Saturday, September 23, 2017

Bryce Canyon

Originally, Bryce wasn't on the itinerary. Leaving Boulder, we had three days to get back to Seattle and I figured maybe we would have to start driving northwest, not farther south. But at breakfast, we decided it didn't make that much difference and that Bryce would be worth a few extra miles. Plus, I wanted to drive that road south to Escalante anyway.

Dark clouds and rain threatened, and I guess there were a few drops, but when the sun came out, Bryce just lit up. There were crowds - no surprise. The tour buses and the guide books routinely include Zion and Bryce - which is one thing that makes Capital Reef and Grand Staircase-Escalante a little less crazy.

Bryce Canyon is a bit of a misnomer - since it's sort of a one-sided canyon. The bulk of the red rock hoodoos are around the edge of large bowls in the side of a high ridge. I think this might be better referred to around here as a break (as in Cedar Breaks National Monument, nearby), although the Visitor's Center also referred to the bowls as amphitheaters. But whatever you call it, the red and orange and white sedimentary rocks of the Claron Formation (old lake beds - limestones, silts, sands) weather to form a fantastic landscape of pinnacles and fins and narrow slot canyons.

The Colorado Plateau is basically a thick stack of rock layers - these are pretty much at the top of the stack. The precambrian metamorphic rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are the basement. Zion and Capitol Reef and Canyonlands are all in the middle.

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