The title of this post is the result of my feeble attempt to be clever! Time will tell if I’m successful. It’s a song that I remembered from my early adulthood. Take a guess at why I used this title, the year and band that first recorded this song. If you are stumped I’ll reveal at the end of this post and provide a link to Youtube.
When I left you last week, my Traveling Partner and I just arrived at Bryce Canyon City, the gateway village to Bryce Canyon National Park. Click here to read that article. We stayed at Ruby’s Inn, a large multi-building complex, complete with two restaurants, a general store, gift shops, post office, liquor store, laundromat, and a campground. There are few other options for lodging and dining in the area but nothing like Ruby’s. Besides, their room rates were reasonable. We found the room to be spacious and clean, breakfast included, just right for our two-night stay. There is a lodge inside the park but it was booked.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is world famous for it’s hoodoos (Do you get the blog title now?), those tall, thin spires of soft rock topped with a harder rock. Nowhere in the world are hoodoos as abundant as at Bryce Canyon. They are created by erosion from thin walls of rock along the cliffs called fins. Over time, frost and dripping water create holes or windows. As the windows grow, the tops eventually collapse leaving a column. Rain further sculpts these pillars into hoodoos. Eventually, the snow and rain will weaken the hoodoo and it will crumple into a pile of rubble.
Bryce Canyon (it’s not really a canyon) was inhabited by a succession of indigenous cultures, the most recent being the Paiutes since 1200 A.D. They believed the hoodoos were the Legend People tricked by the Coyote that turned them to stone. The Pauite name for the hoodoos translates to “red painted faces.” A succession of explorers and military units passed through the area in the early to mid-1800’s. Between 1850 and 1875, Mormon settlements were established nearby. One of these settlers was Ebenezer Bryce. He was an industrious fellow, he built a seven mile irrigation ditch from Paria Creek and a road to the pink cliffs to make timber more accessible. This area was informally named Bryce’s Canyon. The name stuck.
Years later, a U. S. Forest Service employee, J. W. Humphrey, came to Bryce’s Canyon. He was stunned when he first saw the view and began lobbying his bosses in Washington, D.C. to preserve this area. Hearing of the unique beauty, visitors began arriving by automobile over the primitive roads. Ruby Syrett, his wife and a couple of partners built some modest lodging and began serving meals for those visitors. This was the beginning of Ruby’s Inn referred to above.
Bryce Canyon was first designated a national monument in 1923 and upgraded to a national park in 1928. From it’s modest start, Bryce Canyon National Park now receives nearly 3 million visitors each year. Most of them come during the months of May through September. To accommodate the number of visitors during that time, the park is closed to private vehicles so the only access is by way of a shuttle bus. We were there in November so drove the Red Rover through the park after showing our pass at the fee station.
Our first stop was at the park visitor center where we chatted with a park ranger. We learned that Bryce Canyon consists of over 35,000 acres of land along the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The eighteen-mile scenic drive follows the rim of Bryce Canyon rising to an elevation of between 8000 and 9000 feet. This means the air is thin so we were cautioned to take our time and drink a little extra water to counteract the light headedness when walking or hiking. I should note the high temperature for the day was expected to be about 40 degrees F. Not sure it got that high!
Before leaving the visitor center, we perused the gift shop, and bought a Bryce Canyon sticker for the back window of the Red Rover.
As we drove further into the park, we noted the abundance of pine trees on either side of the road. We even saw a small herd of deer grazing, ignoring the passersby. We turned off the scenic road to Sunset Point, one of the main overlooks of the Bryce Amphitheater, the largest in the park. It’s 12 miles long, 3 miles wide, and plunges 800 feet to the canyon floor.
After parking the Red Rover, I saw this sign and pondered it’s warning!
When we reached the railing and gazed into the Bryce Amphitheater, we had the same reaction that J. W. Humphrey had over 100 years ago: We were stunned by the beauty! The pinkish, red rock, the densely packed hoodoos, the massive scale.
Then, we looked the other direction, even more fins, windows, and hoodoos. The air was thin and breathing was hard but the views nearly took our breath away.
After gawking for a long time, we walked about a half mile down to Sunrise Point to get another view.
Along the way, we passed Thor’s Hammer, the large hoodoo in the middle of the photo below. I must say, the best views of this hoodoo are much better after walking one of the trails into the amphitheater.
We also passed this group of park staff making improvements to the walking paths and protecting sensitive areas.
Back at Sunset Point, we trekked about a half mile in the other direction to Inspiration Point. This was an elevation gain of about 100 feet. It doesn’t sound like much, normally it wouldn’t be, but the air was thin. We took our time and were rewarded with even more beauty. We skipped the walk to Bryce Point, another elevation rise of over 100 feet. We drove there instead!
Here are a few more photos from our morning walk along the rim.
After retrieving the Red Rover from the parking lot, we continued our drive down the scenic road. We stopped at many of the turnouts and overlooks such as Natural Bridge.
We stopped at the Ponderosa Canyon overlook. Then went on to the end of the road at Rainbow Point where we hiked the Bristlecone Loop Trail. The sun revealed itself for the first time that day!
On our way back to the park entrance, we took in the views at Bryce Point. Note the developing windows in the second photo.
The last stop in the late afternoon was at Fairyland Point. The Red Rover was the only car in the parking lot, apparently this view is over shadowed by the famous Bryce Amphitheater. I rather liked the quiet and serenity.
The next morning, we were up early to take in the sunrise at Sunset Point. The temperature was 24 degrees! We were dressed for the weather but my Traveling Partner took a few breaks to warm up in the Red Rover. Below are a few of the many photos I took between 6:30 and 7:30 AM.
Please note the photography workshop students on the trail near the bottom middle of this photo. They are lined up to shoot Thor’s Hammer.
This photo is my favorite from the morning shoot. What do you think?
During our two visits to this park, I made a some black and white photographs of some trees I found interesting. Hope you do too!
After the morning shoot ended, we went back to Ruby’s for breakfast and pack up for our next destination, Zion National Park. As I filled the Red Rover with fuel for the trip, I noted they had an automatic car wash. Those dusty roads and a little drizzle left the Red Rover covered in red dirt. To pass the time in the car wash, I took these photos of the scrubbing down.
For more information on Bryce Canyon National Park, click here. Stay tuned for a couple of posts on Zion National Park, one of the most popular in the National Park Service.
Until then, happy travels!
PS: “Who do you think you are” was first recorded by Candlewick Green in 1973. Click here for a listen. Over the years many groups have covered this song.