Hoodoos, Sand Pipes and a Staircase – #3 in a series of 4 Posts about Utah.
BRYCE CANYON….Wow, wow, wow!
Technically not a canyon, rather amphitheaters FILLED with multi-color hoodoos, pinnacles, buttresses, columns, and arches. Bryce is a practical park with an 18-mile scenic road and true jaw-dropping pull-offs. The MOST AMAZING sight starts at Bryce Point and a 2 mile walk on the Rim Trail, to Sunrise Point. This is Silent City and the Wall of Windows:
Agua Canyon and Natural Bridge on the Scenic Drive
Rainbow and Yavimpa Points at the end of the Scenic Drive – views to Grand Staircase and Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona.
Queens Garden Trail to hike in the hoodoos.
The Road To Bryce Canyon
Highway 12, (124 miles) is designated a Scenic Byway by the US Department of Transportation because it has features that are unique and do not exist elsewhere in the US. It is a marvel – two national parks, three state parks, a national monument, the Dixie National Forest and a national recreation area (Calf Creek).
“The million dollar highway”, was a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) project from 1935 to 1940. The workers blasted through slickrock and removed debris by hand or horse-drawn scrapers. The completion ended mule treks carrying supplies and mail over slickrock and through narrow canyons. The Hogsback on UT12 is a razorback ridge with steep drop-offs to canyons waaaaay down there.
Here is a link to all US Scenic Byways. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways
Way down there is The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument (GSENM), 1.9 million acres designated a conservation area in 1966. This is remote country for backcountry trekkers, researchers, archaeologists, and conservationists.
There is no staircase…it is a series of massive geological steps that descend to the Grand Canyon with 5 cliff formations. At the base are the Chinle Badlands.
- Pink Cliffs – limey siltstone, 50-60 million years (Bryce)
- White Cliffs – Navajo Sandstone, 150 million years (Zion and Capitol Reef)
- Gray Cliffs – shale from when the ocean covered the land, 130 million years
- Vermillion Cliffs – cinnabar color of silt and desert dunes, 165-200 million years (Lees Ferry, AZ)
- Chocolate Cliffs of Kaibab limestone, 200-225 million years (Grand Canyon North Rim)
More on Utah Byway 12:
Kodachrome Basin State Park at the edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante has unusual geological chimneys (sand pipes) that appear nowhere else in the world.
There are more than 60 sand pipes from 6′ to 170′.
We hiked Angel Palace Trail. A short hike up to the butte and then a sandy walk that fulfilled my urge to “go to the edge” like a goat.
The Hole-in-the-Rock Scenic Backway – a 57 mile 4WD road that follows a wagon road established by Mormon Pioneers in 1879 from Escalante to the Colorado River. At the end, a steep, jagged gouge in the cliffs drops 600 feet to Lake Powell.
Sunset and Stargazing – by the end of the day, we were too tired to look up, but next time: 1) Sunset at Hogsback, UT 12. “A memory to carry for the rest of your life” – Moon Travel Guide; 2) Sunset at Inspiration Point or Paria View in Bryce Canyon; 3) Stargazing at 10pm: in the park.
Bryce Navajo Loop Trail – the most popular trail – includes Wall Street, a passage 20 feet wide, walls 100 feet high, and a walk through Silent City. 1.5 mile loop. It was closed due to rockslides during our visit.
Bryce Peekaboo Loop – 5 to 7 mile loop to the Wall of Windows (or ride a horse).
Bryce Fairyland Loop – 8 miles. 1,700 feet elevation change.
Kodachrome Grand Parade Trail – a gentle 1.5 mile loop to box canyons and rock formations.
Kodachrome Cottonwood Narrows – 3 miles in and back for an isolated narrows hike (no climbing skills or equipment). The 4WD road to this trailhead was closed during our visit – impassable when wet.
Calf Creek Recreation Area, Lower Calf Creed Falls Trail to a 126 foot waterfall in GSENM. The campsites almost inspire me to buy a tent (again.)