Lane wants to do the Mossy Cave trail, so we stop at the trailhead and follow a stream to the split in the trail. It is pretty quiet here, so when the other couple on the trail turns toward the small waterfall just upstream, we turn toward the Mossy Cave.
The Mossy Cave is pretty dry, so while green, it isn’t particularly entrancing. (But then walk to get there wasn’t very strenuous either, so that seems like a fair trade-off.) The waterfall looks far more enticing.
Lane finds a comfortable bench with a good view and stops there. I continue on to the waterfall, which is the largest in a series of small waterfalls that become visible only when I reach the edge of the one I had been seeking. Oddly shaped orange rock formations rise up on one side of the stream, on the other lies a traditional wooded mountain valley. The stream is fast and shallow, benefiting from a pioneer-period canal that still diverts water to it from a much larger river.
The clouds have been moving in and we continue explore the park under increasingly dark skies. We start out heading directly for the end of the road at Rainbow and Yovimpa points, but the cars coming our way have their headlights on and windshield wipers swishing away. This make us question the wisdom of continuing on. Maybe we should take in the scenery now, before it starts raining where we are.
The Natural Bridge viewpoint is dominated by its namesake feature. The dark sky provides a dramatic backdrop for the rich colors of the wet stone.
The air is damp and misty. It saturates the colors of the landscape, compensating for the sun’s missing illumination.
Soon a patch of heavy rain moves into the amphitheater itself, obscuring everything within and behind it.
Soaked visitors at each viewpoint attest to the amount of water being released, but it is only raining lightly – just a bit more than mist – when we arrive at Rainbow point. But even under dark skies, the views of the amphitheater from this end of the park are pretty astounding.
From Rainbow point, we work our way along the rim and then through part of the Bristlecone Loop trail and over to Yovimpa Point. As we move from point to point, the landscape changes: At Rainbow Point hoodoos are the highlight, but at Yovimpa, the main attraction is the Colorado Plateau itself.