The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce National Park was every bit as beautiful as I’d remembered it from 11 years ago. They’ve upgraded and added a shuttle, similar to Zion Park, which is nice. The vegetation is dramatically different than Zion. There are no cottonwood, wild grape, maidenhair fern and other moisture-loving plants. Instead, conifers, densely populated above the canyon, sparsely within, give the park a very different feel, but no less lovely and inspiring. Ground covering are pygmy shrub manzanitas, their shiny red branches holding out their little green tinkly leaves in the wind. (Well, they just look tinkly, of course! They’re really stiff small leaves that hold their own moisture tightly within, necessary of this environment.)
Bryce Canyon is overwhelming in its intricate and fragile beauty as Zion is in its sheer immensity and strength. Both parks, however, instill a sense of reverence and spiritual awe and quiet in the viewer. To think the Paiute lived off these lands for thousands and thousands of years so long ago...
The hoodoos, created by erosion from the waters, wind and sands of time, took millions of years. At one point, this entire area was under water! Bryce is actually part of the same large mountain range as Zion to the north, and the Grand Canyon continues the range to the south.
This time, I went down into the canyon, doing the 1.5 mile Navajo Trail Loop. Seeing the hoodoos from their base truly instills awe. Standing in their shadow, the soft wind fluting through the hoodoos, the warm colors drawing you in, you experience something indefinable...a presence...of God, of those who walked the land long long before us, and the whispers of prehistoric sealife from another lifetime. It is not surprising that the Native American peoples were so spiritual. One could not live in any of these ancient places and not feel it. Our cities, with their noise and neon, cell phones and technological whirring, drown out the voices of old that may have spoken to us and taught us. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Native Americans understood God in a way so much more natural than we.
Below are a few of my favorite Bryce photos. You can see the trail leading right down between them (left photo). These form mini slot canyons I guess you could say.
I’m sort of a kid at heart sometimes...the kid who still sees animals and magical stories in cumulus clouds. The hoodoos provide the same kind of challenge for the imagination! On the left are three women dressed for a ball, waiting with their dance cards full, for the next waltz or quadrangle. Their matron escort sits in a state of alertness, protecting her charges. On the right is a King and Queen standing in front of their thrones, holding court with their pet lion standing at the Queen’s right hand. To the left of the photo are the Queen’s lady’s in waiting. I call the bottom photo “Front Line of Defense.” Apply it to whichever scenario you choose!
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