Wednesday, October 14, 2015

cedar breaks to bryce canyon

We had to reschedule a long weekend to Bryce Canyon National Park earlier this fall and ended up being able to attach the days to a long weekend we had planned for Moab, happy to fit it in but less than thrilled when we drove down towards Cedar City in rain and 40 F temperatures.  We decided to try for higher ground, heading up to Cedar Breaks National Monument which, at 10,350 feet elevation, was actually 36 F and snowing, with a couple of inches of slush on the ground at the overlook and visitors' center.  The clouds parted long enough for us to see the main amphitheater - stunning - but the trails were too muddy from the recent days of rain to tempt us into any hikes, so we continued on to check out Brian Head Resort.  Brian Head is pretty far from anything so it looks like a fairly self-contained ski resort with stores, some restaurants and lots of lodging.  It looked like a fun little place and, with the little bit of snow frosting the trees, got us wishing for ski season.

Snow on Cedar Breaks

We continued on, driving through Panguitch to locate our motel and eat a quick lunch, then heading out to Bryce Canyon National Park.  When we got to the park, it was cloudy, windy and raining lightly, with temperatures again in the 40s.  Bryce is at high elevation (over 9,115 feet) and we had anticipated that it might be chilly; we had not thought it would be quite so cold and wet.  We persevered, however, driving all the way out to the end of the scenic drive to Rainbow and Yovimpa Points to work our way back.

Bryce Canyon main amphitheater
(note serpentine trail to bottom)

We stopped at each of the scenic overlooks, doing some short walks (Bristlecone Loop, Farview/Piracy Point, Inspiration Point, Paria View, Bryce Point) and admiring the amazing views ... when the clouds lifted enough for us to see them.

Clouds were rolling in and out

On our way back to Panguitch, driving out through Red Canyon (Dixie National Forest), we noted some trailheads for future exploration, in addition to the Thunder Mountain trail that had been recommended to us for MTBing.  We got back to tiny, quiet Panguitch and checked into the Purple Sage Motel (old-fashioned motel with clean, decent sized rooms).  When it was time for dinner, we desperately tried to find a place to eat: there are no bars in town (that we could find) and there were very few dining options, especially for a town with more than fourteen fully booked motels.  The best looking place - the Cowboy's Smokehouse Cafe - was inexplicably closed so we ended up at a scruffy cafe about which the less is said the better.  With such limited options, we were back at our room by 8:30 p.m. and planning for an early start for the next day.

Just cleared enough to view an arch

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