The sun shone unobscured over the Utah landscape, which made a rapid transformation from monotonous to remarkable as we approached Bryce Canyon National Park. A good deal of the scenery was reminiscent somewhat of what we saw in Colorado - striking red rocks jutting out of the ground on either side of the road. We flashed our NPS pass on the way into the park and got ourselves a map, which showed a fairly short drive from one side to the other, but plenty of spots to stop and walk around.
One of the first viewpoints was Inspiration Point, which was a very appropriate name for this spectacular vista. The canyon was replete with these strange geological features called hoodoos, which are vertical structures of softer rock topped off with harder rock, and eroded over many years to resemble these oddly shaped columns. There was nowhere else I've seen these in such great numbers and with such pronunciation.
We were visiting on a weekday, and there weren't very many other people around to get in the way. Those who were, were inexplicably speaking French and German in unusually large numbers. There was a higher concentration of native Europeans here in Bryce than we'd seen anywhere else in the country, as if the state of Utah is running some kind of massive tourism campaign on the other side of the Atlantic.
There were a handful of hiking trails that ranged from less than a mile to nearly ten miles long. After our foray into the wilderness a few days before in Yellowstone, we were less than inclined to go for any wild, grand excursions on foot. We did spend some time on the shorter trails, coating my sandaled feet with a layer of dust. The vibrant landscape begged for attention, and I gave it plenty with my camera. Have a look.
When I think of Utah, I've generally thought of it as a bunch of crazies living in the desert. That's not the whole story. So much of the state is undeveloped and uninhabited that it seemed more like a clean slate than anything else. It made me wonder what kind of majestic views might have existed back east, before humans got around to exploiting them for their land and natural resources. Bryce Canyon was a glimpse into the complexity of nature, and the beauty to which human civilization can't compare.
Before the sun was down, we'd scoured our way from one end of the park of the other, and as always, we had a schedule to keep. We drove back out the entrance at the north end of the park and made our way toward Zion Canyon, the next day's attraction, and spent the night in a town called Kanab along the Arizona border. Day one of the canyon tour was a success, and the next day wouldn't disappoint, either. More on that to come.