Winter Came Early to Bryce Canyon
by Mark B
View from Bristlecone Point
We had spent a bracing October day in Zion Canyon - strong autumn showers mixed with bright sun. Not being from the US, we had overlooked the 1 hour time difference to neighboring Utah and set off for what seemed would be an easy drive to Bryce at dusk. As we drove up the winding road out of Zion the showers turned to heavy snow... Navigating the twisting roads was not so easy in the dark with dense fog forming over the new snowfall. Eventually... descending the road from Bryce down to Tropic the snow had eased and with good directions and a little intuition we found Stone Canyon Inn at just after 8pm... we had phoned warning of our likely late arrival!
From the freezing cold outside to the warmth of a log fire, we were welcomed and with some help from our hosts, were quickly headed back up to Bryce to catch some well earned dinner at "Ruby's" before they closed (great food and service incidentally).
The sunrise gave us our first views of this pristine location - with piercing blue sky and snow cresting the red cliffs above. A delicious breakfast was waiting for us downstairs - we were a little slow after our long day before. A shame we didn't have longer to linger and relax in the comfort of Stone Canyon Inn and we were soon back in the freezing car heading up to Bryce.
What a treat we had in store - nearly a foot of pristine fresh snow along the canyon ridge. Sun mixed with stormy skies to give some truly spectacular backdrops to this beautiful place. If there was a drawback to the snow, it was getting to the trails - we made only one excursion - to Bristlecone Point - but with snow half way up to our knees (for which we weren't prepared) and biting cold, trekking further into the Canyon was beyond us. We wouldn't have missed the snow though - and there were very few fellow visitors.
We set off at 1pm along scenic highway 12... the blazing gold of cottonwood trees in the valleys, stormy skies mixed with bright sun and snow clad hills made for an exceptional afternoon drive. This visit was a test run... next time, we'll be sure to stay for longer.
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