Hoodoos? We do!
We rolled out of bed, a little stiffer and sorer than the day before. But after a little stretching and a decent breakfast at the East Zion Thunderbird Lodge, we were ready to hit the trail again. We drove Hwy. 89 up to UT 12 and into Bryce Canyon National Park. Our first stop was the Visitors' Center where we planned our attack.
We decided to start by driving the Southern Scenic Road first. Starting at the Southernmost point (Rainbow Point), we had our first view of the Hoodoos. We all agreed they were pretty cool. From there we headed back north, stopping at several other lookout points, including: Ponderosa, Agua, Natural Bridge, and Farview. Each point offered a new perspective on this spectacular landscape.
We then drove to a couple really amazing points on the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, including Bryce Point and Inspiration Point. Finally we arrived at Sunrise & Sunset Points, the place we had decided we were going to hike. We did the Queens Garden/Navajo Combination loop, which was 3 miles long. It first descended into the canyon on the Queen’s Garden trail. We had been told to do the trail clockwise, and were really glad we did. No matter which way you go, you need to go down first and then back up, but the Queen’s Garden trail was very sunny, and would have been quite hard to ascend in the heat.
The hike was challenging at times, but so interesting, walking down into the hoodoos. We especially enjoyed the little arches we had to walk under, Queen Victoria, the "baby hoodoo garden," (an area filled with rock Cairns or piles), Wall Street, and Thor’s Hammer. It was all so unusual and beautiful. After our hike we hopped in the car so we could see some nice scenery on our drive to Moab, Utah.
We continued on UT 12, stopping in Escalante for supper at the Circle D Restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, service and atmosphere in this very tiny town. We continued on through the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument after supper. This area was full of interesting surprises over every hill and around every curve (and there were plenty of hills and curves on this road!). We were again amazed at the variety and enormity of scenery found in Southern Utah! On one stretch of Hwy 12, a little before Capital Reef NP, we saw 50-60 deer along the road in groups of 2-6 every ½ mile to mile! On top of that, there were also cows right next to and even on the road in this open range area. We were constantly hitting the brakes and saying, “there’s another one!”
Although it was nearly dark by the time we reached Capital Reef National Park, we were able to make out the silhouettes of some interesting landscape formations there (i.e. Twin Rocks, Chimney Rock, etc.), and at least we can say we were there. We finally arrived at our hotel, the Canyonlands Best Western in Moab, Utah, at exactly midnight. We were treated to about 10 chocolate chip cookies by the desk guy who had extras to get rid of. We checked in and hit the hay!