Zion and Bryce National Parks
We left the town of Kanab, UT right at dawn to hit the curves and tunnels en route to Zion National Park. We had half a day, so went straight at it after whizzing past the entrance using our NPS card. Through the visitor center, we walked and hiked through the mesmerizing landscapes of this huge national park. We walked through rivers with ankle high water, hiked to top of the canyons, drenched in emerald pools and sipped the beauty of the flora and fauna around barren yet beautiful landscape. Our favorite POIs were the lower and upper falls, emerald pools, checkerboard mesa, the narrows, and the main canyon. Honestly, one can spend 2-3 days easily and hiking every day all day, yet to cover all the spots. Half a day was crazily below average time people spend here. Nevertheless, we will cover the geology and the environmental tales of Zion in a separate post.
For now lets focus on the next spot – Bryce Canyons. We had a little bit of lunch and headed to Bryce Canyons National Park, a mere 50 minutes drive. But boy, what a drive it was. Surrounded by a landscape that drastically changed every 15 minutes. We went from
green river valley to rocky cliffs to barren country side in a matter of minutes. Until we crossed the famous natural ‘bridge’, we had a feeling we are lost and going in the wrong direction. After entering the park, it seemed to be a different world, at least compared to Zion where we were just less than an hour ago.
From the visitor center to all the POIs, it seemed extremely touristy and the paths are all paved. Not many wilderness trails exist probably for obvious reasons – that the landscape is dangerous with steep cliffs and nothing to hold on to, and sharp drops to the bottom of the canyons. The highlight of this park has to be the ‘hoodoos’ which are best viewed at sunset. The red and orange hues come out swinging at the dying lights of the day. The gorgeous structures are actually formed by wind corrosion and not water weathering. The Bryce Canyon is not really a canyon, but a inverse dome where the bottom layer of rock is weaker than the top layer. Therefore with time, the bottom layer gets corroded faster than the top layer, and creates these fanciful ‘hoodoos’.
There is a steep and slippery pathway to go to the floor of the ‘canyon’ or dome to be with the hoodoos. It is a tough climb back but definitely a must since at various levels, the photo-ops and the panorama changes vividly. Even though it has a lot to offer, one day here should be enough for a savvy hiker to complete.