Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

One way in, one way out

Route 63, Bryce Canyon, Utah

There’s only one way to do it.  Unless, of course, you’re on horseback or on foot.  To get to Bryce Canyon, you have to come in on Route 12 and then turn onto Route 63.  And 63 is essentially a dead-end.  It’s kind of a long dead-end, since you can drive about 25 miles on it, but a dead-end nonetheless.  Even if you drive all the way to Rainbow Point (where you can look out and see the Kaibab Plateau about 100 miles away in Arizona), you’ll discover there’s no place to go from there but back.  Back through the park and back past Ruby’s and back to Route 12.  Only then can you “escape”.

This image – taken from the middle of the road in front of Ruby’s – looks toward Route 12 (about 3/4 of a mile away).  Bryce Canyon NP is a few miles away in the other direction.

Which brings up an interesting point.  Like some of the other parks on the Colorado Plateau, Bryce is kind of hidden from view.  If you were wandering around the area 150 years ago you’d probably never see it.  It’s a bit like the Grand Canyon – you almost have to walk up to the edge to know it’s there.  Otherwise everything looks like what you see here.  Just a lot of wide open, relatively flat space.  It’s not like driving through eastern Colorado and seeing the front range of the Rockies from about 70 miles away.  Mountains aren’t very good at playing hide-and-seek.  But deep canyons do it pretty well.

One last point: don’t stand in the middle of Route 63 in July, August, or September.  At least not while it’s daylight.  If you do, you’ll stand a better than even chance of getting yourself run over.  In March, it’s pretty safe.  Cooler, but safer.


9 Responses to “One way in, one way out”

  1. jstrong52

    Bryce – yet another area on my Bucket list! Nice sky – I love dark skies in images.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, John. I’m with you – a dark sky, with sunlight in the foreground is an “automatic” with me. I just can’t resist it.

      Definitely keep this place on your list. And to see it properly, you almost have to hike part of it. You’ve got to get down into those formations to really appreciate their uniqueness and in some cases their size. You can look at Thor’s Hammer from above, for example, and not get too excited. But standing down on the trail and looking up at it is quite another thing. Then you realize that it was all done with water and wind and time. Amazing.

  2. themiddlegeneration

    You’re right about Bryce being in the middle of nowhere. I once camped out there and my rental car died. The company drove another one out to us in the middle of the night. The driver said it had taken over 7 hours. He said we got the award for getting stranded at the farthest point from any rental car location. Then he had to turn around and go back. At least we got to crawl into our tent and sleep in the next morning. I can’t remember the name of the trail we hiked, but the views were spectacular.

    • Paul Maxim

      Gee, I’d love to know where the guy came from. Did he say? Heck, Las Vegas is only about 5 hours away (not even that if you don’t come through Zion) and I can’t think of a car rental company that doesn’t exist there. But the point is certainly still valid – Bryce isn’t a place where I’d want to get stranded without a car.

      Probably the most popular trail there is the Navajo Trail (from Sunset Point). A lot of fun walking downhill among all those hoodoos but a bear coming back up!

  3. meanderingpassage

    I like middle of the road photos. Something about them…perhaps a little danger and daring involved or simply a breaking of some “rule”.

    • Paul Maxim

      Believe me, no “daring” involved in this piece of photography, Earl. I probably could have stayed there most of the day (March is a little “light” in Bryce). But you’re right about road pictures. I think that they almost always have to be taken from the middle. If you’re doing it from the side of the road, it just doesn’t seem to work (in my opinion). When we were at Monument Valley the year before, I’d taken a series from the side of the road (heavy traffic) and really didn’t like the results. So I went back another day and did it from the middle with my wife standing guard. Even so, it was a little on the dangerous side.

      I think it’s sort of like that great scene from “Caddyshack” where Chevy Chase says that to be a successful golfer “you have to be the ball”. My spin on that is that if you want to get a successful “road” picture, “you have to be the road”.

      • Paul

        “You have to be the road” – Well, as long as you don’t become part of the road! 🙂

  4. Paul

    Paul, you’re really making me miss Utah. I’ve not been to Bryce Canyon, but I’m feeling that I’m in need of a ‘fix’ this year. Unlike you, though, I’m not going to drive. That’s way out of range for me. 🙂 I will fly, probably in the fall sometime. As for your photo, there’s a sense of loneliness, lots of miles traveled, with lots to go. I like it! I love that type of lighting as well.

    • Paul Maxim

      Heck, I miss Utah all the time! A lot warmer there right now, too (as compared to snowy, cold, and windy western NY). We’ll probably get another “fix” this fall, too. Just can’t stay away for very long……

      I agree with you on the photograph – it definitely can look lonely out there. And for me, the “road” is an obvious metaphor. With miles and miles to go.


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