Rachael and I are not very touristy people. We like to camp in the National Forest with few neighbors and even fewer utilities; this article is being written in a National Forest coincidently enough. We bike or drive into the National Parks before day-break so we can skip the crowds and still see the cool stuff. Although we are devoting almost all of our time to traveling the country and seeing a lot of attractions, I still wouldn’t classify us as “touristy”.
A week or so ago, we were backpacking in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the hundreds of water crossings did a number on Rachael’s feet. She has blisters and bruising from her water shoes and we have Grand Canyon backpacking permits in a few weeks, so that meant we were taking it easy in Bryce Canyon (not an easy task for either of us).
With all of that being said, we did something very touristy in Bryce Canyon National Park, we took a bus-tour! And it paid off big-time!
We showed up in the park mid-morning on a weekday and signed up for the Rainbow Point Bus Tour. The tour is ran by the National Park Service and is completely FREE. They have numerous pick-ups at the area hotels and at Ruby’s Inn. The tour is 3-ish hours long and is the best thing that we did while in the Bryce Canyon area, see below for the worst thing we did in Bryce.
The worst thing that we did in Bryce was buying groceries at Ruby’s Inn. This tourist-trap gas station, mediocre restaurant and understocked grocery store are the reason that people visit the national park, then travel on to another area. My father has worked in retail my entire life and he has raised me to appreciate a good grocery store. This was not it. Expect to pay astronomical prices for the simplest of groceries…$1.50 for a (1) apple, $4.99 for an 8-slice pack of bologna, $9.00 for a (1) can of Coleman propane, insanity. We got the bare minimum that could get us by and got out! Stock up before you go to Bryce and don’t continue to make these people rich.
Back to the tour, more importantly the tour guide. April, with Canyon Fever Guides, provided us with one of the best tourist experiences that either of us have ever had. She was born nearby and has lived in the Bryce area for 35 years. All of that experience and family knowledge is passed on to you when you take her tour.
The tour winds through the various stopping points along the dead-end road that meanders through the park, with April giving excellent descriptions of the topography, the flora and fauna, and the rich history of the area surrounding the park. She even threw in some corny “dad” jokes throughout that Rachael really enjoyed. Once the tour was over, we couldn’t believe that it was FREE and available for anyone to sign up for. We highly encourage that you check out her guide service for your time in Bryce or at the very least, sign up for the Rainbow Point bus tour and ask for April!
We learned an important lesson through this tour and that is to not be a travel snob. When you live in your vehicle and you see beautiful things every day, it is easy to get caught up in judging the people that are simply trying to enjoy their 2-week vacation. As my wife likes to remind me, “at least they are outside”. There is truth to that, everyone deserves to enjoy the outdoors, regardless of how they choose to enjoy it. Bus tours are touristy but sometimes theres a reason that everyone is taking them.
Below are the contact details for April and Canyon Fever Guides. We hope you enjoy your time with her as much as we did!