Today involved more red rock canyons. We headed for Bryce Canyon National Park, stopped along the way at Red Canyon, spent several hours at Bryce, and drove a scenic route along the south edge of Cedar Breaks National Monument on the way home. When it comes to rock formations our cup (and our memory chips) runneth over!
Bryce Canyon has many options for exploration. Like Zion, there is a shuttle system. However, the Bryce shuttle only covers about 1/4 of the park. Working on the assumption that 75% of the tourists would use the shuttle we drove to the end of the road, well beyond shuttlers. What we got were uncrowded trails and beautiful views for which we did not have to jockey into position among dozens of other tourists. At over 9,000 feet the air was naturally air conditioned at about 70 degrees!
Of course, Bryce is about the rocks. I like to show them with the trees to illustrate the perspective and highlight the colors. I also try to snap as many pictures of Jean as she will allow.
Today I got to scratch an item off my bucket list – the bristle cone pine. One of these trees is the oldest known living individual of any species! The ones we saw today were a mere 1600 years old. The oldest bristle cones are 5,000 years old. Makes me feel quite young.
When the bristle cone begins to die some branch or root will take over and generate a new tree. In this way it keeps going for millenia. The skeletons of old dead trunks are beautiful sculptures atop the red cliffs.
Of course I couldn’t resist my usual close ups.
Late in the afternoon we left Bryce and drove southwest to Cedar Breaks. I had noticed a scenic route on our map and it was beautiful. Utah highway 14 follows the southern edge of Cedar Breaks over a range that had us just a few feet short of 10,000 feet. Snow covered the meadows at that altitude. The views along this route are worth the drive. Alas, since I was driving I have no photos to share. It is a narrow road with limited opportunities to stop.
After spending the day at those air conditioned altitudes we returned to our condo in St. George where the temperature was 101 degrees.
Quite a day!