Our Rockin’ Canyon Tour ~ A GC/Zion/Bryce NP Trip Report ~ w/ PICS ~ Completed!

Discussion in 'California & the West Trip Reports' started by disneyfaninaz, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Well, I’m back again with yet another National Park trip report. :surfweb:

    We have had so much fun visiting our wonderful National Parks over the last couple of years that we decided to keep going and planned a week long trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, with a visit to Antelope Canyon too. DH had been to Bryce and Zion as a very young child, and doesn’t remember it, and neither DD nor I had ever been. This year we’re not flying anywhere, we’re going on a road trip! :drive:

    So that is a total of 4 canyons in 7 days.

    Cast of Characters:

    Me - Planner
    DH - Payer
    DD - Passenger

    DD’s last day of school was on a Thursday, so we decided to leave the following Saturday and take advantage of Memorial Day so DH only had to take 4 days off of work. We also decided to start our trip by driving to Flagstaff and spend the night to start getting acclimated to the altitude, since Flagstaff is about 7000 feet above sea level, and I don’t do well in high altitudes. :sick: I planned on taking Friday to pack and get organized, however, I spent 5 hours going to the doctor, getting an x-ray, blood test, and picking up prescriptions. I was suffering from my annual respitory distress and got some steroids and antibiotics from the doctor. Why share this? Because it will come into play later in my report.

    Day 1- Taking it easy.
    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    2 hours 28 minutes drive time planned

    DH loaded the Pilot and we left home around 11:00 AM to climb up the hill to Flagstaff. As soon as we hit the I-17, there was a Road Condition message that it was closed at Sunset Point due to an accident. Well, we decided to pull over at McDonald’s at Tramonto to eat lunch and wait for the road to reopen. Evidently we were not alone as several campers and boat trailers were also parked at McDonald’s. There were also several people on their laptops inside evidently trying to find out about the road closure as well. By the time we finished lunch, the road had been reopened and the parking lot had cleared so we went on our way. Unfortunately, we caught up to the backed up traffic and it took about twice as long to get to Sunset Point as it usually does. But, we made it to the Residence Inn in good time. A front was moving through the state, so it was a very windy drive up and even windier at the hotel. It was about 70 degrees when we arrived, which was very nice considering it was 100 at home. The first thing DD wanted to do was go swimming. The pool was heated but the wind was cold. But, that didn’t stop her. After her swim, we went to our favorite restaurant in Flagstaff, Beaver Street Brewery, for dinner and stopped at the Barnes & Nobel for a bit. We went back to the hotel and DD went swimming again before we called it a night.

    Next: On the road again!
     
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  3. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Sunday, May 29, 2011
    3 hours and 31 minutes drive time

    The hotel provided breakfast, so we ate and headed North on 89 towards the North Rim. Again, it was very windy. We drove up 89 and then turned west onto 89A. We soon entered the Glen Canyon National Recreation Center. As we were driving, we saw the most colorful range of cliffs. The Vermillion Cliffs.

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    We passed the entrance to Lee’s Ferry (the beginning of many a rafting trip down the Colorado River), but decided it was too windy to go down to the river. Then we arrived at the Navajo Bridge. There are actually 2 bridges, the old one and the new Navajo Bridge opened in 1995. The old bridge is now a walking bridge. You can look down to the Colorado River 467 feet below. This bridge is only one of seven crossings over the Colorado River. We parked on the south side of the river. There were Navajos selling their jewelry and other hand made items. My DH purchased a stone inlayed money clip. I walked out on the bridge and took some pictures. It was extremely windy with 40 to 50 mph gusts. Fortunately, the bridge had very high railings. DD and DH were a little nervous on the bridge with the wind.

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    We got back to the car and crossed over the bridge and visited the Interpretive Center. Since this is a National Recreation Area, I was able to get my passport stamped. We happened to arrive at the center as a Harley group from Salt Lake City were getting ready to ride out, there must have been about 50 bikes. It was pretty impressive to see them all ride out at the same time.

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    We continued on our way to Jacob Lake and our turn off towards the Grand Canyon. We drove alongside the Vermillion Cliffs.

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    We arrived at Jacob Lake and had a picnic lunch outside of the Kaibab National Forest Visitor Center. After lunch we went to the visitor center and then the Jacob Lake Inn gift shop. DD found a rock that she liked, thus beginning a theme for the trip.

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    We continued on towards the North Rim. It was another 43 miles. We passed through a forest burn area. It is so sad to see these magnificent forests after they have been ravaged by fire. I know that fire is good for a forest to thrive, but it sad nonetheless.

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    We also saw some mule deer on the rim of a meadow.

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    We finally arrived at the Grand Canyon. But, had 14 more miles to go until we reached the lodge.

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    Next: Grand Canyon North Rim
     
  4. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    We finally arrived at the Lodge and found a place to park, which wasn’t easy since the parking lot was almost full, and went to check in. While I was lucky enough to reserve a Western Cabin, I didn’t make reservations for dinner at the lodge, so we went to ask if they had any openings. Of course, the earliest they could get us in was 8:45 PM. Way too late to eat for us, so we made reservations for the next night at 5:45 PM. We got our cabin assignment and found our cabin.

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    The cabin was a little small, but comfortable. It also had an obstructed view of the canyon.

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    After we unloaded the car, we walked to the rim and checked out the view. Did I mention that it was windy. Now it was cold too, in fact, snow was predicted for the night.

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    We eventually found our way to the Lodge. The North Rim Lodge has a bronze sculpture of Brighty, the Grand Canyon mule made famous in a book by Marguerite Henry. They say if you rub it’s nose, you get good luck.

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    We walked to the visitor center so DD could get her Junior Ranger Badge booklet. We found out that there was a ranger program at 8:00 PM in the Lodge.

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    We headed back to the cabin. Before we left again, DH noticed something on the floor next to my side of the bed. Upon further inspection he determined it was a mouse trap. Unfortunately, it also had a dead mouse in it. :eek: We called maintenance to have it removed. Evidently, the cabins were just opened 2 weeks before from being closed up for the Winter. Housekeeping was supposed to keep an eye out for the traps. I guess our room got missed. Anyway, the mouse was eventually taken away. We went to eat dinner at the Deli In The Pines. Basically a fast food place to eat at the lodge. We had pizza. We then went out to enjoy the view and take in the sunset. We walked part way down the Bright Angel Point trail.

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    We went to climb some rocks off the trail to get a better view. While climbing back up the rock, I lost my balance and fell hard smack down on my knees. :headache: That wasn’t a good way to start this trip, I’ll tell you that. My knees were scraped, bruised and sore.

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    We walked back to the lodge where one of the hotel staff was making a fire in the huge outdoor fireplace. So we sat down to enjoy in an Adirondack chair. Which were also lined up in front the viewing wall on the patio.

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    Even with the fire, it was still cold. We went back to the cabin for a bit to warm up and ice my knees. After awhile, we decided to head up to the auditorium for the ranger program. I went to the gift shop to pick up the National Park Scrabble game and then went out to get some last photos of the sunset and got snowed on!

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    I went back inside and told DD it was snowing. She immediately went outside to see for herself. Meanwhile, DH and I had a nice chat with a couple from Charleston, SC. It turned out that they own property in Litchfield Beach, which is where we have gone to spend time with DH’s family at the beach. It’s a small world! We listened to the ranger program and DD got her Junior Ranger badge booklet signed. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin, played Scrabble, took some ibuprofen, and went to bed.

    Next: What a view! Please click here for Day 3.
     
  5. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    How were the crowds?
     
  6. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Except for the ocassional tour bus, and they were at each park, the crowds weren't bad at all. Sometimes we had overlooks all to ourselves.
     
  7. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    That is wonderful.

    I like the cliff pictures. I haven't been through the desert southwest in a few years and it's nice to see them.
     
  8. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Tuesday, May 31, 2011
    2 hours 46 minutes drive time

    Since we were losing an hour crossing into Utah today (AZ doesn’t participate in daylight savings time), :hourglass I wanted to hit the road by 8:00 AM. Well, that didn’t happen. DH wanted to have breakfast at the lodge and then by the time we packed the Pilot it was close to 9:00 AM. We stopped at Jacob Lake for gas so we went into the gift shop at the Jacob Lake Inn. DD and I bought some T-shirts and DH bought some yummy homemade cookies. We got our gas and went on our way North to the border.

    Before we got to Fredonia, we stopped at a scenic overlook showing more of the Vermillion Cliffs.

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    We drove through Kanab towards Highway 9, the Mt. Carmel Highway and east entrance into Zion National Park. We passed the Moqui Cave, but decided not to stop. We turned on Highway 9, entered Zion National Park, and drove along towards the mile long tunnel. I think Zion has the best looking park sign of any park we’ve been to so far. Grand Teton’s is second.

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    We arrived at the tunnel. We were fortunate that no large vehicle was going through at the time so we didn't have to wait. We went right through.

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    When we got through the other side of the tunnel, there was a turnout area. You could get pictures of the windows carved for the tunnel and the Grand Arch.

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    We drove the switchbacks on the other side of the tunnel and arrived to the canyon. Zion National Park doesn’t use the word canyon, but that’s basically what the main part of the park is. We drove through to Springdale and checked in at the Desert Pearl Inn. It was a beautiful 79 degrees with just a little wind.

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    We had a very spacious room with a mini kitchen, huge screen TV and a sitting area. The bathroom even had a bidet. We also had a great view from our patio.

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    We unloaded all of our stuff and at about 2:00 PM Utah time, we headed to lunch. The clerk at the hotel told us of a nice café, Café Soleil, a couple of blocks away. It seemed more like a mile. Anyway, we had a very nice lunch and saw a mule deer across the street.

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    Next: Day 4 continued.
     
  9. nonni

    nonni Mouseketeer

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    We are doing the same trip this fall except in a different order. We are flying into Las Vegas and renting a car. We are really looking forward to it as we love the National Parks. Can't wait to read more about your trip.:goodvibes
     
  10. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Thanks for reading! The parks should be beautiful in the fall.
     
  11. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Wendy - they are beautiful pictures. Did the snow settle at the Grand Canyon?

    My favourite park in the US is Zion! Love the shots you've shared so far and I can't wait to see the rest of your Antelope Canyon shots.

    I so need to plan a trip back to this part of the world....just need to convince DH for another road trip.
     
  12. ssuriano

    ssuriano DLR Cast Member

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    Subscribing, keep the pictures coming neighbor.
     
  13. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Thank you! :flower3:

    We live in the desert, so any amount of snow is a blizzard for us. ;) Anyway, no the snow did not accumulate enough to settle in the canyon. But, wouldn't that have been beautiful to see. I think if we had gone up when the North Rim opened (a couple weeks earlier), we would have seen snow in the canyon.

    I really enjoyed Zion, and I liked it better than Bryce, but Yosemite is, so far, my favorite park, with Yellowstone a close second.

    Hope you can convince your DH to come back soon! pixiedust:
     
  14. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Will do! :thumbsup2
     
  15. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    After lunch we caught the shuttle into the park. There is a nice walkway to the visitor center.

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    We got DD’s Junior Ranger Badge packet at the visitor center and filled our water bottles at the spring water filling station. The water filling stations were great. They had them at several of the shuttle stops in the canyon. After filling our bottles, we headed to the park shuttle and headed into the canyon. Along the way we heard a narration about the founding of the park. We saw the Three Patriarchs, named for the patriarchs of the old testament by a Methodist minister: Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.

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    We learned about Angel’s Landing and the Angel’s Landing trail. Yikes! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of Angel’s Landing. But, we did see to climbers on another rock face on the way up.

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    We stayed on the shuttle to the last stop at the Temple of Sinawava. The Riverside Walk was there. It was an easy level walk beside the Virgin River. At the end of the trail is the entrance to the Zion Canyon Narrows, a strenuous hike where you actually hike in the river in a narrow part of the canyon. Because the river was running so high, the Narrows were actually closed. Not that we were planning on taking that particular trail anyway.

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    We also saw some wildlife.

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    After we finished the River Walk trail, we refilled our water bottles at the filling station and got back on the shuttle and headed down to the Weeping Rock stop. This is a rock alcove in the side of the cliff where water seeps. We were told that the water takes over 1000 years to seep through the rock and start dripping. The trail was short, but a bit steep, all the way up. My knees felt every foot. But the view was worth it.

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    After working our way back down from Weeping Rock, DD got this picture of a warbler.

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  16. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    When I made it down the trail, we got on the shuttle and headed to The Zion Lodge for a snack break. DD and I had ice cream, while DH enjoyed a beer. Afterwards DD and I went to the gift store. DD found a key chain and some post cards. We both found T-shirts. Meanwhile, DH tried to see if he could get dinner at the lodge, but the earliest available seating was around 8:45 PM. We decided to have dinner in town.

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    After our break, we filled our water bottles at the spring water refill station and headed across the Virgin River to the Lower Emerald Pool trail.

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    When we got there, the emerald pools were more brown than green. But it was still a lovely oasis. I was still worn out from the Weeping Rock trail so we didn’t hike up to the Upper Emerald Pools.

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    We headed back towards the lodge. We saw a mule deer just off the trail in the trees.

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    On the way back to the lodge, we also saw a wild turkey.

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    By this time it was close to 8:00 PM, so we got on the shuttle back to the visitor center and left the park. We took the town shuttle back to our hotel in Springdale. Then we went to dinner at a nice family owned place, practically across from the hotel, Blondie’s. We ended up eating late, but we were still on Arizona time, so it was only after 7 to us. We all had very good hamburgers. We got back to our room at around 9:00 PM, relaxed awhile, watched some TV, and called it a night.

    Next: “What do you mean we have to do a ranger program?”
     
  17. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    Zion is the one park I want to get back to really bad. I wouldn't go in October though. Summer for some fun swimming.

    I've probably driven I-15 about 15 times over the last decade and everytime think about how close I was without stopping in.

    Thanks for the enticing pictures.
     
  18. nonni

    nonni Mouseketeer

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    Great pictures!!! Do you know if you can make reservations for dinner at the lodges in advance or do you have to wait until you get there?

    Of the National Parks we have visited so far Yosemite and Yellowstone are our favorites too. Of course we haven't been to these yet.
     
  19. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Yes, there are numbers on the websites that you can call in advance. I just assumed that we wouldn't need them. I think we were lucky to get dinner the 2nd night at the Grand Canyon. You only need to make them for dinner though.
     
  20. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Wednesday, June 1, 2011
    1 hour 37 minutes drive time

    I was the first one up, anticipating an early start to the day. Evidently, the rest of the family didn’t get that memo as they slept through me getting up, showering and getting ready for the day. Once they got up, we had breakfast in the room as we had brought some breakfast stuff with us. DD discovered in her ranger booklet that she was, in fact, required to do a ranger program as well as 4 other pages in her book. Well, she got the additional pages done, we just had to go back to the park and find out when the earliest ranger program was.

    We caught the town shuttle right in front of our hotel and headed to Zion a little after 9:00 AM. We went to the visitor center and got the most current park newspaper. There was a drop-in ranger program at Weeping Rock starting at 9:30. It was already about 9:20 by the time we left the visitor center, but the program was for an hour and a half. We caught a shuttle and went to Weeping Rock. Fortunately, we didn’t have to hike the trail again, the ranger was at the trailhead. The ranger was there talking to another couple and told us of a cable system designed by a guy name Flannigan that was used to bring logs off of the mountain to the valley. The cable house, although a bit dilapidated, is still on Cable Mountain. We had no idea. It was a very informative talk and DD got her book signed.

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    We walked across the road down to the river and took some more pictures. The river was running a big faster than normal due to the snow melt.

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    Then we went to the Zion Human History Museum for DD to get her Junior Ranger Badge. They also had a complete display of Flannigan’s Cable system. We got her badge, took some pictures and headed out.

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    We took the shuttle back to the visitor center. DD and DH explored the river a little while.

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    I went in the visitor center. Then we left the park.

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    We had lunch at a deli right next to the town shuttle stop before heading back to the hotel to retrieve our car. But, we had one more stop to make. Right across from the Desert Pearl Inn is the Zion Prospector. A rock store. That’s right folks, my family wanted to go rock shopping, again. Now, I understand that there are some serious rock hounds out there, but it just isn’t my thing. Anyway, DD and DH went rock shopping while I set up the GPS for the next leg of our journey.

    We headed back into Zion to go back out the mile long tunnel on the Mt. Carmel Highway. It was my intention to stop at the Canyon Overlook Trail on the far end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, by the time we realized that the parking lot was where the trail was, we passed it and couldn’t turn around. I guess we’ll catch it next time. :confused3

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    Next: Red Rocks
     
  21. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Red Rocks

    After going through Zion we turned north on 89 heading towards Bryce Canyon. It was a very scenic drive. We turned east on Highway 12 towards Bryce. What we didn’t expect was Red Canyon. Red Canyon is in the Dixie National Forest and you have to go through it to get to Bryce Canyon. It was a very pretty drive.

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    The next thing we saw was an arch.

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    And, then another

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    We turned south onto Utah highway 63. My plan was to go to Mossy Cave before heading to Bryce, however we decided to check into our hotel, The Best Western Grand, before going on our next adventure.

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    We got our room, found a luggage cart and unloaded our car. We had a nice spacious room with a separate sitting area and a slight view of the pool on the 4th floor. After unloading our stuff, we were headed to Mossy Cave. But, before we get there, there are more red rocks.

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    The Mossy Cave, off of Highway 12, is a shallow alcove filled with moss where water seeps. It is a short hike included as part of Bryce Canyon, but it is outside of the pay area. The trail itself is surrounded with fabulous rock formations and hoodoos.

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    Then we reached the Mossy Cave

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    There was also a waterfall on the trail

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    We also saw this rock formation that reminded us of a dog.

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    We made it back to the car and decided to go to the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to get DD’s Junior Ranger Badge.

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    We headed back to our hotel. Of course, DD had to go swimming.

    Afterwards, we headed to Ruby’s for dinner. After dinner we went to the Old Bryce Town.

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    Guess what? There was a rock shop. DD and DH spent a lot of time here.

    We then headed back to the room and called it a night.

    Next: How high are we?
     

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