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.
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.