My stay in Kodachrome Basin State Park has me located just 30 miles outside of Bryce Canyon. I’d like to make a stop, but I have a deadline to meet. I am trying to make it to the Plein Air Invitational event scheduled in Zion National Park in time to attend the demo by my favorite artist. If I want to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, I’ve only got one night to do it.
I’ve been to Bryce Canyon National Park before as a day trip from Snow Canyon back in 2006. But I did it as a “drive by tourist.” I’m not sure I even got out of the car but for the distance between the parking area to the overlooks. I saw the canyon looking down from the rim, but did not venture below on any of the hiking trails. If I am going to make a stop, this time it will be to see it “from the bottom up.”
Not only do I have only one overnight to spare, it’s a cold one. At an elevation of over 8,000 ft, Bryce’s overnight forecast calls for a low of 22°. That’s pushing the boundaries for my non-winterized rig, but I figure I’ll splurge on full hook-ups at Ruby’s RV Park. Having electricity will allow me to run my electric heater all night, and I’ll place a 60W “drop light” in my plumbing bay to generate some heat on the outdoor pipes.
It’s midweek in the low season, so I don’t call ahead to Ruby’s for a reservation. I know it’s a big place, so I figure I won’t have a problem getting a site for only one night. What I didn’t count on was pulling into Ruby’s only to find yellow caution tape blocking the driveway, and a sign stating….”Closed for the Season.” YIKES! Now what? Here I am facing freezing temps with “no room at the Inn.”
A quick stop by the Bryce Visitor Center, and I learn there is one loop still open in the park’s North Campground, and there are some vacant spots long enough to accommodate me. She tells me not to tarry too long though, as it’s the only campground open for miles around.
There are no hook-ups, but I have a full tank of propane. I don’t like to run my furnace during the night, because the motor is right beneath my bed, and the starting and stopping wakes me up throughout the night. But alas, I’ve got no choice as darkness comes fast at this time of the year. So I set the furnace at 55, open up all my cabinet doors, and pour some “pink stuff” (RV antifreeze) down the p-traps, hoping for the best.
While at the visitor center, I also ask the extraordinarily helpful Ranger for suggestions on hikes. I tell her I want to cover the maximum number of trails in a 24 hour period. She maps out an itinerary for me that includes (gulp) sunrise at 5:40am. She tells me sunrise is something I just can’t miss while in Bryce Canyon. “We call it ‘lighting the candles.”
There is just enough time after getting settled in the campground to do the Queens/Navajo Loop before dark. Then I will set my alarm for 5:00am, bundle up in the below freezing temps with down jacket, hat and gloves to watch the sunrise over Bryce Point, after which I will drop down and hike the 5.5 Peek-a-Boo Loop. That should have me finishing up by noon, which should leave me enough time to hitch up, dump and fill my tanks at the Sinclair station, then make the 150 mile drive to arrive at my planned boondock spot outside of Zion just before dark.
I feel like I am not only lighting Bryce Canyon’s candles, but burning them at both ends…