It seems a travel blog should be current. This sure isn’t. That’s why I’m not the best travel blogger, and I explained this in To those who read my blogs. But whatever. These blogs are as much personal logs, and I’ll be glad I’m writing them.
Brice Canyon national park is spectacular.
I think about where I’d rank it among my favorite national parks. Frankly, I’d put it tied with Zion for #3 (Grand Canyon and Yosemite I’d tie for #1) The photos you can take at Brice Canyon are unreal. Seriously, I don’t know where else on earth there’s another spot like Brice.
And really, the best of what you see at this national park can be done in a day. You can walk from Sunrise Point to Inspiration Point in an hour or two. Of course, along the way, you should marvel. You should stare. You should do what you can to allow your senses to perceive this spot because, frankly, it’s sensory overload.
What you will see are thousands of multi-colored “hoodoos.” What’s a hoodoo? It’s a fancy word for spire. It’s a fancy word for a rock formation that has eroded from a canyon or plateau wall in a unique way to leave a tower of stone. Brice Canyon has thousands of them descending from its rim to the floor. Their colors change from coral to orange to white and all shades in between, and that’s just in one minute of time. Let the sun and clouds move, and you’re looking at vastly different hues. Then, wait an hour, or wait till sunset, and, wow!
This is not exaggeration. I hope my photos convince you that Brice Canyon has serious wow-factor.
How all this formed geologically speaking, well, that’s for another time. I know the conventional explanation basically boils down to funky versions of erosion after depositions of sediments over gargantuan periods of time. However, I’m not so conventional regarding geological interpretations because my time at Grand Canyon, among other things, have convinced me, overwhelmingly, that, once upon a time, there was a catastrophic Flood. I can’t look at Grand Canyon’s stratified walls but through the eyes of a Creationist, and Brice’s too… but, again, that’s for another time.
Regardless, one day would not be enough for me. I’d been there for two days in 2017. I’d been there for two days in 2020. But, this year, I decided I’d spend five or six days at Brice, going into the park for sunset, or sunrise, or whenever. My objective was to capture the best photos possible. I’d only had sub-par cameras before. Now I had my Nikon. Now I would be shooting in raw.
Now I was excited.
I headed towards Brice after the North Rim (actually after going back to Sedona to retrieve my hiking boots… after shooting the North Rim). US 89 through the Navajo desert would be my route. This drive gets old, especially when it’s hot. But, monsoons provided shade and cooler temperatures the whole way. I listened to an audio book by Thomas DiLorenzo which dispels the saintly myth of Abraham Lincoln.
I didn’t make it to Brice on Friday the 1st of July. I wanted to check out a place I’d seen signs for many times: Coral Sand Dunes state park. Those signs are off US 89 north of Kanab, Utah.
Now, Kanab is at the base of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument – a federal zone that was so offensive to Utahns that then President Bill Clinton ceremoniously signed into law the Staircase from the Grand Canyon, because the governor of Utah didn’t want Clinton in his state. Putting politics aside, the staircase is a series of multi-colored cliffs, which rise like a staircase upward from south to north, and rises from a base elevation of roughly 5,000′ to a top elevation of 9,000′. Shinarump, Vermillion, White, Gray and Pink, are the names of each band. You get a splendid view of them from US 89 while still in Arizona, coming down from the Kaibab Plateau.
Well, because God’s Creation around Kanab becomes quite colorful, and because I wanted to see what the State of Utah was calling “coral,” I took the detour to the park, and figured I’d decide from there if I would continue north to Brice or chillax at Coral.
I chillaxed. The thing is that I’m experimenting as I travel. I was trying to travel as I would with a van. I was trying to be indifferent to obligations to be somewhere at some particular time so I can definitively procure a campground and, thus, not rush-travel like Chevy Chase. I have a quick set-up cot, a pop-up tent-cot, two additional tents and whatever else I need to set up camp quickly on the side of an isolated Utah road, at a dispersed site, or at a paid campsite. The point is that, unlike rule-loving states like California or Colorado, finding a place to stay in Utah is super easy. So why rush?
I didn’t. I stayed. Though I could have stayed at a BLM campground for $12 about 15 minutes from Coral Dunes, I paid the $25 to stay inside Coral Dunes, and walk the dunes barefoot at a leisurely pace. I did that, but not before setting up my cot, intending to sleep in the open air under stars, which, in summer, is so conducive to pleasurable sleep.
The dune-walk was so-so. Though the area has ambiance, it’s not super photogenic. That’s fine. At the same time, you hear the roar of razors and side-by-sides everywhere. That’s why Utahns come here. That’s fine too. Frankly, I kinda’ appreciated the libertarian way of people and machines gallivanting freely across the sand with the only park rule being “watch out.” In California, the signs telling pedestrians and drivers where they could go would be copious.
A hour walk was enough. I really just wanted to feel the sand then read. So, for the next several hours, under the pines, with the temperature a pleasant 80 and dropping with the sun, the day ended so nicely.
My first day of slower-paced traveling was a success.
The next day, after coffee, and reading more, I decided to walk the dunes again, for two hours. That was fine. After that, I was raring to get to Brice.
However, before heading there, I took several roads to areas I’d not been before… exploring. Some were paved, like the one that led me to Colorado City. Others not. The unpaved explorations is why I’d like a Tundra instead of a van. Utah is filled with countless, unpaved, tantalizing detours into isolated red-rock canyons where the only noises you hear at night will be wind and critters.
By 5pm I was on Utah 12 heading towards Brice Canyon. It was July 4th weekend. I thought I’d have to disperse camp for free somewhere. Not so. Gas prices are killing tourism in Utah. I found wonderful spot 10 minutes from Brice Canyon City on Utah 12.
Went into the park for sunset. But I’ll pick up Brice later.