few miles north of the park entrance. We pulled in safely around 9pm and the kicker is we had great cell service, so we uncorked a bottle of wine, flipped open the laptop and watched an hour of online TV…this is why we love RV Camping.
Here is the exact GPS location of our free overnight camping spot: 37.731608, -112.094469 Travel EXACTLY 4.3 miles northeast on Johns Valley Road from UT Highway 12, and there will be a dirt road on the left. The short dirt road was clear and opens into a large grassy area near a cattle fence with plenty of room for a few class A motorhomes, for us it was easy to locate even in the extreme darkness of night.
A Friendly Warning – We woke up just after sunrise to some rather exciting commotion in the living room…we have a mouse! The cats were on full alert as we listened for the pitter-patter of those little feet. Fortunately Singa was able to snag the mouse as he tried to run from under the chair to inside the engine compartment; then we were able to snatch the mouse (alive) from Singa, put him in a box, and release him back into the wild with only a tiny scratch. The mouse hopped off then turned back and had that “I’m never going in an RV again” look on his little face! Ha.
Have you been to Bryce Canyon National Park? If not, are you thinking about adding it to the list? We could have spent days exploring this park so I’m sure we’ll be back, if you have any favorite spots share them in the comments below.