Outside of Page, I drove north on the unpaved Cottonwood road that is a shortcut through part of the Grand Staircase – Escalante Nat’l Monument (GSENM) and leads directly to Kodachrome Basin State Park. I stopped briefly at Grosvenor Arch, just off of Cottonwood road before heading to Kodachrome Basin. I spent a night in the park – $16 was a steal for camping (including free hot showers) and day use of the park. I hiked out to Panorama Point and took photos of the sunset glory while being attacked by sand flies.
The next morning I did another loop trail in the park before heading for Bryce Canyon about an hour’s drive away. It was the weekend and Bryce was packed with people, but even so, I managed to get a camping spot. I thought the $25 entrance fee per vehicle a little steep (although it was good for 7 days) and had to fork out an additional $15 for camping (this time no showers.)
I drove all the way to the end of the paved road (some 18 miles) to where there were some nice views over the adjacent GSENM, but not many hoodoos. I drove back to the Bryce Amphitheater and to Bryce Point and was quite blown away by the scene. I had seen photos and knew what to expect, but being there in person was an entirely different matter. I started walking down one of the trails that led from the rim down through the hoodoos to the valley below. It was a steep trail with many switch backs and was filled with other hikers. It was amazing to walk among the hoodoos, some of which towered hundreds of feet above.
As the sun began to get lower in the sky, it back-lit some of the hoodoos and made them appear almost transparent. I wanted to get a higher perspective, so I started racing back up the trail as quickly as my tired legs and lungs could manage at that altitude (about 7000 ft.) I went back out to Bryce Point and waited around for the sunset which was about 8:30 and then went to the park store to take a much-needed coin operated shower, only to discover they closed at 8:00. I at least washed off my dusty feet and face before bedtime, but I was pretty filthy from dust-caked sweat.
The next morning, I did a loop trail leading from the amphitheater down into the valley below and returned to my car shortly after lunch. I felt a lot stronger on this hike – I think I was getting used to the altitude. I left Bryce Canyon and drove to the town of Escalante and onward to the Hole in the Rock Road.