Saturday, April 26, 2014

Exotic hoodoos, starry skies, ancient trees await Bryce Canyon National Park hikers

Balanced-rock hoodoos on the Under-the-Rim Trail.
Among the best ways to enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park’s major sights is via a day hike. Just three short trails will allow you to see each of the park’s highlights – fantastical hoodoos, dark skies, and ancient bristlecone pines.

Tens of millions of years in the making, some of these pinnacles reach up to 200 feet high in a series of amphitheaters strung across the park. The 4-mile round trip Under-the-Rim Trail sends hikers into a stone forest featuring several balanced-rock hoodoos.

Dark skies
Boasting among the darkest skies in continental America, Bryce Canyon visitors can see up to 7,500 stars with the naked eye – nearly four times more than is typical in a rural area. The Piracy Point Trail, a half-mile round trip from Far View Point, leads to a primitive picnic area overlooking a cliff that is perfect for stargazing.

Bristlecone pines
The rare bristlecone pine can live for hundreds of years and often resides at stark, high elevations. At 2-miles round trip, The Bristlecone Loop heads past 1,800-year-old trees and to magnificent vistas at an elevation of 9,100-plus feet.

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