Bryce Canyon National Park is the next stop for the #fuseboxiders on the Utah Grand Tour. To review, this morning we left Lake Powell and rode along Utah Highway 95, Utah Scenic Byway 12, and visited Capitol Reef National Park—so it has been a busy day. We come in to Bryce just before sunset and will explore it more the next day.
Into Bryce Canyon
First things first, the road along Bryce Canyon, like most NPS roads is well-maintained and can get busy by distracted tourists. Keep your head on a swivel but enjoy the twisties.
The main sights are off the bike. We’re here to look at some endless vistas and rock formations. As suggested by the rangers, we rode to the end of the park road first and worked our way back north to the park entrance.
Whitney leads the troop to our first overlook, Rainbow Point.
At just over 9,100 feet, this is the highest elevation in the park. On the way through the next few overlooks, you will certainly see ravens and if you’re lucky you’ll see the 9 ft. wingspan of the California Condor. Peregrine falcons and ospreys are also in the area. In fact, ospreys that nest here fish in the Tropic reservoir—two miles away. Imagine carrying your catch for that long.
Below, Kevin contemplates telling us that all the overlooks look the same.
Natural Bridge overlook shakes up the view just a bit since this park is known more for the hoodoos and not for its arches. More on the hoodoos later.
Next, Whit seems to like the view at the appropriately named Farview overlook.
Farview Point provides spectacular views of landmarks that make up the Grand Staircase. From north to south you can see: the Aquarius Plateau (Pink Cliffs), the Kaiparowits Plateau (Grey Cliffs), Molly’s Nipple (heh), and even glimpses of the Kaibab Plateau on which lies the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
How about those Hoodoos
Bryce Point is the first look at the famous Bryce Canyon hoodoos. Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands. Nowhere in the world are they as abundant as in the northern section of Bryce Canyon National Park.
The difference between Hoodoos and pinnacles or spires is that hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a “totem pole-shaped body.”
At Bryce Canyon, hoodoos range in size from that of an average human to heights exceeding a 10-story building. Formed in sedimentary rock, hoodoo shapes are affected by the erosional patterns of alternating hard and softer rock layers. The name given to the rock layer that forms hoodoos at Bryce Canyon is the Claron Formation. This layer has several rock types including siltstones and mudstones but is predominantly limestone. Thirty to 40 million years ago this rock was “born” in an ancient lake that covered much of Western Utah. Minerals deposited within different rock types cause hoodoos to have different colors throughout their height.
Since we didn’t have time to hike and get close to the hoodoos, nowhere on the trip was I sadder to not have my zoom lens (it broke). But, with my only lens left, we’re able to watch the sunset and grab a photo with the hoodoos.
Bryce Amphitheater (the popular hoodoo section) can be seen from five overlooks.
Ebenezer Bryce, the Mormon pioneer who first settled this area, is known to have said of his namesake canyon “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.”