Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon Inspiration

Dispatch by S. Bedford
Photo by Jimmy Martinello

Bryce Canyon is comprised of 14 horseshoe-like amphitheaters etched more than a thousand feet into the chromatic limestone on the eastern front of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

The canyon’s trenches are carved not by rushing water but by chemical weathering and frost wedging. The temperature rises above, then delves below zero on more than 200 days a year; water that melts during the day and trickles into crevasses  and freezes at night. In addition to expanding in size by nine percent, the ice exudes between 2,000 and 20,000 lbs of pressure per square inch, forcing the rock apart.

The protean rock formations that have inspired countless writers, photographers, artists and slack-jawed tourists were created by erosion (softer mineral deposits wear away quicker than harder ones). Additionally, acidic rainwater is slowly dissolving the limestone and bequeathing the formations with their fluid appearances. This has led to a myriad of shapes described as windows, slots, fins and hoodoos. The sunset-like colours are determined by mineral distribution.

I read about this on the park’s official website before I left Toronto—yet I was nevertheless wholly unprepared for the staggering impact of encountering it all in person.

At the Sunrise Point lookout, Team Outpost gaped in wonderment at the crowd of hoodoos before us. As Jimmy and Bowen attempted to capture the majesty on film, Delano and I shared with one another the images that seemed to materialize before us in the rocks: solemn knights, hunched women, Indian temples, washed-out sandcastles, holy spires.

Bryce Canyon Hoodoo
Delano and the Hoodoos 
 

We then traipsed a segment of the Fairyland trail where walls of rosy-hued hoodoos (resembling melted candles, salt and pepper shakers, dried apricots, chess pieces, enormous walnuts) shaded wet patches of stark snow. They towered above butterscotch-scented ponderosa pines and the burned carcasses of lightning-struck trees.

As the high altitude knocked the breath from our lungs and the dry air seized the moisture from our skin, we sojourned through the surreal landscape, already enraptured with its one-of-a-kind views


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