August 5th – 8th — the first leg of our two-week honeymoon trip was spent in Bryce Canyon NP in southern Utah.
What struck us first as we left the interstate and got on the back roads were the rocks. Here on the Colorado Plateau, the rocks are very colorful, and the patterns, as they erode, make for some of the most incredible scenery found anywhere. Arches, hoodoos, spires, fins and other rock formations – the beauty here is really indescribable.
For a bit of clarity, Bryce Canyon isn’t a canyon like the Grand Canyon which was created by a river running through the bottom of it. Instead, these rock formations and cliffs are a part of a series of rock layers called the Grand Staircase which covers some 20,000 square miles starting in Utah with Bryce Canyon and ending with the Grand Canyon down south in Arizona. In between are various colors of rocks and cliffs – pink, gray, white, vermilion and chocolate in color. These stunning rock formations are created by a freeze and thaw effect that water has on limestone. This “frost-wedging” occurs and pieces of the rocks split off, creating hoodoos, fins, windows, etc.
Fred secured us a wonderful cabin in the park just off the rim of one of the amphitheaters. These horseshoe-shaped cliff sections are what make up the park, and walking along the rim edge of these mini-canyons and admiring the formations below was an activity we did several times a day for each of the four days we were here. We also descended below the plateau rim, both on foot and on horseback, for a chance to see the hoodoos and other formations up close.
We hiked several of the trails during our stay here, but two adventures stand out. First was the 9-mile hike we did on the Fairyland Loop Trail & Rim Trail. For several hours we ascended and descended nearly 1,000′ around and through these ghost-like hoodoo formations. Unbelievably, we came across a family with a couple of kids who were also making this 9-mile trek without any water – more than a little crazy and irresponsible! We gave them one of our water canteens, and by the look on the kids’ faces, the refreshment came just in time, for they looked parched and exhausted. That’s one of the cardinal rules of hiking: always carry more than enough water! And speaking of hiking to-dos, while the sun was hot, we both covered up almost entirely. Thank goodness for lightweight technical hiking gear that make long sleeves and long pants comfortable, even in high desert weather.
The second highlight of our trip was the four-hour horse/mule ride we took down into Bryce Amphitheater. On the backs of our two four-legged rides, Judge & Whiskey, we were able to get all around this spectacular place. There were so many other highlights from our visit here… from the delicious food in the Bryce Canyon Lodge restaurant, to the twisted beauty of 1,000 year-old bristlecone pines, to the incredible sunrises for which we arose very early to see. We also drove the 18-mile park road where we viewed stunning panoramas from the overlooks, and where arches, bridges, windows and grottos were the subjects of many-a-tourists’ photos, including ours.
Ebenezer Bryce, for whom this canyon was named, called this land “a helluva place to lose a cow.” Indeed it would be…!
Click on photos to open gallery in Flickr –