Sunday Hikes: The Bristlecone Loop Trail

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During our visit to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah last summer, I knew that we would not have time to see and do everything that we wanted to do.   Of course, we went to the visitor center and then to the most often visited portion of the park to see the iconic hoodoos from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point.   After a couple of short hikes down into the canyon in that area, we decided to drive to the far end of the park to do a hike to Yovimpa Point.   This turned out to be a great idea.

After parking near Rainbow Point, we took the 1 mile long Bristlecone Loop Trail.   This is at the highest part of the park at over 9000 ft elevation.   The loop itself goes through a wooded area featuring Bristlecone Pines and other fir and spruce trees.   After spending several days in the desert, it is nice to see some trees.

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At the ½ way point, you can get some amazing views of the Grand Escalante Staircase from Yovimpa Point.   This is a great place to relax and enjoy the view before completing the hike back to Rainbow Point.   One thing that we saw here that was notable to us was a dead tree of some sort.   In and around the dead tree were chipmunks, birds, and insects all living their life in the dead tree.

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One of the nice things about the Bristlecone Loop Trail that makes it different from others in Bryce Canyon is that the elevation change is fairly minimal.  You only have about 195 feet of elevation change over the course of the trail.  That makes this a nice relaxing hike after doing more strenuous hikes in Bryce or perhaps nearby Zion NP.

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On the drive back towards the lodge for lunch, we were able to spy some Prairie Dogs and several Pronghorn Antelopes right along the main drive through the park.   At the lodge, we finished up our time at Bryce with Elk Chili for lunch which was one of the highlights of our trip.    I hope the next time you are in the area you are able to enjoy Bryce Canyon as much as we did.

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