Thursday, May 05, 2011

Utah Travel Journal: Bryce Canyon

You might remember this rustic ranch scene from a post I did in early March?
I took the picture on March 1st.

Here's the exact same scene, photographed April 28th, on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.

This was our first visit to Bryce.  We read up a little bit on the place and followed the suggested touring scheme: Drive to the far end of the park, then drive back, stopping at each marked view point.
In summer this would happen via shuttle bus, but while we visited, car touring was still going on; no shuttles were running quite yet.

Let the camera clicking begin!

First stop:  Check out that elevation level.  I am a little out of breath just reading the sign.  And it is friggin COLD too.

Bernie suggested we take the short Bristlecone Loop hike.  I went to the edge of the canyon, about a four minute walk and turned around as the snow was frozen solid and I just didn't feel up for risking a slip.
He hiked it while I checked out the infomation center.

There will be a test later... we are ready to take on the rest of the park.


Next stop.

Really? The tree just uprooted itself and fell over, just like that?

Freezing cold, with wind...but the white snow and red rock combo is unbeatable.

I start realizing that I get a bit of vertigo when looking down.

Hey...we know where that dealership is!  We used to live in La Mesa (Bernie grew up there...)
Wonder if we know this guy visit the park with us?
(We don't)

Lunch break.

Photo op.

"Smile for the birdie!"
Oh are a birdie.

Why should I give you my apple?

Why shouldn't he give me his apple?

Sure, it is against park rules, but just between  us friends...and it has been a long winter and all...

A core. 
That's it? 
Well, OK. 
Better than nothing.

Make sure you get my good side....


So endless....

This was about midday; all the guide books mention that photography is best in early morning and late in the day, when the light and shadows play beautifully on the red rocks.
We decide to just see the whole park and then circle back in the evening for those kinds of pictures.

The eroded layers are so cool...

Bye bye birdie!

The view point to view point drive is about five minutes.  We could easily walk it really.

I like the funny shape of the tall single hoodoo.

Feel a bit dizzy peering down in the canyon.  Hiking that must be a blast though.

(I still feel a bit odd just looking at this shot.)

Doesn't the top look like it could just split in two at any minute?

Hoodoo family picture.
Can't you see Mom and Dad and the baby hoodoos?

What do you see?

It is said that it is impossible to take a bad picture in Bryce Canyon. 
I tested the theory.
They are right.

Photographers (professional ones) do mention that having some weather makes for better pictures. 
Some cloud cover would have helped with the wind I think.

Looking way down, into a deep pit.
Makes me nervous and glad I am not doing this tour with a rambunctions toddler.

(We said that alot.)

Arches are tricky to photograph and get everything in.

I hadn't realized that there was a cone shaped volcano in Utah until I saw this one in the distance.

Love the snow mixed in with the red.

Another tree just snapped off. 

This is what I call racially integrated Hoodoos.

Anyone want to trek over this arch?
I will...once I lose a few pounds.
And obviously my mind as well.
It would totally freak me out to try to walk over something like that!

There must of been a massive forest fire in the park recently.

I could smell the smoky smell from one look out.
What a sight it must have been.

Dead trees actually caught my attention more than the red rock at one point.  They always seemed so artistic and sculptural at just the right place and seemed just poignant with the burned trees in the background.

And another uproot...

A snapped off tree with a new growth coming from below.
This sort of thing is very interesting to bonsai gardeners.

Love the stripes.

Oh lookie...another visitor from our home town!  How funny is that?
(Another location drove us batty: whenever a car was doing some weird manuever or blocking lanes or something, it always had Quebec plates. Not the same car mind you.  Is there just something about Quebec drivers that bears mentioning?)

One of the trails, with those cool dead trees adding interest. That's Bernie down ahead of me.

Of course we had to take Hat Shop Trail.
Why is it named that?
The blows off your hat down there. 
Then you have to go to the hat shop to get a new one!

Oh boy...that is so beautiful!

To give you an idea of the size of what you are looking at: check out those people on the ledge.

If you look close, dead center in the picture is a red dot.  That is a big building in the town of Tropic. More about that later...

Hiking along the trail down to Hat Shop point.

Nice...and  I am finally warming up!

Dead sunbleached wood on the ground in tangles facinated me.

As did dried mud patches. They were so colorful.

See the two faces at the end of the peak, facing each other?

More colorful mud.

Oh...a cave!  Tempting to walk down and check it out...

I kept noticing tags on the trees along the trail. 
My So. Calif. thought: to identify the trees in case someone tried to steal them.
Actually they are so if you need to call for rescue you have a point of reference.
I suppose if you broke your body you could still crawl to the last tree and call in the number....

Siamese twin like structure.

The little boulders nestled between the two heads...interesting.

Trees like this one were causing Bernie a lot of difficulty.  He was so tempted to dig one up and cart it home for a bonsai!
(Actually gathering such trees from the wild requires a permit and takes about a year to do.  The trees are not just yanked up, there is a lot of steps involved.)

My hiking partner looking a lot cuter than I did that day.

Another great bonsai form.

How was the trunk of this tree twisted so badly?

More dried colorful mud....

Scenes just did not stop.

Pine bark.

Up rooted tree, and the hole has filled in over the years.


A trail we didn't take.
Too many switchbacks and a hard hike back up.

Look how twisted that trunk is and the tree is still growing.

Bernie out on the point.  What a view he has!

I suppose people have have hiked all of this.

I just can't imagine that every nook has been explored.


Posted by Picasa

The sky was an incredible shade of blue and as seems to always be the case when I am out in red rock areas, the Air Force is patrolling overhead.

Wonder what their view is like?
There are helicopter tours of the area too.
I'd love to take one of those someday.

Can you believe those roots?

Can you believe this temperature?
(It did warm up to about 46 degrees later in the day...)

Bernie did get some shots of me taking pictures.

And even some of me NOT taking a picture.
Notice I am wearing two jackets, two hats and my trademark orange gloves.
(Orange gloves don't get lost as easily as black ones....)

Just to give you an idea of the size of the park.

Love big exposed roots.

Yes we are having fun!

And I did brave the edge!

Hi there!

Grottos were so interesting...

The top rim of the bowl like area had hollowed out forms like grottos in a catherdral where saints are found.

(Bird pretending he can fly as fast as the jets overhead.)


It would be so cool if famous statues could be temporarily installed in some of the grottos.

Or a temporary huge drain cover installed at the bottom of the basin would be fun too...

Signage is often quite fun. 

So this is the couple that Bryce Canyon was named after.

Don't miss reading Mr. Bryce's comment about cows in the canyon.

Imagine losing a cat in this place!

Bird checking me out as I had a snack in the car.

The shadows are starting to form. 
Aren't they interesting?

Really curious about what is inside that dark cavern.

About five o'clock Bernie and I sat down by Sunset Point to wait for sunset to see what would happen.
This is one of my favorite shots: the colors did intensify greatly!

We sat at the one place for about 2 hrs.

The long view included these features.

I totally like this ledgend.
I know Indians tended to tell their children stories to correct misbehavior.
This sort of story would hint that bad children just might suddenly be turned into stone.

The more we looked at the area, the more we saw.
Do you see people walking the area with paint on their faces in the hoodoo forms?

Waiting for sunset...and it was windy and cold.

Every few minutes I would get up and walk around to warm up. That is my shadow in the foreground.

There isn't really going to be a test, but just in case you forgot...another sign explaining how come there are so many colors to be seen in the rocks.

Bailey said it right!

What we were waiting for specifically is candle-ing.
As the sun set (or rises at Sunrise Point) the tips of hoodoos stay lit, looking a bit like candle flames
This is another of my favorite pictures.

The National Park Service has a great sense of humor.

As we walked between Sunset and Sunrise points, we hear the distinctive sound of a Shofar being blown.
The man in the fringed leather jacket was sounding the shofar. He was skilled at sounding the instrument and the sound over the valley below was incredible.
I missed the shot of him with the horn to his lips, darn it, and didn't feel it was appropriate to ask him to lift it again.
I don't know what the occasion was, but the two women in the picture were holding the shofar when I snapped the shot.

Waiting for sunset....

Same shot every five minutes...

I was marking the sun's setting by its level on the tree next to us.

A bit of candle look...

It was so cold I finally said that unless Jesus was coming to personally light the candles, I was done.

Me waving the shadows.

One last shot...

Walked back to Sunrise point, and some Japanese girls had scrambled up to a ridge and were clowning around.

Pretty cute girls!
Hope your homeland winds up OK.

And...another last look....
Now I am starting to wonder what this would look like by moonlight.
On a warm summer night.

Clearly the Air Force is showing off today.

Back for another final look...


A few wispy clouds are starting to form, a little late for photographic enhansing.

Just outside the paid portion of the park was another stop called Fairylands.

The sun really had set now.

But it was still plenty light enough to take a hike down to see what we could see.
(The car heater had revived my will to hike outside.)

Check out those candle like light glows!

It was so surreal. I could have sworn that someone must have switched on a light deep inside the hoodoos.

The grounds were perfectly pink. So appropriate for a "fairyland' place!



I took this picture on my belly hanging off the ledge...
Worth it!

See what I mean about dead trees adding a lot to the scene?

Made me think of Richard Nixon...

It was an amazing end to an amazing day.
About this time I told Bernie that I had had enough rock to last.  I had seen all the rocks I wanted to see for a long, long time, I was hungry and cold and frankly tired.
We stopped for dinner at a local diner started years ago by a local resident named Ruby.
He and his wife moved to the area to ranch back in the 1920s. After they had been on their ranch for about two years a neighbor mentioned Bryce Canyon and asked if he had seen it.
Ruby asked what it was.
The neigbor said it was a hole in the ground.
Awhile later Ruby (short for Reuben) rode out and was stunned by what he saw. He started inviting people to come see it, and stay at his place. Eventually he set up lodging for visitors, and diners.  Today it is a huge operations of hotels and shops.
Bernie had decided it would be a good idea for us to take an overnight bag with us to Bryce Canyon, just in case we would want to spend the night
The places we thought of staying was booked up so we drove over to the town of Tropic, where the red building was in one of the previous photos.

We found the sweetest cabin to rent!
I have always wanted to stay in a log cabin with log furniture.

With crochet window curtains and quilts on the bed.
A quick shower and we fell into bed and had the best nights sleep you could ever imagine!

To be continued....


ellen b. said...

You two really get around! I like that you are exploring so much of your state. Love that Dog sign!!
Beautiful photos. That bird wasn't going to fly away for anything. Knew he'd be famous on your blog if he just let you click away!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Wow....can't say much more after all that glory. Were they called hoodoes 51 years ago? You'd think my 10 year old self would have remembered that, but I don't.

Vee said...

To be continued? LOL! You have more photos on this one post than I have on my entire blog. AMAZING photos! John and I have been looking for quite some time. (Some in the middle aren't loading for me...arches and such.) I really got a chuckle out of the interaction between Bernie and the crow.

Vicki said...

Awesome pictures!

Lovella ♥ said...

Fantastic picturs of Bryce Canyon. Like Vee. .the middle picturs did not load but the begging and the end was gorgeous.

Vicki said...

Now that I've returned and there's text to go along with the photos, I'm feeling even more envious of your trip to Bryce Canyon! Those "lit candles" are amazing. I love the little cozy cabin, too.

Jake said...

WOW fantastic shots! This area is one of my favourites to visit. You have inspired me to see Bryce Canyon.

BTW as a former person who lived in Quebec I can assure you they do think they own the road and are oblivious to the rules!!

Anonymous said...

I came across your website and found it alluring and exciting. I am a big fan of travel and design. If you could e-mail me back at that would be great. I just had a couple questions.
I look forward to hearing back from you soon! Have a great day.