Tropic, UT Kodachrome Basin State Park, with its red tinged rock formations and incredible blue skies, was named by the National Geographic Society, and everyone agreed with it. The geologic interest of the park are sandstone spires and columns called sand pipes, believed to be found nowhere else on earth. Sixty-seven sand pipes ranging from 7 to 170' have been identified in the park. Pipes are different than hoodoos as pipes were once liquified sand. Hoodoos form from rock deposited horizontally, uplifted and then eroded.
A Dark Ranger Telescope tour sounded like a unique activity, so we went for it. We saw our Universe's wonders through BIG telescopes in the darkest/best stargazing location in USA - Utah's Bryce Canyon region. First we became oriented to the huge telescope controls while there was still a wee bit of light. Then we watched a presentation about the birth of the galaxy. The night sky at Bryce is so dark we could see thousands of stars! Here the Milky Way extends from horizon to horizon like a vast "silver rainbow". The staff pointed out quite a few of the constellations and told us the history of the names. Planets glow brightly in the sky, outshining the stars. We were able to look at Jupiter with its rings and moons and Saturn and its huge, gaseous ring. So cool. We looked at a number of stars including Vega, Antares and Deneb as well as a gas nebula (an exploded star) and both open and closed star clusters. While gazing we listened to the coyotes howl. Eerie. It gets very, very cold in the desert at night very rapidly, dropping to 43 degrees while we were there. Fortunately we were supplied with hot cocoa, blankets and extra jackets, all much needed even though we each had on jeans, 2 shirts and our jackets. The highlight was looking at the moon so closely. We could see the individual craters and see where the first and last Apollo spacecraft landed.