Bryce Canyon was a welcome break of sorts after Zion. It’s one of our smaller national parks, so the wonders are easily accessible. The primary sites are the “amphitheaters” along the cliff walls lined with hoodoos. Hoodoos are rock formations in which erosion first causes holes in the rocks, which widen to become arches. When the arches eventually collapse, the free-standing pillars of rock are known as hoodoos. As with many of the parks, Bryce is a work in progress, and will look very different in the future as erosion progresses.
Bryce exemplified the public, non-commercial nature of the parks I love by providing a free bus tour to Rainbow Point. This was a great way to spent three hours visiting parts of the park that the free shuttle does not go to.
The next day I spent the full day here. I wanted to walk among the hoodoos. The most popular way to do this is to hike the Navajo trail, which goes below the rim, connecting with a network of other trails. It’s popular for a reason, because looking up at the strange rock formations is very different from looking down at them from the rim. It’s best to do hikes like this very early to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately I had to drive into the park from my motel and find a campsite, so didn’t get an early start and had to fight the crowds.
After this short hike, I wanted to go on a longer one. The most interesting part of the park we visited on the Rainbow tour was to a place called Fairyland, where the hoodoos looked especially dramatic. There is an eight mile hike down into this area, past the hoodoos and brown and white hills through mossy evergreen forests. Not only was the scenery incredible, I was practically alone. I stopped frequently to listen to the total silence. This is one of the quietest places in the world. Most people hike in groups and talk the whole time, so don’t experience the solitude.
Because of its small size, I felt like I had seen everything after a day and a half here. I was ready to move on to my greatest challenge yet: the remote and inaccessible Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.