Bryce Canyon offers scenic escape
Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011 21:12
St. George is surrounded by beautiful scenery from every angle, but if you're looking for something new to see, there's a place not too far from Dixie worth the road trip.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a place where visitors can view a whole different side of Utah. It's also a good option for students who want to take a trip without venturing out of the state.
Dixie students who crave a road trip, but don't want to go too far, can drive to Bryce Canyon in less than three hours. Bryce is full of many hikes that wind through mazes of towering formations called hoodoos. These tall spires come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are spread throughout the canyon and form many of the winding hikes within the park. The most famous hoodoo is the one that resembles a hammer. It is appropriately named Thor's Hammer. Visitors can view this famous hoodoo at Sunset Point.
According to Bryce Canyon, millions of years of wind, water and erosion have molded the canyon into a plethora of red, pink and orange formations. The landscape changes rapidly as you make your way from the massive walls of nearby Zion National Park, to the colorful spires of the Bryce area.
Instead of looking up at the peaks of Zion, tourists look down into the sea of colors at Bryce Canyon. The elevation is also a lot higher than St. George and Zion. Bryce ranges from 7,000 to 8,000 feet while Zion's lowest elevation is 3,666 feet.
Before students make the trip to Bryce Canyon, they should learn a little about what makes the area unique.
Take it from an expert
There are many different things to see while you are in the Bryce Canyon area. It will come in handy to plan ahead of time the trails you will want to attempt hiking.
Chantel Henrie has been working on the trail crew at Bryce Canyon every summer since she was in high school. One of her responsibilities is making sure the trails are safe and clear for hikers.
"One of the most popular trails is the Navajo Loop trail going into the Queen's Garden trail," she said. "It's not very long, but you still get to see lots of different aspects of the canyon."
Henrie said for more adventurous hikers, Fairyland trail and Peekaboo Loop trail are both good options.
"They are longer and a little more rough, but both include many different views of the landscape," she said.
Henrie said it's a good idea to check in at the Visitor Center before you take to the trails.
"Bryce is beautiful all year round, but the trails can become dangerous after rain or snow storms," she said. "It's best to ask an expert at the Visitor Center before you hike down into the canyon."
Although Bryce Canyon is located in a rural setting, there is a good chance you will meet people from all over the world on your trip.
Vanessa Shakespear, like Henrie, works with the trail crew during the summer months. She said one of her favorite things about the canyon is meeting all the diverse people who tread the trails.
"Most days it's very difficult to find a person who speaks English on the trails," she said. "It allows us as trails crew workers to interact with people who speak a variety of different languages and to learn about their cultures."
Shakespear recounted a story about a tourist from France who sparked a conversation with her and some other tourists. He said in France they have elaborate castles, but nothing like Bryce Canyon. He went on to say the beauty of the area inspired him in many ways.
Kylie Palmer has been working at Bryce for four years. Her main responsibility is greeting visitors and selling passes as they drive into the park.
"The best part about working at Bryce is meeting people from all over the world," she said. "It's amazing how people travel from everywhere to see the canyon."
While most people who venture to Bryce will spend a lot of time looking down into the canyon in the day time, Henrie, Palmer and Shakespear recommend you look up when night time rolls around.
"Bryce has that thing that most places don't: distance from a big city," Henrie said. "Bryce is home to one of the best night skies because of the lack of industrialized locations nearby."
Palmer said the starry nights are unlike anything you have ever seen before.
"The sky will take your breath away," she said.