Bryce Canyon — Hi, I’m Sammy of Sammy and the San Juan Express. You’re following my Sammy’s Summer Adventures blog.
The last thing I expected was Uncle Teddy shaking me awake at six in the morning. My body ached from our climbs in Zion and I thought we were going to rest. Instead I wolfed down a glass of orange juice and a breakfast muffin while we loaded a convertible Jeep with camping gear and our duffles. Minutes later my hair whipped around my face as we zipped past Angel’s Rest and through the Zion tunnel headed for Bryce Canyon.
The white and orange rock of Zion transitioned to red rock canyons and natural bridges, and two hours later we turned into Bryce Canyon National Park. At an entrance station a ranger checked our National Park Annual Pass and we bounced our way down a dusty road to a small campsite. We passed a sign reading, “Elevation 8000 Feet.” Covered with red dust from head to toe, Uncle Teddy flashed his best smile and said, “Well, we’re here,” as if we’d just arrived in the most fantastic place on earth.
I coughed, spit, and blew a ton of dirt out my nose. “Can we sleep now?” I said.
After Zion I expected tall hills with craggy rock surfaces. Instead I stepped to a canyon edge that dropped hundreds of feet below. Rather than trees or boulders, there were these tall formations, like salt crystal I made in a second grade science experiment, reaching up ten, fifty, a hundred feet. I rubbed my eyes and yawned. Yikes! A fly tried to get friendly with my tonsils. “What is this?” I said, swatting the fly and inching my way toward the edge.
“This,” Uncle Teddy said with obvious satisfaction at my surprise, “is Bryce Canyon, and those are Hoodoos.”
I surveyed the horizon. “There must be hundreds of them.”
“Thousands,” he said, “this canyon covers over thirty five thousand acres.”
I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded huge. Each stalagmite like formation was a column of various size with a white stone cap. When I commented, Uncle Teddy took the opportunity to bore me to death with an encyclopedia of information about how the caps kept the red rock beneath them from eroding, and over thousands, maybe millions, of years left a column we call a Hoodoo.
From the canyon edge we followed a trail that wound down through the Hoodoos letting us look up at them like tall spooky figures guarding a kingdom. Even though we were at over eight thousand foot elevation, the canyon turned into an oven and muddy sweat dripped from my eyebrows and nose. It was late afternoon and a million miles later by the time we returned to our tents.
That night, I lie awake imagining what Uncle Teddy had in store for me tomorrow, and seeing Hoodoos rise up around me. “Nice Hoodoo,” I said as my eyes closed. “Please be a nice Hooodoooo.”