“Descending into the canyon, I sink into another world. I notice not only incredible geologic gargoyles but also the eclectic plants of Bryce’s innards.” Trail guide, Bryce Canyon Natural History Association
Of all the national parks in the US that I visited last year, Bryce Canyon would have to be the strangest. We arrived late afternoon, drove to the highest point of the park, and gazed across a buckled and fractured landscape that was momentarily bathed in a golden light. It was an incredible sight.
There are 14 viewpoints along Bryce Canyon’s 18-mile (29km) scenic drive and we stopped at three of them – Rainbow Point (9115ft/2778m), Black Birch Canyon (8750ft/2667m) and Inspiration Point (8100ft/2469m). It was the perfect time to gaze at the sweeping vistas, with the colours changing subtlety as the sun sank lower in the sky.
The following day, we descended into the canyon and it really was like entering another world. We ducked under natural archways, gazed up at strange-shaped pillars and even entered cavern-like spaces where shards of light filtered through gaps in the rocks. We were surrounded by strange-shaped hoodoos; surreal artworks that were created from limestone, sandstone and mudstone. It’s a landscape that is constantly evolving; shaped by nature’s hand.
We hiked from Surprise Point into the Queen’s Garden – via a steep descent – and then joined the Navajo Loop to return to Surprise Point. The way out was via Wall Street, which was a phenomenal section of the trail. We first entered a cavern-like space and then faced a daunting vertical climb, via a series of steep switchbacks. This was only a short walk (2.9 miles/4.6km), which took us a couple of leisurely hours.
I loved all the shapes in this strange landscape, but I think the most amazing part of the walk for me were the colours. The contrast between the pink and red rock structures with the green pine forests was very striking, and the sunlight was constantly changing. At first the sky was blue, but then clouds gathered and a storm brewed. Heavy drops of rain fell and thunder cracked. Fortunately, the lightning was far enough away that it didn’t scare the bejesus out of me (like it did at the Grand Canyon).
But it was also one of those storms where the sun’s rays filtered through the clouds, which had the effect of saturating the colours of the landscape. It was too bad that, by this time, I’d stashed my camera to protect it from the rain.
Bryce Canyon is a remarkable national park and below are some of my favourite photographs from my visit.