I Found My Park Hiking the Hoodoos

Pun intended.

I think most visitors agree that Zion reigns supreme among the mighty five national parks in Utah. My pick, however, was Bryce Canyon. The unmatched beauty of the hoodoos called to me in a way that no other park has.

So, you ask, “What’s a hoodoo?” If another play on words wasn’t too lame, I’d say, “It just stands there and looks pretty. (If you missed both puns, leave a comment. I’ll explain.)

Imagine giant gothic sand castles made by dripping, drizzling, and sculpting wet sand into lumpy spires. Like this.

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Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon NP

These spectacular geologic formations weren’t really formed by adding sand but rather by weathering processes that removed the rock in interesting ways. Frost wedging occurs when water seeps into cracks, freezes and expands, making the cracks ever wider as the process continues. Additionally, acidic rainwater sculpts the limestone by dripping onto the rock and carrying off particles of it. The end-result of this weathering after eons is a hoodoo.

We first spotted hoodoos at the Mossy Cave Trail along Hwy 12 before we even knew we had entered Bryce Canyon National Park. We saw a parking area with hoodoos in the background and pulled over for a better look.

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Mossy Cave in Bryce Canyon NP

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Trail to Mossy Cave, Bryce Canyon

It’s an easy trail of no more than a mile roundtrip but the views are quite stunning.

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Mossy Cave Trail, Bryce Canyon NP

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Mossy Cave Waterfall, Bryce Canyon NP

After this outstanding introduction, we were definitely excited to see more. Unfortunately, no rooms were available inside the park at Bryce Canyon Lodge. We checked into  Ruby’s Inn Best Western, a historic and somewhat campy hotel that claims to be the closest lodging to the park entrance, then headed back to Bryce for more captivating views.

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Entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park

Luckily we were in the park at sunset which was spectacular.

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Sunset at Bryce Canyon

 

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Sunset in Bryce Canyon NP

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Sunset in Bryce Canyon NP

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Sunset at Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon NP

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Moon over Bryce Canyon NP

We returned early in the morning for sunrise which was beyond spectacular.

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Sky at sunrise over Bryce Canyon

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Sunrise at Bryce Canyon NP

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Sunrise at Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon NP

With two incomparable experiences now behind us, we decided to hike down into the canyon on the Queens Garden Trail.  We planned to visit Queen Victoria Hoodoo then turn around and come back up the same way.

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Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon NP

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Queens Garden Trail

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Hiking the hoodoos

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Hiking the Hoodoos on Queens Garden Trail

Queen Victoria Hoodoo really did look like the British queen to us. On the photo below, look at the top of the hoodoo. It’s a side view of the portly queen holding her hands in front of her and a crown on her head. Do you see it?

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Queen Victoria Hoodoo

Once our mission was accomplished to reach the bottom of the canyon and hike to Queen Victoria Hoodoo, it struck us as premature to immediately hike back up the trail. Why not enjoy the bottom of the canyon with the flat trail and shady respite? We decided to hike the combined Queens Garden and the Navajo Trail route which is only 3 miles but the climb of 580 feet at an elevation in excess of 8000 feet was plenty strenuous for us.

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Hiking the Hoodoos at the bottom of Bryce Canyon

We saw signs at the trailhead and along the trail warning hikers about loose rock and rock slides with admonishment to wear appropriate foot gear. Then we would see girls on the trail in their flipflops.

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Trailhead warning

 

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Cautionary sign along the trail

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Hiking the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon NP

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Wall Street section of Navajo Trail

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Looking down the Navajo Trail from the trail above

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Look closely to see the people behind us climbing the trail on switchbacks below

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Back at the top on the Rim Trail of Bryce Canyon NP

The park offers a “Hiking the Hoodoos!” challenge to encourage visitors to be active in the park. You must hike at least 3 miles and have photos or rubbings from the benchmark survey markers. I took a photo of one of the markers below.

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While we didn’t participate in the program, we are proud to proclaim we met the challenge and I found my park hiking the hoodoos.

 

Based on events in September 2015.

 

Categories: natural history, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “I Found My Park Hiking the Hoodoos

  1. Fabulous photos! Amazing rock formations! 🙂

    Like

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