We just got done a few hours ago with 4 days / 3 nights in the Bryce Canyon backcountry.
Our first orders of business were, of course, showering and getting junk food snacks. We’re also
spending today doing some much needed laundry and re-organizing.
The southern part of BCNP, where the park’s backcountry is located, is much more forested and
wild than the well known frontcountry, where most of the park’s crazy rock formations, known as
hoodoos, are. I was surprised to have only seen a scant few people for the several days we
were out there, most of whom were day hikers. But pleasantly incorrect I was and we had the
place mostly to ourselves.
day down to Natural Bridge, and then a long day back the way we came to Yellow Creek and a
final short day back to the car. It was nice to have some solitude, but that part of the park itself
was nothing special, really. There are some lovely views, but not as good as the ones you can
get from car-accessible scenic viewpoints.
Another downside is that the main trail into and out of the backcountry is in need of serious work.
The Under the Rim trail has a few rather dangerous sections where it crosses gullies with steep
drop offs to one side, requiring either leaps (not easy with all your gear on your back) or delicate
steps up loose gravel and around brush.
Also less than desirable was the apprx. one billion (ok, ok, a few dozen) large trees fallen over
the trail that had to be circumvented. The trail between North Fork and Natural Bridge
campgrounds was full of these obstacles, forcing hikers to go around. It appears as if many of
these trees fell due to the Bridge Fire in 2009, so its not clear to me why its taken so long to clear
the trail. Maybe I have that wrong and they’re more recently fallen, but its still hard on the hikers
and hard on the ecology of the areas surrounding the trail there, since a network of bypasses is
becoming more and more entrenched.
The good news is that there was a trail crew at work on our final day on the portion of the trail
near-ish to the parking lot, where most of the day hikers spend their time. Hopefully the crew
gets farther down the trail and makes some much needed repairs farther in the backcountry.
Anyway, gripes aside, Bryce is a truly beautiful place. The Hoodoos are fascinating, vibrantly
colorful and eery examples of geology and hydrology in action, and the park's frontcountry
is chock full of more of them than anywhere else in the world.