Tuesday, October 12, 2010 Sunny and 65 degrees
Our first stop of the day was at Water Canyon. Between 1890 and 1892 enterprising pioneers dug a ditch from neighboring rivers to Water Canyon. This ditch supplied water to the drought-stricken valley near Tropic. It also created a waterfall that now flows continually through the canyon. Mossy Cave is located along the trail, too. The sun was shining on the water and the canyon walls, and it made for a beautiful walk.
Next we were on our way to Bryce Canyon when we saw our first pronghorns. A doe and fawn, crossing a busy highway, were trapped by fences running along both sides of the road. They are beautiful animals and are finally making a comeback in the high desert.
Bryce is a one-of-a-kind park. There is no other place like it on earth. Since it was formed by weathering, specifically freeze-thaw cycles and not by flowing water, it is not a canyon but an amphitheater. Thin ridges of rock called fins are broken down until "windows" are formed in the rock. When the tops of the window become too thin, they collapse and form pinnacles. These pinnacles continue to weather under a resistant dolomite cap and create hoodoos. (A hoodoo is a pinnacle or other odd shaped rock left standing by the forces of erosion.) These hoodoos are banded and colored by oxidized minerals: red, pinks, and oranges from iron, purple from manganese while the whites are pure limestone. Today the afternoon sun was shining on the pinnacles and hoodoos in such a way that they appeared to be glowing, as if they were lighted from inside.
Since this was our second visit to Bryce Canyon, we knew what areas we wanted to see again. Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points were at the top of the list. Each point looks down on the same vista but from different perspectives, and each vista reveals more details in the shapes and colors in the rocks.
As we gazed out over the amphitheater, the various rock formations began to take on specific shapes. A whole medieval city appeared. Massive walls surrounded the castles with manned turrets guarding those castles. Meanwhile inside the walls the spires of cathedrals soared skyward. The more we looked the more details we were able to imagine. We enjoyed this visit more than the last because we weren't rushing to see the whole park, but instead took time just to sit and absorb the beauty on display before us.
TODAY'S ROUTE: UT 12E to Bryce Canyon and on to Tropic, UT