Our five nights camping in Bryce Canyon began in frustration. We left Valley of Fire early in hopes of snagging one of the first-come first-served camp sites in Zion National Park, but too many other people apparently had the same idea and the campground was full. After eating lunch while enviously overlooking the South Campground, we drove on towards Bryce in hopes of finding a decent campsite somewhere in between so we could split time. Welcome to the land of RV parks, friends. So we continued on into Bryce.
I don’t know if what we thought was lack of luck in Zion could’ve worked out better. We found a great campsite in Bryce, with plenty of space separating us from our neighboring campers. During our drive we’d climbed almost half a mile in elevation, and the cool temperatures in the campground were a nice respite after almost a month in various deserts. That night we got our bearings, got organized, and found time to wander out to Sunset Point to watch the sun set on the hoodoos.
Months before our trip, I’d picked up a map of Bryce to look at trails and noticed a hike to an area called the Hat Shop. How could we resist, with a name like that? Early the next morning, we got on the Bryce Canyon shuttle out to Bryce Point and started hiking down towards the hoodoos.
I loved this trail: very few people, mixed terrain between mountain woods and more arid conditions that lead to the erosion that produces hoodoos, and what a payoff at the end. The Hat Shop hoodoos reminded me of the Pinnacles region of Crater Lake, if only the fumaroles wore funny hats.
We also got some less-typical hoodoo views.
The out-and-back trail brought us back to Bryce Point, where we could see all of Bryce Amphitheater.
That evening, we walked the most recommended trail combination in Bryce, the Navajo loop to Queens Garden, and even that wasn’t particularly crowded.
Plus we got to walk through a hoodoo.
The temperature got down somewhere around freezing that night, so we slept quite well in anticipation of our Zion adventure the next day.