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Where To Go Next for Thursday, July 10


Today's Travel News
Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spectacular Bryce Canyon

By Judi Janofsky

Of all the parks in the United States, Bryce Canyon is the most captivating to me. There's no other park in America that has such grandeur, such spectacular colors, such beauty. Not even the Grand Canyon in my opinion.

When we traveled there recently, we woke early enough to watch the sun rise over the canyon. As the sun appeared in the distance, the sky slowly turned from steel grey to Provence blue - deep, rich saturated blue - a stark contrast to the magnificent red, gold and white spires called hoodoos that rise hundreds of feet, filling the canyon's natural amphitheatre.

The 'hoodoos' of Bryce Canyon.

As our cameras clicked over and over and over again, we tried to capture some of the beauty through our lenses, finally abandoning them, deciding instead to capture the images in our minds' eyes - something we could never forget.

As far as we could see there were giant pillars of rocks in fantastic shapes creating a stunning geological panorama. Overhead a California condor - reintroduced in the area in 1996 - spread its nine-foot wings to glide along the cliffs, the only touch of grey against the colorful rocks. As we descended into the valley for a closer look, shadows cast on the rocks made an even more dramatic setting. Individual rock formations - some with holes worn through the center from frosts and thaws occurring over millions of years - glimmered in the light of the rising sun. Others looked like ancient gargoyles surveying us below. We hiked around the hoodoos for several hours, continually overwhelmed by the force and beauty of nature.

From a helicopter later on we got a bird's eye view of Fairyland Canyon. From the air you get some sense of how erosion forms the hoodoos. Geologists say that underground forces created and then moved massive blocks some 10 million years ago creating cliffs and plateaus. Ancient rivers then carved the tops and exposed edges of blocks of sandstone, limestone and mudstone colorized by minerals such as iron (yellow and red) and Manganese (pink and violet), removing some layers and sculpting intricate formations in others. Over 200 freeze-thaw cycles a year cause the blocks to break off creating the hoodoos you can see today.


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