Bryce Canyon (BCNP) is a wonderfully Old School National Park. It's small enough to get to know but big enough to hold many more mysteries than we will ever experience in this lifetime.
We love every single thing about Bryce. In fact, we haven't found a single this to dislike. We wrote out a list of stuff--it's just a partial list. Here are the items in no particular order of importance:
The Trail System. Bryce has one of the best day-hiking trail systems in the Western United States. Not only that but the trails are all well maintained and signed properly. The trails are absolutely fabulous.
The Hoodoos and geology. No matter how many times you stare at Bryce's signature attractions, you will see something different. It's never the same. You think it's going to be the same but it's not. There's something truly magical in the geology here. It is mesmerizing.
The NPS management. Some NPS properties are downright weird. You can feel a heavy hand in the management. Here the mgmt is laid back and really mellow. It's wonderful. The NPS keeps the law enforcement presence very low and not in your face like at a lot of parks we know. Everything is maintained well and in tip top shape.
The campground. The campground is one of our favorites. The spaces are very large and no space seems cramped. They have a separate campground for tents only--no RV's or generators allowed. The picnic tables are light enough to move and not chained down to an illogical location. The fire rings are brand new.
The restrooms are heated with flush toilets. The restroom building has a separate room with a great big commercial style sink so you can wash dishes and dump gray water. The culinary water pressure is awesome and they use real faucet handles so you don't have to use one hand to keep the water flowing. The campground hosts are totally mellow and there are no Barney Fife wanna be types here. The fee of $7.50 a night is so awesome.
Bryce Recycles! Everything can be recycled here, including glass and propane bottles!
BCNP has an awesome free transit system. You could park your car and get everywhere on the bus!
Bryce Canyon Lodge is the last remaining original, un-re-muddled Lodge from the Union Pacific's Grand Circle Tour Glory Days. The free WIFI is roccket fast. When they burn wood in the big stone fireplace is like a fairy tale lobby. It is beautiful in every way.
The new Visitor Center is top notch. BCNP interpretive staff is always thinking of new stuff such as their Hoodoo reward program. There's a lot of neat stuff going on here at Bryce.
Spring and fall at Bryce are never crowded. Summer is crowded. It's crowded everywhere during the summer. Even if a parking lot is near full, it never seems like there are very many people anywhere. We often wonder where they all are.
BCNP is a neighbor to GSENM and that's a HUGE plus. GSENM is Disneyland masquerading as Utah Desert. You can make Bryce a base camp to wander GSENM for days and days. Kodachrome Basin State Park is also a neighbor to BCNP. The Dixie National Forest is yet another huge playground sitting beside BCNP.
The $2 showers! Yep, you get 8 minutes of HOT shower water for a mere two bucks. Heck, there's even a great laundromat here, too, right now to the fully stocked store where the prices are kept reasonable by the NPS.
A Super Newspaper--The Hoodoo. It's one of the best park newspapers we know of.
Ruby's Inn and Bryce Canyon City are right next door. Ruby's store is expensive but it has everything you might need or want. Their auto repair place has saved our bacon a couple of times. It's a great asset to the area.
BCNP pays attention to the little things--like making sure there are great benches to sit on to watch the sunrise or sunset. They keep those benches in great shape so they are an inviting place to sit and enjoy the view. When we look around at BCNP, we know someone is paying attention to stuff and that really counts for a lot in our book.
In short, this is a classic place where the total experience is greater than the sum of the parts. There's always a feeling to this place that can't be put into words. We've tried to capture the essence of this place with the above list but, trust us, there's a whole lot more here that we haven't been able to describe.