Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zion vs. Bryce

I ended up staying 3 nights in the fabulous Sun 'n Sands Motel in Kanab. I tried to leave every morning, but there was another hazardous wind warning. I could see the trees whipping around from my window and was not happy. But having 2 rest days was so nice!!!!
On day 1 I got my bike repaired and saw whatever is to see in Kanab. On day 2 I did nothing, absolutely nothing except eating and reading. Wonderful!!!!

Zion NP
Well rested I started out to got to Zion NP. I had already seen both NP, Zion and Bryce in 2007 with my friend Maik. But then we were in a car and just got an overview - now I wanted to see the parks in depth and do some hiking as well.
My adventure in Zion did not start well. You have to go through a narrow tunnel to get to the park and bicycles are not allowed in it. I asked the rangers at the entrance station about it and got more or less the following answer: "We can't help you there. Try to get a lift with a pick-up truck, but don't ask us for help. This is all your responsibility. We are just here to take your money...." Well, the hitch turned out to be very easy. When RV's go through the tunnel oncoming traffic has to wait till they are through and in that time you can easily ask for a ride. It took me 2 minutes and just one person to get my lift in (and later out of) the park.

Zion NP
Down in the park things did not get better. All backcountry camping permits were gone and would have cost 10$ each - which is a lot considering that I have camped free for the last 4 months. The rangers were also extremely unhelpful when it came another problem: Where do I store my panniers and my bike while hiking? The answer was similar to the earlier one: "We can't help you there. It is all your responsibility. We are just here to take your money...."

I did not feel very encouraged and gave up on the idea of hiking overnight in Zion NP. But I did find a nice free camp site just out of the NP. Next day I did some shorter hikes like the famous Angel's Landing where people were stepping onto each other's toes. After one day I was fed up with Zion. The rangers were very unhelpful, the park was crowded and everything was expensive. And so I left after another night at my free stealth camp site and cycled to Bryce Canyon.
It was just my luck that the wind came up and there were gusts with more than 40 mph again. I seem to attract horrible weather...

Bryce Canyon NP
But what a different experience at Bryce. The rangers were really friendly and suggested overnight hikes for the next 2 windy days. The backcountry camping permit for 2 nights was just 5$ (as opposed to 20$ in Zion) and best of all: The rangers even offered to store my stuff for me!!!! I had been so discouraged after my Zion experience that I hardly dared to ask. But the young ranger I was talking to was very understanding and disappeared to find out what to do with her superiors. I was asked to step into a side room and was given the following speech: "There are 2 answers to your question: Theoretically, we cannot store your stuff because it might contain a bomb or something could get stolen and then the NPS would be liable. So the official answer to your request is no. But on the other side we sometimes have to be flexible and bend the rules a bit... So, just leave your stuff here and I will store it in my own office." This ranger restored my faith in the NPS! I left my stuff and locked my bike in the employees parking area and went for a hike!!!
Bryce Canyon NP

And I had a great hike! There were thousands of people in the park, but out in the backcountry there was hardly anyone. I had great views and a fantastic hike! And I was so happy not to have to cycle in that wind! I retrieved my stuff after 2 nights (without any problem) and cycled on to Kodachrome State Park. Again the rangers were super friendly. The camp ground was full, but I was directed to BLM land where I was allowed to camp. Next on the list was Capitol Reef NP. I had not seen that before and was really impressed with it. Backcountry camping permits were even free here!

But now I have to say that I am sort of canyoned out! I need some civilisation again. So now I am cycling the Mormon Heritage Trail up to Salt Lake City. Life is good again, but it would be even better if I had no wind (or have it in the back....)

1 comment:

bikingzionutah said...

Zion Cycling offers up some amazing views and experiences. However, to do so you need to have nerves of steel.

Zion Cycling