Bryce Castles

I gave Bryce Canyon National Park a second chance.

During my first stopover there, in 2005, the weather was hot, late August, and I was one of thousands of tourists crawling over the park. I won’t make any ant-like analogies, but I surely felt crowded.

This year the park wasn’t on our itinerary but, as we were unable to follow any gravel northwards and would drive within five miles of the entrance, Ulrich and I opted to stop, arriving close to sunset. And where better to go, after securing a room for the night, than Sunset Point?

A seasonal park ranger and several people she’d been leading on a walk were also there, and as that group broke up I asked her about the next day. Where was a good sunrise vantage point, and did she have a favorite short hike? Hands down, she said, Bryce Point was the place to be for sunrise. And if we so chose, the Peekaboo Loop trail was a fine walk afterwards.

She was absolutely right on both accounts. I’d forgotten how many people arise early to greet the sun at Bryce Point, but regardless of the number they’re quiet—no roosters in this group. Watching the first sunlight spread across the reddish-orange rock spires induces a reverence that’s missing later in the day.

The Peekaboo Loop begins in the parking lot at Bryce Point, so after taking the requisite photos from the point we headed downward. The trail is mostly wide, and did I mention it goes down? Which meant it would eventually go up, leaving us both tired and satisfied after six or so miles.

The views here are extraordinary. Walking among the same fascinating rock formations you’ve just peered down at from afar offers a truer perspective of how extensive this landscape really is. The colors and contrasts were nearly mind-numbing, the photo possibilities endless.

In the cool, shadowy morning light, it was easy to imagine castles in the air.


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