It had been a busy first day at Bryce Canyon National Park. My hubby and I hiked Queens Garden and Navajo Loop and then explored the Bryce Canyon scenic drive. Now, tired and hungry, we were ready for some dinner and rest.
|Bryce Canyon, minutes before sunset|
BUT.....my park map showed two lookouts on the main canyon rim, named Sunrise and Sunset Point. Per my guidebook, experiencing the sun rising and falling at these overlooks was not to be missed.
|Crowds at the overlook|
So what's a photographer to do? Of course, I wasn't about to pass up a possible opportunity for some spectacular shots!
|Glowing orange hoodoos|
After checking into our camper cabin, Roger worn out and suffering from scenery overload, chose a rest before dinner over experiencing the sunset. So, I set out to Sunset Point with only my camera and tripod for company.
|Another view of the orange canyon|
However, I soon discovered I'd be far from alone. The narrow overlook platform was crammed with people - photographers of all types jockeying their tripods for the prize spot. Mixed in with the more serious camera buffs were other tourists, wiggling amongst the tripods, holding their smartphones high. To top it off, a few tour buses full of Asian visitors unloaded at the last minute, and these people swarmed the walkways, chattering loudly in their native tongues.
|Right after sunset|
It was far from the peaceful scene I had imagined. Adding to my disappointment, that night's sunset was a total dud. Clouds obscured the skies, and the canyon's hoodoos glowed orange only briefly before darkness descended like a thick blanket.
|Sunrise sky the next morning|
After the sunset debacle, I wasn't too excited about waking up early to catch sunrise. But my hubby convinced me to give it another try.
|First light on the hoodoos|
So I set my phone alarm for o'dark hundred. When it first chimed, I was sorely tempted to roll back over and sleep in. But I knew this might be my only chance to capture a sunrise over Bryce Canyon and roused myself.
|Sunshine explodes over the horizon|
Only a half mile down the rim trail from it's companion Sunset Point, I arrived at Sunrise Point in predawn darkness. A half dozen sleepy photographers had staked claims along the railing and were bundled up against the morning chill. I picked what I hoped to be a good spot and prepared to wait for daylight.
|Glowing rock formations|
But just like Sunset Point the previous evening, I wasn't alone for long. Crowds of people began arriving, some setting up tripods, others hovering between the more serious photographers, clutching smartphone cameras. I was amazed at the number of people willing to get up at such an early hour!
Sunrise Point was just as much of a circus as Sunset Point had been the night before. As I patiently waited for the sun to show it's face, people crowded in front of my camera. Although I didn't care at that moment, I shooed them away when the sun began to peep over the horizon.
|Another view of the canyon|
That morning's sunrise was much better than the sunset. A few wispy clouds illuminated into a soft pink color. And then, hearing the crowd gasp, I watched the first rays of daylight break over Bryce Canyon.
|Rosy pink rocks|
I concentrated on one area of the canyon, a unique formation of arches and narrow cliff edges. A small group of photographers had set up across from these hoodoos, and in a minute I saw why. The rising sunlight bathed this rock in a warm, pink glow.
Spectacular! I took copious images, from many different angles and focal lengths. Then I trained my tripod on some of the other columnar hoodoos lit up in brilliant shades of orange.
Totally glad I'd gotten up early, I left Sunrise Point with a memory card full of keepers. Arriving back at the cabin, Roger informed me he wasn't feeling well. The high altitude was bothering him, affecting his sleep. Since we'd seen most of Bryce Canyon the previous day, there wasn't much else to do, so my hubby suggested we head home a day early.
|So long Bryce Canyon!|
Under a brilliant blue sky (finally a sunny day!) we packed our car and bid Bryce Canyon National Park, and Utah, goodbye. Despite the soggy weather changing a few plans, it had been a wonderful trip. I'd finally been able to check a few of my "must see" national parks off the bucket list.
This ends my National Park vacation recaps! Hope you've enjoyed them. Now to catch up on all the other things I've been doing in the past couple of months..... :)
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