Bryce Canyon National Park- Southwest Roadtrip Part 2
After cutting through a narrow wedge of Arizona, we continued on to Utah toward our next destination, Bryce Canyon.
One of the best parts about our drive was the vast difference in scenery as we travelled state to state. One day we were driving through green meadows with snowed capped mountains as a backdrop, and the next is was huge red and orange rocks and desert roads so long that our human eyes couldn’t see where they ended. During our drive, we decided that if Colorado and Arizona were to have a baby, it would look like Utah. Utah had a lot of the large red rock plateaus and a partial desert look, but also had large pine trees and mountains mixed in. It was an interesting and beautiful blend of scenery and if you are a National Park lover like us, Utah is a must do. Utah is home to 5 unbelievable National parks including Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon. Since we only tackled one of these on this trip we had to make a difficult decision, but we ended up wanting to see the alien planet full of Hoodoos that is Bryce Canyon.
It really is hard to describe the how incredibly different Bryce Canyon is. The canyon, like many others in the Southwest, has been shaped by years of erosion. But in the case of Bryce, it shaped the large sandstone into these monumental, oddly shaped pillars called HooDoos. As the wind whips around them in circles inside the canyon, over time it wears away the lower layers leaving a larger top and giving them an unstable appearance. The most popular is the one they call Thor’s Hammer, but there are so many that line the paths of the park trails.
Traveling to Bryce Canyon National Park is not the easiest. It isn’t really around anything, so you have to make an effort to go a little out of your way if you want to visit. We stayed in the park for this one in one of the onsite lodges and there are a couple little restaurants and a general store as well. They also offer star gazing at night there, and it’s easy to understand why. Utah is known for having one of the most amazing skies for watching the stars and we definitely plan on going back to do some night photography as well as hit the rest of the parks.
There are a number of trails to take that will give you a great experience of Bryce Canyon. We took the Navajo Loop trail which started on the south side of the rim, winded down past Thor’s Hammer and to the canyon floor.
The trail moves around the floor for a little, and then we continued on the Queens Garden Trail which starts climbing back up the other side and connects a loop making the whole hike about 3 miles. Being on the canyon floor was a whole different experience then looking at it from up on the rim. The walls of hoodoos look so much more massive from the bottom looking up.
Once the switchbacks bring you back up to the rim, you will exit on the north side called Sunrise Point, so to complete the loop you simply have to walk the rim back to your starting point. Compared to other hikes, this one was relatively easier, but don’t underestimate how much the sun and heat can take out of you. We always start our hikes early in the morning to get ahead of the sun and the people. Even though this hike was a little shorter for us, it was a great warm up for the amazing adventure that was still yet to come.