Bryce Canyon National Park (NP #44), Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park (map / wiki) is the most photogenic park in the system.

 

The night before I entered Bryce Canyon National Park I camped in Dixie National Forest. I advise that anyone looking for an alternative to paying $20 to camp in Bryce should head into Dixie NF.There are dirt roads less than a quarter mile away from the entrance to Bryce that lead west to free dispersed camping in Dixie.

 

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I felt alright about gathering wood in Dixie National Forest. There was clear evidence of controlled burning so I figured they were trying to reduce the amount of fuel on the ground already.

 

Bryce Canyon is another bizarre iteration of what sandstone is capable of given the right composition and environment.

 

The approach to Bryce takes you through some relatively unassuming forest wilderness before the road reaches the edge of the canyon. Erosion has scooped out the hillside below and left weather resistant pillars behind. These pillars are called hoodoos (wiki), and they consist of softer rock layers capped by more weather resistant rock. The hoodoos form in organized ranks wherever the hard cap rocks happened to form. Because of this, they are easy to anthropomorphize as small groups of individuals huddled together observing you in spooky suspicion.

 

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When I first visited Bryce I was surprised to see dense forest growing out of sandstone.

 

I made an effort to avoid the crowds so instead of heading to Bryce Canyon itself, I hiked a loop through the less popular Fairyland Canyon. Pictured below is an overview of that area.

 

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Fairyland Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park.

 

I call Bryce Canyon the “most photogenic national park” for a combination of reasons.

 

For one thing the hoodoo formations are amazing. Theres no getting around how peculiar they look. Full sunlight usually washes out the intricate texture of sandstone, but because the hoodoos neck down and bulge out like a fancy vase they continue to cast interesting shadows even at high noon.

 

Setting aside their impressive shape, their color is like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else. The hoodoos and cliffsides blend through pastel shades of sherbet orange, rosy pink, and chalk white. My pictures don’t do the colors justice so this is one of the few times I’ll ever recommend a google image search to see what I’m talking about.

 

I’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking about why colors in nature rarely seem to clash with each other.

 

Bryce is a prime example of what I mean by that. If you told someone you were painting your guest bathroom orange with pink trim because of how nicely those colors compliment each other, people would think you were crazy, but I’m telling you – here at Bryce, it just works.

 

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Trees are crazy. This guy started downhill to the left and then at some point decided to rest his elbow for support. Whoever routed this trail so close to this funky twisting tree knew exactly what they were doing.

 

The third and final reason I say Bryce is so photogenic is on account of how easily the best viewpoints can be accessed.

 

The road through the park parallels the collective rim of the amphitheater shaped canyons, and it has short spurs which lead off to the aptly named vistas – Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point. Someone in a wheelchair with a tripod and some early morning motivation could take most of the stunning pictures in that google image search I linked above.

 

And contrary to what you might expect, I think that’s awesome.

 

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Ruff!

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