After our fantastic hike in Bryce Canyon National Park yesterday - Figure 8 Hike - we decided to take it easy on our feet today. So we did this scenic drive that included several short walks and more beautiful scenery.
Red Canyon - Hwy 12
Today, we decided to give Linda's toes and ankle a rest. So we drove west on Utah Hwy 12 toward U.S. 89.
We drove through Red Canyon and turned around at the pull-off and the entrance to the Dixie National Forest to start taking pictures of the red rocks at the western start of the canyon.
With a mixture of sun and clouds today, I had to wait for the sun to make its appearance to get the colors.
From that first turnout, it was a short distance to the next turnout.
On the left side of the road is a trailhead for two trails - the Photo Trail and the Birdseye Trail. The Photo Trail is very steep and narrow, so Linda skipped it as she was only wearing her sandals. I only went a little ways up for a few pictures.
This one was looking east.
From there, we drove to the Red Canyon Visitors Center around the corner.
There are four connecting trails that are accessible from the visitors center. We decided to walk the 3/4-mile Pink Ledges Trail which has 13 signposts that correspond to a little trail guide.
The rocks and hoodoos on this little trail ranged from orange to pink to red. We started in the orange section.
We quickly noticed the abundance of Clark's Nutcrackers, birds of the western mountains.
We watched as the parents fed this squawking fledgling.
I got this action shot of one of them flying in to feed on pine cones.
Speaking of pine cones, we noticed these little purplish-red tips on some of the pines.
Baby pine cones.
The trail climbed giving us a variety of views including cinder cones and snow-capped mountains way out to the west.
We continued up for more views of the orange rocks.
Looking in the direction of the trail, we came to the "pink ledges".
There was a little side canyon continuing up the hill, but we didn't get off the trail to explore it.
Here's a nice look back as we started to descend on the trail.
Okay, so this next photo needs some set-up. We pay attention to plants and trees, and we've picked up a lot of information over the years. However, our little trail brochure mentioned that the bark of the Ponderosa Pine smells like vanilla or butterscotch. In all the stuff we've heard and read, we don't recall hearing that before.
So, of course, we had to sniff the bark of a Ponderosa Pine.
Sure enough - there was a faint smell of butterscotch.
Just to make sure they hadn't just put butterscotch scent on that one tree by the brochure signpost, I sniffed a couple of other trees to confirm. Yep, they all smelled like butterscotch.
And thus ended our tour of the Pink Ledges Trail. FYI, it has some steep sections, and Linda's sandals weren't really appropriate footwear even for this short trail. We had to walk parts of it very slowly.
But Red Canyon is very scenic with great colors in the rocks and formations. It's definitely worth checking out.
On our way back toward Bryce, we saw the Red Canyon Campground. It looked like a place that would be more our style, but was still closed for the season - until tomorrow.
We also passed through two tunnels heading back to Bryce.
Bryce Canyon - Southern Viewpoints
Back in Bryce Canyon National Park, we decided to check out all the southern viewpoints - everything south of the Bryce Amphitheater Region (which is the most popular, most crowded, and most stunning area).
We drove all the way to the end of the 18-mile park road and worked our way back. On the way, we stopped to take pictures of Pronghorn.
The Pronghorn is the second-fastest animal on earth behind the Cheetah. However, if they were in a race longer than a quarter mile, the Pronghorn would win as they can sustain top speed for much longer.
At the end of the road, we parked and got out of the Jeep only to find this Raven pecking at a piece of hard candy on the ground. It flew up on top of a sign and posed for pictures.
We noticed Ravens at every parking area. Interestingly, no matter how many cars were in the parking lot, when an RV pulled in, the Ravens tended to hop over to them. I have several theories on that, but I won't bore you with those.
Okay, our first viewpoint was Rainbow Point - Elevation 9,115 feet.
I only took one or two photos at each viewpoint, as the views certainly weren't as spectacular as in the Amphitheater region.
From the same parking lot, we walked to Yovimpa Point.
Leaving there, we stopped at turnouts that had unnamed viewpoints, but quickly tired of that. I was going to post photos from all the named viewpoints, but I decided against that as many just don't come close to what we saw our first two days in the park.
At Ponderosa Point (no, we didn't smell any bark there), ....
there was a pretty good view.
And Linda especially liked this hoodoo that she says looks like a camel head.
At the Agua Canyon viewpoint, the sign was missing, but there were some great views of formations.
Natural Bridge may be the most popular of the southern viewpoints .....
due to the closeness of this large window to the viewing railing.
Fairview Point also has a view of a "bridge" on the left side of the overlook, ....
but it's farther into the canyon and tough to see because it blends in so well.
Well, that was about it for the southern viewpoints tour. They would be really cool if you don't stop at the Bryce Amphitheater viewpoints first. But after spending time at those overlooks and after hiking into the canyon, the southern viewpoints become sort of "ho-hum".
Also, fires have devastated quite a bit of the forest along the southern end of the road, so that also takes away from the drive a bit.
On the way out of the park, we once again stopped at the Visitors Center. We talked to a ranger about the 8-mile Fairyland Loop hike. That was the other long hike we were planning, but we weren't sure that it would provide us with much in the way of different scenery than we experienced on the "Figure 8 Hike".
With Linda's ankle and toes still hurting, we needed the ranger to really sell us on the hike for us to go to the effort. The ranger likes the hike, but we really didn't get the "Oh, you've got to do it" reaction we thought we might get. So, we'll let Linda's feet rest and we'll save the Fairlyland Loop (a less crowded, in-canyon hike) for the next time we come.
We considered returning to the park in the evening for the Astronomy Program which several have recommended. But we've been to more than our share of observatories and planetariums, and we just didn't find enough incentive to go.