Bryce Canyon National Park took my breath away. The stars are the hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion), and from the first time I saw photographs of the terrain many years ago, I knew I wanted to visit. It is a stunning landscape.
But at an altitude of 9100 feet, I was not functioning at my best (point of reference – a mile is 5280 feet). Lansing is 820 feet, Madison is 741 feet! The thin air caught both of us just trying to catch our breath a bit, but we were not alone. Fortunately, the park planners kept that in mind, adding viewpoints to make it easy to see for those not wanting to strike out on more ambitious hikes.
Like the Grand Canyon, you are a bit more of a spectator. Matter of fact, you see little as you drive the easy 18 mile stretch of the park, but once you step out onto any of the 13 viewpoint areas, the show begins and no amount of Hollywood special effects and lighting could create a more dramatic scene.
There are several hikes, again, for various activity levels, but we didn’t take any. A bit weary from the more vigorous hiking days we’d had, combined with the altitude, we simply enjoyed the viewpoints where we enjoyed meeting and talking to people from England, Sri Lanka and Germany. The views were simply amazing and again, we were reminded of the hearty pioneers who were sent from the LDS Church to homestead this and surrounding properties. We did enjoy a delicious lunch in the lodge where we both had bowls of elk chili.
The following morning as we drove away, we were granted tremendous views of the park, thanks to the lighting of the early morning sun. Bryce was stunning and at times, the hoodoos reminded me of the terra cotta warriors in Xian, China. I’d love to see this area with a light snow – I just don’t want to travel back to witness it firsthand. I’m still trying to catch my breath.
By the way, Bryce is the smallest of the national parks we visited – only 56 square miles. But to be there and look out, you’d swear it went on for hundreds of miles.