Zion was wonderful.  We got to see one of the oldest national parks in the country, we experienced some crazy hikes, and we snapped some cool photos.  However, from the moment we came within half an hour of Bryce, we were blown away.

Aaron welcoming the beautiful Bryce landscape behind him | LotsaSmiles Photography

Photography

First, it’s at a higher elevation, so the snow we were dreaming of in Zion (that was sadly absent) was waiting for us in Bryce.  Even as we were driving in, I already wanted to stop the car to photograph the red and white scenery.

A span of snowy hoodoos, viewed from above | LotsaSmiles Photography

Secondly, it was unlike anything I had seen before.  Sure, I’ve wandered the slot canyons of Arches National Park, and I grew up with the stunning Garden of the Gods in my backyard.  But nothing could quite brace me for an entire valley of hoodoos, like a massive field of titanic flowers in a fiery orange.  The lines they form – both vertical chasms eroded between them and the horizontal boundaries between layers of time – were addictive to photograph.  The scene was breathtaking.

A wall of hoodoos barely illuminated by the sunset rays | LotsaSmiles Photography

Winds and rains have slowly carved out this remarkable landscape, chiseling at the rocks until the only thing that remains is a natural masterpiece.

It’s a photographer’s playground.  And these photographers were at recess.

Bryce Canyon, viewed through the screen on the back of a camera | LotsaSmiles Photography

Along with all of the other tripod fanatics, we forsook our pillows and delayed breakfast for the sake of warming dawn rays on the cold cold mornings.  But through our fogging breath and numb fingers, we delighted in the view that blossomed before us.

Bryce Canyon hoodoos at sunset | LotsaSmiles Photography

This is the type of morning fire I had hoped for in Arches.  Bryce was ready to deliver.  And we were ready to capture it.

Hiking

The park also offers a number of tantalizing hikes.  We touched a good sampling, I’d say.  Although, I really could have used another day or two (though something tells me I’d say that no matter how long we stayed).

A fellow photographer shooting Bryce Canyon in the distance | LotsaSmiles Photography

Our curiosity had us venturing down from the viewpoint to explore the Queens Garden trail, and we hiked the scenic section of the Rim Trail.  Even some of the Fairyland Loop saw our footprints.

The snowy steps of switchbacks along a Bryce Canyon hike | LotsaSmiles Photography

We walked so much.  We took lots of pictures.  And I loved every moment of it.

My shadow on the rock as I shoot Bryce Canyon in the distance | LotsaSmiles Photography

Overall

I’m generally easy to please, especially when there’s good photography to be had.  Even when the conditions were less than ideal, my excitement didn’t waver.  I was criticized by one of our fellow travelers for continuing to shoot at midday – when the lighting was horribly harsh and the magical ambiance had been burned off by the sun.  But how could I not?  Even with the contrast, I couldn’t stop shooting; this place was far too beautiful.  And you know what?  I think some of those contrasty photos make for some decent black and white.

The Bryce Canyon vista in monochrome | LotsaSmiles Photography

Overall, our time there was far too short.  I’ll definitely be back; I’m already planning the days…

The Natural Bridge arch in Bryce Canyon | LotsaSmiles Photography

I have lots of pictures to share still.  Stay tuned to see why sunrise is actually better at Sunset Point (and vice versa), how those little trails can be so inviting (and make us hike more than we intended), and what I can’t wait to hit up on the next trip.

A fellow photographer braces himself against a tree for a steady shot of the Bryce Canyon landscape | LotsaSmiles Photography

And if you’ve missed the stories thus far, you can catch up right here!


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4 thoughts on “Bryce Canyon: First Impressions

  1. Brianna –
    Really nice article and great selection of pics. I was there a week ahead of you, and took photos from many of the exact same spots. Yours are more dramatic and in fact better. Clearly, being there earlier in the morning, and the way you set up each shot is better. I love your shot with the shadow. Adds “a moment” to the picture! I struggled with the shot of the bridge, and simply gave up. You found the perfect position though, getting the dark green trees consistently through the arch and the horizon at the top level of the bridge part. The snow in this one helps a lot! Great job on all, and thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi Mike, Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m very pleased you like the photos. I find it somewhat humorous that you’re so impressed with the picture of Natural Bridge. Would you believe that I seldom put much thought into the composition of my shots? That part has always just been more of a feeling for me – move around until the shot just *feels* right. I’m happy my photography inspires. Thanks again!

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