◊ 4.13.2017 ◊ Bryce Canyon NP, UT
Hoodoos! A funny word yes, but also the scientific term for the unique rock formations in Bryce Canyon. Hoodoos typically form in areas where a thick layer of a relatively soft rock is covered by a thin layer of hard rock. Over time, cracks in the resistant layer allow the much softer rock beneath to be eroded and washed away. Hoodoos form where a small cap of the resistant layer remains, and protects a cone of the underlying softer layer from erosion. Hoodoos in Bryce are formed mainly from frost wedging, as they experience over 200 freeze/thaw cycles each year being at 8000 ft elevation.
Bryce is not the largest National Park canyon in the Utah region, but its scenery is definitely one of a kind. Only a two-hour drive north-east from Zion through open sparsely populated country.
Upon arrival the landscape had the same feel as the Grand Canyon, a beautiful forest not providing any sign that in the short distance a magnificent canyon would emerge. We stopped in at the Visitor center first, as usual, to get a map and learn about where we had just arrived. As there is no climbing in the area due to the rock composition, a big hike was the obvious choice. We chose to hike the Queens Garden trail to the Peekaboo Loop trail. This trail would take us down into the canyon, through forests of Hoodoos, across a dry washout, and back up the other side: an absolutely stunning hike. It is far too difficult for me to put into words what we saw, so please go look at some more of the pictures uploaded to our Flickr account.
Finding exceptional free camping locations here in Utah was easy as always. With so much open public lands, you are never far from somewhere to set up camp. Just on the borders of Bryce NP is the Dixie National Forest, with well-maintained and used forest roads.
An additional benefit for us was getting to discover new wildlife in the region. Pronghorn antelope ruled the forest and prairie dogs scurried in the grassy field. It was awesome to see the antelope up close. They are the fastest land animal in North America, being able to maintain a running speed of 55 mph for nearly a km. Utah has also given us a whole new variety of interesting lizards. The little guy below has to be one of our favorites; a short-horned lizard.
For our second day we hopped on our mountain bikes and rode a scenic 18 mile round trip through forest and prairies, from our campsite to Tropic reservoir.
Next stop…. Capital Reef National Park!!