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Day 230/1, 26/27 Feb09: US parking part2: Bryce Canyon, Wire Pass Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

March 1, 2009 by , 5,927 views  
Filed under Arizona, North America, Trip reports, USA, Utah

On our way we passed through Red Rocks, a quite nice place in itself.

We entered the Bryce Canyon road in the afternoon, and it was already getting chilly. There was a lot of snow near the road and on most of the hiking trails, but still the views were spectacular. Rows of hoodoos and other interesting geological phenomena were basking in the winter light, while crows were begging for food from the few visitors…

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon (4) Crow, Bryce Canyon

Red Canyon, Dixie National ForestBryce Canyon (5)

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest (4) Bryce Canyon (2)

Us in Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon  (3)

27th February: playing the Slots again: the Wire Pass Canyon and Buckskin Gulch

All the campsites in Bryce were closed and full of snow, so had headed out again. We had made it to back to the junction with Zion park when it got too dark and we had gotten too hungry. A salad bar called our name and the waitress (shouting loudly “You ok with the Dr Pepper over there” to some other customers :)) told us that we could not camp behind their restaurant, but that the old RV park across the street was abandoned.

It was freezing at night and quite chilly, the next morning we had to scratch the ice from the car before we could drive. We had planned to see the famous Antelope Canyon, a ‘Slot Canyon’ where some of the most wonderful images of the US have been taken.

Buckskin Gulch, UtahAs this and some other canyons are on Navajo land, our park pass did not apply and they charge additional fees for mandatory guided tours. Once we found out that this would cost $32 per person, for each of the two sections ($128 total!), we refused and decided to find some other canyons instead. It is the Navajos right to charge the fees, but in our view these are ridiculously high and there are several other places nearby.

Us in Wire Pass Canyon, UtahOne of these is the famous ‘Wave’, a curvy feature made famous in photos and books about the South West. To protect it only 20 permits are issued per day and nothing was available.

Nearby is the Buckskin Gulch, one of the longest and largest ‘Slot Canyons’. The first part is usually wet and not so interesting, but when entering sideways through the impressive Wire pass Canyon, you see the best of both parts.

We spent a few hours wandering around, scrambling over some rocks, stepping in soft mud and admiring the shapes and colours and even some petroglyphs.

As we had come in through one end, the walls wee steep and high and both other ends were impassable as well due to soft mud and deep water, I did wonder where that cougar was, whose tracks I had just seen…

Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon (2) Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon (3)

Petroglyphs in Wire Pass Canyon Cougar print in Buckskin Gulch, Utah

Buckskin Gulch, Utah (2) Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon (4) Wire Pass Canyon, Utah

Save the best for last: The Horse Shoe Bend

We had talked with an elderly couple who actively hiked and photographed the South West. They told us about another place we should not miss, called the Horseshoe Bend, close to the city of Page.

Utah roadAs it was on our way, we made a note in our mind and on our map as well and headed out onto the desert roads again.

We were on the shores of the Glen Canyon Recreation area, a huge artificial lake created by the Glen Canyon Dam, which is as impressive as the Hoover Dam.

Glen Canyon recreation areaOne of the few benefits of the dam is that the Colorado River water is filtered, so when we reached the Horseshoe Bend an hour later, we saw almost clear blue-green water instead of the muddy slush running through the other canyons.

There was a small parking space and half a dozen cars were parked. A sandy track led about 800m over a small hill and then down to the edge of the canyon. You could see part of the U-shaped Horseshoe bend from above, but only when stepping right onto the edge we could literally feel the magnitude of the void in front of us.

Ivana above the Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River, ArizonaIt was the most impressive place we had seen so far on this road trip and we already had seen so much in such a short time.

The combination of the colours, the height, the grand scale and the peacefulness made us admire it in awe and we spent a lot of time walking on the edge, taking many shots, but it was impossible to catch the total scene.

The image below is a composite of 5 images (a poster can be bought here on ImageKind), as even my 16mm wide angle could not fully grab it…

Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River

Rocks near Horseshoe Bend Desert Flora

Next and final part 3 coming up soon: Grand canyon & Joshua Tree National Park

We entered the Grand Canyon park after dark and the entrance was officially closed. As we had our yearly pass, we simply entered through the exit road and searched our way to the campsite. Lo and behold, we again stumbled upon Fanny & Didier :)

next report: images from a Grand Canyon and a desert forest of Joshua Trees….