Back In Utah
Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
89Trip End Ongoing
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We were back in Utah to visit the third national park on our route through this state, Bryce Canyon. This park is famous for its Hoodoos which have been formed by the wind, rain and ice over thousands of years and apparently represent all types of famous people, animals, buildings and a complete chess set! Maybe we lacked the imagination to see all these or perhaps the guys who discovered the canyon were a little over excited with their find, but it was an incredible sight all the same
Making the most of the 25'c weather we hiked a couple of trails high up on the edge of the canyon and were amazed to find snow in amongst the trees still, it had been snowing hard only a few weeks earlier and despite the temperature still hadn't melted. There were also some signs explaining how all the rubbish bins along the trails had to be removed after a bear had been spotted tipping them over to get an easy meal - this upped our pace a bit! The weather high up on the plateau is pretty extreme with deep snow in the winter and 40'c heat in the summer making it difficult for much to grow besides the bristlecone pine trees ; these trees can live without water for several months by letting the base die and converting one of the branches into the main trunk of the tree, allowing them to survive for as long as 4700 years.
The next morning we were up at 7.00am to go horse riding...very funny considering we are both scared of horses! We got down to the corral to meet our guide - a real cool cowboy dude called Bo, who has been riding horses since he was 4 and has competed in rodeos and steer tying competitions. As it turned out, Bo was on a horse but we were not horse riding at all, we were in fact riding mules, considerably less cool! The trail snaked down the side of the canyon for a couple of miles with sharp switchbacks, tunnels, steep slopes and sheer drops to the side of the trail - the mules seemed determined to get as close to the edge as possible
Our fourth and final national park to visit in Utah was Zion, characterised by huge, sheer faced sandstone walls surrounding a narrow canyon carved out by the Virgin River. The drive into the park from the east side is an awesome one; the enormous rocks at the side of the road are overwhelming, towering a hundred feet high and the route to the campsite went through a tunnel cut into the canyon wall lasting a couple of miles. We were getting tired now, having spent the last couple of weeks traipsing around canyons, valleys, mountains, lakes and rivers (hard life) and spent the afternoon in our campsite that had tiny hummingbirds flying around the flowers, deer munching on the grass next to our car and what we reckon were tarantula nests in the trees above us.
The entire area in the bottom of the canyon at Zion is only accessible by shuttle buses that collect you from the campsites and drive along the bank of the river, complete with a commentary of the different features that you pass and explaining how they were formed etc