A Spectacular Day in Bryce Canyon National Park

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, Bryce Canyon National Park in south central Utah is absolutely gorgeous and has such easy access for even a one-day hiking excursion. That’s what happened with us on a recent drive from Texas to Idaho! Twice a year we make the trek between Texas and Idaho, and each time we like to take in a different national park. This year Bryce Canyon beckoned and we loved everything about it! Every time you turn a corner along the magnificent hiking trails, there is yet another incredible view of the limestone spires, called hoodoos. They looked like so many castles to me!

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Limestone hoodoos along the Navajo & Peekaboo Trails in Bryce Canyon National Park

So, what is a hoodoo, anyway?

Hoodoos are tall thin spires of limestone, shaped and formed when the temperature lowers and the water within the rock freezes and expands. This expansion, known as ice wedging, starts to break apart rocks, first into walls, then windows, then a fully formed hoodoo as water continues to melt and then refreeze and reenter the cracks. (USGS.gov)

The word “hoodoo” probably originated in the United States, particularly in the Southern region, and it has its roots in African American folk magic and spirituality. Some think that the word hoodoo derives from voodoo, a West African-based religion in which magical powers can be associated with natural features like these spires. It likely derives from the Fon word “hodu,” which means “spirit” or “god.” Hoodoo refers to a system of beliefs and practices incorporating elements of African, Native American, and European folk magic, often used for healing, protection, and spiritual guidance. Hoodoos were incorporated into the legends of Native Americans, where for example, the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon were considered to be petrified remains of ancient beings.

Whatever the case, they are spectacular columns which make the park feel like you’re walking amongst ancient castles.

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The Navajo Loop/Peekaboo Loop Combo Hike in Bryce Canyon National Park

We opted to hike this beautiful combination of two trails and the result was a 5-mile, figure 8 hike with a descent of roughly 1,600 feet … followed by a climb of 1, 600 feet. We began and ended our trek at Bryce Point, and the first thing you do is head downhill! Because there had been rain just the day before, it was still pretty muddy for the first mile or so and then it dried out and made for much more pleasant hiking. I have a terrible mud phobia, so I always walk along the edge, or in this case, in the snow to avoid the mud as much as possible.

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After reaching the bottom of the Peekaboo Loop a short trail connects across Bryce Creek to the Navajo Loop Trail. Staying left will take hikers in a clockwise direction around both trails and return them back to Bryce Point. . From here hikers make the climb back up to Sunset Point.

Breathtaking Scenery Along this Gorgeous Bryce Canyon National Park Hike

However you decide to do this hike — you have options of starting at Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, or Bryce Point, you the scenery is breathtaking and the hike is rigorous, but very manageable. I hiked it just nine weeks after having a full knee replacement. But, I’m not gonna lie, my knee was pretty sore and stiff the rest of the day!

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Where to Stay for Lodging

We stayed at a small bed and breakfast inn that we don’t highly recommend, but there are so many places to stay with easy access to the park. One option is the Best Western just outside the park, and another is the Bryce Canyon Lodge within the park. We also checked out a really cool spot in Tropic, Utah called Stone Canyon Inn, which offers accommodations from lodge rooms to cabins, bungalows and even tree house! (Not really a tree house, but definitely elevated above the ground.) The property also features Showdowns, which is a first class restaurant on the premises within the lodge itself.

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