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U.S.A.: Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park | U.S.A. | Americas

[Visited: July 2009]

It was still dark and cold when we walked along the rim of the Bryce Canyon amphitheatre. To our right, we saw an enormous emptiness, and some vague contours of pinnacles, but we continued walking towards Sunrise Point. As this was pretty packed, we walked a little down, and found a nice spot between two of those spires, called hoodoos, where we stayed for a while. From far away, we saw the first light of the day piercing through the dark of night. When finally the sun really rose above the horizon, we looked the other way: towards the Bryce Canyon area. The highest hoodoos started to get their first sunlight, and gradually, the entire amphitheatre was being filled with the golden light of a July morning. Only now, we were stunned by the many colours we saw: white, orange, pink, brown, grey - and all combinations and shades you could imagine. The sun also managed to warm us up, and when we walked back up after having walked down, we were soon sweating.

Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Morning light on a hoodoo formation in Queens Garden

The sight of this landscape was very intriguing. Bryce Canyon has some really unique landscape - that is not easy to understand. Somehow, my fantasy was triggered when looking out over this enormous collection of small canyons, fins, and hoodoos. Some parts look like enormous castles, where you almost expect a princess behind a window, waiting for her secret lover on a white horse. Then, there are parts where you could imagine skyscrapers, with pointy tops. Temples. The Potala Palace. Or rows upon rows of people, standing still. We returned in the afternoon, and learned that because of a pretty big bushfire, much of Bryce Canyon National Park was closed. We decided to head towards the southern side of the main amphitheatre, and walked the Navajo Loop. Dropping down fast, we ended up walking at the foot of some very tall hoodoos, through narrow canyons, and arrived in an open area with trees before we headed back up through Wall Street. Aptly named after the financial street, this is a particularly narrow stretch where you could almost touch both walls with your arms extended. From here, it was a nice climb back over many switchbacks to the top. We went to Bryce Point for sunset - and behind us, saw a huge column of smoke emanating from the landscape. Seeing the sun set over the wide landscape below us was quick, and when the sunlight disappeared behind the rim, the colours were extinguished almost at once.

Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): White hoodoos at the edge of Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is in fact not a canyon, but rather a collection of amphitheatres at the eastern slope of the Paunsaguant Plateau. Inside, ages of erosion and climatic influence have shaped the forms we see today. Bryce Canyon lies at around 2,500 metres, and temperatures have extremes that are far apart, thus adding to the impact on the landscape. The next morning, we woke up very early (again!) and after another sunrise at Sunrise Point, we walked down to do the Queens Garden Trail. Not quite as narrow as the trail we had done the day before, this is a very pleasant short hike down fantastic formations which you can appreciate from below, from mid-height, and from above. Small tunnels hacked through hoodoos make way for the trail, that abruptly ends. It is only here that we finally saw the Queen Victoria look-alike hoodoo, after which the Garden is named - we had been trying to see her profile in some of the other hoodoos we had seen before. Hiking up the hill again, we realized the rapid rise in temperature - from here, we continued to Inspiration Point. Here, we partly walked the rim again, from where we had awesome views of the strange landscape below us.

Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Bryce Canyon amphitheatre at sunrise
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Hoodoo formations in Bryce Canyon
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Hoodoo formations in Bryce
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Tree defying the elements in Bryce Canyon
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Rocky formations and trees at Bryce in the early evening
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Early sunlight on Bryce Canyon
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Queens Garden Trail leading through a tunnel under a hoodoo formation
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): The Bryce Canyon amphitheatre
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Some of the many hoodoos at Bryce Canyon
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Contours of hoodoos seen from below at Wall Street
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Early morning at Bryce Canyon
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Wall Street is a narrow opening between two high rock walls
Picture of Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S.A.): Silhouette of Queen Victoria - or at least, a look-alike hoodoo

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