Bryce Canyon and Beyond

For our big family vacation this year, we opted to head south to check up on Bryce Canyon and visit and explore a few other features nearby. In fact, we'd only spend one day at Bryce and ended up setting up our base camp down at nearby Kodachrome Basin State Park.  I had wanted to take the family to Yellowstone for this trip but we decided to hold that one off for another year.

- Day 1 -
Tuesday - August 7, 2018

On our way down to our reserved campsite at Kodachrome Basin, we took a short side trip up into Bullion Canyon to Miners Park for a picnic lunch as we passed through Marysvale.  There's an old gold mining village now a ghost town with an outdoor museum of sorts that I had gotten to know on an overnight backpacking trip in the same area the last summer.

Packed Car

For this visit I brought along some gold panning gear and knowing that my kids would enjoy giving that try.  Honestly, I have no experience or practice with it myself so it was a new experience for all of us.  We think we were able to pull out a few very small flakes of gold, but still unsure.

Plucking out potential gold flakes

Pine Creek

After lunch and all the fun on the creek, we went over to the collection of old relics set up on display along a little guided trail. 

Peek inside cabin at Miners Park

Back in the car and on the road, we made another quick stop just outside of Circleville to check out a childhood residence of LeRoy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy.

Butch Cassidy Homestead

At last, we arrived at our camp in Kodachrome Basin State Park.  As got our camp all set up, we were welcomed by some resident desert hares.

Desert Hare

It soon grew dark as we cooked up some hot dogs for dinner and with everyone good and tired, we all went to bed, eager for the next day's adventures.

- Day 2 -
Wednesday - August 8, 2018

Somehow, we ended up sleeping in much later than planned for.  Then we took time to make a big breakfast, clean up, and get ready for the day ahead.

Hearty breakfast

By the time everyone was ready it was already pushing noon.  With no more time to dilly dally, we drove out of the campground out to an easy interpretive nature trail in the park.  Being the peak of summer in the southern desert as it was, it was very hot, no less than the mid 90's.  So sticking to trails that required no effort or offered lots of shade was the only way to go.  We also made sure to have adequate sunscreen on, hats, water, and an assortment of some cooling towels/bandanas to have around our necks.

Nature Trail

Spire along Nature Trail

Because of the late start on the day, we re-structured our schedule a bit and opted to drive on out to Grosvenor Arch.  I wasn't expecting a paved path almost right to the base.  This made it an easy stroller push for the baby.

Paved the way was

Grosvenor Arch

Family pic under the arch

While checking out the arch and the area beneath it, my daughter Raylee pulled up an arrowhead.  I'm not sure if it was historically authentic, one someone had more recently knapped and/or a souvenir that a previous visitor had purchased at a shop elsewhere and lost at the site.  Regardless, we returned it to where she found it.


Back at the restroom at the parking area we noticed a water cache for some Hayduke hikers.  We took the opportunity to do a bit of trail magic by leaving some fruit leather behind.  In hind-sight, who would be hiking any stretch of the Hayduke in August?  Perhaps these water jugs were long forgotten.  Oh well.  We can only hope someone got to benefit from the magic nonetheless.

Trail Magic

From the arch we returned to camp where where we had a late lunch.  After that, we drove on out to Tropic for some ice cream and pop-sickles.  We decided to use the rest of the afternoon and evening to go hike Willis Creek.  Since I knew it would involve some water, it would be enough to keep the kids interest.  With it being mid-week and later in the day, we arrived to find only one other car at the trailhead which turned out to be young couple we saw hiking back out shortly into our hike.

Dropping down to Willis Creek

Willis Creek had been on my to-do list for a while now and so I was eager to get in there for the first time myself.  The kids definitely had a blast as well!

Heading down creek

The girls take a brief break in their "spa"

Into the first slot

Ellory continues along

Everett follows behind

Working our way through

End of a slot

Jess, Willow, and Lennox trail behind

Bypassing a small pour-off

Coming through another slot

Looking ahead

Raylee leads the way

Sally enjoying the hike

At one point, Jess and the kids looked up and found a rock that they thought looked a lot like Elvis Presley.  It took me a while to see the profile they saw, but then it came to life.  We chilled out here for a while, taking pics and eating snacks.

Checking out "Elvis Rock"

Kid pic on the rock

Silly pic with me involved

Closer-up kid pic

Ellory and Sally resting up

Everett laying back

Colorful Colorado Columbines

Well rested, we continued down through one more stretch of slot before calling it enough and turning around.

Back into another slot

Pausing for another pic

The kids found a stage to perform a concert on, air guitar and all.

Rock band on stage

Working our way back up canyon

Lennox enjoying a quick feet soak

Up into the final slot

In the final slot, I asked Everett how he was doing while I was giving him a ride on my shoulders.  He said he was falling asleep.  He wasn't lying.  A minute later and he was gone.

Everett having a nap

Sally and Jess

Back at the "spa"

On the way back, we detoured our way to a small waterfall.  It was a blessed treat and a delightfully refreshing way to end the hike.

Waterfall refreshment

Five alive

A waterfall Wednesday indeed

Of course, we ended up finishing our big hike for the day quite late, so it was dark when we arrived back at camp.  To make dinner quick and simple, we cooked up grilled cheese sandwiches as the main entree en lieu of what was originally planned on our menu.  A visit to Bryce Canyon National Park awaited us the next day.

Night two

- Day 3 -
Thursday - August 9, 2018

On this morning, I beat the sun up and went on a little run from camp out to the Angel Palace trail.  The views, textures, and features were all more than I expected.  What a pleasant morning it was!

Heading up Angel Palace Trail

Angel Palace Trail Panorama

Angel Palace

First bits of sunlight reach the mountain to the west

Panorama view from Angel Palace over the park

Sunlight reaches the valley

Satisfied with my morning jog, I returned back to camp and got breakfast setup while waiting for everyone to wake up.


Eating breakfast

With the morning meal out of the way, we all piled back into the car for a day trip into Bryce Canyon.

Obligatory family tourist pic

We started out with what must be the most popular hike in the park, the Navajo Loop.  I'd made a handful of visits to Bryce Canyon before, but never went farther than Fairyland Point.  These previous visits were in years where I wasn't yet sure I'd get my fair use from an annual parks pass, and didn't think the base entrance fee for the rest of the park was worth it at the time.  Now we had a 4th grader in the family and thus a 4th grader pass with us.

We quickly found out why the Navajo Loop is so gives people a lot of bang for their buck in relatively short distance.  The kids would also go on to find out that what goes down, must come up!  Before we could start the hike though, we'd have to cross our fingers for finding a parking space.  As expected, the Sunset Point parking area and trailhead was beyond busy and crowded.  We lucked out though with a parking space quickly becoming available on our first time circling through the lot.

Bryce Canyon from Sunset Point

Thor's Hammer

Looking down over some of the Navajo Trail switchbacks 

Hi-ho, hi-ho, we go!

Through a tunnel

Switchbacks entering Wall Street

Wall Street

Crowds aside, Wall Street really was awesome. Plentiful shade made the air feel 20 degrees cooler, and then there were the amazing Ponderosas climbing high into the sky out the other end.

Approaching a Ponderosa

High Rise Ponderosa

Ponderosa Grove

Big and tall

Another angle looking up

Down and out the lower end of Wall Street

Pausing for a snack break at the low point


Willow over Ellory

After a good break at the low point, it was time to finish out the other half of the loop and gain all the elevation we had just lost back up to the rim.

Two Bridges

Another patch of precious shade

Looking down another set of switchbacks

Gaining the rim near Thorns Hammer

Looking back down

Completing the loop back up to the rim with all of our kids in tow was quite a chore with the combination of heat and elevation gain.  We survived it and with the big hike for the day out of the way, we'd use the hotter afternoon to just check out many of the drive up view points along the park's main road.  We drove on out to Rainbow Point at the end of the park where we had to circle the lot a number of times before a space opened up for us.  There we had lunch out of our tailgate and then walked around the overlook.

View from Rainbow Point

From our stop at Rainbow Point, we then made our way back up the road out of the park.  We stopped at the Natural Bridge that apparently is more of an arch than a bridge in how it was formed, despite what looked like a drainage gully running right under it.

Checking out Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

At Piracy Point and Farview, the views would have been far out indeed, but alas, the air was hazy with smoke from the terrible fire season the west was suffering from.  Still, I was able to locate Mollie's Nipple out in the distance.

Mollie's Nipple

Our next stop took us to Inspiration Point.  Jess and the kids were content to just stay in the car here so I popped out only for a few moments to take in the view there.

Short Pano of Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point

Satisfied with enough scenery for the day, we moved ahead with promised plans of getting some ice cream at Rubys Inn and checking out their Rock Shop.  Of course, some more touristy pictures were in order too.

Imprisoned at Rubys Inn

Sally on the saddle

Lennox takes his turn on the still wooden horse

Cowboy Couple

Ice Cream at last

Rock Shop mill

A cow guarded our way back to camp.

Mooove over cow!

Back at camp, it was to be our last night staying there.  We took the time to cook up a big dinner including various tin foil chicken recipes, corn on the cob, and some rice pilaf.  We didn't think we'd be able to have any open fires, even in the contained fire pit when we arrived at the park, given the conditions across the state and the rest of the west and we thus prepared for it, but it turned out that fires were still permitted in the established fire rings of the campground and so we took advantage of it our final night.

Cooking over the fire

A royal feast!

For dessert, we tried out a Coleman stove oven we had just bought and it worked out great in making some brownies.

Successfully baked brownies

We finally retired to bed with full tummies after a round of games.

- Day 3 -
Thursday - August 9, 2018

For our final camp breakfast, we made some donuts that turned out pretty good.

Before heading off for Torrey for one final night of the trip to be spent at my in-laws place, we drove back on up through Tropic to make a stop to hike the Mossy Cave trail and splash around a bit at the Tropic Ditch Falls.  Jess and I had been there a number of times before, but for most of the kids, it would be a first for them.

On the trail to Mossy Cave

At Mossy Cave

Tropic Ditch did not have much flowing down through it.  In fact, much of the bed right below the falls was actually dry and the only flow further down was fed by a few of the area springs feeding into it.  In all my other visits before, both summer and winter, the falls had always had a big flow, if they weren't frozen solid during a winter visit.

Looking out over Tropic Ditch

Small arches above Tropic Ditch

Down in Tropic Ditch

Trying to hide behind the waterfall that turned out to be just a trickle

Family photo

That afternoon we arrived in Torrey where a surprise had been lined up by my in-laws for the kids.  They had a friend who ran a small farm outside of town and had scheduled a tour of it.

Milking a goat


Everett makes friends with more goats

Irrigation in action

Horse and Mule

Everett getting his turn at a leather work craft

After the tour, we reasoned there was just enough daylight left to drive back up Boulder Mountain and down to Lower Bowns to get some fishing in before coming back into town for the night.  Just about everyone landed a fish, some of us, many more.

Lennox's catch

Like father, like son

Willow's catch

Ellory's catch

- Day 5 -
Saturday - August 11, 2018

Our last day was spent just chilling out around my in-laws place before heading back home where I had to return to work that evening and the following day.

Torrey Morning


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