If you visit Utah National Parks, Bryce Canyon should not be missed. It is (surprisingly) not as popular as Zion and Moab. It is not, technically, a canyon, but rather a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion, yet there is no other place in the world that features as fine and abundant collection of hoodoos as Bryce. The park is family and wheelchair friendly, and has an ample parking. There are drinking water fountains around the parking lots, and all the necessary facilities. You can hike a whole day or only an hour, you can just walk along the rim, or just stand and look around – you will still enjoy yourself.
However, you should know that it is a high altitude location (above 8000 ft – up to 9000 ft). The trails vary from easy to moderate and strenuous; the descents and ascents are very steep though, and it could be very hot down there at the foot of the hoodoos. Do a good research before you pick up a trail. Thankfully, because of the high altitude it is always a bit cooler on the rim, and also thunderstorms are quite common in the area.
We paid $30 for a vehicle which gave us a 7 day access to the park.
What is “hoodoos“? Read this link, you will love it (all the links open in separate windows). In Bryce, most erosion occurs from “frost wedging” – rain water freezes and expands in the cracks of the rocks. You can find all the stages of erosion during your hike, from plateaus to fins and finally hoodoos. The process never stops, and when you come again, it will be a different Bryce.
Hoodoo has nothing to do with Woodoo, yet in Blackfoot mythology, the oddly shaped rock columns were some malignant giants whom the Great Spirit had turned to stone because of their evil deeds. Deep in the night, the petrified giants would wake up and throw boulders down upon any human who dared to hang around. I wouldn’t be surprised, since some rocks do look like they are barely balancing.
Geology of the hoodoos is fascinating, but the look of them is something you will never forget. The colors vary from brown to red, orange, pink and ivory, and change during the day and the weather. A few steps to the left or right – and you enjoy a different angle, different shapes and hues. You cannot get bored in Bryce.
Click on the photographs to enlarge. They are all resized to resolution of only 72px.
This huge natural bridge is spectacular. We have seen a smaller one too.
Our youngest team member is two, and we considered the shortest trail, the Navajo Loop that took us some 2 hours. Yet, you should be aware that more rocks fall on this trail than any other trail in the park. The last major rock slide occurred in 2011 though.
The trail begins to descend very steeply – don’t make it back to the rim this way! The series of switchbacks are very short, thankfully, but extremely steep anyway.
The trail passes through Wall Street, a narrow slot between the cliffs, and takes you to the canyon floor. In the image below – entering the Wall Street.
A look back.
Surprise greeting from a local resident. The little guy was very fat and had no fear of children. We took some hundred photographs of him and the kids.
Great views from the bottom of the canyon.
The Inspiration Point – the highest point in the Park. We stood there a day before. Under our feet there is a river bed.
The little legs are tired. It is time for a break and some snack.
We settled for a break, and there was another beautiful opportunity to take a photo. This Jay loved our company.
Full of energy, we proceed.
Some great views on the ascent.
The ascent was not that steep, or perhaps I just lied to myself… Still I felt dizzy two times and had to stop for a minute. Didn’t take many pictures, was focused on surviving 🙂
In the image below – the ascent trail, a view from the rim.
We had a lovely drive and stopped at almost each point on our map. The rain was coming and going. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any rainbow, and only a few distant lightning strikes. In addition to that friendly Chipmunk and the curious Jay, we saw some Mule deer. No Rattlesnakes again, darn it!
We loved our hotel, it was outside the Park. We loved the Rock shop, and all the funny props for children photographs, like Jail, Wooden Horse and Wooden Bears. We loved the stunning little Red Canyon where we made a stop and a short hike.
Thank you for taking this trip with me. If you ever have a chance, visit scenic Utah and enjoy a real adventure.