Monday, October 25, 2010

Bryce National Park Utah

We left the Salt Lake City area and headed south towards Bryce Canyon National Park. There are so many national parks, national forests, national monuments, state parks and so forth in Southern Utah that it would take a whole summer just to visit them all and do justice to the visit. So we picked the one that was the most on our route and decided to explore just Bryce Canyon during out first visit to that area.

We took Hwy 89 south for the majority of the route and it was very scenic....
small ranches and farms, lots of twisting, turning creeks and, of course, beautiful mountains.

The day we picked to visit the Canyon had to be the first rainy day we had seen in over a month. Unfortunately the colors were not as bright or intense as the would have been on a sunny day but they were still breathtaking.  The park itself is rather small with only 56.2 square miles and one road going the length of the park and back. The spires in the canyon are know as "hoodoos" and are formed when snow and ice wear down the soft limestone. The park experiences over 200 days a year below freezing which contributes to wearing down of the rock.

The park transcends 2000 feet in elevation and as such contains three different climate zones.  Due to that fact there is a high amount of biodiversity and over 100 species of birds including the Stellar's Jay and mule deer.

Bill was quite happy to follow this buck mule deer quite a ways along the side of the road and the buck did not seem to mind one bit.

And who would have thought that the National Park Service has a quirky sense of humor!
We have decided that the South Eastern part of Utah would definitely be one area we would like to explore more of, possibly basing ourselves near Lake Powell and exploring outward in all directions.

Here is a bit of a visual travelogue driving the Bryce Canyon road south ascending to 9105 feet above sea level and then driving north back down to about 7000 feet. We decided to leave the area sooner than planned as it is starting to get a bit chilly at such high altitudes and snow was predicted within the next week or so. 

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