Our first Thanksgiving in the USA we drove from Los Angeles to Moab. That was kind of crazy. Last year we spent three and a half days camped at Ruby Lake in the Eastern Sierra in sub zero temperatures. That was not so crazy.
This year I decided to share Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks with my better half as he was yet to enjoy them. Totally not crazy.
We left Los Angeles around 5.30am on Thanksgiving morning, the streets quiet as families slept before the madness ensued of cooking turkeys and traditional family treats.
It was a pleasant drive with a stop at Barstow for a coffee and a chilly stop beyond St George at a rest stop for lunch. We had turkey too, just in the form of the pre-packaged, sliced stuff!
We turned off the 15 at Cedar City and took the 14 east through Dixie National Forest. It was a sensational drive, and the landscapes in this part of the South West never cease to surprise me. We even spotted a gigantic bald eagle on a frozen lake, a flashing glance as we drove by, a photo in my memory.
Arriving at Bryce Canyon National Park I was keen to secure a camping spot as we hadn’t booked anything and I was worried about where we’d be staying that night. Luckily North Campground wasn’t full and there was a nice spot to register before heading to Sunset Point.
The original plan had been to do the Fairyland Loop, but avoiding pre-Thanksgiving traffic the evening before had been a boon and while it cut short the hike, I think sometimes things happen for a reason.
Dropping down into the canyon I passed people with giant cameras, tripods, lenses. I carried my ancient DSLR (a Canon 10D for museum enthusiasts!) and Dikko snapped photos on his iPhone.
We walked down past Wall Street to an intersection and decided to take a left along the Najavo Loop Trail, winding our way back up to Sunset Point via the Queen’s Garden Trail. It would be about a five kilometre round trip, just perfect to stretch the legs after an eight hour drive from LA.
As the hoodoo shadows lengthened the sky turned the most stupendous colors and I felt like a child in a wonderland. It was a magical experience and as darkness fell we were alone on the trails.
It was one of those experiences that stays with you, and maybe, just maybe, these photos can give some idea of the otherworldly and totally awe inspiring landscape I was a part of that evening.
After the excitement of what I was seeing subsided with the last remnants of light, I felt invigorated walking back up toward the Rim Trail and parking lot at Sunset Point.
Back at the campground I felt content and snuggled into my sleeping bag for what was a chilly night outside.
As every day on Earth, a sunrise came. We packed quickly to arrive at Sunrise Point as the day brightened. I knew the morning view wouldn’t compare to the previous evening but it was wonderful to look down on where we’d walked from another viewpoint in the park.
We left Bryce Canyon National Park to head to Zion and a new adventure. While the original plan to do Fairyland Loop didn’t eventuate, the experience of being in the park with those colors, silhouettes and shapes of the hoodoos turned out to be an unforgettable experience.