We left Zion mid morning with the temps in the 50’s, heading to the high 79’s. It had been even in the 80’s a day or two before. On the way to Bryce Canyon we saw some dark clouds to the north, and a front had been forecast to affect the northern half of the state so we didn’t think much about it.
We made it to Bryce and got settled into the South Campground in the park. We set up our camp and went to the visitor’s center to check it out. The wind really started blowing and the temps plummeted. As we went to the trail at the rim of the canyon, it started snowing to beat the band. We retreated to the car and tried to get a handle on what the weather was going to do. The consensus was for cold weather coming after the snow stopped. We decided to hunker down and put on all our clothes and snuggled into our sleeping bags. It got really cold, down to 5 degrees F, and we didn’t get a lot of sleep. The next morning, I got a roaring fire going and got some coffee made, hoping the temps were on the way up, but no such luck.
The new forecast was for cold to continue for a couple of days, so we found a motel room and spent a couple of luxurious nights staying warm. We were able to leave our camp set up, although we did have to move because the pipes froze in the bathroom for the area we were in.
Despite the cold we were able to do some good hiking and driving to sites in the park.
The park is noted for rock formations called Hoodoos. They are the result of freeze/thaw cycles and erosion working on the sandstone and limestone layers, forming remarkably beautiful natural works of art.
The altitude and environment here is perfect for daytime thawing and nighttime freezing, which is necessary for the process of erosion to occur that forms the hoodoos. The shapes and the multicolored rock in combination with the magic of the sun moving across the sky results in an ever changing panorama of beauty.
This was a sacred place for the indigenous people who lived here. The Northern Paiute tribe lived here and the place was also visited by the Navaho, Zuni, Hopi and other tribes. The Paiute oral tradition describes these formations as the original people who were converted to stone by the coyote god Sinawava, because of their misdeeds. They pronounce the name Hoodoo as Oodoo and it means “something scary” in their language.
Bryce is really not a canyon, but a cliff of eroding sandstone which forms what is called and amphitheater full of hoodoos.
There are several trails leading down into the amphitheater, and the perspective of the hoodoos really changes as you go down beneath them.
There are bristlecone pines that are around 1400 years old in the most improbable places,
and many huge Ponderosa Pines, some which are over 700 years old,
scattered around in between the rock formations. The multicolored layers of stone are evident as you walk down and then you can see the result of continued erosion in the piles of rock rubble at the end of each ledge or finger of the cliff wall.
Some of the formations are named,
but most are not, we were told, because they are constantly changing and don’t last forever. Walking amongst them evokes a spiritual sense that must have been felt by the Paiutes, suggesting that their ancestor’s spirits inhabited the place. The trails follow several slot canyons along the way with a steep ascent up out of the canyon.
We also got up one morning to watch the sunrise illuminate the amphitheater as it climbed over the rim, a magical experience.
We’ve really enjoyed Bryce, but now we are off to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and The Capitol Reef National Park. Check out the gallery for more pictures.