Bryce Canyon Travelogue 2016

Bryce Canyon National Park, a sprawling reserve in southern Utah, is known for crimson-colored hoodoos, which are spire-shaped rock formations. The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It has overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are around sunup and sundown.

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We visited this beauty during the thanksgiving weekend. It was a long drive of 12 hours covering 800 miles. This is the 1st time I and Ritesh did such a long road trip and enjoyed every bit of it. We made sure that we got at 5am for the sunrise in the freezing -7 degrees. But the view was totally worth it andI was totally mesmerised.

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As compared to other national parks in the US, it is a small park and all vista points can be covered in a day provided you get up at 5am:) October is considered as the best month to visit as in summer it gets too hold and post October it starts snowing. When we reached it was snowing but that didn’t stop us from discovering this park of orange hoodoos and stunning vistas. If you are planning with kids make sure you visit in October as you can do way more hikes as with snow all over you have to be extra cautious.

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I wore almost 4-5 layers so that I can enjoy the hikes and vistas. It was so pictureque that I didn’t mind removing my hand gloves every now and then to capture these marvellous sights. I took tons and tons of pictures which I have shared in the gallery at the end of this blogpost. My gear was Canon 6D with Canon 16-35mm f1.8L and Canon 24mm-70mm f2.8 mounted on it.

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We stayed at the Bryce Canyon Lodge which is the only lodge in the tiny town of Bryce. The entrance of the park was just 6 miles away and the entry fee was 30 dollars.

Bryce Canyon National Park does not contain one main canyon, but rather a dozen smaller ravines eroded into the east side of a ridge running approximately north-south at the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southwest Utah. This erosion has resulted in thousands of bizarre and fragile rock formations, large and small, in many subtle shades of pink, white, yellow, orange and red, extending in quite a narrow band for over 25 miles along the plateau rim. The national park is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon farmer who was the first modern-day settler in the region, and was established in 1924.

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Water is responsible for creating the rock shapes in Bryce Canyon National Park. Rain and melting snow flowing down the Pink Cliffs towards the Paria River form ridges, or fins, which subsequently erode into the spires, pinnacles and other shapes (collectively known as ‘hoodoos’) which are left standing. In time these too erode, and the whole process moves very gradually westwards as more of the cliff is slowly worn away. During the long, cold winters, the cliffs are further weakened by freezing water expanding in cracks, resulting in more erosion when the ice thaws in spring.

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Here is the description of the vistas which we visited

Sunrise at Bryce Point

At 8,300 feet, Bryce Point offers one of the most sweeping views of the hoodoo-filled red rock amphitheater. Famous for its astonishing sunrise as the sunlight floods the top of the hoodoos with a brilliant burst of light and then works its way down into all but the deepest crevices, this north-facing viewpoint is also beautiful throughout the day. Catch a great view of Boat Mesa and the rich colors of the Claron Formation. Bryce Point is the trailhead for Peek-a-Boo Loop, a strenuous 5.5-mile trail which winds among the majestic red rock hoodoos such as the Wall of the Windows and Three Wise Men formations. Bryce Point is also a popular birding spot; keep an eye out for a rare glimpse of the California condor. The viewpoint is named for Ebenezer Bryce, who settled the area in 1870. 

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Inspiration Point

Three-quarters of a mile south of Sunset Point, Inspiration Point beckons Bryce Canyon National Park’s visitors throughout the day. Beautiful from sunrise to sunset, Inspiration Point was named by early Utah settlers, and it’s easy to see why. From here, the view stretches seemingly forever, as light catches the fins, spires, hoodoos and ever-eroding canyon walls. It’s like Bryce Canyon’s main amphitheater is on fire, glowing with reds, oranges, pinks and more. The Claron Formations Pink and White members are clearly evident here, and Boat Mesa is easily viewed. Bristlecone pine trees of mixed ages dot the red rock cliffs and slopes. Afternoon and evening views are particularly rewarding, as the clear, crisp sky fills with more twinkling stars than you ever dreamed possible. Inspiration Point doesn’t just appeal to humans—animals flock here, too, making it a great spot for wildlife and bird watching.

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Navajo Trail

The most popular trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is the 1.3 mile Navajo Loop, which begins at the busy overlook of Sunset Point, and descends through some of the tallest fins and pinnacles in the park, down over 500 feet into the upper end of the main valley of Bryce Canyon. Both sides of the loop follow narrow ravines, one of which is very enclosed for about 300 feet, resembling a slot canyon, while the whole trail encounters contrasting scenery above and below – the upper sections have grand views over several miles of the Bryce Canyon formations, while the lower reaches are through sheltered, sandy basins, filled with large pine and fir trees.

Although the ground is steep in some parts, the trail is wide, well used and descends via gentle switchbacks, so the hike is relatively easy. The western half, which is known as Wall Street owing to the particularly high, vertical cliffs and narrow passages, is closed during winter owing to the dangers of falling rocks and compacted ice, but the eastern half is officially open all year, though may still be difficult at times of deep snow.

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Rainbow Point

These adjacent overlooks at the park’s southern end offer fantastic views back over Bryce Canyon’s rock formations. From here at 9,100 feet in elevation, you can clearly see most of the geological Grand Staircase rock layers, from the uppermost Pink Cliffs to the red Vermilion Cliffs. Visit both points to get the complete view; hikers can also explore the 7.5-mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail, which connects the two.

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Natural Bridge

Mother Nature is always hard at work shaping Bryce Canyon Country’s awe-inspiring bridges and arches. So what distinguishes these seemingly similar rock formations? A natural bridge is created from walled cliffs primarily by moving water erosion, such as a stream or river, whereas a natural arch is influenced by other forces of nature, like water, wind, chemical weathering, and frost wedging.

One of the best-known natural arches in Bryce Canyon National Park is ironically called Natural Bridge. This massive formation spans 85 feet and is sculpted from sedimentary red rock, rich in iron oxide, of the Claron Formation. Natural Bridge is a testament to a combination of natural forces—frost wedging, chemical weathering, and gravity—that prove how vulnerable even the most massive rock formations can be. You can view the arch from the Natural Bridge viewpoint, about three-quarters of the way along the park’s scenic drive. Other arches and bridges in Bryce Canyon National Park include Twin Bridges on the Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Point Arch near the Wall of Windows, and Farview Natural Bridge

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Black Birch Canyon

Roadside pullout along Bryce Canyon Rim, offering scenic views south to Rainbow Point.

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Sheep Creek Swamp Canyon

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Sunset Point

At 8,000 feet, Sunset Point offers dramatic views of Bryce Canyon’s main amphitheater. Stunning any time of day, the hoodoos seem to come alive in a rainbow of color as twilight sets in and shadows wash over the Claron Formation rock. Thor’s Hammer—one of the most well-known formations in Bryce Canyon National Park—towers over the “Silent City” from Sunset Point’s vista. Ancient Douglas fir trees accent the landscape, making it a popular spot also for birds and bird watchers. Sunset Point is located about a mile from the Visitor Center between Sunrise Point and Inspiration Point. The Navajo Loop Trail starts here, descending 550 feet into Bryce Canyon.

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Here is the link to the gallery of pics

References

http://www.brycecanyoncountry.com/bryce-canyon-main-viewpoints/

http://www.americansouthwest.net/utah/bryce_canyon/national_park.html

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Bryce Canyon Travelogue 2016