Bryce Canyon National Park


Location: Utah

Established: September 15, 1928

Size: 35,835 acres


“Perhaps nowhere are the forces of natural erosion more tangible than at Bryce Canyon. Its wilderness of phantom-like rock spires, or hoodoos, attracts more than one million visitors a year. Many descend on trails that give hikers and horseback riders a close look at the fluted walls and sculptured pinnacles.

The park follows the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. On the west are heavily forested tablelands more than 9,000 feet high; on the east are the intricately carved breaks that drop 2,000 feet to the Paria Valley. Many ephemeral streams have eaten into the plateau, forming horseshoe-shaped bowls. The largest and most striking is Bryce Amphitheater. Encompassing six square miles, it is the park’s scenic heart.

For millions of years water has carved, as it continues to, Bryce’s rugged landscape. Water may split rock as it freezes and expands in cracks—a cyclic process that occurs some 200 times a year. In summer, runoff from cloudbursts etches into the softer limestones and sluices through the deep runnels. In about 50 years the present rim will be cut back another foot. But there is more here than spectacular erosion.

In the early morning you can stand for long moments on the rim, held by the amphitheater’s mysterious blend of rock and color. Warm yellows and oranges radiate from the deeply pigmented walls as scatterings of light illuminate the pale spires.

There is a sense of place here that goes beyond rocks. Some local Paiute Indians explained it with a legend. Once there lived animal-like creatures that changed themselves into people. But they were bad, so Coyote turned them into rocks of various configurations. The spellbound creatures still huddle together here with faces painted just as they were before being turned to stone.

Did You Know?

Nineteenth-century Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce, for whom the park is named, said it was “a hell of a place to lose a cow.” The canyon’s remarkable collection of whimsical hoodoo spires were believed by the early Paiute Indians to be people frozen in stone by the mischievous spirit Coyote. Early geologists feared the hoodoos would transform into humans.”

We awoke on Wednesday morning with grand plans to spend the day in Bryce Canyon National Park but ran into a few issues that delayed the start to our day. Freezing cold temperatures the night before made it so the bus didn’t want to start in the morning, and 7 days without medication made our boys also struggle with starting their day. We prayed for patience and divine intervention on both fronts, plugged the engine in to warm, and walked everyone over to the shower..

No need to waste this forced delay.

By the time we returned from getting everyone clean the bus was ready to start her day and we headed out on our first priority mission:

Try to get the boys’ ADHD medication scripts filled.

At this point they had been without medication for a week. We had traveled through four states looking for a state with regulations that would allow us to get the meds our boys were in such desperate need for. We were hoping for luck in Utah.

We drove 20 minutes away to the town of Panguitch, Utah. We stopped in at the local pharmacy with fingers and toes crossed. They looked over the script and then informed us that they couldn’t fill it because:

#!: It was written over 30 days ago.

#2: It had multiple medications written on one script

Both “no nos” in Utah.

In desperation and on the verge of tears I asked, “Then what can we do? We cannot go another day without meds!”

She suggested we head over to their walk in clinic, explain our dilemma, show them the scripts, and see if a local doctor could reissue the same meds on a new script for the boys.

So we drove a few blocks away to the walk in clinic. The intake nurse was confused by our reason for coming into the clinic, having never dealt with an issue like ours before, but sent us back to begin registering and handling the insurance paperwork with another employee.

It wasn’t long before the entire clinic knew the McCleerys were there. Tyler’s constant chatter, loud booming voice, and rattling and banging of every object he encountered, and constant movement all successfully plead our case for the dire need for meds.

Eager to get us out of their office they quickly called our doctor in Pennsylvania to confirm the scripts. The clinic doctor then came out with the written scripts in hand, telling us there was no need to examine the boys, she could hear the evidence ADHD from her office across the hospital.

As we walked out, filled with gratitude and relief, the intake nurse met my eye and mouthed,

“God Bless You!”


Then it was back to the pharmacy with the new scripts in hand. What a relief it was to walk out the front door with pills in hand. Immediately both boys were given their first dose of Concerta after a week without, and Toby and I did our happy dance.


Within an hour we had our sons back and could see the relief they both experienced as they were able to finally have some control over their symptoms. It was like an itch in their brains that could finally be scratched, and the relief was visible as I watched the tension and energy leave their body.

With pills in system we decided to head over to Bryce Canyon and try to salvage what we could of our day.

The path to Bryce Canyon took us along Scenic Byway 12.


What a gorgeous drive!


We pulled off for some pictures.


And so the boys could run a little. At this point the meds were kicking in and everyone was feeling better.


Along Scenic Byway 12 we had the opportunity to drive through two red rock tunnels, cut into the existing rock. They were plenty big enough for the bus to fit.


What a cool experience!


Bryce Canyon offers free shuttle service into and around their park in an effort to cut down on traffic and parking congestion. This was good news for us. We have found parking our bus at some of the National Parks challenging simply because the parking was not designed to accommodate the large number of RV visitors that now visit the parks.


We parked the bus at the shuttle station and showed our America the Beautiful pass to the cashier, who informed us that we only had an hour until the visitor center was closing. There was also unusually heavy fog…the worse in nine years according to a park ranger, that made seeing the hoodoos next to impossible, so we came up with a plan B.


We decided to go into the park for an hour and spend that time checking out the visitor’s center and then return to the park the following morning for a little hiking before we got on the road for our 4-hour drive to Moab, Utah.


There in the visitor’s center we were able to watch a 22-minute video about the history of Bryce Canyon and its unique geological rock formations called hoodoos. We also were able to learn about the wildlife found in the park, including the Utah prairie dog.

One of the things we were most upset about missing at this stop was the star gazing night hike.


Bryce Canyon is one of the darkest spots in the United States, making it one of the best spots for star gazing and seeing the Milky Way. Unfortunately, the same low lying clouds that obstructed our view of the hoodoos also covered the sky, hiding any sign of the spectacular night sky above.

The next morning, we woke at 7:00 am to the sound of heavy rain on the metal roof of the bus. With a prayer that it would blow over, given a little time, we let everyone stay in bed and catch up on their sleep.

By 9:00 am the rain had stopped and we were seeing signs that the sun might make an appearance. We headed back to the shuttle station and rode into the park, bypassing the visitor’s center and instead riding the shuttle to Inspiration Point, one of four major lookouts over Bryce Amphitheater. Bryce Lookout was closed, along with many walking trails, as a result of the heavy rain the night before which caused some cave-ins and falling rocks. So we spent our time walking between Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point and Sunset Point.


What an absolutely stunning place!


As we stepped up to the edge of Inspiration Point, and looked out over the vista of red and orange rock, sprinkled with small evergreens, it took our breath away.


The kids all agreed that although not as “grand” as the Grand Canyon, it was a lot prettier.


I remember thinking the same thing when I first visited Bryce Canyon as a kid.



As we were walking the path around the canyon we passed this sign. As Tyler ran quickly by we realized he totally missed the gist of the message when he yelled back to us: “Look! If you pay $1.00 you can feed the squirrels!” Yeah, not one bit of correct information was interpreted from that warning sign. 🙂

What a magnificent place!



Then it was “On the road again”…


Next stop: Arches National Park, Utah


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