Day 5 - Bryce Canyon Navajo Queen's Garden Trail
Before we hit Bryce Canyon for our hike, I stopped here to catch the cliff wall and trees as the sun was rising. There are trees growing all around, but something about the delineation of the layers by the trees intrigued me. So I stopped and snapped. The tall Ponderosa pine in the last photo has been there a long time to be almost as tall as the cliff itself.
Immediately after dropping below the rim on the Navajo loop you are led into a narrow canyon named "Wall Street". You can really appreciate the height of the rock formations that is not as obvious from the rim. There are two typical rock formations in the canyon, fins and hoodoos. Fins are the rock walls like in Wall Street. The hoodoos are the rock pillars that stand alone from the the fins.
The Ponderosa pines found inside the canyon are almost as tall if not taller than some of the hoodoos.They also lend perspective to the canyon height.
Pillars not Rocks
Two weeks ago we were in NH hiking in the White Mountains, there large rocks are largely placed there by glaciers and it's obvious. Here in the southwest, some of the rocks are actually pillars whittled down to appear like rocks by Mother Nature. Or they are have dropped from the eroding canyon (last photo).
The reason for coming to Bryce Canyon in particular out of the other NP in the area is the hoodoos. The rock formations that give it that distinctive look. There are other examples of hoodoos around the world, but Bryce is by far the most famous in the US. While impressive from the rim for the vast quantity visible, from below the rim you can appreciate the distinct shapes and sizes of the different formations, like these in Queen's Garden.
It's interesting to watch a specific rock formation as it changes form from different angles. This one is cool because while the top looks pretty much the same, the different perspectives, below, level and above make it appear different in scope.
The canyon floor presents beautiful hills of sediment in ranging colors from the canyon eroding back. The second photo demonstrates it well with the hoodoo pillar eroding in the left foreground.
Oh the Colors!
From below the canyon walls you can see all the colors that make up the many layers of sediment within the canyon walls. You're looking at more than 100 million years of geologic history from the Claron Formation on top (pink cliffs) down to the Kaiparowits Formation (gray cliffs).
On the climb out through the Queens Garden, you again appreciate the depth and breadth of the canyon. The hoodoos and fins at eye level draw the eye back across the canyon.
Canyon Before You
After reaching the rim, we trekked along the Rim trail for half mile back to the truck. From the rim the canyon is a truly impressive sight, but after being down in the canyon, you can appreciate the quantity and features of the hoodoos and fins below all the more.
Don't Feed the Wildlife!
This is an important thing to remember at all times. Don't feed the wildlife. On three separate occasions on our hike we encountered chipmunks that were not afraid. The first one was just curious. The second one was down-right pesky (see the next set of photos) and the last one appeared to be begging for food. We saw several others playing it up for folks but I couldn't tell if they were getting fed. It is frustrating to see any of the critters so comfortable around humans. It just isn't natural.
I don't like selfies and my husband has a (joking) thing about being identified on the Internet, so I decided to use Lego minifigures as stand-ins for selfies. I wanted to use this bench to frame up the selfie, but this chipmunk wouldn't let this happen. After it figured out it wasn't food it was bored, but didn't leave. I was as close as I'm willing to get to any small wildlife and it didn't flinch or move. I had to shoo it to retrieve us. Cheeky fellow!
We started the hike before 8am, there were plenty of other hikers, but not so bad that I felt rushed or pushed. By the time we left the trail there was no more parking and the rim was crowded, that's important to remember, start early in the peak season or take the shuttle. The trail we took, a combination of the Navajo loop and Queen's Garden connector trails gives a great view of the rock formations of Bryce Canyon up close and gives an even better awareness of the immensity of the canyon. Getting below the rim gives you the opportunity to see the colors of the canyon walls that aren't visible from the Rim trail and overlooks. This was my second time hiking this trail and my husband's first. He was justifiably impressed!