Thursday, June 6, 2013

Places of my Heart: Bryce Canyon National Park

There are some places in the world that are so beautiful they take your breath away no matter how often you visit them. Bryce Canyon in Southwestern Utah certainly falls into this category.

Its name is misleading - Bryce Canyon is not a canyon at all, it is not formed by a river. It is a formation of pink/sienna cliffs; or to be more accurate, a series of amphitheaters eroded from the cliffs by the weather. It  is the highlight of the Grand Staircase, a series of step-like uplifted rock layers stretching north from the Grand Canyon.

Bryce Canyon, at an altitude between 7000 and 9000 feet above sea level (the air IS thinner here), eventually eroded into interesting formations, the oddest and most remarkable among them the so-called hoodoos.

In this picture, taken during the day, they are pink (sort of). But look at them in the morning, right at sunrise and see how they change color.

This changing of the color goes on during the entire day. The hoodoos and other formations (pinnacles, spires, crevices etc.) also have different colors within themselves which can make quite spectacular sights.

I visited Bryce Canyon in late September, but mostly in the winter. The white and pink/sienna colors create a beautiful contrast.

If you don't have much time, you can drive along the road at the rim and admire the "canyon" from above. That alone will be an unforgettable experience. However, there are a few trails leading down into the center of the hoodoos, the most famous ones being the Queens Garden Trail and the more challenging Navajo Trail. Both remain open during winter; however, especially the Navajo Trail is still quite a challenge because there are many parts where the sun doesn't reach and the trail can be very icy. Even with good hiking boots I sometimes got down on all fours in order to proceed. Be prepared for a strenuous hike, especially on the way back up to the rim (carry enough water!!).

However, it is worth it. Navajo Trail is one of the most beautiful hiking experiences.

Right beneath the rim where you can see the trail winding down

It is very steep

The constant changing of the light and colors is fascinating

It's hard to believe that anything would grow here. 

Looking up!

When you have reached the bottom, it is a very comfortable and beautiful hike. From here you get a completely different perspective of Bryce Canyon. You have time to explore the rock formations and trees (with your eyes only, please!).

From here you can stay on the Navajo Loop and return to the rim or you can connect to the Queens Garden Trail and return through some spectacular scenery.

Up on the rim you will see many mule deer as well as lots of chipmunks and ground squirrels. There is an abundance of birds in the park. I will always love the ravens.

Close to the very end of the Rim Road near Rainbow Point you can see this beautiful rock arch.

Here's a view beyond Bryce Canyon - the entire area is simply breath taking. Those mountains in the back you can see for ever when you approach Bryce Canyon via Highway 12, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Utah - but that would be another blog post.

Bryce Canyon faces East and South, so one thing you shouldn't miss is the sunrise there. Yes, it means getting up early, and in winter it is freaking cold. However, it is something you will never forget. The best view for a sunrise (in my humble opinion) is from Inspiration Point. From here you can see the sun creeping over the mountains and how first a little bit of the amphitheater is illuminated and gradually more and more, until the entire formation is covered with the most beautiful light you can imagine.


Val said...

Oh, wow. I'll add this to my list of places to visit. I'd heard of it before but had never seen photos of it that made me want to see it in-person until now. Thank you for that. :)

And thank you again for your insightful comment on my blog.


Val ♥

Kay L. Davies said...

Absolutely stunning, Carola. I'm sending my husband a link to this post, to show him how beautiful it is, and why I want to go there. I won't be able to walk the trails, but he loves to climb up and down famous places.

MarveLes Art Studios said...

wow! i have wanted to go there ... even made an art quilt based on bryce canyon colorway... someday for real. your tour was fabulous, beautiful! and i've never seen views like that!

Anonymous said...

One summer long long ago, I visited Bryce briefly while on a camping trip at Navajo Lake. That whole area is so beautiful! The blue sky and water, green trees, and red soil make stunning compositions whatever direction you look. I've never seen it in winter - I love your snow photos.

Faye said...

Wow, what a spectacular photo-journey I have just taken! I have been to the northeast corner of Utah and to SLC but never to Bryce Canyon. Amazing scenes.

Elephant's Child said...

Oh my. Even as a photo journey this is breath-takingly beautiful.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

patty said...

Such fabulously beautiful images, Carola!! It has been a while since I have been there and both times were before I really knew what I was doing photographically.... so I would love to return. Especially during the winter!!

Magic Love Crow said...

Amazing!!! Breath taking!!! It is like you are in another world! Simply stunning!!

Randy said...

One day I really hope to see this in person. Great shots.

denthe said...

oh wow, that looks so beautiful! thanks for sharing ....

Mary said...

Breathtaking! I need to see this someday!

Maria Ontiveros said...

Gorgeous. We camped in Bryce once, long ago. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

foxysue said...

Simply spectacular, so glad I dropped by here today. You make a wonderful written guide too. :~)xxx


Hello Carola, What truly gorgeous, and incredible beautiful photos of Bryce Canyon, I have never been there but would love to oneday.. Thanks for sharing them with us.. Hugs Judy

gina said...

These beautiful images inspire me to go back to Bryce.....haven't been there in years, but now I am putting it at the top of my list. It is such an amazing sight and you captured it's unique beauty so well!

Ginnie said...

O.M.G. Why do we always hear about the Grand Canyon and almost never about Bryce Canyon???? I was somewhere near here when I was pregnant with Amy over 40 years ago but I don't remember much (lots of morning sickness!). I would LOVE to see this in the same way you have, Carola. WOWSER!

Unknown said...

I'm adding this place to my list also.
Wonderful, wonderful photos.

Brian Head said...

Wow! So many people have said that Bryce is a must see, and I agree.

Brian Head Utah