Bryce Canyon is a short drive from Zion if you have a small vehicle that can negotiate the switchbacks and tunnel that head east through the park. For $15 we could have bought a pass that would allow us to shut down the traffic coming at us and drive through the tunnel in the middle of the road where it was the tallest, but after driving through with the car, we decided that the longer way around really wasn't all that long. This drive too, was exciting as we climbed to almost 10,000 feet. The powerful motor home engine handled the climb with aplomb and the skilled driver handled the curves with aplomb. The scenery changed dramatically during the climb; at the top we could see patches of snow.
The first time we came to these parks, I am embarrassed to remember how little we prepared ourselves for what we were about to see. We knew about the Grand Canyon, but the other parks in this area were just names on a map. My philosophy then was, if it's a national park it must be good. And really that was all the preparation we needed, because the national parks truly are special places. So when we rounded that corner into Bryce Canyon, my jaw dropped. I had no expectations and could not have imagined the dramatic rock formations here. These formations are known as hoodoos and their name comes from the African voodoo - to cast a spell. The hoodoos here have cast a spell on almost everyone who sees them, but the Mormon farmer who first settled here and gave his name to the area complained that this was "a hell of a place to lose a cow."
Even though the weather gods were not smiling on us today and we had to put up with some drizzle, the dramatic color of the rock formations pierced the mist and gray skies. We took a hike around Rainbow Point, a spot that features Ponderosa Pines reputed to be hundreds of years old. Because the climate is so challenging here at high 900+ foot altitude and winter lasts just about forever, the trees looked gnarled and weathered and we wouldn't have guessed that they had been on this earth that long. The rest of the forest here doesn't look all that great either. The lengthy drought this area has suffered has weakened the trees and rendered them more vulnerable to insect infestation. We hope the drought ends soon, but would prefer that the rain hold off one more day so we can enjoy hiking around the hoodoos tomorrow.