June 4, 2015, 7:45 AM – Day 3 – Vermillion Cliff Dwellings, Red and Bryce Canyons

Figuring this would be a long day, we got an early start. We left the Marble Canyon Lodge, our home for the night, before 8.

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Our first stop on this long and exciting drive was at the cliff dwellings under the Vermillion Cliffs. The location was not far from that rustic restaurant at Lee’s Ferry Lodge where we had a delightful birthday dinner the night before.

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What a difference the light makes, though. You can see on the left a shot I took that evening showing the Vermillion Cliffs above the restaurant. And again, the same cliffs in early morning above the cliff dwellings. Here’s more…

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We actually had no concrete itinerary for the day. Our intention was to drive to Kanab, Utah (see the above map) and see what we can find about the Wave hike and lottery. And then depending on what that turns out to be, we thought we might go up to Bryson Canyon or Zion or maybe even both.

Wave-17When we got to Kanab, we found out that we would have to spend two days there just to find out if we would win the lottery for the Wave hike.  And the odds were 1 in 6 (10 slots for about 60 people who show up every morning).

“Forget that,” I said. “Let’s go up to the Bryson Canyon” (about a two-hour drive from Kanab (see the map). “The picture I posted should suffice,” I added.

Boy, was that ever the right thing to do. You’ll see in a minute the fabulous scenery that we encountered there. But first, check out this roadside breakfast scenery we picked for ourselves randomly just a few miles north of Kanab. It was a side road, just off Hwy 89.

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It was very peaceful and relaxing.


We were unprepared for the beauty that awaited us even before we got to the Bryce Canyon.  Check out this pictures we took in the Red Canyon, which is sort of a gateway to Bryce.


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“This is eye candy,” I told Elizabeth as I was snapping the shots, some from the car.

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We even passed through some cute tunnels along the way.


And then, finally, we entered the spectacular, awe-inspiring, unforgettable, one-of-a-kind  Bryce Canyon. This description of it from the National Parks website fits it to a tee:

Hoodoos and forest mixed together

There is no place quite like Bryce Canyon. Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) can be found on every continent, but here is the archetypal “hoodoo-iferous” terrain. Descriptions fail. Cave without a roof? Forest of stone? Even photographs strain credulity. When you visit maybe you’ll come up with a better name. In the meantime “Bryce” will have to suffice.

Here are some panorama shots of the Bryce Canyon from the Sunset Point. As we marveled over this vista, we had not idea that it took God 50 million years to create this wonder of nature out of limestone.

That’s almost three human development cycles (each cycle is about 18 million years long).  To put things in perspective, two million human generations had lived and died while the Bryce Canyon was being created.




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At the 8,000-ft+ elevation, the temperatures were in the 60s F. During the day they ranged from 64F to 69F.  There was also a steady breeze. Not as strong as on the North Rim the day before, but enough to cool things off a bit more.

“Let’s go now,” Elizabeth surprised me when we reached the trailhead of the 1.3-mile Navajo Trail.

I was delighted to see that she was so keen on doing it even though it looked rather foreboding from the top. Elizabeth generally does not do well on uphill slopes. But I guess the beauty of the place distracted her enough to overcome the physical challenges of the trail.

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Navajo Trail begins at Sunset Point and travels down into the main amphitheater at the bottom of the canyon. Here are the trail stats:

Total Distance: 1.3 miles
2.16 km
Climbing: 550 feet
167 m
Descending: 550 feet
167 m
Min/Max: 7479/8000 feet
2279/2438 m

But the stats cannot describe the joy and the beauty of doing the trail.  And the elation at the end, after we had climbed down and up about 1,100 ft on switchbacks and even some stairs.

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Along the way, about half way down the Navajo Trail, there was a little tunnel. Subconsciously at the time, we took two photos – one from each side. Afterward, I realized why. It was the Yin-Yang point of the trail., the point of perfect balance.

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I was also delighted to see some very old and decrepit-looking people on this trail. They went from switchback to switchback, from shade to shade, taking a break and resting at each point. But they kept going. And going.

“It’s all a matter of mind over matter,” as I have said many times before. “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” 

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And then, we had to start climbing back up again…

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But it was all worth it. Take a look at some of these panorama shots taken from the trail.

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And then, finally back up at the top of Sunset Point.

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“Yeah! I’ve done it!” Elizabeth exclaimed at the end of the trail.

IMG_4142I was also impressed that she did so well, especially considering the trail’s 8,000 ft elevation.  Back to “mind over matter”…

After a short pit stop and water break, we continued our drive down
the Bryce Canyon for another 15 miles or so to its farthest and highest point (9,100 ft) – poignantly named the Rainbow Point. It seemed like the place especially named for two people who hail from the Rainbow Shower in Maui. 🙂

Here are some pictures from the various points at which we stopped along the way (see the map – right).

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And finally, the Rainbow Point …

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On our way back up the canyon, we stopped to look at a Natural Bridge.

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That’s where we encountered a Raven, coolly posing on top of rail post.  He stayed there for us for several minutes. And then he fluttered away, as if saying, “okay, you’ve had enough. The show’s over.” 🙂

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It was the third sacred animal that showed up for us in physical for on this trip (for two other sightings, see BIRTHDAY AT THE NORTH RIM, RUSTIC DINNER, DEER, CONDOR SIGHTINGS, June 3). Little did we know that there was going to be one more later that afternoon.

Here’s more on the spiritual meaning of Raven…

Raven as Your Totem

If Raven is your Totem animal you are very playful and creative. You Raven Brycehave no fear of the dark, or the underworld and understand that there is a divine balance between the light and the dark. You find comfort in solitude and enjoy your own company. Raven seeks stillness and quiet, and prefer it to the constant onslaught of chatter and noise in our daily lives. You are wise and often are used as a messenger for others. The spirit world uses you as a bridge to the physical world to bring forth its messages (Source:

Spot on again, I would say.  I am sure Elizabeth would also second that summary.


On our way out of the National Park, I received another gift from the spirit realm. Not more than 100 yards from the gate, we were stopped by flashing lights and the siren of a Park Ranger SUV.

It turns out I was speeding – driving 45 mph in a 30 mph zone. The 45 mph was the normal speed in the rest of the Park. But it had apparently dropped to 30 mph just before the exit.

After the usual preliminaries and a driver’s license check, the park ranger decided to let me off with just a verbal warning,

“Thank you, Spirits,” I said as we drove away.

I knew right away that this was my final birthday gift.


Here’s also a “kulla” I brought home from the Red/Bryce Canyons. Most of the rocks there are Limestone. But this one seems to be a well polished Quartz. Polished by what? (given that there was no water nearby).

And that’s all she wrote from our first visit to the Bryce Canyon, unquestionable the best part of our four-day adventure.


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For more on this trip, click on…


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