Unparalleled Uniqueness – Bryce Canyon National Park

Moving to Ruby’s Inn RV Park from Cannonville was probably the shortest campground move we’ve ever made, a mere 13 miles to get us right outside Bryce Canyon National Park for a week.

A little heads-up here: this post is loaded with vibrant images of rocks galore!

Bryce Canyon National Park

No need to hook up the car for this short jaunt!

Prior to the move we had already filled our eyes and minds with the awe and wonder of this awesome place as we took the scenic drive with friends Dave and Faye.  We did the drive the right way by going all the way to the end of the road and working our way back – leaving the magnificent view at Inspiration Point as one of the final stops.  It was mind-blowing, and a perfect standing ovation for this place.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is not a canyon, but a 56.2 square-mile series of more than a dozen natural amphitheaters.  It’s a place like no other we’ve seen.  Its spires, rocky temples, castles, pillars, walls, windows and arches are arranged within huge amphitheaters of red rock that cannot be captured, although we certainly tried by keeping both of our cameras blazing every day.

Hoodoos

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Parl

The vistas of spires displayed various shades of orange, red, ochre and pink with chalk-white highlights, depending on the lighting conditions and time of the day.  They were so colorful and wondrous that we were constantly gasping right along with all the other tourists!

Hoodoos

Bryce Canyon National Park

hoodoos

 

These nature-chiseled pinnacles known as hoodoos are yet another product of erosion.  It all began about 55 millions years ago as the lower pink layer of iron and manganese was deposited as muds and silts in meandering streams and shallow lakes.  The upper white layer represents limestone deposited later in a shallow lake system.  Over time the layered sediments consolidated into rock, and the effects of wind, water and millions of frost/thaw cycles took over to carve the unique sculptures.  If interested, click here to read more information available from the National Parks System.

Wall of Windows

Many of the hoodoos, fins and spires have been given names, and for fun we added a few of our own.  Besides, depending on the time of day and viewing angle they can look like something totally different!

Bryce Canyon National park

We called this the “Not now my dear, the kids are watching” formation

Thor, Bryce Canyon

This is Thor

Fairyland Loop

A pair of cowboy boots?

We hiked just about every available trail during our stay, several offering us a close-up view with a different perspective from the canyon floors.  The sun and clouds created magical effects on the amazing rock sculptures.

Part of the early morning routine as we woke up with a frozen water hose and ice on the car

To see all of the hidden treasures we hiked trails rated from easy (Rim Trail and Bristlecone Loop) to medium (Sheep Canyon Trail) to strenuous (Fairyland Loop and the Figure-8 combination of Queens Garden, Peekaboo Loop and Navajo Loop).

Tower Bridge, Fairyland Loop

Tower Bridge as seen from Fairyland Loop

Peekaboo Trail

Hoodoos along the Peekaboo Trail

With both of us taking hundreds of photos every day, selecting the best ones to share was a challenging and time-consuming process.  Folks who have been here will probably agree that it’s hard to take a bad photo!

Sheep Creek, Bryce Canyon National Park

We encountered at least six of these medallions along the trails and could have claimed a reward if we had recorded them properly.  But we were too busy hiking and taking pictures to pursue it

Most of the “must-do” trails we chose began from the rim with a steep descent into the canyons.  Of course, that means a steep climb back up at the end of the hike.  We definitely got some good workouts!

Navajo Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park

An early start at the first switchback of the Navajo Loop.  This area was swarming with people on our way back out

Peekaboo Loop Switchback

The second switchback at Peekaboo Loop

Peekaboo Trail

Peekaboo, I see you!

On the canyon floor we were mesmerized as we weaved through amazing formations into the heart of the hoodoos.  We walked through tunnels and craned our necks while playing a game of  “what do you think that formation looks like?”

Under the Rim Trail

Hiking the Under the Rim Trail near Bryce Point

Under the Rim Trail

Tunnel on the Under the Rim Trail

From afar we could see loads of tourists following Sunset Trail up to a junction with Navajo Loop.  Many turned around when they saw the steep downward switchback, realizing the effort required to climb back out.

Sunset Point Bryce Canyon National Park

A popular tourist overlook – Sunset Point

Queens Garden Trail

The Queens Garden with her many subjects standing at attention

Trees clinging to the rim show the extent of erosion here.  As roots become exposed scientists are able to calculate that the cliff is retreating at an average rate of about one foot every sixty years.

Bristlecone Pine Tree

These amazing trees adapt to their harsh environment

Pine trees managed to grow within the slots between the hoodoos:

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Bristlecone Pines are the oldest single living organisms known, and there were several at the end of the aptly named Bristlecone Loop Trail:

Bristlecone Pine Tree

A Bristlecone Pine that lasted for 1,600 years.

A hike we had planned along the Rim Trail was stymied by construction between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point, but we were able to add several miles from other outlying trails to make up for it.

Peekaboo Trail Loop

Peekaboo Trail – wow, did we love that hike!

Fairyland Trail Loop

Fairyland Trail with the China Wall in the middle left

Queens Garden Trail

Queens Garden Trail

Beyond our hiking escapades, we had the pleasure of meeting fellow bloggers that Steve had been following for several months – Mike, Kathie and Opie from Life Rebooted.  Opie is the cool and high-energy doggie of the group, and Steve forgot to ask if Opie was short for Opium?  Maybe we’ll learn one day.

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The natural beauty of Bryce Canyon left us in awe.  Stunning, breathtaking, spectacular and unique, this became our #1 must-do national park if we had to pick one.

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Inspiration Point

Bryce Canyon

There is nothing like this anywhere else!

It may seem we lingered long – 10 weeks to be exact – in Southern Utah (also known as Red Rock Country).  Our response is, “No way”!  There are still many “stones” left unturned, and we’ll be back next year.

 

Next up:  We are out of Red Rock Country!