Navajo Loop & Queen’s Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park

Part 4 of our Bryce Canyon Road Trip (View Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6)

There are a couple places in the Southwest that we’ve visited that have made us say “Holy moly, is this place for real?” Like Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Chiricahuas, Monument Valley, Sedona, Zion… now we can add Bryce Canyon National Park to that list!

Arch Tunnel, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, UT
Scenic byway to get into the park.

For our time spent in this surreal park, we chose to hike 2 trails, the Navajo Loop & Queen’s Garden. These 2 trails, from what we read, are considered the best way to see Bryce Canyon as it takes you up close to the national park’s significant view points. We ended up missing the trailhead because we ventured onto the Rim Trail and hiked a mile into it before realizing what we were doing and had to back track… so we had a warm up hike before our real hike. Here are views from our warm up hike:
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Silver Reef Ghost Town

Part 3 of our Bryce Canyon Road Trip (View Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

William Tecumseh Barbee was one of the earliest people to prospect for silver in southwest Utah and made one of the most significant discoveries. His initial claims in Silver Reef were staked in 1875, and with a large rush of prospectors and miners brought in, the mine and mill were in full operation by 1878.

At its height, Silver Reef had a population of 2,000. There were hotels, 9 stores, 6 saloons, a bank, several restaurants, a hospital, 2 dance halls, 2 news papers, a china town and 3 cemeteries.

As the price of silver dropped, mines gradually began to close. By 1884, most were closed and by 1901, most buildings had been demolished. The old Wells Fargo bank still stands today and now houses a small museum & gift shop of the once bustling mining town.

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Grafton Ghost Town

Part 2 of our Bryce Canyon Road Trip (View Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

Grafton was one of several settlements established along the Virgin River, in 1859, to grow cotton. This was part of Brigham Young’s plan for Mormon self-sufficiency. Crops were planted, irrigation ditches dug and homes built. 3 years later in 1962, a flood destroyed the young town but the town was quickly rebuilt. By 1864 the town had grown to a population of 168 but constant raids by Navajo raiders & the outbreak of the Black Hawk War forced the town’s residents to move to Rockville for protection. The Grafton farmers would return daily to tend to their homefields, and by 1868, Grafton was resettled and the residents back.

To escape years of bare subsistence on limited acreage and loss of fields from repeated floods, Grafton’s men helped build a canal to deliver water to a wide bench 20 miles downstream. When the Hurricane Canal was finished in 1906, many Grafton families packed everything, some even their houses, and moved to Hurricane.

The last resident left in 1945.

Grafton is said to be the most photographed ghost town in the West, it has been featured as a location in several films, including 1929′s In Old Arizona and the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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