Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its spire-like hoodoo rocks. When I wondering just how there can be another unique type of rock formation, there was Bryce, with hoodoos as far as the eye can see. We hiked the Navajo Loop Trail, where we descended among the hoodoos, walked among them, and threaded this slot canyon, and hiked back up switchbacks. It was a truly beautiful hike.
The photography blog of Victoria Bennett Beyer
These ancient cottonwood trees at Capitol Reef National Park were massive. We sat in their shade while we helped Wyle fill in her Junior Ranger booklet.
Capitol Reef State Park was such a refreshing experience after being so hot and dry for the last few weeks. The Fruita enclave, an historic Mormon settlement along the Freemont River, serves as the central area of the park, featuring a Vistor's Center, campground, nature center, and several orchards.
In fact, the orchards are adjacent to the campground, meaning we spent the evening and following morning picking apricots and eating them right off the tree.
The deer were everywhere, obviously enjoying the fruit as much as we were.
Another highlight (THE highlight, depending on who you ask), was the little store that sold freshly baked fruit pies. In the morning we hightailed it the store and everybody bought a pie. Then we sat at the nearby picnic table and had pie for breakfast!
And just in case you think Capitol Reef is all about pie, here are some photos of the beautiful landscape. We very much enjoyed the scenic drive, particularly the off-road portion that winds through the gorge, the walls of which tower above you.
Goblin Valley State Park in Utah was one of the most unexpected delights of our trip so far. It was a scheduled stop, but no photos I had seen of it prepared me for how delightful it would be. From a parking lot and picnic area, you can look down on the rock formations, or 'goblins.' I had no idea you could walk among them. You descend to the valley by a short walk, and suddenly you are immersed in a labyrinth of rocks, many as tall as you. I dallied behind my husband, daughter, and father-in-law, to shoot these photos from above. I imagined I would catch up to them after a little hustle, but once I descended, they were nowhere to be seen. I wandered for an hour looking for them among the rocks, but never did find them. You might think you'd get lost, but really, the parking lot on the hill above is an excellent landmark and easy to see so you can orient yourself simply by looking up. In that way, it was a very safe but totally immersive sort of wander, through what felt like an alien landscape. It was more fun than I can describe.
In this part of the country there are a lot of petroglyph sites, but we accidently happened upon the best one we had yet to see. Newspaper Rock is just off the side of the road, on the way to the Needles portion of Canyonlands National Park. At all the other sites we had seen, there were just one or a couple of images, but here you can see what an abundance of petroglyphs there are in one place. It was quite an unexpected highlight from our trip.
Canyonlands National Park was next on our itinerary. It is comprised of three sections, all adjacent but each accessed by a different road, several hours apart. The closest was Island in the Sky, which is the most visited. There are amazing views just across from the visitor's center, and at several overlooks. It's amazing you can walk right to the edge (and off the edge if you aren't careful). It was really beautiful.
The next day we decided to drive over to the next section over, called The Needles, after the pointy rock formations found there. We stopped at the Visitor's Center, as we always do, and were well rewarded. My daughter has been doing the Junior Ranger booklets at each national park to earn a badge. I think that perhaps not too many children come through The Needles Visitor's Center, because the rangers there took so much time with her, and were the first ones to offer her the loaner backpack full of cool things like binoculars and plant id guides. She was happy as a clam using all those goodies as we drove to the end of the road. There is literally a barricade so you know to stop, and perched atop was a raven.
Despite its less than attractive name, Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah has off-the-charts views. We camped at both the campgrounds (for lack of a four-day block at either) and I am really glad we did. It allowed me to get some sunrise shots.
The story goes that wild horses were rounded up on the point. The best ones were taken, leaving the rest corralled, in view of the Colorado River below but without access to any water, so they died.
You know who's not going to go without? The ravens. They kept watch over the dumpsters and we were warned to make sure what we deposited was entirely under the lid or the ravens would liberate it. I also had the pleasure of seeing several desert cottontail rabbits and one jack rabbit. I would have gotten a photo, but, don't you know, he was too fast for me.