It was hard to leave Zion. To pack up and drive away from such a beautiful place. But the promise of another one less than 3 hours away motivated us to wake up and start packing up our things as soon as the sun hit our tent. We stayed just off the Kolob highway, which runs from about 20 miles south of Zion to the very east border of the park. We wanted to try a different spot from the Sheep’s Bridge Road camping and we were glad we did. I’d highly recommend it, if not solely for the fact that we drove and walked alongside a little family tribe of cows that free roam the mountainside and fell asleep to the jingling of their cowbells. I mean what could be a better lullaby??
Leaving Zion would be the start of our journey on the beautiful Utah scenic byways. We drove through a part of the park yet unseen and a mostly undeveloped countryside on our way to Bryce Canyon. It was pleasant to see the beautiful farmland backdropped by red mountains, to slowly feel the slight pull upward as we gradually climbed to a higher elevation. The cows, horses, goats and llamas didn’t notice as we drove by but we sure saw them, having to fight stopping and saying hi to each one. About halfway through our quiet and undeveloped drive, we happened upon a small strip of crystal shops and, being us, had to stop. Called the Rock Shop, it was a molded, almost glob like mound of pink stucco with a white cap. I assumed a representation of red mountain with snow on the top? But it’s up to your own perspective. No matter how it looked on the outside, the inside was filled with such a genuine energy. A little pocket of sunshine on an otherwise solo drive for us. I even met the current owner and the past owner who happened to be in the shop, both telling me all about the local gems that were found just within a mile of where we all stood.
It was a perfect little halfway point, we even grabbed a poppyseed danish from a German bakery to quell our hungry anticipation of what to expect at Bryce Canyon. The only thing I knew to expect was the hoodoos, which I was obsessed with since we started this trip. Their name and their character. And I was not to be disappointed. We had decided to take the Queen’s Garden Trail since I had heard it gave you the best, personal acquaintance opportunity. Of course, I couldn’t resist getting to know the “legend people” that the Paiute Indians said these hoodoos were. Frozen in time by the trickster god Coyote.
When we started the trail, we walked along the Rim Trail to the Sunrise Point, where we thought we were seeing a grand view of all the hoodoos! Which we were, but we didn’t realize how expansive the park was and how many perspectives there were of these and other hoodoos. When we began our descent, it was like we were immediately transported into another world. I could’ve sworn we stepped through a portal to Mars. We couldn’t walk ten steps without stopping to take a picture of a different rock chimney, person, window or alien. Each one was so unique that we couldn’t help but try and capture all of them.
The entire trail was filled with close interactions with hoodoos and their families. A 4 mile trail, I never bored since each path brought its own energy and personality, including the ground squirrels and chipmunks that scaled the rock faces so easily and swiftly. Scampering around and greeting us with doeful eyes, silently begging for a piece of our trail mix. The almond we dropped was I’m believe the best snack one little guy had ever eaten. He sat upright, eyes closed, as if savoring every morsel. Another little one grabbed my hand when I crouched down closer and then grabbed my go pro lens just to make sure it wasn’t some food he could stuff in his chubby cheeks. We chuckled as if channeling him and I think the video of him grabbing me and the camera just might be my pride and joy.
After the hike, we drove higher and higher. To reach all of the viewpoints that overlooked every angle of Bryce Canyon. What added to the uniqueness of the hoodoos, was the snow that filled in the crevices of their shapes. The white beautifully contrasting the red of the rock and green of the ponderosa pines that grew tall from the base of the canyon and hoodoos. Bryce Canyon is known for its varying temperatures of warm and cold, which is precisely what causes the formations of these rock people. The warm weather melts the snow, which seaps into the porous stone. Then the cold refreezes the water inside the rocks, which causes the frozen water inside to expand and shatter the rocks from the core. Isn’t that crazy?!
I’m pretty certain there’s other beings that live amongst us and other worlds outside of us. Or within us even. I’ve always wanted to meet them or to go there. To hear their stories and travel their worlds. If anywhere has ever felt like I breached the boundary, touched another life force, it’s Bryce. It’s as if you’re walking among rock gods and goddesses that cohabit with fairies. Or maybe that’s just my imagination, but that doesn’t mean the experience is any less real. There’s something about the energy, the sentience of the structures that must be seen and felt. I encourage you to walk amongst them, breathe in the 9,000 ft brisk air and imagine. It might just make your heart explode from the inside.