I was at the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center waiting for the park movie to start. I am turning the pages of the hiking guide trying to decide what trail to hike. A small article titled “Hike the Hoodoos Challenge.” To complete the challenge, one needs do one of two things to hike at least 3 miles of on benchmark trails and/or collect a picture or rubbing of 3 benchmarks. Once completed return to the visitor center and collect “a special reward.” It didn’t say what the award was or limit it to only kids. Therefore, challenge accepted since I planned on hiking more than 3 miles.
To complete the challenge, there is 18.4 miles of trail and 9 benchmarks to choose from. The previous night, I had driven out to Rainbow point to watch the sunset. I hadn’t taken a rubbing of the benchmark there, but I decided to hike “The figure 8 combination. This combination is 6.4 miles in the Bryce Amphitheater and combines Queens Garden, Peekaboo, and Navajo loops. This combo would meet both the mileage and benchmark requirements for my reward. If you like hiking and camping look at this website campingfunzone.com.
I parked my car at Sunrise Point. I hiked down the canyon. It is a nice slopping downgrade. The trail takes me around and through different hoodoos and small canyons.
After about a mile, there is a small spur trail that leads to the Queen Victoria hoodoo and my first benchmark. I take a quick rubbing on my drawing pad and return to the main trail.
It was another mile to the to the Navajo and Peekaboo trail junction. I stopped for lunch here. I was sitting on a log eating my sandwich when a large shadow passes over me. I glance up and watch the bird flying away. It is brown with white patches under its wings. I finished my lunch and started around the Peekaboo loop. I was stopped at the Peekaboo split wait for a donkey train to pass when it hits me. Those white patches under the arm only occur on one type of bird in this area. I had seen the elusive California Condor. I regret not reaching for my camera to snap a quick picture.
I decided to go the opposite direction of the donkeys so they wouldn’t sneak up behind me. I hiked uphill on the Peekaboo loop until I reach the Peekaboo Loop benchmark and collect my second one.
I came to the Wall of Windows. I collected my third benchmark rubbing here. I stopped and enjoyed the view through the windows.
I from the Windows the trail heads downhill and back towards the Navajo junction. The hoodoos in seem to change colors as I hike. I keep my camera at the ready and hope to that Condor again.
Alas, no sighting as I reach the junction and there are about 20 kids waiting to get their picture with the Navajo junction. I already have my three benchmarks so I don’t bother to wait and it’s getting late in the day so I need get back to by car if I want my reward. I head up the trail towards Thor’s Hammar.
The sun is lowering on the horizon as I make the half-mile hike to my car at Sunrise Point. This section is along the rim of the amphitheater. I look down on the hoodoos I had passed this moring. Each hoodoo is different than the one next to it
I walk into the visitor center excited to claim my reward. “I finished the Hike the Hoodoos Challenge,” I said to the ranger. “Ok, let me see the pictures,” he respond, “I usually only get kids who completed the challenge.” “No one mentioned an age limit. I just wanted the special reward,” I say as I show him my rubbings. “Here is your special reward,” as he hands me a pin. A pin! All that work and I get a pin. Not sure what I expected but I put the pin on my pack and off I go.
Hike the Hoodoos Challenge Trails
- Mossy Cave ~ 0.8 miles
- Rim Trail ~ 2.5 miles
- Queens Garden ~ 1.8 miles
- Bristlecone ~ 1.0 miles
- Navajo Loop ~ 1.3 miles
- Tower Bridge ~ 3.0 miles
- Peekaboo (from Sunset Point) ~ 2.4 miles
- Wall of Windows (from Bryce Point) ~ 1.6 miles
- Sheep Creek ~ 4.0 miles
Would you or have you completed the Hike the Hoodoos Challenge? Bryce Canyon was my 26th National Park. Share you national park adventures with #59USNP.