Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Helluva a Place to Lose A Cow: Bryce Canyon National Park.

Hello Hoodoos!!!  Last week I was lucky enough to take a visit to the imaginarium of wonder known as Bryce Canyon!!!

Located in southwestern Utah, this National Park houses one of the largest collection of Hoodoos in the world (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from forces of frost weathering erosion).  The red white orange pink colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for the 1.5 million park visitors per year.  Despite its name, Bryce Canyon is not a canyon, but rather a collection of giant natural amphitheaters.  Regardless of its moniker, its a site to be seen both from above and below. 

The Bryce Canyon  area,  named after Mister Ebenezer Bryce, was first settled by Mormon pioneers in the mid-18th century.  Bryce grazed his cattle inside what are now park boarders, and thought the amphitheater would be a “Helluva place to lose a cow.”  The area around Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928.   

Bryce Canyon spans 35,835 acres.  Its 37 mile circuit scenic drive provides access to 13 viewpoints over the amphitheaters, which are especially amazing as the sun rises and sets.  Some of our favorite hikes included Mossy Cave, Navajo Loop, and Queens Garden (named so for a rock that looks strangely like a statue of Queen Victoria in London).   

The park has a 7.4 magnitude night sky, making it one of the darkest in North America.   Stargazers can see 7,500 stars with the naked eye at Bryce (while in most places fewer than 2,000 can be seen due to light pollution and in many large cities only a few dozen can be seen).

While visiting Bryce we stayed overnight in the park at the 114-room Bryce Canyon Lodge.  The Lodge was built between 1924 and 1925 from local materials.  In honor of those 7,500 stars, there is no ambient light at the Lodge from traffic, signs, or housing.  Bryce Park Rangers (aka “Dark Rangers”) host public stargazing events at the Lodge and evening programs on astronomy while the Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival held in June attracts thousands of visitors.  

So from red rock hiking to soulful star gazing, there’s no place like Bryce!


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