“There’s no other place like this on earth.”
Those are the words I managed to utter after seeing the unique rock formations in front of me. Every time I travel, I can’t help but be in awe of God’s creations. This trip to Bryce Canyon is no exception. Despite lacking the grandiosity of it’s nearby counterpart, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon managed to amaze me in it’s own special way. Comprised of odd-shaped pillars called Hoodoos, these rock formations were formed by forces of erosion. Despite its name, it is not a canyon but rather a collection of natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of unique rock formations but nothing like this. Pictures don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself!
Last weekend, my husband and I spontaneously went on a 30-hour excursion to one of Utah’s Mighty 5. Our drive was scenic and surprisingly manageable. I think after driving to Florida we became immune to long drives that we consider a 4 1/2 hour drive a piece of cake! I enjoyed the car ride so much that I didn’t even notice that we have arrived at our destination. At the entrance, the ranger handed us a map and brochure so we could plan our trip but that didn’t pan out well because after seeing a deer, we missed our first viewpoint. Yep, were a sucker for wildlife! Since we arrived past 2 pm, we decided to do the overlooks till sunset and hike to the core of the hoodoo amphitheaters the next day.
Mid point to our drive through the 20-something-mile scenic road, I noticed that most of the viewpoints were on the left side as we drove South. To make it easier, it is recommended to drive all the way to the end of the 20-something-mile scenic road towards Rainbow point and stop at the viewpoints on your way back to the entrance. I know its not easy to just pass by the viewpoints, which we couldn’t help but do..but it will be a smoother ride I promise you. We stopped by several viewpoints (Swamp Canyon, Natural Bridge, Black Birch Canyon) along the way and the closer we got to the end of the scenic drive, the colder it got. With an elevation of 8,000-9,000 feet, its definitely colder as it sits higher than Zion National Park. Rainbow point is the highest part of the park at 9, 105 feet. This viewpoint provides unobstructed views of the Kaibab Plateau where the north rim of the Grand Canyon lies.
We made our way back just in time to catch the sunset at Inspiration Point. A lot of people beat us to it but I like how no matter where you position yourself, you still get panoramic views of the hoodoos. I fell in love with the sight of the pink and purple haze that served as a beautiful backdrop to the towering rock formations.
The next day, we immersed ourselves further into the park’s beautiful geography by hiking two trails: the Rim trail and the Navajo Loop trail. The Rim trail was nice and had stunning views but our main goal was to see the hoodoos up close and the best way to do that is to hike the Navajo Loop Trail. You can start either at the Sunrise Point or the Sunset Point. We chose to start at Sunrise Point to see Queen’s Garden. Beautiful Ponderosa pines and Douglas fir trees surrounded us as we descended towards the canyons. It easily became one of my favorite hikes despite the intense heat because I got to see the 200-feet rock spires in all its glory! The trail was steep (bring lots of water) and had several switchbacks but overall I think we managed okay. We finished the 2.5 mile hike in 2 1/2 hours, including water breaks, photo ops and of course to soak in the landscape. What a truly unique experience and I can’t wait to do it again!
- The best viewpoints that you don’t want to miss are: Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Bryce Point and Inspiration Point.
- Don’t leave without hiking the Navajo Loop Trail! It’s the most popular trail in the park so be prepared to go early to avoid a crowd.
- You can drive your car inside the park but to prevent congestion, it is advised to take the shuttle bus.
- Bring lots of water and protect yourself from the sun if you decide to hike the trails.
- Bundle up come night time. Bryce Canyon has an elevation of 8,000-9,000 feet. It can get cold pretty quick!
- Put your phone/camera down and just enjoy the view! 🙂
Thanks to my husband for the video!