Hoodoo. In one sense of the word, it can mean a type of folk spirituality, and in the other meaning, hoodoo is the name ascribed to tall, thin spires of rock. The shared relationship between the two meanings, I think, would be in the sense of something otherworldly, or even magical.
My maiden voyage to Bryce Canyon National Park could be summed up similarly as something magical.
It was cold and snowy when we left our home near Salt Lake City to travel the 3.5 hours into the Bryce Canyon National Park winter. Snowstorms had been raging across the country, including the Utah/Colorado area. Roads near Bryce had been all but impassable in the weeks prior to our trip. However, it was Lauren’s birthday and my first time to Bryce–so we had to make it!
I had seen plenty of photos of Bryce over the years so I knew what to expect: surprising geologic formations. I had even seen the winter shots of the park, which was something that really excited me. Giant, snow-capped red Bryce Canyon hoodoos? Please, and thank you!
Still, as we eventually rolled into the park, past the visitor’s center, we weren’t prepared for the scene unfolding before us. First, we were literally slowly rolling along the road because we could only see 10-15 feet in front of us. Second, we just about had the park to ourselves that first afternoon. Third, I’m not sure it would have actually mattered if there were other people around because, once again, we couldn’t see very far! I think that the snow really deterred people from coming to the park that day.
Getting to the area of the Navajo Loop Trail and peering over the railing into the void was pretty crazy. It wasn’t disappointing at all for me to look out and see next to nothing of the famous Bryce Canyon hoodoos. I love fog. It transforms an already amazing landscape into something mysterious and mystical. Unless I’m looking for a very clear shot of something, I’ll welcome fog any day!
As we ventured down the slippery slush of the path, the giant formations around us began to come into focus. I’ll admit, I was slightly worried I wouldn’t be able to capture that wintry Bryce look with my camera, but my fears were unfounded. As we moved farther and farther down, I couldn’t help but snap pictures.
Fog is a funny thing. One moment it looks almost tangible enough to reach out and grab, but as you move forward it seems to retreat just out of your grasp. So it was as we continued our journey down into the void. With each step forward, the fog gave way to another giant looming in the distance. The thrill of adventure was coursing through my veins and I couldn’t have been happier.
It’s almost sad when you have to leave the park because it’s getting cold and dark and you just want to be somewhere warm and have some hot food. The Bryce Canyon hoodoos are begging to be photographed, but your body needs what it needs. In the future, I think a campervan setup equipped for rugged terrain and adverse weather would be the ideal mode of transportation and lodging. Having your lodging and vehicle combined lets you be more present in the adventure, which means staying out longer in the Bryce Canyon snow and finding all that winter in Bryce Canyon National Park has to offer.
We ended up spending a few wonderful days exploring what we could throughout Bryce (there can be a lot of trail closures during the winter months). It was cold, but not unbearably so. And the weather cleared up after that first day. But we were there to have an unforgettable adventure, which, I believe we did.Book your next Pacific Northwest adventure now!
Words and photos by Ben Walker