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Bryce Canyon: Hoodoo, Will You Do?

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, not a canyon at all, is actually a series of massive, natural amphitheaters lining the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Located 50 miles northeast of Zion, it’s also 1,000 feet higher- and much cooler- than Zion National Park. Driving along the 18-mile main park road, we stopped at lookouts claiming over 9,100 feet elevation. Although the park covers 35,835 acres, you can get a good feel for it’s highlights in a full day, if you plan properly.

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Bryce Canyon’s Hoodoos

Bryce isn’t technically a canyon because it wasn’t created by water erosion. Rather, headwind erosion carved the amphitheater features from the Paunsaugunt rocks.

This erosion process excavated the delicate and colorful rock pillars known as hoodoos. The stars of the show, these features are the iconic symbol of Bryce Canyon.

The hoodoos bore a striking resemblance to the fairy chimney rock formations of Cappadocia in Turkey’s central Anatolia region. In fact, I kept thinking to myself, this is America’s Cappadocia!

It’s one of the strangest, most magnificently intriguing natural sites you’ll ever see

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Of the three national parks we visited on our Utah trip, Bryce Canyon might just be my favorite. The park receives a fraction of the visitors that Zion and the Grand Canyon report, supposedly due to its “remoteness” (although it’s only an hour’s drive from Zion). We encountered so few others on the trail that we actually got to know the few people we continued to bump in to (there are three intersecting loops on the trail we picked, so we often crossed paths with the same people).

Bryce Canyon

The hike we chose, Queens Garden/Peekaboo/Navajo Loop, is one of National Geographic’s 20 best national park hikes. I loved the constant elevation change, descending in to the “canyon” then climbing out – four times or so. The landscape variations of snow, rock, trees, towering canyons and wide open plateaus left no room for boredom. Clean, refreshing air, invigorating temperatures made the thinner atmosphere easier to tolerate (expect to huff & puff a bit at 8,000+ feet, though!) More details on this epic hike forthcoming (next post)!
Bryce hoodoo

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Bryce Canyon is a photographers playground. I thought I was bad. Alan took over 1,000 photos! In fact, he stayed about 30 minutes behind me, so distracted by the art of his subject matter. 

Bryce Canyon

I call these the owl eyes!

Bryce hoodooHave you been to Bryce Canyon National Park? What were your impressions?

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17 Responses to Bryce Canyon: Hoodoo, Will You Do?

  1. Alison January 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM #

    What an amazing place! Now I want to go there.
    We were just recently in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile which is an extraordinary and beautiful and surreal landscape. Bryce is absolutely its equal.

    • Lindsay January 13, 2014 at 4:23 PM #

      Thanks, Alison! I almost went with a friend to Atacama. It’s definitely high on my list! Did you get any of those amazing shots in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats?

      • Alison January 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM #

        Yeah, lots. Coming up in the next post (or maybe the one after – 3 days overland from San Pedro to Uyuni one of the great highlights of the Sth America trip so I might break it into 2 posts)

        • Lindsay January 13, 2014 at 6:41 PM #

          Can’t wait to read them/see the photos!

  2. Trips By Lance January 13, 2014 at 1:51 PM #

    Seriously, this is amazing. I would love to do this trip. The photos are great. Really makes me want to visit. Maybe I can use this post and your help to convince Stacey to make this trip. I’d like to do a weeklong trip hitting the parks of southern Utah and vicinity.

    • Lindsay January 13, 2014 at 4:24 PM #

      You totally should! It’s cheap and easy! (these are my selling points!) I’ll help you convince Stacey. This trip was totally for Alan- but I had to make it happen!! 😉

  3. pmaghamfar January 13, 2014 at 9:31 PM #

    I can’t remember how many photos we took, it’s as if you think you’ll capture just a flick of a moment. I love Bryce, it’s beyond description!

    • Lindsay January 15, 2014 at 6:16 PM #

      I agree! It’s hard to describe the other-worldly-ness of Bryce! I felt like I was walking around the surface of another planet!

  4. Mary {The World Is A Book} January 14, 2014 at 2:23 AM #

    Beautiful photos and you really captured the landscape and the stunning hoodoos. We were there last year when it was covered with snow. But, some of the trails were closed. Love Bryce Canyon! It’s one of my favorite National Parks. We can’t wait to go back during warmer weather to hike.

    • Lindsay January 15, 2014 at 6:17 PM #

      Thanks, Mary! I try! I’ll bet Bryce was so beautiful covered in snow. The temperatures were perfect when we were there. I don’t imagine it gets too hot in the summer, but with those uphill climbs, I like a little bit of chill in the air!!

  5. Adelina January 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM #

    Those pillars look out of this world! They’re so interesting to look at. I would love to be able to see it in person.

    • Lindsay January 15, 2014 at 6:18 PM #

      That’s exactly what it’s like, Adelina- another world! I definitely felt like I was on Mars (or at least a movie set staged on some extra-terrestrial planet). You should go!

  6. wanderingeducators January 14, 2014 at 8:59 PM #

    Now I want to go! It is so incredibly beautiful!

    • Lindsay January 15, 2014 at 6:19 PM #

      You SHOULD go! It’s a unique experience!

  7. Donna Hull February 11, 2014 at 10:46 PM #

    It’s been several years since I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park. Your photos make me want to return. Stargazers also visit Bryce for the dark sky. They say that the Milky Way looks amazing.

    • Lindsay February 11, 2014 at 11:18 PM #

      The starts WERE amazing!! The air is so clear, and with the high altitude, you can really see so much of the night sky!


  1. Lesetipps zum Wochenende #011 | Von Hamburg bis Hawaii - January 31, 2014

    […] Garden/Navajo Trail. Wie auch wir waren sie in der Nachsaison / Off-Season dort und hatten die Schönheit der Hoodoos von Bryce fast ganz für […]

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