Bryce Canyon is infamous for their stone hoodoos. In various colors of red, orange, and white, the hoodoos remain as the result of years of erosion. Surprisingly, the erosion is not the result of wind – but of water, ice, and gravity. The rocks in Bryce Canyon consist of limestone, siltstone, dolomite and mudstone. Each of these rock types will erode at varying rates. That is how the strange hoodoo form takes shape. Click here for more information on how hoodoos form.
Bryce National Park has some of the clearest skies anywhere. On a clear day, you can see 100-150 miles out past Bryce Canyon, providing views into Arizona and New Mexico. Minimal light pollution also keeps Bryce Canyon one of three International Dark Skies parks in the United States. Special programs are offered at the park, showcasing unparalleled views of stars, planets, and the rest of the night sky. Be sure to catch sunrise and sunset here. They are magical!
Even though the park is located in the Utah desert, Bryce Canyon does get snow. When the snow falls here, there is something magical about the blanket of white atop the colorful stone. Because it sits on the Colorado Plateau, elevation of the park ranges from 6,600 to 9,100 feet. Approximately 200 inches of snow falls here, providing a suitable environment for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Hiking can be done, but the park recommends hiking in boots with ice traction control strapped to the soles.
This park provides so much variety to the traveling tourist. Not only are the hoodoos amazing in their reddish-orange color, but they are also a whitish color as well. This area of the canyon reminded me of the ancient Roman Colosseum.
You’ll also find arches and ‘windows’ – in the park. Windows start as narrow fractures within the rock, then weathering and erosion will eventually widen them.
After the hoodoos finally erode and collapse, piles and piles of rock and sand can be found. It’s amazing to see trees growing out of the dry, rocky landscape. Because the park spans 2,000 feet in elevation change, you can experience three different climate zones, all with different vegetation.
Listing 15 hikes, with 5 in each level of difficulty, Bryce Canyon offers hikes on and below the rim. Getting into the canyon is easiest by the Queen’s Garden Trail. The combination of the Queen’s Garden Trail and the Navajo Loop Trail is the most popular in the park. Here, you can see the popular ‘Wall Street’ and ‘Thor’s Hammer’ rock formations on this steep yet short trail. Of course, there are longer hikes for backpackers as well. Be sure to hike the Bristlecone Loop to see the amazing Bristlecone Pine trees, among the oldest living organisms on earth.
Utah offers so many beautiful National Parks, it would be a shame to miss them. When you head out to Bryce, make sure there is not a full moon. You’ll want to see as many stars as possible! 🙂