I found the free coffee for guests and I’m sitting outside the Bryce Canyon lodge, drinking some coffee. I woke up at 3 to drive into the park and see it by moonlight. I started hiking the Fairyland Canyon loop around 4, just before the first hints of dawn glow began to appear in the northeast. The last two times I visited, I took a night hike in the evening, but you have to wait and wait for it actually to be dark enough for the moon to cast strong shadows, for all the detail to reappear after the flatness cast over everything by the dusk’s grey sky. The moon is past full, so even if I’d waited for dark, it would have just been plain dark until the moon rose around midnight. And if you stay up till after midnight, there’s no getting up in time to see the sunrise. So I got up early enough to go on a night hike before dawn, which is pretty early.
It seems like an unusual thing to do, but not that weird, until I come into the park and it’s clear that nobody’s awake. I’m absolutely the only one hiking the trails in the magical moonlight. By dawn, maybe a handful of early risers have taken a cup of coffee to Sunrise Point, but nobody else has walked three miles out into the canyon to perch atop a hoodoo to watch the Utah sun, blindingly white from the instant it peeks over the horizon, light the whole canyon before them.