Hoodoo You See?

When it comes to traveling, one of my greatest joys is immersing myself in a new place.  It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a city or some remote wilderness that I’m visiting for the first time, setting off on foot allows me to discover things up close.

I see the face of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Do you?
I see the face of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. What face do you see?

Whether I’m hiking, walking, strolling, meandering, or whatever pace I’m keeping at the moment, I love allowing my legs to transport me to exciting new visual delights .

hiking Red Canyon was a delight
hiking Red Canyon

Years ago, my son and I visited my parents in the Chicago suburbs and took the train into the city for a day of sightseeing.  We walked, and walked, and walked some more…. no cab rides for us.  According to my dad (who knows the city of Chicago like the back of his hand), Logan and I must have walked at least ten miles.  By doing so, he and Bryce Canyon National ParkI observed so many unique details in this bustling city – from architecture, to art, to the beautiful parks and shops, to the sounds and smells. It was a memorial day spent with my son along with discovering the city’s special character.

My week spent in Bryce Canyon Country was equally memorable and just like that day in Chicago, I knew I had to get out on foot to immerse myself in this mesmerizing landscape.

Each overlook is breathtaking!
Each overlook is breathtaking!

I started off my Bryce Canyon National Park visit by stopping at every single overlook and getting a feel for the lay of the land.

I see you!
This hoodoo sees you!

Seeing Mother Nature’s work of art from the rim of the canyon is breathtaking, but hiking in the depths of her creation left me awe-struck and speechless.  Around every corner was another perplexing sculpture.  So many of the rocks seem to have faces and personalities.   Then there are rocks that resemble people, things, or even a queen – Queen Victoria to be exact.Bryce Canyon

And now we know why the trail is called the Queen’s Garden Trail.  It took me a moment to grasp the resemblance, and of course, the aid of a sign was helpful.

Can you spot the Queen?
Can you spot the Queen?  Can you also see the hiking trail? Yep, I was down in there!

The Queen’s Garden trail is a fantastic hike that put me in the center of some of the most bizarre and interesting terrain that I’ve ever seen.  It’s obvious why it’s the parks most popular trail.  We saw hikers of all ages and ability on the trail, although I will say the 600 foot elevation climb back out of the canyon seemed to be a challenge for some, especially for those not accustomed to the 8,000 plus foot altitude.  Note the pointy hoodoo in the photos below.  The trailhead is high above that hoodoo.

We had to climb out of the valley above the pointy hoodoo
We had to climb out of the valley above the pointy hoodoo seen on the left.

Bryce Canyon

Al and I enjoyed this hike so much so that we actually hiked it twice.  On our first day, we started the hike at the Navajo Loop trailhead which will eventually meet up with the Queens Garden trail.  The term “loop” is a bit of a misnomer because the return part of the Navajo trail loop has been damaged and eroded to the point it had to be closed off for safety reasons. Thus, no hiking loop at the time of this writing.Bryce Canyon

This land never rests due to weather and erosion.   These statuesque limestone rock formations called hoodoos are caused by the extreme weather changes… from snow and ice melt, to soaring heat.  The constant contraction and expansion causes cracks, collapses, and further sculpting. You won’t find any rock climbers around here considering the rock is soft, unstable, and ever-changing.  Because of this instability, its vital hikers stay on the trails and wear proper footwear for traction.

Evidence of instability are easily seen. I wonder how deep that crack is?
Evidence of instability are easily seen. I wonder how deep that crack is?

Starting off at Sunset Point, we headed down the Navajo trail into the canyon floor via a series of switchbacks, and found ourselves hiking in a pine forest.  The crisp fresh air scented with pine made for a very pleasurable hike.

hiking with pines
hiking with pines

 

Hikers will find several tunnels along the trail
Hikers will find several tunnels along the trail

Once we veered onto the Queens Garden trail, we exited the pine forest and the terrain became more stark and barren, but those hoodoos were up close and personal.

The next day, Al and I hiked the trail in reverse; starting at the Queens Garden trailhead and exiting at the Navajo trailhead.  Is one way better than the other?  No!  Regardless of the starting and ending point, the scenery is out of this world and I can’t recommend this hike enough.  The first day it took us a little over two hours to complete the hike because someone kept stopping to take photos 😉  The second go around took us less than two hours to hike, even though an equal amount of photos were taken!

hikers can be seen on the Queens Garden Trail
hikers can be seen on the Queens Garden Trail

BUT, if you’d like to start out with a couple of super easy hikes that are still beautiful, but won’t have the elevation change……

hoodoo you see?
hoodoo you see?

On highway 12 just east of highway 89 is the Red Canyon Visitor Center.   There’s a series of short trails that interconnect allowing one to hike the short interpretative trail only or add a little more distance by continuing onto the Pink Ledges trail and/or the Birds Eye trail.

Red Canyon
Red Canyon

The scenery here is beautiful and worth the stop.  Since we were camped just a few miles down the road, I found myself meandering around here a couple of times.  It’s amazing the new sights I saw each time I hiked the same trail.  The more I looked at the rocks, the more faces I saw.

Red Canyon
Red Canyon

 

Red Canyon
Red Canyon

Continuing east on Highway 12 past the turn off to Bryce Canyon National Park are more hiking trails.  Year’s ago (I’m talking more than twenty plus), Al and I traveled Highway 12 through this part of Utah.  It’s a stretch of road I’ve longed to revisit, but alas the weather this day would not cooperate.

Mossy Cave and Waterfall trail
Mossy Cave and Waterfall trail

I stopped in at the great visitor center in the town of Cannonville and picked up some local information then returned to the truck in a steady stream of rain.  Feeling somewhat disappointed, I decided to head home.  My exploration of Highway 12 will need to wait for another visit.

Highway 12
Highway 12
Mossy Cave and Waterfall Trail
Mossy Cave and Waterfall Trail

However, on my way home, the weather cleared just long enough for me to take a quick one mile (out and back) hike.  Any disappointment I may have felt was quickly lifted after a brisk walk in this beautiful setting.  The Mossy Cave Waterfall Trail was definitely a worthwhile hike in between rain clouds.Bryce Canyon

So that about wraps up my fabulous week spent in Bryce Canyon Country.  Oh, we can’t forget the beautiful faces of wildlife……

Pronghorn aka antelope
Pronghorn aka antelope

Chipmunk

Bryce CanyonFYI… the trails around here can get slick, gooey, and dangerous.  Proper hiking shoes are a must.  The weather can fluctuate to extremes and change rapidly.  A 40 degree (Fahrenheit) change throughout the day is not unusual.  Dressing in layers is a good idea.  Bring plenty of water and expect high winds.  Being prepared, allowed us to have a fantastic and memorable visit.

Fairyland trail will need to wait for my next visit!
Fairyland trail will need to wait for my next visit – a more challenging trail that I can’t wait to tackle!
The many faces of Bryce Canyon
The many faces of Bryce Canyon

I’ll be back! 

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The Many Moods of Hoodoos

As fickle as the spring weather has been, we’ve been equally fickle in regards to our travel itinerary.  The last few days, Al and I have changed our minds about as often as a teenage girl changes her outfit.Bryce Canyon

Last Friday morning, we were all loaded up and about ready to pull away from Lake Powell with a state park near Beaver, Utah, as our intended overnight destination.  Before Al could put the truck into drive I asked, “What kind of Coloradoans are we to let a little cold and snow keep us from exploring a National Park that’s at the top of our ‘must see’ list?”

Two seconds later, we were on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.Bryce Canyon National Park

It took us three hours to drive from Page, Arizona, to Panguitch, Utah.  With cold and snow in the forecast, we decided to forego dry camping in the National Park and opt for full hook-ups at the Red Canyon RV Park, about twenty miles from thet Park.   We no sooner had the RV set up and the truck unhooked when we set off to explore.

Yes, it's snowing. The flakes were big, the wind was blowing, but the view was breathtaking.
Yes, it’s snowing. The flakes were big, the wind was blowing, but the view was breathtaking.

Refusing to allow a little snow to keep me from seeing those hoodoos (bulbous rock columns). I bundled up in my winter gear to take in this amazing sight.  It was cold and blustery but OH MY GOSH ….. pictures do not do this place justice!  I was on sensory overload and couldn’t decide where to point the camera.Bryce Canyon National Park

Even Al was awed.  At each scenic overlook, we stood there speechless, admiring the view.  Words can’t begin to describe this perplexing oddity of wind-swept rock.

This morning (Sunday), the weather finally let up long enough for Al and me to enjoy a hike.  According to my darling husband, we spent ten minutes hiking and two hours taking photos, but in reality, we hiked for two hours and snapped photos for ten 😉Bryce Canyon National Park

At 9:45 in the morning,  it was a cold 38 degrees Fahrenheit  (3.3 Celsius).  We started into the canyon via the Navajo Loop trail and eventually turned onto the Queens Garden trail.  The Queens/Navajo Combo trail is about 3 miles long starting at the Sunrise Point trailhead and ending at the Sunset Point trailhead with a 600 foot elevation change.  Although a relatively easy hike, the 600 foot climb back up to the rim can be challenging for some.  The trail can also be muddy and slick in spots.

'Thors Hammer' on the left
‘Thors Hammer’ on the left
beginning of the Navajo Trail
beginning of the Navajo Trail
Perfect hike!
Perfect hike!

The day started off with a beautiful blue sky and little to no wind.  Two hours later, the sky was blanketed in a threatening grey accompanied by swirling winds.   We were glad to be near the end of our hike as the weather started rolling in. hiking

Although the views of Bryce Canyon along the rim are spectacular, strolling among the hoodoos is a surreal experience.  The rocks never rest.  Stones tumbled as we slowly meandered along the trail.  The weather is quick to change causing light to alter hues and shadows.  There are many moods among the hoodoos, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the trees.hoodoos

There are pines of all kinds around here, but the Bristlecone pines are the most intriguing.  They are some of the longest-lived life forms on Earth.  Some of these trees are well over 1,000 years old and their trunks are a unique work of art.  Their ability to grow in such an unrelenting environment is fascinating. Bryce Canyon

The forces of weather continue to erode and sculpt this mesmerizing landscape daily.  We’ve already extended our stay once and may do so again.  Thus, you can plan on seeing more photos and posts on Bryce Canyon National Park.  Stay tuned!Bryce Canyon National Park

This weeks WordPress photo challenge word is admiration ….  after spending the last few days admiring Mother Nature’s creativity along with God’s handy work, it’s obvious who and what have captured my admiration.