Page 2—Blog and photos this page by Lee.
Page 3—Additional images.
Two of Utah’s several national parks, Bryce and Capitol Reef, are considerably interior to the state, but the additional travel time easterly from Interstate 15 is rewarded with fewer crowds, friendly locals and spectacular views along the way. The scenic drive between the two parks is along the All American Highway, Utah Highway 12, a distance of 123 miles between their visitor centers. There are nice towns with services, like Tropic, Escalante and Torrey along the way and many vistas that will likely push the travel time to well over three hours.
Capitol Reef National Park is the more remote of the two, and not so surprisingly visitation there and especially traffic count is, by our rough estimate, some 10% of what might be seen at Bryce National Park. Capitol Reef is centered in a surrealistic valley setting with a palpable homey appeal. That appeal brings us closer to the human legacies of its first white settlers and, especially, its indigenous peoples who lived here for hundreds of years. The Fremont River gently courses through old orchards as it did in the days of homesteaders and flows aside ancient cliffs bearing story-telling petroglyphs that date well over a thousand years. Fruita exudes the feeling and look of a micro-Yosemite Valley. Perhaps even more dramatic: one may hike along trails overlooking the valley and suddenly catch the unexpected vista of a micro-Grand Canyon!
Bryce National Park is not like anything seen in Capitol Reef. Certainly, God made this place for photographers and hikers. If you’re either of these people, or better-still, both photographer and hiker, there’s literally no end, at every step, to the fantastic things you will see as the changing light plays upon them. Bryce is about Time itself with an awe for geology thrown in. We’ve all seen the affects of erosion here and there as we drive quickly past it or walk around it, but at this scale it is possible to actually walk around inside it and see millions of years in a few hours. The early and late hours of the day are very special in Bryce. If there were cities of gold seen by the early Spanish explorers, perhaps Bryce at sunset in the distance would have made believers of any of them.
A park brochure with an excellent guide map is available at this link: https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/upload/2018-Bryce-Canyon-Guide-2.pdf.
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