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!
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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!
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?”
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.
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.
Pine trees managed to grow within the slots between the hoodoos:
Bristlecone Pines are the oldest single living organisms known, and there were several at the end of the aptly named Bristlecone Loop Trail:
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.
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.
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.
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.