Monthly Archives: June 2017

Hiking and photography in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world

The year started with a resolution to stay active and do more hiking. So after extensive research and map exploration of different natural areas, the route was traced. Early May is a good time to visit Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef national parks in Utah. These are images from Bryce Canyon National Park. I will write more about the others later.

Bryce Canyon contains the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world. Hoodoos are tall skinny pinnacles or spires of rocks that rise from the bottom of arid basins or badlands. Stop by the park’s visitors center to see a good display of Hoodoos found in other parts of the world. Turkey, France, Canada, Argentina, Taiwan, and New Zealand have some of these rock formations.

Hoodoos are formed by erosion processes that continuously work at dissolving the edges of the plateau. Only water, wind, and gravity are at play in this erosion. These hoodoos don’t last very long geologically speaking. Scientists have calculated the average rate of erosion at 2-4 feet every 100 years. I saw many of them with their top heavy hard rock hats that I know will soon collapse. Others will form but the entire upper rim of the plateau is receding and will eventually crumble. The National Park Service warns that just walking up to the base of a hoodoo will accelerate the erosion of the hoodoo’s foundations. Hikers should stay on established trails. Keep in mind that a lot of people come from all over the world to see these geological wonders. In addition to hoodoos, you will learn all about rock fins, windows and bridges. Some of these formations show up before the hoodoos appear.

All kinds of hiking trails are available – easy, moderate, and difficult

There are many miles of trails for exploring this landscape. If you go keep in mind the park’s high elevation ranging from 8,000-9,000 feet. The air is thinner up here and it can get very cold. Most of the interesting hikes involve trails that descend several hundred feet into the valley floor. Going down is easy but you will have to climb back up. The GPS marked an elevation change of 500 feet for the first day hike. That hike combined the popular Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop trails. The Tower Bridge rock formation was the destination the next day. That hike shares the trail with the Fairyland Loop trail for a section and it involved an elevation change of 800 feet. The Bristlecone Loop at the south end of the park and the Mossy Cave trail are easy hikes that do not require a lot of climbing. If you carry camera and lenses, tripod, and water, every ounce counts. A good pair of hiking poles will help your back and knees. Some of the trails have loose gravel and could be slippery. Be extra careful whenever you see loose gravel on a steep incline. I lost traction and fell on another steep trail in the Red Canyon area outside the park. I am afraid that makes slip and fall number 3 in my book – all of them in different countries. The parks are experiencing record number of visitors so plan your visit during off peak seasons. Many photographers even visit in the winter season when snow on the rocks add contrast to the scenery. Get out there now and get lost in the enchanted forest of hoodoos.

Descending on the Fairyland Loop Trail on the way to the Tower Bridge

Descending on the Fairyland Loop Trail on the way to the Tower Bridge rock formation

Scientists can determine the rate of erosion by inspecting the tree roots

Scientists can determine the rate of erosion by inspecting the tree roots

Windows on the rock fins on the Water Canyon

Windows on the rock fins on the Water Canyon

Cross the small bridge over the Tropic Ditch along the Mossy Cave Trail to reach the waterfall.

Cross the small bridge over the Tropic Ditch along the Mossy Cave Trail to reach the waterfall.

You can see a section of the Navajo Loop Trail as it winds down between the hoodoos.

You can see a section of the Navajo Loop Trail as it winds down between the hoodoos.

The Natural Bridge lookout point along the main park road. No hiking here.

The Natural Bridge lookout point along the main park road. No hiking here.

The Tower Bridge formation is made up by a bridge and a window on this rock fin.

The Tower Bridge formation is made up by a bridge and a window on this rock fin.