Today it was the turn of Bryce Canyon National Park. Easier to see than Grand Canyon and Zion. As recommended by the guide books, we drove to the furthest point, at just over 9,000 ft and on the way back pulled off into all the viewing areas. These were all on the right hand side overlooking the rim.
Bryce is famous for it odd shaped, statuesque rock features which are known as ‘hoodoos’. Water only plays a minor role in their formation. As snow and ice melts, water seeps into fractures. When it re-freezes it expands and cracks the rocks around it. This happens frequently here because for around 180 days a year, temperatures swing widely between freezing nights and hot afternoons. A combination of gravity and meltwater move the stone fragments down hill.
On our drive up the canyon, there were a number of fires burning on the hills on the opposite side of the road to the rim. When we first entered the park it was very smoky, but fortunately the wind was taking it away from us. These small wild fires are allowed to burn.
We have seen many turkey buzzards and ravens soaring on the thermals. There are supposed to be mountain lions, prairie dogs and all sorts of smaller creatures, but with so many tourists the likelihood of seeing any is remote. Last night, though, Dennis said he could hear coyotes, or something similar, howling and yelping.
This afternoon our drive took us towards Capitol Reef National Park. It was another very scenic route with yet more canyons and rocks of every hue. More rounded, dome like features. In the valleys, in the flatter areas, it is bright green, as irrigators are watering the grass. There are a few cattle grazing, but it must take very many acres to support cattle. It is such poor quality land with little grass. We passed a ‘real’ cowboy with hat, chaps, lasso, the full kit, riding out to check on his herd. Later we climbed up and came into forest. Some pine, but mainly silver birch.
I expect you are thinking, they must be getting fed up with all those red rocks and canyons! They are actually all, or the ones we have seen so far, quite different. Having said that we are gong to miss out Canyonlands and Arches. A shame as we have been told they are both stunning. However, there is a limit to the amount of time we have and sadly we cannot fit in everything. After we have driven through Capitol Reef tomorrow, we will head for Salt Lake City.
Tonight we are camped about 17 miles from Capitol Reef in the forested area. It is 8.30 and the sun set a while ago, but there is a beautiful pinkish haze to the sky and light. We will retire early . Last night wasn’t a good night. We were close to the road and it was a bit noisy. Tonight should be peaceful, as we are in a forest and away from the road and any form of civilisation.