The Paiute Indians believed the colorful rock totems were “Legend People,” who were turned to stone by Coyote. Early geologists named the rock formations “hoodoos,” and thought the imposing spires were capable of casting spells. Ebenezer Bryce, the Mormon settler for whom the canyon was named, simply said, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.”
How Bryce Canyon Became A National Park
The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are the reason that the canyon was designated a national park—the park contains more of these unique rock formations than anyplace else on earth. Formed by cycles of freezing and thawing, the spires and arches of Bryce have slowly been formed over centuries of harsh weather—more than 200 days a year of freezing temperatures.
Set aside as a national park in 1928, Bryce Canyon is one of our smaller parks, covering only 55 square miles. But oh, it’s a wondrous slice of our country.
Because the location is somewhat remote, Bryce doesn’t get as many visitors as does nearby Zion, or the Grand Canyon. Ordinarily, we avoid all national parks from Memorial Day through Labor Day. But our route was taking us right past Bryce, it had been a dozen years since our last visit, and we couldn’t resist the siren call of the hoodoos.
One Full And Wonderful Day Among The Hoodoos
Because we had only one full day to explore the park, we chose one of our favorite hikes for the morning, the Navajo Loop combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail. It’s a gorgeous hike that quickly drops 500 feet down into the canyon, offering the opportunity to view the hoodoos from below (and the opportunity for peace along the trail because most people stay on the rim). Lunch in a shady spot on the rim, a geology talk by a ranger, a cool drink in the lodge, and another short hike along the Mossy Cave trail made for a full and wonderful day.
“If future generations are to remember us with more gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.” ~ Lyndon Baines Johnson (Written on a plaque at the rim of Bryce Canyon.)
Where We Stayed
Although we would have preferred camping within Bryce, the temperatures were edging toward 90, and we needed electric hookups to run our A/C (to prevent baking our kitty, who at 19 doesn’t tolerate heat well). So we stayed just outside the park at Ruby’s RV Park, a fine place for a couple of nights. (If you stay there, ask for a site in the older section, which has trees. The new section looks like a dirt parking lot.)