Utah - The Great Outdoors part two

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Bryce Canyon, UtahBryce Canyon is not a canyon, canyons are carved by rivers over aeons. Bryce is actually an eroding plateau headwall, caused by frost wedging, mass wasting and chemical weathering through fractured surfaces. This erosion is what creates the Hoodoos, former cliff edges that are eroded into fins, then further eroded to sometimes include a window, then at last finally to stand alone as a pillar waiting for the final erosion.

Bryce has two campgrounds and a lodge for accommodation. The North Campground can be booked in advance, while the South is first come first serve, both are $15. There are other options for accommodation in the surrounding towns. There are ample facilities for people plus a coin operated shower and laundry at the general store.

15 trails are listed in the guide and the trailheads can be reached by private vehicle or shuttle. Bryce canyon offers a treasure hunt throughout the park with 9 special interpretive signs with hoodoo medallions on them for people to take a pencil rubbing or photo with, to qualify you need 3 medallions and to have walked 5kms.

Bryce Canyon, UtahAs we were only staying for one night here, we chose to catch the shuttle to Bryce Point and walk the Rim trail to Sunrise point into the Queens garden and out via the Navajo loop to Sunset Point (12.5kms). To say that Bryce was stunning is an understatement. As you walk the rim trail the sea of hoodoos never dulls, whether it is with the rim as a backdrop or the Grand Staircase Escalante, the colours and formations make this extraordinary. I can’t remember the last time I took as many photos of a singular place. The hoodoos from above is great but the Queens garden takes you into them where you take a trail that weaves through the hoodoos giving you a completely different appreciation of the formation.

Hoodoos, Bryce Canyon, UtahHoodoos, Bryce Canyon, UtahHoodoos, Bryce Canyon, Utah

Several Hoodoo formations have names such as Queen Victoria and Thor’s Hammer, which means you can play the Cloud game as you wander and see what other shapes you can find and name.

Hoodoos, Bryce Canyon, UtahHoodoos, Bryce Canyon, UtahHoodoos, Bryce Canyon, Utah

After our nice hike we retired to the camp for a rest before heading out to a rangers lecture called “Strange Universe”. Ranger Geoff Goins offers a brief overview of the formation of the park and how the physics work before delving into some of the weirder physics of the universe. It was a great show at the end of which we went to the lodge to view some stars with volunteers and their telescopes. They have several setup that are specifically targeted at objects in the sky such as Saturn, star clusters, and more. Ranger Goins also offers another talk on the night sky pointing out various stars, planets and constellations to finish off the evening.

Hoodoos, Bryce Canyon, Utah

Goblin Valley State Parkis an interesting park in the middle of the desert. Once the shores of an inland sea, the entrada stone has been eroded away over millions of years. Driving to the Goblins the view is of a great plain with the occasional mesa and in the distance, mountains or hills. It is not until you are almost standing on them that you see the Goblins; a surreal landscape that is surely the inspiration for an artist or two.

Goblin Valley, Utah

There are thousands of goblins, some smooth others textured, some standing five or six metres high, while most are two to three, and from a distance look like every forgotten piece of clay from an art class. There is no singular path to follow through the goblins, you choose your own adventure weaving in and out, up and down, letting your mind and body wander this melting playground. As you walk, you can see three distinct layers of stone, and the Goblins formed from the lowest strata. The Goblins provide a fantastic geological and visual contrast to Bryce Canyon, and add to the wonder of the visit.

Goblin Valley, UtahGoblin Valley, UtahGoblin Valley, Utah

We knew our visit to Utah would involve seeing some beautiful things but we honestly did not understand the scope of the beauty here before we came. When you look at a map of Utah, you will see huge swaths of the Map marked as Native Lands, National Parks, State Parks, BLM land, US Forest Service, and US Wilderness Areas. In the few days we drove southern Utah we barely scratched the surface of adventures possible here. If you choose to visit, (and why shouldn’t you?) I would recommend hiring a small campervan and spending a few weeks exploring the vast beauty of the land, whether from Zion in the South East to Escalante in the West, and northward over Hell’s Backbone to Capitol Reef, Canyonlands or Arches National Park, you will find an excellent, varied and beautiful adventure.

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Utah - The Great Outdoors part one

Utah - The Great Outdoors part two

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