A recent chain of events (a record-breaking polar vortex which led to a four-day school cancellation which led to a reorganization of the photo cupboard) brought to light a long-forgotten photo album of our first Southwest road trip. Turns out the husband and I (but mostly the husband – you’ll see his massive camera in several photos in this series) took more and better photos back then than we did on a similar road trip last summer, and I thought I would share some of them with you in a series entitled “A Photo Journey.” I hope you enjoy them, and even more, I hope they inspire you to travel.
So orange is not my favorite color. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of my least favorite colors. Inescapable each and every Halloween, it was also the color of my childhood bedroom’s shag carpet and my grandma’s overly-firm throw pillows. These days, the garish hue assaults my vision in the form of day-lilies so overused as a lazy gardener’s landscape filler across my neighborhood. (We ripped ours out, you’ll be relieved to hear, and replaced them with deep purple lavender, inspired by our time in Provence, whose tolerance of our yard’s particular micro-climate will be revealed this spring.) My blatant anti-orange colorism does not, however, extend to the hues painted across the southwest U.S., and that goes double for Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park.
There’s a lot of stunning orange rock in southern Utah, but Bryce’s rocks possess their own special brand of stunning. They are set apart by their unique shapes.
They’re called hoodoos. I don’t know why. I could look it up, but then again, so could you. 😉
Some views include an abundance of green that Mother Nature has thrown in, daring, avant-garde artist that she is.
Again, not normally a fan of the green–orange color combo, but it seems to work here.
Like Arches National Park, there is a profusion of unique shapes to behold.
The formation below is called Queen Victoria after, that’s right, Queen Victoria. She was the current queen’s great great grandmother. More interestingly, she was the great great great great great great great great great granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, making her distantly related to (though not directly descended from) the impetuous, unpredictable, tunnel-visioned, not-overly-caring, but eminently fascinating Henry VIII.
For comparison’s sake, here are a few pictures of an often dour-looking Queen Victoria from the book, The Kings and Queens of England. This rock is a reasonable likeness, I would say, and explains the sudden burst of patriotic fervor that is known to strike British tourists like the husband whenever they visit Bryce.
I’ve been to Bryce a few times, and I’ve approached the park from both the east and the west. The great thing about the western approach, especially if it’s your first visit, is the element of surprise. First you drive, then walk, through forests of pine trees. It feels like you could be just about anywhere in the northern U.S. But then you reach the edge of the canyon and – POW! – there’s this immense, otherworldly amphitheater of orange hoodoos suddenly spread out in front of you. It’s quite an experience, and I often wonder how this land’s First Peoples reacted to the discovery. (To contrast, when you approach from the east you spot the hoodoos from the highway on the way to the park. It’s not a bad way to arrive, but it doesn’t have the same wow-factor, in my opinion.)
But just seeing the sights from on high is like going on a diving trip and then spending the whole time snorkeling. For a full, immersive experience you need to get up close and personal to the hoodoos by going down in.
It can be a bit like a very tall hedge-maze down there.
You may feel like an ant inside a forest of rocks.
One of the stories I read with my students each year tells the tale of Paul Bunyan’s son, Little Jean, carving Bryce Canyon one day out of sheer boredom.
But don’t be fooled. Bryce wasn’t the creation of some gigantic youth suffering from pre-teen ennui. It was created by nature. Erosion, actually, if you don’t mind me getting all science-y on you.
And when you see Bryce with your own eyes, you’ll have no doubt that she did a really stellar job.
Posts in the A Photo Journey series:
- Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque
- Climbing Angels’ Landing in Utah
- Arches National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Death Valley National Park