Couple’s decades-old love story began at Utah park. Now it’s their granddaughter’s turn

A sweet love story captivated fans of the Utah national park where the romance started decades ago.

Bryce Canyon National Park shared an old photo of the couple along with a tribute photo their granddaughter recently took with her new fiance in the same spot. People shared in the comments that the touching recreation of her grandparents’ photo had brought tears to their eyes.

“It was the summer of 1959, and a Bryce Canyon love story was just about to begin,” park officials wrote on the first photo. “63 years later, it would inspire the beginning of another.”

The story starts with a young woman named Elva about to embark on a summer working at the national park. She gazed out the window of a Utah Parks Company bus and saw Steve for the first time, officials said in the Facebook post in which they shared the photos.

“The girl beside her just so happened to know Steve, so Elva wished aloud, ‘I want him to ask me to go on a date,’” the post says.

He invited her to a “fireside program” less than a week later, where they shared their first kiss, according to the post.

While describing the first days of their romance all these years later, Elva Orton told park officials: “We could walk straight out in front of the Lodge to the (canyon) rim. There was a great place to make out. So we did that quite frequently. What can I say? We were madly in love.”

By the end of the summer, they knew they wanted to marry each other, the post says. But first Steve had to leave on a church mission.

It was our dream to meet back here at Bryce after two years,” Elva told park officials through tears in an interview posted to the park’s website.

That dream came true when Steve returned to the park.

Elva was working at the Grand Canyon by then, but “she caught the first bus back.”

“The ‘gearjammer’ driving the bus told everyone that she was returning to Bryce to meet her sweetheart,” the post says.

Elva told officials: “As soon as we got close to the Lodge he started honking the horn and they were all clapping for me…and he was standing there.”

They were married almost 55 years until Steve died in 2017, the post says. To celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, Elva returned to Bryce with their children and grandchildren, including her granddaughter, Paige.

Together they toured the lodge deluxe cabins and a linen cabin with walls and rafters full of the signatures of former employees.

“To the amazement and tears of all present, Steve Orton’s signature from 1957 was discovered near the door,” the post says. Officials shared an emotional photo of Elva pausing to reflect on her lifetime of memories with him.

“The next morning would bring even more amazement and tears,” officials said in the post. “Paige’s boyfriend Garrett drove through the night and surprised her with a sunrise marriage proposal along the canyon rim (she said yes). In homage to her grandparents, they then recreated a photo taken of Elva and Steve at Bryce Point in 1959.”

Paige told her grandma Elva: “Growing up this has been the most romantic place in the world to me because of your story.”

People shared their love for the touching story in the comments.

“What a beautiful story and legacy,” one said.

“Thank you for sharing this!” one of the grandchildren commented on the park’s Instagram post. “Grandma and Grandpa loved love, so I’m glad this is part of their legacy. And that has continued on with Paige especially!”

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