Date hiked: 09/07/16
Mileage: N/A until I can find my GPS cable.
Head Count (how many other hikers I saw):Hundreds
Colorado is always going to be my refuge, but like any healthy relationship, sometimes you just need some time away.
With my trips to the high desert canyon country of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in eastern Utah, I know my induction into Utah hiking is pretty slim, but just 250 miles to the west lies a world so different it’s hard to imagine the three could coexist: Bryce Canyon National Park.
With a bumpy start (literally), a flat tire stranded me in Grand Junction for an extra hour or two, and though the annoyance nearly killed my entire weekend, just fifteen minutes of the open road was enough to see the glass half full again. And I couldn’t have asked for a better night: quiet roads and clear, milky skies that lit the stars like a million tiny fireflies. And with three shooting stars to bring me better luck, I barely dodged a close one when two deer shot out in front of my car. It’s crazy the things your subconscious will do in that split second of panic – before I even knew what was happening, my car swerved just where it needed to be, and I swear, I passed through those two deer with an inch on either side.
Bryce Canyon National Park boasts plenty of first class hiking opportunities, but two combined loops in particular grabbed my attention.
New York City may be revered for its Wall Street, but Bryce Canyon’s lesser known Wall Street takes its name from its sky-scraping similarity to the financial powerhouse.
From the trailhead, the route oscillates between two hoodoo spines, trapped in the middle ground between Silent City and the Amphitheater as it descends towards the canyon bottom. Entering the towering slot of Wall Street, golden hues burn the highest reaches as the walls blot the sun out. When the ceiling opens back up, the trail then follows Bryce Creek’s dry bed north to the Queens Garden Loop.
Queens Garden Trail
The Queens Garden Trail tours the Amphitheater, coiling a nearly 3 mile route through the hoodoos which bring rise to this park’s fame.
As Paiute legend goes, these hoodos aren’t actually the product of erosion, but rather the “legend people”. Before humans, the to-when-an-ung-wa, as they were called, lived in this area, taking what they could to survive off the land. But, for taking too much, the powerful trickster god, Coyote, fooled them all into gathering for a feast. And dressed in their finest, all done up with elaborate war paint, Coyote cursed them all, turning them into stone as punishment. Today, their last frenzied attempts at escape remains frozen in time like a thousand desperate prisoners. You better watch out, or Coyote may come for you next.
About 1.5 miles from the trailhead, the trail branches off towards Queen Victoria, a hoodoo bearing resemblance to a statue of the same name in London. Douglas firs drape the trail until the route pulls out of the canyon, where steeper grades navigate the cliffs towards the rim, burrowing through man-made arches along the way.
Navajo Loop Trail
Sandwiched tight in-between the two trails, the Navajo Loop Trail offers a shorter loop when combined with either Wall Street or Queens Garden. About halfway through, the trail diverts to a small canyon called Two Bridges, where two heavily eroded sandstone walls have given in to Mother Nature’s influence.
N/A until I can find my GPS cable.
(From Bryce): From UT-63 at Center Street, head south on UT-63 for 2.5 miles. Pay at the fee station then continue south for another 1.2 miles and turn left towards Sunset Point. Park anywhere on the roundabout. If parking is full, you can also access the hike from the Bryce Canyon Lodge
3.9 mi; 10 min
Fees: $30/car to enter Bryce Canyon National Park