Thursday, December 20, 2018

Navigating Bryce Canyon National Park

A July 1 hike through southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon was one of the most rewarding I’ve experienced, and the trails you can traverse in its amphitheatre in hours will leave you with memories for a lifetime.

You can follow the 90-year-old Bryce Canyon National Park's Rim Trail from Bryce Point, at 2,529 metres above sea level, for 4.4 kilometres to Sunrise Point. The relatively flat route will give you great panoramic views of the unique limestone rock formations that have been formed over more than 60 million years through weathering, frost-wedging and erosion.

It took me less than two hours, with numerous stops along the way for photos and inspiration. I was particularly fascinated by the windows, which are formed when parts of  rock walls break away, and the columns (called hoodoos) that emerge from those when the tops eventually collapse. If you use your imagination, the hoodoos start to look like familiar objects.

I walked less than a kilometre back to Sunset Point, on a paved portion of the Rim Trail, before descending more than 160 metres down the steep Wall Street Trail to the bottom of the canyon. The views are just as spectacular from below, but from a different perspective, and you can get closer to the hoodoos.

I followed the Navajo Loop Trail before making a brief detour to see a formation called The Two Bridges. I returned and continued my journey on the Queen’s Garden Trail, which included a few more trees. It culminated in a rock formation that looks like a statue of Queen Victoria. The trail continued upward until I reached the canyon rim again at Sunrise Point.

The Two Bridges
The 4.6-kilometre Navajo/Queen's Garden loop took me 2.5 hours to hike, with breaks factored in to stand back and soak in the incredible scenery, which reminded me somewhat of the fairy chimneys I’d encountered in Turkey’s Cappadocia region — though without the extensive cave systems -- a year earlier.

Though the temperature was above 30 degrees Celsius and the afternoon sun was blazing, I didn’t feel overly hot. However, I was covered in fine red dirt and was thankful for a free shuttle bus that took me through the park’s forests and meadows — in which I spotted three deer, several prairie dogs and a few small lizards — to just outside its entrance and dropped me off across the road from my Bryce accommodations at Ruby’s Inn. 

The complex offers hotel lodging, a campground, a variety of activities, stores and restaurants. After a long shower, I figured my rewarding day had earned me a large dinner, and the amount and variety of food (salad bar, salmon, chicken, pork, beef, roasted and mashed potatoes, ice cream and fruit) I consumed for $24.99 at the inn’s Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room was just what I needed.

1 comment:

DtothaC said...

As with many of your adventures Steve, it would be good to follow in your footsteps one day.