2021 Trip to Utah - Bryce and Capitol Reef – Alecs Kay Photography

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Hello there! My name is Alecs and I am so excited that you found my blog! Now it's time to cuddle up with your favorite furry friend, mine is my cat Goof, and start reading! 

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December 20, 2021

2021 Trip to Utah – Bryce and Capitol Reef

Utah – Days 3 and 4 – Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

On Day three of our national park adventure, we explored Bryce Canyon!  I knew very little about Bryce Canyon before our visit, but it quickly became my favorite of the five parks. I knew that it was a large amphitheater shape and you could overlook the park from multiple viewpoints. However, what I didn’t realize is that we would drive through what felt like Northern Minnesota with tall pine trees to the main parking lot. From there it was short walk to the overlook. We went from flat land with trees, to suddenly looking out over a sea of bright orange hoodoos.

The rest of the national parks we visited, we could see the canyon walls or the red rocks during the drive to the park. Or, once we entered the park we were surrounded by arches and crazy views. Unlike everywhere else, Bryce Canyon felt like we drove through Northern Minnesota and suddenly came upon something amazing!

After taking in the views from above, we started our morning with a hike into the amphitheater. We walked among the hoodoo rock formations all the way to the trees at the bottom. I couldn’t believe how bright of an orange the rocks were in Bryce Canyon!  Zion was more of a brown color, but these rocks were very orange! My socks and shoes at the end of the day were orange from walking through the park. Once we reached the bottom, it was time to make our way back up. We didn’t realize how far down we had walked until we were going up hill!  It was a tough hike, but being down in the hoodoos was worth it. From above they don’t look very big, but some of them towered over us as we walked!

After our hike, we started driving around the rim and stopping at different viewpoints as we went. The heat of the day was starting to set in, so we knew our time in the park in the afternoon was limited. The view points started to get higher around the park and the views were breathtaking! The amphitheater goes for almost as far as you can see!

Utah Scenic Byway 12

Once we were done exploring Bryce Canyon, it was time to drive to Capitol Reef.  We decided to take the longer drive and go down Utah’s Scenic Byway 12. I had read online that it was a beautiful drive and worth the extra time!  We ended up stopping almost every time there was a pull off so we could look and read any information signs. Our 2.5 hour drive turned into almost 4.5 hours because there was so much to stop and see! One of the signs we read even said this area of Utah was the last to be mapped in the contiguous United States. You could definitely see why too. The landscape was extreme!  The highway was the only thing cutting through the rocks and connecting the towns.

Capitol Reef National Park 

We checked into our hotel in the early evening just outside of Capitol Reef National Park. We had a few hours after supper and before sunset and decided to just head to the park!  It was a little cooler in the evening and there was plenty to explore. We picked a short hike to hopefully see the sunset. However, the clouds never went away! We still enjoyed our hike though and spent the evening stopping at various spots and taking in the beauty of the park.

We were surprised with how big Capitol Reef is!  There was red rock for as far we as we could see in every direction. It was also very quiet, and we both felt like we were on Mars. It was such a surreal experience!  Unlike Zion and Bryce, there were no tour buses or loud groups of hikers.  It was just us and a few other people out enjoying a quiet evening in the park. If you ever want to feel like you are on another planet, Capitol Reef is the place to visit!

The next day we had a long, uphill hike planned to see an arch.  We were so thankful for the cloud cover because this hike had zero shade. It was hot and easily the most difficult hike we did the entire trip. The first part of the hike was up more stairs than I could count. Being from Fargo, we aren’t used to elevation changes!  After plenty of breaks, we finally found our way to the arch. Behind the arch was the steepest drop off we had seen so far.  It was amazing!  We then explore more of the park and try to stay in the shade before heading off towards Arches National Park.

In a few spots during our long hike, it was difficult to see which way we had to go. However, the path had stacks of rocks and lines of rocks to help guide us. We started calling them our rock friends and thanking them for showing us the way!

There were also petroglyphs in the park! We walked along the rock face and searched to find all of the carvings.

We were now off to Arches and Canyonlands National Park! Catch up on Day 1 and 2 in Zion National Park!

Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef

Arches and Canyonlands

Ready to look back at some of our past trips?

Washington – PNW Trip – Part 1

Oregon – PNW Trip – Part 2

Oregon & Washington – PNW Trip – Part 3

South Padre Island

2019 Boston, MA

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Alecs Kay Photography is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer in Fargo, ND

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