Canyons; Bryce and Zion

Bryce Canyon is a really cool piece of landscape to walk around. This lines up with the advice I was given in advance which saw us spend a couple of days there. It’s a lot smaller than the Grand Canyon, which makes it more accessible if not a little less… grand… It was a bit of a photographic low point though. There’s a couple of classic look outs and associated views but most hinge on some great light to set things off and some interesting sky. Good light comes down to planning to be in the right place at sunrise and sunset – something we did most of the time – and also some luck. It didn’t really align, and to that end I’ll leave it to one photo and one piece of advice: go to Bryce Canyon and do the Fairyland loop trail – it’s really cool.

Perhaps my friends are increasingly outdoorsy people but it seems that by my age, everyone has a good sense of where Yosemite National Park is and why one should go there. This is fully justified and I’ll chew your ear off about it if you let me – pending next post. What I don’t understand is how Zion National Park misses out on equal notoriety. It’s incredible; a favourite on par with Yosemite with lots to offer walkers, climbers and photographers. I say this having missed out on arguably the best Zion has to offer, The Narrows and The Subway. It was spring and these were still under many feet of water. I’ll be back for those.

The walks we did do filled the time and I’d consider them unmissable anyway. First was the Angel’s Landing trail. It’s name came from an early observation that this fin of sandstone was so inaccessible, access would only be possible to an Angel (flying, then landing etc). Since then someone found a way to the top and the resulting trail, while exposed to precipitous cliff faces on either side, sees plenty of foot traffic. The trail is well marked and protected meaning the real danger is becoming spooked by what lies off to your side (see gallery). The day after was the slightly longer and more strenuous Observation Point trail. It follows a stream carved through the sandstone landscape and had some interesting stops along the way but the main canyon quickly disappears form view meaning it was a bit of a trudge with innumerable switchbacks. The name promises big things if the trail for the most part does not. The photo I got from this spot (see gallery above – I should point out, always check out the gallery at the top of the post!) came out pretty much as well as I’d hope. Ever. And this was in the middle of the day. Very few locations (almost none) lend themselves well to midday light. This is hugely frustrating when doing day walks as you visit a lot of great locations at the worst time of day and hope you end up somewhere nice for sunset. This one has been bounced around the Tumblr and Pinterest a couple of tens of thousands of times – seems to be a winner.

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