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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 : From Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park

 

We are now about half-way through our trip.

 

We leave Hurricane back toward Zion, where we have a few more photo stops. But, after entering the park through the main entrance at Springdale, we take the Zion - Mt Carmel Highway, toward the east entrance. The road climbs up to a pass, which the road crosses in a tunnel, in the superb landscape of a valley getting narrower by each mile.


Zion National Park, layered rocks

Zion, the layered rocks

 

Almost at the top of the pass, we see these strange layered rocks, very common in this place. Once again, they are the result of erosion by water and wind.

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Zion National Park, the checkered mesas

Zion National Park, the checkered mesas

 

Still in the park, we see these strange square patterns in the rock, the combined result of erosion and frost.

 

The diversity of shapes left by one single cause, erosion, is really staggering. But we are not yet at the end of our surprises !

 

As can be seen on the picture, weather is getting bad by the minute, and we're becoming concerned. We will not be disappointed.

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Bison near Zion

Our first bison

 

We have now left Zion National Park and, on our way, we see this pack of wild bison, quietly ruminating in the grass, not far from the road. We are quite close to them, but they seem totally oblivious to us.

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Fire danger warning sign near Bryce Canyon

Those fire danger signs are pretty common in the area

 

In this area, prairie fires may be quite frequent. That is why we will quite often see similar signs.

 

In fact, the fire danger is really not that high, but we do not know yet. In a moment, everything will be drowned under a drenching rain.

 

Since we came in early, we try to find our lodge, but our car GPS sends us to a totally false address. It will be our only navigation error during this trip, and it will be quite promptly corrected.

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Red Canyon

Red Canyon, just before Bryce Canyon

 

A few miles before Bryce Canyon, there is Red Canyon, a set of orange-red rocks along the road. We stop a few times for pictures.

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Cattle grid, Utah

Cattle device

 

We have seen that kind of cattle grid about everywhere in cattle-raising areas. The device prevents cattle from wandering on the road and provoking accidents. It also helps farmers make sure they never lose their precious herds.

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Bryce Canyon, needle-lined amphitheater

The needle-lined amphitheaters at Bryce Canyon

 

In Bryce Canyon, as in Zion, there is a shuttle service, which we use extensively. But the absolutely awful weather prevents us from making bright pictures. We have to satisfy ourselves with a less-than-desirable lighting. At times, clouds surround us, at times they are even underneath us, half-height of the needle-lined cliffs.

 

Bryce Canyon is another by-product of erosion of the extremely soft limestone that can be found in the whole region. Water flows inside the rock, frost fractures it, and there remain those needles which made this park famous the world over.

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Bryce Canyon, arch sculpted by water and wind

An arch sculpted by wind and water

 

Erosion has been extremely creative. Here, it left this arch carved between two needles.

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Bryce Canyon, carefully aligned little caves

These little caves are carefully aligned

 

During one of our many stops, we see these small caves carved inside the soft limestone of the cliff.

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Bryce Canyon, turtle head

Turtle head

 

Some rocks, in theory the random result of erosion, yet bring to mind known shapes. Here is, for instance, a turtle head.

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Bryce Canyon, the gargoyles

And now ... The gargoyles !

 

A little further, we can see these strange whitish gargoyles. Mother Nature surely had a lot of fun !

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Bryce Canyon, a ray of sunshine

At last, a ray of sunshine

 

Rain has subsided, and sunshine even shyly tries to show up. Obviously, Bryce Canyon looks way better with a ray of sun.

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Bryce Canyon, some sunshine

Weather is getting better, and so are the pictures

 

Weather improves tremendously fast in mountains. Speaking of moutains ... Bryce Canyon is high : 7,500 ft at park entrance, 9,115 ft at Rainbow Point, end of the road and highest point.

 

Bryce is famous for those amphiteaters lined with red needles, as can be seen in the picture above.

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Bryce Canyon, masks carved by erosion

Some needles have been sculpted into these strange masks

 

At on of our many stops, we see these strange faces, like African masks.

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Bryce Canyon, perfectly circular arch

An arch with a very regular shape

 

This especially regular-shaped arch really deserved a picture !

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Bryce Canyon Livery Bed and Breakfast, Tropic, Utah

Bryce Canyon Livery Bed and Breakfast, a lot of charm

 

Then we leave the park and head to Tropic, a nearby small town, where our lodge, an absolutely charming wooden house, is located. There are only 6 rooms, but we love the place and its very hospitable owners.

 

After dinner in a restaurant run by Mormons (heck, I could not even get a beer !), we go to bed early. Not long after, we are awaken by a storm of biblical porportions.

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