When I was planning the road trip portion of this Utah trip, I almost took Bryce Canyon off the itinerary because I was worried it might be too much driving for one day. (Spoiler alert: it was, but it was totally worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing.)
After picking up my rental car in Salt Lake City, it was pretty much a straight shot down to Bryce Canyon. Well, aside from the obviously mandatory first stop at In-N-Out.
I’m not exactly sure where the above picture is, but it was on the way to Bryce Canyon and my first glimpse of red rocks of the trip!
I arrived at Bryce Canyon fairly late in the day, but I had read that it’s pretty easy to see all the sights in a short amount of time (so long as you’re not planning on doing any hikes!)
Despite the warm day, the winter snowpack was still clinging to the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. What’s a hoodoo you ask? They’re those chunky spires of rock formation, and they make up a lot of the amazing geology in Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a mostly out-and-back road, with scenic overlooks along the way. I drove all the way to the end first, to Rainbow and Yovimpa Points, so I could work my way back. I was there in the low season so parking was a breeze, but I imagine it could get tricky in the summer.
The colors at Bryce Canyon are absolutely stunning. Depending on the way the light hits the rocks they can be bright orange, or even pink. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hoodoos as far as the eye can see!
I made it to Sunset Point as the sun starting dipping in the sky, although I couldn’t stay for the full sunset. I was still two hours away from that night’s hotel, just outside Zion National Park, and had to get moving. (I hate driving in the dark in an unfamiliar place.)
The sun started setting while I was driving. I was making good time and didn’t want to stop, but just couldn’t help myself. This had to be one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. These pictures don’t do it justice.
And why not share a little shot of my rental car! I was given a Nissan Versa this time. Actually, they tried to upgrade me to a Hyundai Elantra, but I prefer and am more used to driving a small car like this. It was my first time driving a car with cruise control, which was a godsend out on those no-curves-just-straight-for-an-hour Utah and Arizona roads.
After I almost hit a deer a restaurant appeared out of nowhere, and I took it as a sign to stop. After fueling up (on some pretty disappointing food tbh), the waitress warned me about how there were a ton more deer out that night and I should take care. GREAT. Not that I’m not used to coming across deer in NJ, but it’s an entirely different experience as you’re winding your way through pitch dark roads. And she wasn’t wrong — I must have seen 30 more deer as I wound my way through the eastern branch of Zion to get to my hotel. Let’s just say I drove pretty damn slow for the final part of my drive.
I did finally make it to my hotel around 10. It was a very weird experience driving through Zion at night, because I could tell there were epic views on either side of me, but because of the darkness I couldn’t see any of it. I couldn’t wait to get up the next morning and have a chance to see it all!
Zion National Park
Park City, and the Most Beautiful Wedding