Friday, December 11, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park (Surprise Day Trip)

      Since we ended up our tour of Zion NP a couple of days early and with the weather warming a bit in SW Utah we decided to take a day's drive back up to Bryce Canyon.  It is only about 90 miles NE and the weather on the day of our journey was nearly 50 degrees.  We wouldn't have to worry about the nighttime cold.   Bryce Canyon sits at an elevation of about 8500' which is much higher than the 3500' of our campsite in Zion Watchman Campground.  Bryce Canyon is all about the Hoodoos.  These are large weather/time eroded pillars of sandstone whose shapes defy anything but your imagination.  Mother Nature is a fascinating and creative lady! 

      We got up early the day of our journey and headed out.  It was only about 2 hours there.  We arrived to find some snow on the ground, but with the exception of a few businesses outside the park entrance awaiting some real winter snow, nothing else was open.  The park was open to tour, but none of the (2) campgrounds, stores, and several trails were closed due to snow/ice.  We can't really comment on anything but the sights.  The park consists of a large amphitheater of the canyon with all the viewpoints on the west side.  There is no bad light for pictures except for late afternoon. 
       One of the most interesting things in Bryce Canyon is the large solar powered array at the Visitors Center.  Not your normal solar array I discovered that this is a new lens solarpholtaic array that uses glass lenses to focus the sun's energy.  Only about half of the sun's energy actually reaches the earth so this system focus the light to recoup energy.  Think of a lighthouse.  The same type of large Fresnel lens used in a lighthouse to disperse the light outwards is used in this concept, but in reverse.  Each cell is a miniature Fresnel lens focusing the suns energy onto a pholtaic panel.  These two panels provide 400,030 KW of energy a year easily powering all the park's needs.  Pretty fascinating.   
      We found Bryce Canyon to be much smaller than we thought it would be.  We were in the park less than two hours and saw nearly everything, but it is definitely worth the trip.  We head south now towards Mesa, AZ to visit my cousin, pick up some mail, scrips, haircut, and get the necessary vet paperwork for our animals as we prepare to travel to Mexico this Christmas. 

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