Of the 5 National Parks of Utah, Bryce Canyon was our last to explore. To reach Bryce Canyon from our campground at the edge of Panguitch, UT, we drove through the scenic Red Rock Canyon. There is a system of trails through Red Rock, but that will have to wait for another stay.
From the moment you get your first view of Bryce Canyon at Bryce Point, you are overwhelmed by the canyon’s immenseness and stark beauty. It is literally comprised of thousands of acres filled with rock formations.
Fins erode into arches, then into pinnacles and spires called hoodoos, that weakening and eventually falling, add their colors to the hills below. As with many of the areas of the West, the ancients had their own explanations for the formations. An elderly Paiute explains: “Before there were any Indians, the Legend People lived in this place. They were of many kinds, birds, animals, lizards,and such things – but they had the power to make themselves look like people. For some reason, the Legend People were bad, so Coyote turned them all into rocks. You can see them in that place now, all turned to rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks.”
The scenic drive through the park stretches a little over 20 miles. If you do not wish to drive, a shuttle bus makes stops at all the overlooks in the area called Bryce Amphitheater. We were told at the Visitor Center, that the largest majority of visitors never see the park beyond the shuttle route of the Amphitheater.
We drove the length of the park to begin working our way back. At the end of the road lies Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point, one of the highest points in the park at an elevation of 9115. The view at these points, on a clear day, can extend 90miles away into Arizona and New Mexico.
As mentioned above, most visitors never see the southern end of the park. Far fewer decide to venture into the canyon on one of the many hiking trails. We decided to take a 3 mile hike that would cover parts of both the Queen’s Garden trail and the Navajo Loop. If the views from above seem outstanding, hiking through the formations is better described through pictures than words. Join us on the hike by clicking on the collage: