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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park - The famuous Hoodoos

        Bryce Canyon National Park is located in the southwestern Utah in the USA. Bryce Canyon is known for its giant natural amphitheaters, made up of giant geological structures known as ‘Hoodoos’ (also known as tent rocks, fair chimneys, or earth pyramids). Hoodoos are tall, thin spire of rocks that protrude from the bottom of an arid drainage basin (or badlands). They range from 1.5 to 45 meters and typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rocks and volcanic rock formations. Hoodoos have variable thickness often described as having ‘totem-pole’ shaped body. These hoodoos are formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rock provide spectacular views for the Park visitors.

Hoodoos don’t grow like trees but are eroded out of the cliffs where rows of narrow walls form. These thin walls of rock are called fins. Frost-wedging enlarges cracks in the fins, creating holes or windows. As windows grow, their tops eventually collapses, leaving a column. Rain further dissolves and sculpts these limestone pillars into bulbous (fat, round, and bulging) spires called hoodoos. The delicate climatic balance between snow and rain ensures that new hoodoos will emerge while others become reduced to lumps of clay. Look at the pictures to understand how the changes take place.

Technically, Bryce Canyon is not a canyon. A series of Amphitheatres extend more than 20 miles north to south within the Park, the largest of which is the Bryce Amphitheatre, which is 12 miles long, 3 miles wide and 800 feet deep. Rainbow point (9105 feet elevation) is the highest part of the Park.

Very little is known about the inhabitation of the Park area. Archaeological surveys indicate that humans have lived here for more than 10000 years. Artefacts of several thousand years old belonging to the Basketmaker Ancestral Puebloans culture have been excavated in the southern part of the Park. Other European and American explorations had happened only during the 19th century.

The areas around the Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and became a National Park in 1928. In comparison to Zion Canyon, the Park receives much fewer visitors, probably due to remote location. Here too, there are a number of treks, some easy, some moderately difficult, and some tough. The Sunrise and Sunset Points offer fabulous views. I did the Queen’s Garden trek, a continuous descent of 357 ft (1.8 miles round trip) through a paved trail. Some of the trails were closed due to snowfall and ice formation. There are 13 viewpoints over the amphitheaters along a scenic drive within the Park and 8 marked and paved hiking trails. The Park has also 7.4 magnitude night sky, making it one of the darkest in North America. Stargazers can, therefore, view 7500 stars with their naked eyes whereas in most places only fewer than 2000 can be seen. Park Rangers hold public stargazing events and evening programs.

Excepting at the Park’s lodges for the inmates, we didn’t find any restaurants for food or beverages inside the Park. Outside too, only the shops and restaurants belonging to the Locals were found, and even they get closed quite early in the night. Subway was the only eatery we found acceptable within a few miles distance from the Park-entrance.

Overall, our visit to Bryce Canyon National Park was one of the most memorable ones. Here are the pictures taken by me during the visit and they will speak for themselves about the stunning beauty of the place. 

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