Bryce Canyon

Just a few of Bryce's amazing hoodoos

Just a few of Bryce’s amazing hoodoos

Our third day will forever be known as The Day We Found Good Coffee in Utah! Deciding to spend the day in Bryce Canyon, while driving up Highway 89 through the tiny hamlet of Orderville we sped past an adobe building called The Rock Stop, where I caught a sign out of the corner of my eye that said “Espresso.” Espresso? ESPRESSO! Queue brakes squealing as we hastily turned the car around to investigate. A mere twenty-file miles from where we were staying, finally we had found some decent caffeine!

What makes The Rock Stop so great (besides being only one of two places in a 100-mile radius of Kanab to have decent coffee) is its owner, Don Davis. As the reviews on TripAdvisor will attest to, Don’s about the nicest, most sincere person you’ll meet. A genuine love for conversation, a genuine love for rocks (hence his shop), and an espresso machine. AN ESPRESSO MACHINE! Heaven! From here on out, most of our days in Southern Utah would involve stopping by Don’s place for a coffee, some chat, random questions about the bazillion different rocks and minerals he has on display (along with purchasing a few each time), and hellos and giggles to his two goats out back. Don and The Rock Shop (along with Val at The Dog House Tavern in Kanab, which we’ll talk about later on) was one of those very rare treats you find when traveling. As much as our trip was about seeing the sights I’ll also fondly remember it for the mornings spent in his shop chatting about any number of things, unconcerned with the rest of the world.

On up the road we arrived at Bryce Canyon and its otherworldly geologic displays. Hiking the Navajo loop between Sunrise and Sunset point, taking drives up the canyon to see Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Rainbow and Yovimpa Points, it was just about the perfect day.

Except for the dozens of horses we saw tied up on short leads with no food, water, or respite from the midday sun.

We first watched these horses carrying a group of visitors out from below Sunrise Point. Once back at the corral near the lodge, the horses were left for the next hour-plus; hot, tired, and thirsty, still saddled and tied up to the corral fence, unable to move more than a yard and not given any water or shade, and waiting for the next group of post-lunch riders. It was both disheartening and angering, and Bryce Canyon should know and do better in looking after the animals in their care. This is not a complaint about Bryce Canyon having scenic horseback rides; it’s a complaint about how those animals were (not) being cared for and (not) attended to for hours on end between rides.

(Click on a pic to embiggen and view the full gallery.)
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