It was a day like any other. I was rushing to beat time. The sun was setting and I had one last task for the day, to photograph Bryce Canyon National Park at sunset.
I firmly believe the earth’s rotational speed increases as the sun is going down. Have you ever noticed that? The sky fills with vibrant colors and you rush to grab your camera, only to watch the colors fade and your opportunity is sometimes missed before you can press the button to snap the photo. So I did what any rational person would do when presented with a race against time, I pressed a little harder on the gas pedal. Don’t worry (Dad) the speed of sound was not broken in my quest to reach Bryce Canyon before the sun vanished below the horizon for the day.
Boomer and I visited Bryce Canyon back in 2013. Our previous visit had been plagued with fog and rainy weather. Although I believe Bryce Canyon can put on a good show regardless of what the weather is like. It’s like seeing a photo of a disheveled Johnny Depp. No matter what the mask is, you know the beauty is always there.
Things are always more clear in hindsight and I should have focused my photography time at Sunset Point, near the park’s entrance. The name alone indicates it’s purpose. But I of course pressed on, driving to the end of the Overlook Road. I reached Rainbow Point, the final point on the Overlook Road, which sits at an elevation of 9115 ft (2778 m). It was here that I realized I was overly ambitious while trying to obtain the perfect Bryce Canyon sunset photo. Rainbow Point was unfortunately in the shade as the sun had set and I wanted to roll my eyes at who was responsible. Not for the sun going down, but for the decision made to drive to the end of the road during that time of day. As a solo traveler I have no one to blame but myself for the decisions I make. Which then ensued with me rolling my eyes at myself.
I was now faced with the fact that I was 18 miles (28.96 km) away from where I should have been standing, at Sunset Point, taking sunset photos. No amount of channeling Superman’s ability to turn back time would help me now. But I decided to follow the road back anyway as I continued to watch the daylight disappear.
I stopped at Inspiration Point, a spot that is a short distance from Sunset Point and stands at 8100 ft (2469 m). Fortunately Inspiration Point gives you similar views as Sunset Point. That is one thing to note about Bryce Canyon, of the 13 viewpoints along the Overlook Road, many of them look alike. That is not necessarily a bad thing as Bryce Canyon is beautiful and worthy of you standing in awe at any or all of the viewpoints.
Inspiration Point is not a dog friendly spot, whereas Sunset Point has a dog approved trail, so Boomer stayed in the car while I looked for a spot to capture low-light photos of Bryce Canyon. The hillside was filled with onlookers, many with cameras all hoping to capture the intense orange colors of the Navajo sandstone as it absorbed the last light of the day.
As the sun crept below the horizon, the wind began to pick up and the temperature dropped. I was then reminded that it was the middle of April and I was at 8100 feet (2469 m). It was not quite warm spring like temperatures yet. Even though I had quite literally experienced 90 degree (32 c) weather earlier that morning in Page Arizona. This trip had a swinging pendulum of temperatures which made it quite difficult to pack for as both shorts and a winter coat were needed.
One benefit of traveling in April and being at such a high elevation was that there was still snow contrasting against the orange hoodoos. Bryce Canyon National Park is open year round however the Overlook Road closes just beyond Inspiration Point, about 2 miles (3 km) beyond the visitor center during the winter months. During our April visit we were fortunate to not be restricted by road closures as the road was open for the season.
Bryce Canyon National Park has several hiking trails but majority of them are not dog friendly, therefore I have never hiked in Bryce Canyon because I have always had Boomer with me. Sunset Point does have a dog friendly trail as I mentioned above, but it is a short trail and I would consider it more of a walk than a hike. If you are looking for a place to stretch your pup’s legs we recommend Dixie National Forest, located to the west of Bryce Canyon. It is managed by the Forest Service and allows leashed dogs on their trails and provides similar scenery.
But if your heart is set on Bryce Canyon you will have an enjoyable time. The scenery is magnificent regardless of the season. My next visit I hope to see the hoodoos covered in a fresh winter blanket of snow because who does not love a fresh winter blanket of snow?
Well maybe people who do not enjoy snow.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located off of Utah State Highway 12, taking Utah Highway 63 into the park. Accommodations around National Parks can be pricey and book out well in advance. Boomer and I have stayed at both the Panguitch and Canyonville KOA’s in their Kamping Kabins. We like their dog friendliness and reasonable prices.
And I almost forgot, which is pretty embarrassing as the entire purpose of the post was about the sunset at Bryce Canyon. So here you go. The actual sunset. Enjoy!