Saturday, June 22, 2013

Photo, map album of Bryce Canyon N.P.’s Queens Garden-Navajo Loop day trails

Visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park can hike through a fantastical maze of totem pole-like rock formations called hoodoos.

A combination of the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop trails makes for a 2.2-mile round trip walk in which you get to see the most famous of the hoodoos. You can reach the Queens Garden by taking Utah Hwy. 63 into Bryce Canyon. Park at the nature center and general store north of the Lodge. The trailhead is southeast of the nature center heading toward Sunrise Point.

Hoodoos are unusual landforms in which a hard caprock slows the erosion of the softer mineral beneath it. The result is a variety of fanciful shapes:

Map for Queens Garden Navajo Loop Trails in Bryce Canyon:

Hoodoos consist of sandstone that was compressed ground above and then twisted as by the earth’s plates shifted. When cracks formed in the sandstone, the combined power of water, ice, and wind eroded away sand, leaving spires. A 3D picture of the hoodoos (courtesy USGS):

Another 3D picture of the hoodoos (courtesy USGS):

Colorful spires loom over the junction of the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop trails:

Thor’s Hammer is the highlight of the hike:

Because of the Queens Garden’s high altitude – some 8000 feet elevation – May to September marks the best time to visit. In the winter, expect snow, which can arrive in early fall and last through late spring:

Learn about other great national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.