I’ve always wanted to be a travel writer. I love to travel and I really like to write so . . . travel writer seems like a perfect combo for me. For years, I’ve emailed “daily reports” while on our trips to a very small group of family and friends (very small – like, 5 people.) I thought I would finally throw one out to a wider audience for some more feedback, even though feedback terrifies me. (Maybe just no one will read it.)
This is from the 10 day road trip I just took with my Mom. Fergie is my beloved 2011 Toyota Highlander. O.k., here goes (I know a few pictures would add a lot):
August 30, 2018 Bryce National Park
Today we spent the day exploring Bryce National Park. Here, unlike Zion, the shuttle is not mandatory. We considered taking it because it worked so well in Zion but, here in Bryce the shuttle only goes to 4 stops. So, we decided to take Fergie so we could drive to the end of the road and see everything.
Bryce Canyon is way, way cooler than I thought it would be . . .. not that I really had any expectations. I had absolutely no idea what there was to see here. Well, there’s hoo-doos, that’s what there is. Hoo-doos and sunset striped mesas and cliffs. And trees and sweeping vistas where you can look out onto forever. It’s pretty amazing.
Hoo-doos are spires of rock that once were connected to each other. Over time (eons) the cliffs eroded. Softer rock, of course, eroded first. Water caused vertical cracks. In the winter, water froze in the cracks and the ice caused the cracks to expand. Eventually, the cracks enlarged enough to separate the spire from the rest of the cliff. Then, again, over eons, wind and water continued to sculpt the hoo-doos into fantastic spires. Sometimes the spires get super skinny with huge tops seemingly precariously balanced on top of them. One area that is a good example of this is called “Hat Shop” because the spires are skinny like a hat rack with a big floppy hat on top of them. They’re super, super cool and they’re literally everywhere.
“Quick” eroding hoo-doos erode at the rate of about 1 centimeter per year. Those are somewhere else in the world – I can’t remember. It was in the Visitor Center display about “Hoo-Doos Around the World”. Here, in Bryce, the Fairyland Canyon cliffs are eroding at about the rate of one foot every sixty years. Not too quick. But really, its kind of odd to think that, when you stand on the edge of the cliff, the solid rock you’re standing on won’t be there in the span of a lifetime. Now that’s something to stop and ponder.
Bryce seems to encourage stopping and pondering. I found myself doing it a lot. When you’re standing at a viewpoint and looking out over the hoo-doos and deep canyon, if you just turn around (so your back is now to the hoo-doos and deep canyon), you’re looking at a forest. Look one way – hoo-doos reaching down into a deep canyon; look the other way – forest. Forest . . . Hoo-doos and canyon. Hoo-doos and canyon . . .. Forest. Do that a couple of times and really think about it. Its like you’re standing in the middle of a geological process that you can really envision happening. You can see it in the trees that are precariously hanging onto the edge of the current cliff face.
Another place to stop and ponder things is on the Bristlecone Trail. Bristlecone is an easy-ish, one mile trail from Rainbow Point, which is the end of the road. The trail takes you through a forest of Douglas fir and White fir. It then opens out onto a sweeping vista with bristlecone pines. The oldest bristlecone in the park is here. Its been standing for about 1,500 years. Right near by are little bristlecones that are just starting out. There are also a lot of dead, weathered white, sculpted trees. They’re very, very pretty, still standing tall against the blue sky. The view here really is stunning. You can look back and clearly see where the trees go right up to the edge of the cliff. Better yet, you can look out and know that somewhere, not too far in the distance, is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There are mesas, deep canyons that look like snakes running across the land and even a volcanic cone formation in the distance. Its easy to see and understand how everything works together. It was super windy and a bit chilly, but I stood there for a long time. If you ever get to Bryce, take this trail. But make sure you have time to stop and think about things.
The landscape is truly sunset colored. The tops of many of the mesas and hoo-doos are a grey-ish white. They’re horizontally striped – grey-ish white to chocolate to orange. The orange ranges from a deep orange-red in some areas to a light pink in other areas. All of this is punctuated by deep green trees, some of which grow right down in and amongst the hoo-doos. Stunning.
So, we basically spent the day driving to all of the viewpoints, ending at Rainbow Point. There’s a lot of hiking to do here. I would love to come back and hike down in the canyon to look up at the hoo-doos. We talked to a ranger at one of the first look-outs who was watching a bit of trail down in the canyon because they were already looking for a lost hiker. He told us that they have so many people get lost, dehydrated, twist an ankle, etc. every single day that they actually send out park rangers super early in the morning so they’re already on the trails when people start having trouble. So, if you like to hike, are in excellent shape and are into emergency / park ranger type stuff, you can actually get a job that pays you to just hike around in the national park (at least here in Bryce).
After our driving tour, we hung out here on our porch for awhile and then meandered to the lodge for dinner. I had a spectacular dinner . . . it started with a serving of warm, garlic sourdough (with big cloves of garlic in it!). Then I had the seared salmon with a cilantro-mango-lime sauce, accompanied by roasted root vegetables and rice pilaf. My glass of cabernet from 14 Hands Winery was very good. To finish it off, there was a slice of caramel apple pie that was amazing! Wow. I’d eat that whole meal again!
Come to Bryce Canyon!!! Walk the Bristlecone Trail and have apple pie at the lodge! And do the hoo-doo/deep canyon . . . (turn around) . . . forest . . . . forest . . . (turn around) . . . hoo-doo/deep canyon thing. And ponder. And wonder.