Friday, June 7, 2013

DSWT Day 2 - The Bryce Canyon Reward

Beyond the wagon ride .. a rock shop,
saloon, rodeo, and all kinds of
western stuff for the swarm of
European tourists.
I spent a fantastic afternoon in Bryce Canyon after landing at that high altitude airport. For the middle of nowhere, literally, the BCE is rather nice. It has a nice new terminal, tie downs and fuel for the plane. Rental cars, shuttles and nice spaces to relax for the pilots. The terminal didn't have coffee(!) but did have a soda machine and the airport manager was very friendly and talkative after I paid him a $10 tie down fee instead of the $3 required. I figure an airport deserves supporting and every little bit counts.

Ruby's Inn, which, it turns out, is Bryce Canyon City. Offers a free shuttle from the airport into Bryce Canyon City. The shuttle wasn't timely by any means, but I was tired and happy to relax in the terminal and chat with a couple that arrived shortly after I did in the nicest looking Mooney I'd ever seen. There was also a group of four women who landed some time after the Mooney in a 182 TC. They went immediately to get their rental car and go into the canyon. The guys in the Mooney were going to Ruby's Inn also so we ended up catching the same delinquent shuttle. They were from North Carolina and flying back from a business meeting in Newport Beach. With the nice tail winds they had it took them the same amount of time to fly from Newport Beach to Bryce as it did for me to fly from Elko to Bryce. The pilot said he was flying around 90 knots ground speed on the way to Newport Beach so he was really enjoying the push!

You can see the curve of the "amphitheater" of Bryce Canyon
in the pink and orange formations in the distance.
The white hoodoo in the lower left is supposed
to resemble a poodle.
When we got to Ruby's Inn my room was ready so I checked in. The Mooney guys' room wasn't ready. The hotel staff told them they would store their luggage (including the pilot's flight bag) in the lobby. I knew that wouldn't fly, no pilot leaves their flight bag out for easy access. I told them the could store their luggage in my room. After the staff saw whatever this stuff was must be important they offered to store it in the office and the problem was solved. The Mooney guys went to freshen up and I went to find out about shuttle that I read could take me into Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sure enough there was a ticket office right by the main entrance to the inn. There are two types of shuttles, one runs every 10 minutes from the Inn complex into the park and stops at about half of the overlooks into the canyon. There are hiking trails everywhere and the shuttle option looked really good if I had the energy to hike. The other option was called the Rainbow Point shuttle. The same price as the regular shuttle, this one takes you all the way to the far end of the canyon, to Rainbow Point. The driver gets out of the shuttle and explains the flora and fauna around you as well as the amazing vistas you see at the various overlooks. It was a four hour trip and only ran twice a day. The next shuttle out was at 1:30. Perfect! That gave me time to put my stuff in my room and get some lunch.
The mesa you see in the background tops off at
11,000 feet high. My highest cruise altitude was 11,500!

I hopped on the shuttle at 1:30 and was treated to a great overview of Bryce Canyon National Park. I didn't have the energy to go hiking but I saw Pronghorn, a prehistoric type of dear that can run over 60 MPH, mule dear resting in the shade and ground squirrels and some amazing vistas of the terrain that is Bryce Canyon and the canyon lands to the south.

I encountered ancient bristlecone pine trees and a tree that was stuck by lightening and survived. The most amazing thing was the vistas of the eroded lake bed that is Bryce Canyon. At Rainbow Point we were standing over 9000 feet. The lower points of the park were around 8000 feet. Bryce Canyon was described as the last and highest step of land that starts at the Grand Canyon, then Zion and finally Bryce.

Here are some more pictures from the brief time I spent in the canyon. The vistas and hoodoos and brightly colored rocks were just the reward I deserved for my flying to that point. I want to come back here again and do some real hiking in the canyon. I know I just scratched the surface. I hope when I do come back there will still be an excellent airport to land at and the friendly people of Ruby's Inn to help shuttle me to and fro.

A natural arch. Who knows
how long this will last?
The most dangerous critter in the park. The ground squirrel.
10-15 tourists a year get bitten by this ferocious animal!

What can I say? Just amazing.

This tree was stuck by lightening and survived.

1 comment:

  1. Going on a vacation with your family should be a memorable experience for all the right reasons. You want your kids to have smiling faces, loads of fun, and possibly some education added in for good measure. Unfortunately, not all family vacations turn out so well, and they are remembered for all the missteps that happened along the way.

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