Waking up at the campsite in Zion is like waking up in any national park, really. If you rise early enough, you are treated to warm colors laying like patchwork along the scenic terrain. But, you have to savor the spectacle quickly, as it will soon be ruined by the hum of generators firing up, headlights on high-beam casting shadows across your tent, and the booming voices of other tourists who were born without courtesy.
Camping, well…let’s be honest, car-camping in a national park is really an exercise in enjoying nature at its lowest common denominator, and such was our stay in Zion. Immensely gorgeous, but Tim and I have no illusions to the fact that we are short on “adventure” on this adventure-touring trip, as we break-down our tents in our pre-assigned and marked campsite, clean our dishes with the running tap water, and take care of pre-ride business with the established restroom facilities. The park itself though? Gorgeous in the morning light.
Leaving Zion on SR-9 illustrated the biggest regret of our trip: we didn’t have the gear, nor the time, to really explore all that these parks have to offer. Climbing out of the park on the switchback road, each turn treated us to a view of weathered red rock and lush vegetation.
The short red-colored road through Zion is worth the price of admission easily on its own, so we have no complaints; but each turn on our way out of the park reminded us that we had only scratched the surface of what Zion had to offer. Next time, hiking boots are on order, as well as several days extra to use them on the agenda.
Following SR-9 east to HWY-89 North and then east again along SR-12, we dipped in and out of Dixie National Forest, and out of the heat and into the cool of Utah’s torrential rain. Making quick stop for the rain-liners to our gear, we realized we were too late in that regard. Coming out of the storm, we grabbed lunch just outside of Bryce Canyon, at a fast-food joint that was staffed completely by Asian girls who learned English as a second language.
Back home in San Francisco, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye at such a thing, as cultural diversity brims loudly. On the roads leading into the interior of America though, where the colors tend to fade with each passing mile, these kind girls, who giggled while trying correctly to give us our order numbers, stood out just as much as the two rain-pelted motorcyclists who showed up with all their camping and riding equipment in tow…in a giant red bag.
Concluding lunch and riding into the Bryce Canyon National Park, we dodged brief spurts of rain as we setup camp in Sunset Campground, the quieter of the two campsites available to us. I worked while Tim slept, and then we set out to see the sights within the park, with our first stop being at Bryce Point. It’s only a short walk from the car lot to the lookout point, but the view changes dramatically between the two.
Eroded pillars of earth awaited us, with their fat and thin horizontal veins of different sediment layers. After taking in the spectacle that Bryce Canyon is famous for, we made our way further down SR-63 (the main road in the park), mule deer grazed to the side of us in the forest meadow as we rode to the nine vista points along the route’s course and terminus. Each photo destination provided a unique perspective on essentially the same landscape, but one would be remiss in skipping a spot thinking the view would be the same.
Still pursuing the perfect sunset photo, I returned back to Bryce Point in hopes of achieving my photographic goals, while Tim scurried into town for dinner supplies. Watching the blue hue of the burner, coupled with the red light from our headlamps, we ate food in the dark and realized that day three of our Broventure had come to its conclusion. Tomorrow Moab awaits, along with some of the best road-riding on our trip (a tall statement from what we saw on the highway today).