But there was still a lot more of Bryce Canyon to see. On Tuesday, we got an up-close-and-personal view of some of the rock formations…and of a couple of the horses and mules that take visitors down into the canyon’s Main Ampitheater.
We arrived at the corrals shortly after lunch to find the cowboys and cowgirl who work for Canyon Trail Rides waiting for us.
John was assigned to a nice paint gelding called Laredo.
They put me on this handsome black fellow named Soiree. I felt right at home because, in both size and color he looked a lot like Bonnie, the quarter horse mare who helped me survive my teenage years. His personality was similar, too. He kept trying to get away with things he wasn’t supposed to do, like snatching a bite of grass from beside the trail or taking a nip out of the back end of Walt, the mule in front of him.
I think there were 19 riders who signed up for the three-hour, eight-mile trail ride. We were divided into groups. Our group of eight was led by a cowboy who told us to call him Stetson. (He also said he would answer to “Help.”)
You’ll see a lot of him in these images, because Soiree and I were right behind him. (The boss cowboy explained that the horses and mules were lined up based on how well they get along and that we were not to change places during the ride. No problem there! After seeing the trails we would be riding, none of us had any inclination to pass another horse and rider.)
Our trail began at the corral near Sunrise Point and dropped quickly into the canyon by of a series of switchbacks. Then snaked its way up and down and around the canyon floor.
The trail is a large figure 8. All along the way we were treated to views of Bryce's amazing rock formations, but up close and often from the bottom up.
The first loop ends near the formation known as Fairy Castle, then goes into “Peek-A-Boo Loop,” which is even steeper and more narrow.
The half-way point is a rest stop below Bryce Point where we and our mounts got a water break. The riders were happy to see that the stop also included a potty break. The horses and mules, however, didn’t wait for a pit stop. (And if you’ve never ridden uphill behind a flatulent mule, you’ve missed an eye-watering experience.)
After a short break, we mounted up and started working our way home. This view of the canyon was just as spectacular as the view from the rim. (Please forgive me here…I’m running out of adjectives.) Looking up at some of these formations takes your breath away. The one below is called the Wall of Windows.
We went through slots and tunnels through the rock, too. This one looked like it would drop us straight down. Fortunately there was room to turn to the right along the cliff face.
When we came out of the one below, I gasped at the view. Stetson remarked, “I’ll bet God had fun making all this!” I’m sure He did, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see it. Thank You, God!
It was magical.