Horseback riding in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, the quieter alternative to the Grand Canyon

I am failing at life this week. My visa application for Germany is in the mail, but my desk is piled high with forms and papers and my taxes are a nightmare. GOOD GRIEF. So forgive me for being behind and inattentive. My Instagram is like a sad lonely mistress. I miss talking to my readers.

Here’s a little secret I’m somewhat afraid to admit: I actually kinda liked Bryce Canyon better than the Grand Canyon. SHHHH. It’s hard to comprehend the Grand Canyon for its unbelievable size, but the tourists there often overwhelmed me. Such is the way with all magnificent sites.

Bryce Canyon

And maybe it was the hype, all that hype. All my favourite places in the world are usually the ones I don’t expect.

Bryce Canyon, however, is located in Utah and doesn’t really seem to be on anybody’s radar. There was a stunning silence there at the rim of the canyon, just me and my tour group and a straggling tourist or two. Unlike the Grand Canyon, it’s primarily SNOW that has sculpted Bryce over millions of year – freezing melt water contribute to the hoodoo formations. Big limestone pinnacles painted in red. In fact, it had snowed the previous week before we showed up, at the end of May. In the desert. Snow.

The canyon is 12 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 800 feet deep. The entire park is covered in hiking trails, but my Trek America tour group got a unique perspective via horseback. Yup, we mounted mules and horses – some of us having NEVER been on a horse before – and descended 800 feet along narrow switchbacks into the canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park

I’ve ridden a lot of horses in my life. I’ve had a few testy ones. But that horseback ride? EASILY the scariest horseback experience I’ve ever had. So amazingly beautiful and terrifying. Even after the tour leader assured us nobody’s ever gotten hurt on the trail, man…it was hard to believe him. My mule, Jonny, just LOVED skirting the edge of the cliff plummeting hundreds of feet into the canyon. Sometimes as we were making a turn at a switchback, I could see over the side of the cliff right to the bottom. I’m pretty comfortable on a horse and even I was freaking out – I can’t imagine how the new riders felt.

On the other hand, the views were hella worth it.

At the bottom of Bryce Canyon

Plus we had our own special trail that hikers couldn’t go on.

If you also want to ride a horse into Bryce Canyon like a real badass cowboy, you can book a tour while in the national park. Our guide was pretty hilarious.

“We call that a blue pine,” he said during the tour, pointing to a tree lying on the ground. “Because it’s a pine and it blew over.”

HAHAHAHA. PUNS.

Yes, go. Pack a sweater or a parka because it’s cold. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • June 13 2015
    Rebekah Crabtree

    I loved Bryce more then the grand canyon too. Its just so much more chill and sometimes its nice going somewhere where you have few expectations of a place.

    • June 16 2015

      YES. Right?! I still can’t get over that silence at the rim. So perfect.

  • June 13 2015

    I loved this park! But I just hiked. Horseback riding is a little bit tense for me…
    Cheers

    • June 16 2015

      It was for many people! I’m a fairly experienced rider and I was terrified, haha.

  • June 29 2015

    I kinda have to agree with you. Bryce Canyon over Grand Canyon! I did the Fairyland Loop trail and wanted to die. It was 8 miles and about 7 miles longer than I would have preferred! But nevertheless it was a great way to see the canyon.

  • July 13 2015
    AnExpatWife

    When we lived in the USA for 20 months we visited 23 states and by far our fav thing to do was the National Parks. I loved Bryce Canyon. You blog brough back some lovely memories. Thank You.

  • December 27 2015

    Candice! I was in Utah this year, want it to visit Bryce Canyon, but all my friends prefered the Grand Canyon, so I had to go for the third time. This year we’re giong back to Utah, and I’m definitely going to visit Bryce Canyon, great pics!

    • December 28 2015
      Candice

      Yessss, go to Bryce Canyon! I loved it there! Honestly, I kind of preferred it, haha. Shh.

  • April 24 2016

    Wahooo ! Nice pictures !

    I was looking about informations of Bryce Canyon when i saw your blog.

    This canyon look very nice, and for a french woman, it’s look like a western movie ;-)

    Thanks for sharing your experience !

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