Utah – Bryce Canyon – WOW!

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:

Bryce Point – Speechless!

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 path on the Queens Garden Trail
The pink hoodoos towards the top of the trail

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.

More Hikes

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.)

Next post – Red Canyon on UT 12, and Zion National Park

8 thoughts on “Utah – Bryce Canyon – WOW!

  1. Dennis & Sharon Marks June 27, 2019 — 5:17 pm

    Your photos really capture the beauty! We have made it to just about all of America’s National parks & Bryce is one of the most unique. It is wonderful that you take the time to share. Truly, America is one incredible country. We have to appreciate those before us that saved our parks for everyone. Just hope they continue to be maintained, so all can enjoy.

  2. Who knew this majestic natural beauty existed in our country! Thank you for sharing your journey.

  3. These photos are spectacular. Such an awesome journey.

  4. Spectacular post! Feel like I am there – witnessing the beauty of nature up close. Thanks for that gift!

    1. We could work it in! Meet you there.

  5. The photos and narrative in this post are exceptional, and I’m not saying that just because I love this part of Utah so much. Makes me want to go back and check out your route and recommendations!

  6. Once again, beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing 😊

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