Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bryce Canyon

(Continuing the recap of my mid-October trip to southern Utah and Northern Arizona...)

Two National Parks down - one to go!

National Park number three!

Despite the damp weather, so far our Southwestern US trip had been a success.  My hubby and I had spent time at both Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon's North Rim.  Now it was time to head north again to visit the final National Park on our agenda - Bryce Canyon.

First panorama

Leaving Jacob Lake, Arizona, we headed back into Utah.  And for once it wasn't raining!  Although a few low clouds still hung in the sky, at least they weren't dropping moisture.  It was a dry, uneventful three hour drive to Bryce Canyon. 

Interesting rock formations

After the requisite park sign photos (hey, it's a tradition!) we headed to the visitor center.  Not only needing to use the little girl's room, I also wanted to get some hiking recommendations.

Super muddy trail!

Turned out it was a good thing we stopped by the visitor center.  I learned:  1.)  The park shuttle system was done for the season and  2.) 5 inches of rain that fell over the past week had rendered most of the hiking trails impassible, either by rockfall or thick gooey mud.  The only ones still open were the Queen's Garden and Navajo Loops.

These hoodoos looked like ship masts

Darn!  Foiled by rain once again!  And on a non-stormy day....

Looking down on Queen's Garden

But we'd traveled all the way for Oregon to see this National park, and see it we would, despite the trail closures.

Trees growing on narrow ridge

So Roger and I headed to the Queen's Garden Trailhead.  A short walk from one of the many parking lots led us to Bryce Canyon's edge.  Looking out over the rim, I gasped at the multitudes of colorful rock spires stretching out in all directions, as far as the eye could see.

Peek-a-boo canyon

These tall, slender spires, known as hoodoos, were formed by water and ice erosion.  Bryce Canyon is composed of limestone, siltstone and dolomite layers.  An uplift of the Colorado Plateau created cracks in these layers, enabling water to flow into the rock.  Over time, the water's action widened these cracks into deep slot canyons.  Variations in rock layers created the interesting shapes of these strange features.

The trail down into Queen's Garden

A Paiute Indian legend tells of a people who lived in a beautiful city built by Coyote.  When these people began behaving badly towards Coyote, he transformed them all into stone. (The endless rows of hoodoos do kind of resemble a crowd of people...)

Narrow rock gap

A sign pointed towards a nearby viewpoint.  Of course I wanted to see it!  Following the rim trail, Roger and I had our first encounter with Bryce Canyon's famous sticky mud.  The consistency of peanut butter, it clung to our shoes like glue.  Luckily it wasn't very deep, or our boots would have stayed behind.  Now I understood the reason for so many trail closures.

Heading towards a tunnel

After oohing and aahhing at the viewpoint (and trying in vain to scrape mud off our boot soles!)  we turned around and headed back through the mud to the Queen's Garden trailhead.  The trail dived down into the canyon itself, passing by lots of tall, impressive hoodoos.

View through the tunnel

Oh there was so much to see!  Every bend in the path brought another group of spectacular rock carvings.  They rose from the canyon's bottom, like colorful church steeples.  The bright earthtones of pink, orange, and cream made for lovely photo subjects (despite the cloudy gray skies).

Tall spires above

Since this was one of the few trails still open, it was extremely busy.  We definitely were not alone.  People of all ages, shapes, and sizes streamed up and down the path.  Sometimes I had to wait my turn to get a photo.  I was surprised to see so many people still here in mid-October.

Taking in the scenery

So...many....cool....photo subjects!  There was always something catching my eye, and I lagged far behind my hubby.  Poor Roger was forced to wait for me many times.

We added the Navajo Loop to our hike

After a mile and a half, we came upon a junction with the Navajo Loop.  It advertised a short half mile jaunt to Sunset Point, so of course we decided to check it out.

The steep climb out

This trail took visitors back up the canyon.  A steep path that wound through a narrow canyon, we traversed sets of never-ending switchbacks until finally reaching the rim.

The rewards of our climb

Although this climb got our hearts thumping, I didn't mind at all - the views were fantastic!

Thor's Hammer

We passed by a tall hoodoo with a square rock perched upon a slender column.  Named "Thor's Hammer" it was one of the park's more well-known attractions.

Windy trail to the rim

Once again back on the rim, Roger and I followed another path, hugging the very edge.  Oh was the scenery spectacular!

Admiring the view at the canyon's rim

I couldn't get enough of these colorful hoodoos.  Even Roger got in on the action, taking shots with his little camera.

The hoodoos go forever!

The rock pillar shapes changed depending upon location.  In some places the rock spires were smooth with pointy tops.  Other places, the hoodoos were more uniform in thickness, with lots of cracks circling their sides. 

Interesting formations

To me, the rock formation shapes and colors reminded me of prehistoric times.  They looked like something you'd see on a "Flintstones" cartoon (Yabba, Dabba, Doo!)

No place like Bryce Canyon!

Although short and crowded, I totally enjoyed our trip through the Queen's Garden and Navajo Loops.  But once we'd explored these trails, it was still early afternoon.  With most of the other trails closed, what else could we see?  Happily my hubby and I did find another cool place.  I'll share that, and more of Bryce Canyon's wondrous scenery in my next post.

Stay tuned!


  1. My oh my! Your always take such beautiful pictures.

  2. Excelente trabalho fotográfico.
    Serras e desfiladeiros fantásticos e muito belos.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

  3. Glad some trails were open! You still got to see the best! The colors are amazing , actually everything is amazing about this place.

  4. Awesome scenery and photos, Linda. I need to visit these places.

  5. What a spectacular place, and awesome photos!

  6. Hello Linda, I really enjoyed this post. Bryce is one of my favorite parks. Hiking these trails is like being in a fairyland. The hoodoos, colors and shapes are just stunning. Wonderful series of photos. Thanks for taking me along. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

  7. Fabulous pictures of a fabulous place. I love the hoodoos, and you captured them wonderfully. :-)

  8. AWESOME! I have visited Bryce but only hiked trails on the outer edges of the park, I've never dropped into the center of all those fabulous formations...so, so cool! You were probably kind of lucky to have the cloud cover, I imagine bright sun would have washed out some of the amazing colors of the rocks. Thanks for taking me into the interior of this amazing place!

  9. what gorgeous sights...thanks for sharing.

  10. Awesome photos under difficult conditions.

  11. Bryce is an awe-inspiring place and your photos do it justice. I've stayed at the rim - once in one of those cute little cabins. Both times I was there in the spring, it was freezing cold!

  12. We did the same loop back in 2002, well before my photography days. Bryce Canyon got short shrift though. No hikes, not much more than a drive by. You caught really great light here, and really got a chance to explore! Makes me want to go back and spend some time here.

  13. Oh my gosh...what an incredible place! It is absolutely breathtaking. And so are your photos!

  14. I am dying here - I want to visit these parks so badly.

    On a side note - I just received The National Geographic "Guide to National Parks" book to review. I cannot put it down. You'd like this book.

  15. What a pretty place! Your photos are so well done! :)

  16. What a fascinating, beautiful place! Love the incredible colors there!
    Blessings, Aimee

  17. Great! The high step to avoid the mud is a classic - used all over the world!

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. Totally sensational. I thought Zion was spectacular but this is awesome. I can well understand your camera clicking all the time.

  19. Hi! The various rock formations are stunning beautiful. I enjoyed your photos very much. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Lovely - one of the more magical parks

  21. I loved Bryce when I was there years ago. Your photos show how beautiful that park is!

  22. Hello Linda,
    Fantastic pictures. That must be great to be in that national park.
    So special with the rocks and the amazing views. Very impressive.

    Many greetings,

  23. Wow! Amazing pictures--love to see all the different scenes. I just got a Nikon D200 used and I am hooked. Happy to say I am a new follower. Have a great weekend! xo

  24. Too bad about the mud but your pictures are glorious!

  25. Bryce Canyon is high on my hit list once we retire. Great shots!

  26. Your photos are breath taking, Linda. Glad you were able to get in and not too mud bogged.

  27. The hoodoos are so colorful and plentiful! Imagine the eons of weather that created them!

  28. Wow, the rock formations and the colours are spectacular!


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