Bryce Canyon was a striking contrast to the landscape of Zion and Grand Canyon. Famous for its unique geology, the erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful limestone rock of the Claron Formation into bizarre shapes, including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called hoodoos. Our exploration of Bryce Canyon was highlighted by a moderately difficult hike into the canyon along the Navajo and Queens Combination Loop. I share our discovery of Bryce Canyon and how you can further explore this national resource from your home.
The loop begins at Sunset Point and goes down into Bryce Amphitheater through a slot canyon where large Douglas-fir trees are stretching to reach sunlight high above. Inspired by Bryce Canyon’s “I Hiked the Hoodoos!” program, we engaged in a scavenger hunt along this hike in a quest for special benchmarks. As avid letterboxers this adventure really appealed to us. At each benchmark, the kids did a pencil rubbing of the benchmark in their junior ranger book.
The Bryce Canyon National Park website provides a wealth of additional information for parents and teachers. The GeoDetective page provides several activities integrating earth history and physical earth science to encourage deductive and inductive reasoning through hands-on discovery learning. Similar to the Junior Ranger program, the kids who complete the GeoDetective program are awarded with a special patch. This is a huge motivator for my kids. Teaching with Historic Places is one of a series of lessons that bring the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country. We are excited to further our understanding of Bryce as we work through many of these activities and lessons at home.
In addition to the science and history lessons in which we immerse ourselves, we always ask at the visitor’s center for a park newspaper or brochure in Chinese. These informative guides are not always available in other languages at the smaller parks, but most of the larger parks have them. My kids enjoy highlighting the characters they know and learning characters for the names of the park and many scientific terms they wouldn’t otherwise learn in their foreign language studies.