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Bryce Canyon National Park

Named for Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce, Bryce Canyon National Park is located on the eastern escarpment of the Paunsaugunt Plateau adjacent to the western edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Bryce Canyon’s 56 square miles have elevations from 7,600 to 9,100 feet.

Bryce Canyon National Park map

Bryce Canyon National Park map

Hoodoos fill large amphitheater-like alcoves with an amazing array of pinnacles, spires, fins and pedestals.  The sedimentary rock layers where formed in the Triassic, Jurassic and Upper Cretaceous periods.  The color of the layers is indicative of the layer’s “formation”;  for example white and pink are the Claron formation, grey is Straight Cliffs formation, white is Navajo Sandstone, vermillion is the Moenave formation, and chocolate is Shinarump Conglomerate.  The Paunsaugunt Fault runs along the eastern edge of the park, separating the pink Claron formation and the grey Straight Cliffs formation.

Arriving early in the morning, we hiked the Queens Garden Trail, starting at Sunrise Point.

Looking north from Sunrise Point

Looking north from Sunrise Point

This next photo, taken a short way from the Queen’s Garden Trailhead, offers an inspiring view of what awaits along this trail.

Near the start of Queen’s Garden Trail

Near the start of Queen’s Garden Trail

Hoodoos are spires with a harder rock layer on top (called caprocks or capstones) which protects the softer stone layers underneath.  Vertical fractures, called “joints”,in the limestoneof the Claron formation erode faster and form intersecting grid-like patterns with a spacing of one to several feet in this locale.

Hoodoos

Hoodoos

Trees and shrubs stubbornly survive even in such a tortured environment as this.  I’m amazed this tree can flourish on what is obviously solid rock.

Lone Tree on Fractured Wall

Lone Tree on Fractured Wall

The pink and white layers of the Claron formation are strikingly evident up close.  These hoodoos are 25 to 50 feet tall, and some are even larger.

Multicolored Hoodoos

Multicolored Hoodoos

Curiously unconcerned, a mule deer relaxes in the shadow of hoodoos while we hike along.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Unfortunately, the trail was blocked for the winter season due to falling rock from the freeze-thaw cycle.  We got as far as a hoodoo called Queen Victoria, and then we returned along the same path we followed.  Here is one last shot from Sunrise Point.

View from the Queen’s Garden Trailhead

View from the Queen’s Garden Trailhead

References:

Bryce Canyon National Park

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Mark Bobb

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