Bryce was our second to last scheduled stop on the Grand Circle road trip through the South West. I had gone a couple of years ago over Labor Day weekend and once again I have to say Bryce killed it! I loved it so much that I took a whole lot of photos. So many in fact that I’m going to split this part of the trip up as not to overwhelm you. Honestly, looking back at the photos of the hike through the area kinda overwhelms me. 🙂
We got there late in the evening and so for our first night there we stayed in a place near the park entrance. Oh thank the heavens for a hot shower! If only I could say the same thing about the near by restaurant. I can’t remember the name of the place, only that it was near the Subway, and I will never ever try going there again. The lack of service was unbelievably sad.
But, instead of dwelling on the lack of hot soup in my life, let’s move on to something far more inspiring…the following morning! After a good nights sleep and a hot cup of coffee we headed into the park, picked up some really great post cards, and set off in search of the perfect camp site. We found a lovely little spot right near the rim trail. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this.
After setting up camp, which is far easier to do when the sun is shining, then in the pitch black of night, we headed out to wander into Bryce Canyon, something I had been wanting to do since the last time I was there. There’s something really special about the place, or maybe its just all the Hoodoos. How much fun is it to say Hoodoo?
Since our camping spot was in the North Campground we headed south along the rim towards Sunrise Point. We started hiking down towards Queen Victoria via the Queens Garden Trail. The interesting thing about Bryce is that it is not one giant canyon but rather dozens of smaller canyons that have been sort of carved into a ridge. This erosion created thousands of ridges and Hoodoos in varying shades of orange, yellow, pink, red, and white and among them stand thousands of dark evergreens.
Once you start to hike into the canyons you are able to look up along the rim where you had come from and take in what are called the Pink Cliffs. These are the highest points and according to park literature they are also the most recent, geologically speaking, in a series of escarpments known as the Grand Staircase that covers a large portion of Southern Utah.
As you wander through the twists and turns you can’t help but be amazed that water was responsible for the creation of landscape surrounding you. Nothing is smooth and nothing is permanent and as I’m from California, I can’t help but pray that an earthquakes doesn’t just spontaneously happen and have the pinnacles come tumbling down. Not that that’s really a concern in Utah.
One of the interesting things I learned while there was that Bryce Canyon was not formed from erosion due to a central stream. This means that technically it’s not a canyon. It’s more a series of amphitheaters that extend for more than 20 miles. The largest is Bryce Amphitheater which is 12 miles long, 3 miles wide and 800 feet deep. I wonder if they’ll ever change the name?
Anyway, we continued hiking and did the Peekaboo Loop as well. It’s a short 1.3 mile hike that had a fair about of elevation change along the way which was fairly noticeable for me, but not too rough. Definitely not Mt Whitney rough. Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation along the rim and it’s about 1,000′ higher in elevation than Zion.
While there is evidence to show that humans inhabited parts of Bryce it wasn’t until the late 18the and early 19th century that European American’s started to explore the area. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent Scottish immigrant Ebenezer Bryce and his wife Mary to settle land in the Paria Valley. Supposedly they thought his carpentry skills would be handy.
Anyway, the Bryce family chose to set up their homestead below Bryce Amphitheater and let his cattle graze what are now the parks boarders. Legend has it that, Ebenezer Bryce thought the amphitheaters were a “helluva place to lose a cow.” I couldn’t agree with him more. The place is kind of like a maze stretching out miles in all directions.
Bryce is a place that I defiantly want to go back to. Next time, I’d like to hike Fairyland Loop, an 8 mile, supposedly little used, route that gives you a “more intimate view of the park”. Also, I’d like to get back there in the winter sometime. The photos I’ve seen of the park covered in snow are incredible. There’s a 3.5 mile Ski Loop near Paira View.
I’ll post more photos of my trip in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you’d like more information about Bryce Canyon, please visit the National Park Services website.