Monday, September 18, 2017

The Great National Park Tour - Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks

To recap... In 2017 Charli and I needed to drive from Vancouver, Canada to Duluth, MN. However instead of driving the 1800 miles straight across the country the way a crow would, if crows could drive, we decided to take a little 1900 mile detour and stop at a few national parks along the way, because that's how we roll. And roll. And roll.

The first two legs of this amazing trek can be found here and here. After Zion we continued on to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon feels like you've stepped into a fairy tale. Everywhere you look enormous spires are bursting out of the ground to form natural castles. It is truly in-spiring.

Like most breathtaking landscapes, pictures don't do it justice. This is one of those places you have to experience in person. Bryce Canyon has many trail loops you can take that will lead you down to the valley below. You can hike 2, 5, 10 or 20 miles if you have the time and desire. This park is truly magical in every sense of the word and is worth every minute you can spend there.

Here's a few more shots, and if you're interested I can easily send like 1000 more. Just let me know.

Capitol Reef National Park

Just around the corner from Bryce Canyon is Capitol Reef National Park, which is named for a line of rock domes (the reef) that someone back in the national park naming days decided looked like a capitol building dome. This is the main dome you will see when you first enter the park.

Capitol Dome
And here's another one I grabbed from the Capitol Reef web site.

"There is nothing like a dome. Nothing, in this world."

But this place ain't just about domes. Capitol Reef is like a geological smorgasbord of landscapes.

At one point Charli and I hiked to the top of Chimney Rock to see the view. This place had a great Lion King vibe so I thought I would try to recreate that famous scene with Simba, but sadly he was all, "why does everybody always want to hold me up over dangerous cliffs?!!!" and wouldn't have anything to do with it.

A bonus feature of Capitol Reef are the old orchards that were planted by Mormon pioneers, which are now maintained by the National Park Service. Visitors can pick apples, peaches or pears for $2/lb. There is a scale in the field with a lock box to drop your money in, using the honor system of course.

One side note regarding our accommodations on this journey. Charli and I love to camp, and one of the things we discovered in the past was a little thing called "disbursed camping," which is how we camped for most of our trip. This is where you are allowed to camp for free outside of a national park boundary in areas owned by the Bureau of Land Management, otherwise known as BLM camping. This is a great way to find a really remote area adjacent to a popular park as opposed to trying to squeeze into the usually crowded camp sites within the park. For example, here was our home while we stayed at Capitol Reef.

In summary, we only scratched the surface of this stunning place. The park itself is over 100 sq/miles and has dozens of trails that would take days to hike. The main road through Capitol Reef offers only a glimpse of what the larger park has to offer, and we definitely intend to return again to spend a lot more time exploring it!

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