Bryce Canyon

The winds at Bryce Canyon by the time we got there were 20 gusting to 35 knots and a 10+ knot crosswind. For me that is a little scary. Fortunately it is a very long runway so I came in fast with ten degrees of flaps and just waited it out above the runway, taking my time to kick out the crab. It was fine.

Zion is still my favorite park in the area, but Bryce is a great place to spend a little time and take in the amazing colors. We did the popular (but popular for a reason) rim trail, Navajo trail and Queen’s Throne trails. This was mid-summer so the place was packed.

Logistically the easiest thing to do if you are not exploring too widely, is to stay at Ruby’s Inn. They will pick you up at the airport and the NPS official tour bus has a stop right outside Ruby’s. I was wondering how Ruby’s came to have a seemingly preferred status but then read they had a lodge at the Bryce overlook before it was a park and were kicked out when it became a national park. So it seems they deserve the status.

We made sure we hiked early the second day, then took off for the short flight to Escalante. My goal was to avoid the anxiety of the prior flight and be on the ground by 12:00 noon. We did and it was still pretty bumpy, but we missed the big forecasted winds that came up later, so that was great.

2 thoughts on “Bryce Canyon

  1. Paul Macfarlane September, 2019 — 5:31 pm

    I am searching for insights on a small plane crash June 26, 1981 at 6:30 AM on Smith peak in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada that killed an experienced commercially rated pilot, and my father-in-law, one of two passengers, who was also a private pilot. The plane was on a 270 heading bound for Carson City from SLC, and missed the ridgeline by 40 feet in what the NTSB report labelled a controlled crash with fire. It was the same model as yours, a Cessna T210, presumed not pressurized because the oxygen was in use at the time. The elevation of the crash site was 10400 ft., so the O2 deployment makes sense just due to elevation. It was a business trip.
    From your experience, what is it like flying through the basin and range topography of Nevada? What is the likelihood of getting caught in rotor downdrafts at 6:30 AM on a 270 heading approaching what was probably the highest topography of the trip? Nobody in the family really wants to talk about it, but I have long been curious about how such a tragedy could have happened. It doesn’t make much sense and didn’t get a thorough investigation despite an insurance payout.The crash occurred in the middle of an early summer heat wave that reached record high for the airport, but I can’t imagine that density altitude should have been an issue so early in the day. I’m not a pilot myself, but a bit of an aviation buff.

    1. Hi Paul,

      A T210 is a very capable plane with three people in it, so it may be just some random event or mechanical failure. Since they didn’t investigate you don’t even know some basics like whether the prop was spinning when it crashed. Maybe they figured a miss of 40 feet means they just plain missed the ridge.

      The following happened to me, but it doesn’t mean it happened to them. But it illustrates something like this could. I was flying my wife to Sedona early in the morning in perfectly smooth air over the Sierras. As we passed Mammoth Mountain I said, “Hey, you haven’t seen Mammoth from the air – check this out”. I turned right into the lee side of Mammoth and straight into unseen rotors on a clear day. We had been flying high enough to be in perfectly smooth air. We were just above the elevation of the top of the mountain. Both of these things made me feel safe. It was the worse turbulence I’ve ever encountered. We basically lost control for about 15 seconds and then got rocked badly for a few minutes more as I pulled power, lowered my gear and descended quickly.

      On a clear, calm early morning I’ll sometimes fly really close to the passes because I can, usually when I’m alone. A wind gust might cause problems when doing that.

      Anyway there are so many possibilities you really can’t know, except that sometimes things just happen.

      Regards, Ney

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