Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park, 10/15/2015

After our brief visit at Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest, we continued to Bryce Canyon. Our first stop, as always was the Visitor Center. 

We decided to drive to the southernmost part of the scenic highway through Bryce and work our way northward because the areas closest to the Visitor Center were packed with cars/visitors. At the southern end of the road is Rainbow Point where we first stopped to get look at the amazing rock formations here. There is a shelter here as well where interpretive guides provide information about Bryce. The elevation at Rainbow Point is 9,000'. 

Our next stop was at one of the many pull-off areas along the scenic highway. The root structures of many of the tress are exposed (as shown in the second photo). And can you see the "window" in the fin in the third photo? These are created by freeze/thaw cycles, not water erosion. 

Black Birch Canyon with an elevation of 8,750' was our next stop. 

Ponderosa Canyon (elevation 8,903') provides views of rock formations with vibrant colors. 

Aqua Canyon (elevation 8,800') is as stunning as Ponderosa Canyon with interesting fins and hoodoos. 

Natural Bridge (elevation 8,624') is technically as arch because it was formed weather erosion, not a stream or rushing water. It is actually much larger than it appears in the photos below.

Fairview Point (elevation 8,891') provides sweeping panoramic views. The Sheep Creek and Swamp Canyon trails can be accessed from this overlook.

Bryce Point (elevation 8,300') was our first view of the massive Bryce Amphitheater Region. It is the most visited area at Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon, but one of a series of "breaks" eroded by weather into the eastern slopes of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. 

Grottos (in the first photo) and hoodoos in the other two.

Ebenezer Bryce and his wife, Mary, were directed by the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Morman) to be serial homesteaders (moving from place to place to establish Morman communities). They lived here only 5 years (1875-1880) but the name stuck and was used in the naming of the National Park in 1928. The Bryces lived in 12 locations and had/reared 12 children to adulthood along the way. 

We continued to drive along the rim of the amphitheater region to Inspiration Point (elevation 8,100'). There are three overlooks here...with the third being a strenuous uphill hike (for only a short distance, though). The altitude is what seems to impact me when hiking here!

Our final stop for the day was at Sunset Point, the most popular overlook at Bryce. The Rim Trail is a total of 5.5 miles and begins at Inspiration Point and continues through Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, to Fairyland Point. The section between Sunset and Sunrise Point is the only trail in the park that permits dogs. 

The popular Navajo Trail (1.8 mi) is accessible from here. In the photos below, can see the people hiking on the trail? Dogs are not permitted so we were unable to hike here. 

The light on the rock formations creates such beautiful scenery that changes every 10 minutes. It is something that you need to see in person to truly appreciate. What a spectacular and unique place!

Admission to Bryce Canyon is $30/vehicle. Our senior pass gets us in for free. Shuttle service due to limited parking spaces at overlooks is available from April through September. It was still very busy and we had to wait for someone to leave an area before we could park there. For additional information about Bryce hiking trails, campgrounds, accommodations (Bryce Canyon Lodge, North and Sunset Campgrounds), etc., please see their website.


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