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About This New Series: Encouraged by some commentators to share more famous landmarks of the Colorado Plateau, that I can and will gladly do. These offerings are mainly intended for a virtual escape from the typical drama and trauma of today’s news. Our community's site and coverage also conveys a lot of same, with the caveat diarists' typically post the most intelligent and insightful news about contemporary times and troubles. Thus a necessity in my view. Still, for those of you who desire a respite from the usual diatribes and polemics, even the spirited pie fights, this series will at least held mitigate the tenor of such an atmosphere, sort of like a literary placebo effect when reading. This is my aim and hope, at least.

The information is presented in the guise of a tourist’s handbook; actually, an informative field guide with authentic (i.e., verifiable and not hyperbole for the sake of self-aggrandizement). The details are also “layered” from the most essential to more in depth details. Therefore the reader absorbs as much or as little of the information predicated on one’s time and interest in the subject matter. It’s also okay to skip some of the details. The point is to have an enjoyable tour and learn what you can and will.

Previous tour diaries, as destinations, in this series were: Glen Canyon and Monument Valley. These URL’s and dates posted can be accessed through my profile.

Kindly Note: All tour information in this series is extrapolated from a larger two-book tome I hope to publish sometime next year, entitled Famous Landmarks Of The Southwest. This magnum opus lists well over one hundred of the most scenic icons relative to the Colorado Plateau’s national parks, national monuments, some state parks, tribal lands (like Monument Valley), and archeological ruins. Hiking trails and slot canyons (details on same) are also in this twin-book index. (The first book list “destinations” and the second book presents “supplements” pertaining to more coverage of key topics that are common to all destinations.). The operative word in the special collection series for the Daily Kos community is extrapolated. This means an abridged account that will cut down on the more lengthy version contained in the ‘Famous Landmarks’ texts. As always, thoughtful and intelligent commentary is highly appreciated. The next installment in the series will be this week's larger Colorado Plateau overview, since its subject matter and explanation has everything to do with all the featured scenic icons presented in this upcoming series. Let's get started on today's tour! (continues after the fold)

Howdy Daily Kos Community: The tour you are about to embark on is headed to the extreme northern edge of the Colorado Plateau; also, to its highest point at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. That being said, bring a jacket or a sweater along, and for those who suffer from the pangs of asthma and similar other lung-breathing disorders, bring your inhaler. Our destination also has everything to do with the quaint phrase for this diary's title: BRYCE CANYON.

Here's some of what this sector of the Colorado Plateau features:

The Setting: For the geographic layout of Bryce, you will find one of the highly recommended must see national parks in Utah (Kane County). Its setting is on the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, with an area of 56 square miles. To the northeast by some 50 miles, is another regional must see national park, Zion. Bryce National Park straddles the southeastern edge of the plateau west of the Paunsaugunt fault. The edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau bounds the opposite side of the valley; also overlooks the headwaters of the Paria River (whose drainage features one of the best canyon hallways in southeast, Utah).

Spotlight (The Abbreviated Essentials): Bryce Canyon denotes a former lake bed and the youngest major geologic masterpiece on the Colorado Plateau (about 1.5 million years). Specifically, a region that is the crowning pink jewell of the so-called Grand Staircase. Late Mesozoic and early Cenozoic foundation deposits. Huge amphitheaters formed by two major regional faults. An engaging geologic setting of colorful hoodoos and spires gracing the highest elevations of the Four Corners region. Water and wind erosion at its finest. In short, Mother Nature done good!

Snapshot: The winsome backdrop of Bryce is visual enchantment to behold (and some call it eye candy). With its brilliant array of colors, shapes, and the sheer size of its broad, gaping amphitheaters, the setting is visceral to the senses as it is majestic. Actually, spellbinding is more like it. Mostly, it is the singularity of Bryce's erosional facade and mineralization process that makes the pink and white limestone layers appear more like a magical fairyland than a geologic backdrop, whose record of depositional materials is relatively recent and spanning the last part of the Cretaceous Period (roughly, 140 to 66 million years ago). Thus the first half of the Cenozoic Era (66 million years ago to the present) began the template of what would one day become a pinkish facade seen and admired today by all visitors. As a designate, Bryce Canyon is a misnomer. It is really classified as an escarpment because there is no canyon profile per se. Technically, an escarpment refers to a steep slope or a series of long cliffs resulting from erosion or faulting separating two relatively level areas of differing elevations. In this case, the Paunsaugunt fault (on the east side) and Sevier (on the west side) fault have dramatically offset this region. (Paunsaugunt, pronounced pawn-suh-gant, is a designate given by the Southern Paiute, meaning home of the beaver.)

From a distance, the backdrop of the elongate Paunsaugunt Plateau commands the view:

Bryce's utterly distinctive frontage owes its flair and beauty to the aforementioned geological structures called hoodoos (skeletal spires and columns formed by wind, water and ice). The park also has the highest concentration of these whimsical formations on the planet. Composed of soft sedimentary material, each is topped with a harder rock formation that is not easily eroded and therefore protects the columns from the elements (a process called differential erosion). The pinkish, orange and white color adds to the aesthetic appeal, whose tincture is caused by minerals in water. Other geologic features such as arches, natural bridges, walls, and windows also embellish the visual appeal of the backdrop. It is this series of expansive hollows (i.e., amphitheaters) that staggers the imagination, each carved into soft sedimentary rocks that are ideal for erosion. Typically, these freestanding pinnacles define badlands, while the more resistant White Cliffs form monoliths of staggering heights. The setting is further enhanced with towers, turrets, and crenelated ridges. No wonder people fell in love with the place, and later so did the government. Initially, Bryce was a national monument (1923) and later designated Bryce National Park (1928). With such exquisite sculpturing, how could it not be a national park?

Guided Tour Essentials: Unlike other canyons, Bryce was not formed from erosion caused by a stream or river. This means it's technically not a canyon. Instead, the creation of its noteworthy facade stems from a process called headward erosion.

(FYI: Headward erosion is a fluvial process of erosion that lengthens a stream, a valley or a gully at its head and also enlarges its drainage basin. The stream therefore erodes away at the rock and soil at its headwaters in the opposite direction that it flows.)

The result of Bryce Canyon (think "escarpment") has excavated mega amphitheater-shaped features from the side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. This marvel is a product of the Cenozoic Era. Elevation ranges from 8,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level, making Bryce the highest national park on the Colorado Plateau, including all national monuments. The annual precipitation is also plentiful: 15 to 18 inches. Given above average rain and snowfall accumulation erosion can manage all sorts of visual tricks and treats.

The color scheme here is another major draw complimenting Bryce Canyon's scenic tableau. Indeed, there is a multitude of tinctures entailed in these residue formations: pink and red from hematite (iron oxide), brown, white, yellow from limonite (hydrated iron oxide minerals) and purple from pyrolusite (a mineral consisting essentially of manganese dioxide).

(FYI: For those of you who are rock hounds (I certainly am!), the geology of Bryce represents the Claron Formation deposited in a Paleocene lake (some 66 million years ago). Later in time the region's two major plateaus were lifted thousands of feet exposing the sedimentary landscape to erosion (specifically, headward erosion by branching streams). Factor in repetitive cycles of freezing and thawing, the pelting force of rain and hail, also landslides and wind, and the template of Mother Nature tells the story how Bryce Canyon became the enchanting panorama it is today. The weathering process has also produced its present-day results in a relatively short geological timeframe. Because erosion is relentless, Bryce's profile is receding 9 to 48 inches per century. That's fast work, by the way. The rim of this escarpment, which forms a unique series of incised amphitheaters, is on the dropped side of the Paunsaugunt fault. Nearby Cedar Breaks, which looks similar to Bryce though much smaller in area, developed on the west side of the Markagunt Plateau, which is another Southern Paiute word meaning highland of the trees. Its features drop off along the regional Hurricane fault. This fault represents several thousand feet of movement separating Utah's high country from the adjacent (and much lower) Basin and Range province to the west.)

The Wonder of Differential Erosion: Since so much of the Colorado Plateau'™s features are so wondrously honed by erosion let me also add how the process is unique. Here (like elsewhere throughout the Colorado Plateau territory) the horizontal layers of sandstone, limestone, and siltstone vary in resistance to erosion and is appropriately dubbed differential erosion. This process is thus the master theme of fabrication by erosion, where harder rocks tend to form cliffs and softer rocks form slopes or ledges. The basalt, sandstone and limestone, also dolomite (similar to limestone, except containing magnesium) typifies the more resistant rock formations. In turn, these harder rocks form canyon rims and prominent ledges.

To understand how Bryce was fashioned over time by the elements of erosion, it is also necessary to comprehend how the geophysical mechanics of uplift and the force of downcutting by streams and rivers work in tandem. Indeed, the entire Colorado Plateau province is like an immense layer cake of varying formation that was left out in the rain or snow, then over time gradually fell apart. Faulting, such as happened at Bryce, merely expedited the process.

The Colorado Plateau's horizontal layer cake (stratification):


Human History: Petroglyphs in this region indicate human presence dating back several thousand years. Archaeological surveys also confirms evidence people were here as long as 10,000 years ago. Basketmaker Era artifacts are found south of the park. Other artifacts from the varying and ensuing Pueblo Eras add to the archeological treasure trove. (The Puebloans are successors of the Ancestral Puebloans or the so-called "Anasazi" as some people still mistakingly refer to these prehistoric people.) These artifacts also include the Fremont culture up to the mid-Twelfth Century. Southern Paiutes from the Great Basin Culture later moved into the surrounding valleys and plateaus sometime after the aboriginal cultures left (notably the Ancestral Puebloans). This band of the Paiute tribe (the other two being the Northern and Owens Valley Paiutes) believed hoodoos were the Legend People whom the trickster "Coyote" had turned to stone.

Much later in time Mormons, the first Anglicized emigrants into the West, entered the region during the mid-Nineteenth Century (in the 1850s). Ebenezer Bryce homesteaded here in 1874 and grazed cattle inside Bryce's convoluted terrain. He's quoted as telling a visitor how the setting was a helluva place to lose a cow! (And now you know the meaning and source behind the diary'™s singular subject title!) Eventually, he may have grown tired of losing tract of his livestock and left the area in 1880 to homestead and ranch in Arizona. By the early-Twentieth Century, Bryce gained popularity from which followed the area's eventual development into a national park. It's also no wonder Ebenezer Bryce. . .

gave up grazing cattle here, because it really was difficult to find his wandering stock:

Flora And Fauna: Mule deer are the most common large animals found in and around the park. More than four hundred native plant species also thrive here, ranging in three distinct life zones based on elevation gradients: Transition, Canadian and Hudsonian. Pinon pine and juniper to blue spruce and Douglas-fir are the dominant species. In the harshest areas, Great Basin bristlecone pine are also found, some dating from more than 1,600 years ago (making this life form the oldest on the continent). With as much precipitation this region annually gets, there is an abundance of black and lumpy cryptobiotic soil (a.k.a. cyanobacteria) and a lively mix of lichens, algae and fungi. These are all vital organisms that retard erosion, add nitrogen to soil and help retain moisture. Forests and meadows provide the main habitat to support such diverse animal life, from a variety of avians to small mammals. The apex predators, like foxes, coyotes, the occasional bobcats, mountain lions are also present. Black bears, elk or deer, and pronghorn antelope (the fastest animal in North America) sometime venture into the park. About 177 species of birds visit here each year, but only the heartiest remain year-round. For instance, the ubiquitous and opportunistic ravens and jays. Swifts and swallows are also a dominant species. Eagles and owls are equally common. There are eleven species of reptiles and four species of amphibians that add to the rich roster of life forms in this region. Because of the harsh, cold winters most species migrate to warmer regions until spring.

Fair warning: I may be a small critter, but guess who gets most of the food stuff from inattentive campers in my domain?

Folks, don't believe that little rat with a tail. . .we ravens are much smarter when it comes to, well let's just say, usurping camper stuff. Believe it!

Bonus Details: From a distance, the size of hoodoos is misleading. In reality, these inspiring formations measure up to 200 feet high. Amphitheaters are also huge and extend more than 20 miles from north to south. The largest is Bryce Amphitheater: 12 miles long, 3 miles wide and 800 feet  deep. Rainbow Point is the highest sector of the park––9,105 feet. Yellow Creek is lowest in elevation––6,620 feet.

For Those Of You Who Enjoy Hiking: When visiting the park, and if you are in decent physical shape to do it, go take a hike! Bryce offers eight marked and maintained hiking trails. Most of the trails can be hiked in less than a day (a round-trip estimate). Most are also loop trails, ranging between one and two hours and up to four and five hours: Mossy Cave, Rim Trail, Bristlecone Loop, and Queens Garden are easy-to-moderate hikes. Navajo Loop and Tower Bridge are moderate hikes. Fairyland Loop and Peekaboo Loop are strenuous hikes. Several of these trails intersect, allowing hikers to combine routes for more challenging hikes. There are also two trails designated for overnight hiking: the 9-mile Riggs Loop Trail and the 23-mile Under the Rim Trail. Both require a backcountry camping permit. Combined, there are 50 miles of trails in the park. Whose up for a hike?

Conclusion: I hope this educational tour-de-force was enjoyable. The information given on the tour is also geared to many levels of interest. I just share it all, and like I say about the life process being akin to a shopping spree, take what you want and leave go of the rest. Still, you at least have reliable knowledge of the what-how-when-and-why factors. Who knows: some of you may even want to make a fast buck or two and hang out at one of Bryce'™s many prominent overlooks and maybe see if you can get a tour group going. If so, you might get lucky with the gratuity thing.

As for the where factor. . .if you are coming from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and driving through Kanab, Utah, take Hwy. 67 north, then connect to Hwy. 89 (north) through Page and Kanab. Continue on this route to Hwy. 12. Take this route to Hwy. 67, then Hwy. 63 south into Bryce. Total distance 167 miles (269 km) and close to four hours.

For contact information: Bryce Canyon NP, P. O. Box 640201, Bryce UT 84764-0201. Phone (visitor information): 435-834.5322. As of this posting, Fax or Email non-listed.

As always, thoughtful and intelligent commentary is welcomed!


Originally posted to richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:35 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight, J Town, and National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just Stunning. As A Kid In the 70s (14+ / 0-)

    when most folks were going to Disney World my parents took me to CO to hike and camp. Best thing ever!

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:44:30 AM PST

    •  Mine, too:) (10+ / 0-)

      What wonderful memories (even the not so savory ones, like the memory of the porta potty in the back of the van and the cramped quarters of the old pop-up camper.)
      I remember how completely awed and struck silent I was at the sight of the color and vastness of the canyons, and how moved I was at the sight of the Rockies, and how sweet the water tasted when we drank it from a stream near Salt Lake City and how deep the impression of the western and southwestern states has stayed in me.  Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona.  So beautiful.

      •  I Recall The First Time, As A "Flatlander" (9+ / 0-)

        seeing those mountains for the first time. A speed bump is the highest elevation you get where I grew up. Makes me think of the passage in Undaunted Courage when Lewis and Clark first came up to the Rockies and dropped to their knees to awe.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:16:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  too funny. . . (10+ / 0-)

          a speed bump being the highest elevation where you grow up. Now that's homespun humor if ever there was. Very funny. Thanks for posting, webranding, and of course, anytime Lewis and Clark's twin names come up I am all ears. Hiked a lot of their terrain from Montana all the way to the Northwest. Well, at least in segments. I can also see why these flatlanders dropped to their knees before the Rockies. I mean, it literally and figuratively takes the breath out of you. . .those 'big busted ladies' as one mountain man so described.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:22:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  as a reminder. . . (12+ / 0-)

        to an earlier comment, either to you or someone else commenting on this piece, consider writing a diary of such memories, because those days will not come again; not given the literal rape of the land and the spoils of its natural resources; at least until we wake up realize what we're doing is not only desecrating Nature's repository of features and resources, but sealing our fates. This natural nest is all we really have to count on; not the damn money, politics, religion and all the rest that tends to cheat minds and drains hearts and spirits of the lesser essentials of life and living. End diatribe.
        Thanks, again, for this other posting, sureyujest (though I do not considering the retort just made).

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:25:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  and thank you for sharing this diary (6+ / 0-)

          and reviving some much loved memories for me.  Even my memories and old pics can't serve justice to the natural beauty and raw landscape--I'd have to see it again in person to smell the air and feel the wind and hear the birds and rivers and put my hands to the sun warmed rocks to really experience it again in full, but my memories are family moments and will always be with me :)
          Have you ever been to Estes Park, CO?  

        •  This should be required reading in schools..... (0+ / 0-)

          This brilliant sentence sums it up. I am going to use this as I convince friends to take an interest and visit and maybe even get active! Thank you again.  

          This natural nest is all we really have to count on; not the damn money, politics, religion and all the rest that tends to cheat minds and drains hearts and spirits of the lesser essentials of life and living.
    •  an endorsement. . . (5+ / 0-)

      by your parents transferred to you of the best value of life, a natural experience, instead of something synthetic. Good on your mom and dad to have indoctrinated you a higher standard of life and living. Thanks for posting the comment, webranding.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:26:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stunningly gorgeous pics and wonderful diary! (14+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for this.  What breathtaking beauty.
    When I was a kid (1976) my folks loaded my brothers and I onto a Ford Econoline van and we drove to California and back, so I was fortunate to have seen Bryce, Zyon, and the Grand Canyon when I was young.  

    •  I Hike/Camp For At Least Two Weeks (9+ / 0-)

      every year. This year the "big" trip is to Bryce and Zyon, which I hate to admit I've been around but never to.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:03:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You will love it! (9+ / 0-)

        take lots of pics and share with us.
        I wish I could go back and show my child what I saw.  
        The one area I haven't yet seen much of is the northeast though, so we'll likely wind up there first.  
        What I loved the most about the canyons was the feeling that there was something so much bigger than anything thing I'd ever known before (I was so young when we went)--it was very humbling.  My child had something of the same impression this fall when we drove to MI's Upper Peninsula to the Taquamenon Falls.  In the face of such stark natural beauty, and such largess of wonder, it is kind of hard to be self important LOL  It is like an excess of beauty that is difficult to take in all at once.
        I have been back to Colorado as an adult and I even once thought I'd like to move there, but I am and always be a Michigander I think--I do love my home, but will visit the rest of our country with great pleasure when I can ever afford the travel :)

        •  you still can. . . (8+ / 0-)

          show your child what you saw, surelyujest, simply by relating the stories through your eyes and memories and enhanced by imagery. What you just wrote would be more than ample to keep your child's interest, or anyone else's, because YOU WERE THERE. You lived and did what you say. Indeed, why not write a diary and share this info with the rest of us maintaining the front or back lines of our great Daily Kos community? Why not, indeed!

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:14:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you are so right about sharing stories (8+ / 0-)

            about our lives with our kids (and we all know how they hang on our every word about "when we were young"  LOL!)  Nah, mine would like it much better to actually see it, and I would love it too.
            About writing diaries...I was wondering if the travel diaries are yours alone or are you starting a group?  Is this a site wide invite to share our travel stories?  I do like to write about MI and have written diaries about some of the things I love about it w/pics.  I'd love to write a diary and share pics from my trip a couple of months ago to the Upper Peninsula (Whitefish Point, Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Hiawatha National Forest, Tahquamenon Falls) / Mackinac Island/Mackinaw City/  Mackinac Bridge/Wilderness State Park/The Straights of Mackinaw.  I have so many photographs of such gorgeous fall views here if anyone has an interest in them.  And some cool history, too.  But...none of mine are nearly as breathtaking as yours are in this diary--I'm afraid I might bore you.  

            •  Consider joining Backyard Science (5+ / 0-)

              if you haven't done so already. When I write diaries, I usually post through the Backyard Science group; that gives me a built-in audience.

              My stories tend to combine my forestry work with my travels. Here's an example from last fall, just to give you an idea...Idaho photo diary

              Your photos don't have to be as spectacular as richholtzin's. You just need to tell a good story. At any given time, there will be a certain number Kos readers ready to click on a story that does not involve politics.

      •  the golden circle. . . (12+ / 0-)

        complete, that is, if you include the Grand Canyon's North Rim in your upcoming travels. I'll be posting a diary soon about Zion National Park, that is, if the DKos community gets behind these missive-postings, thereby signaling to me I am writing to an attentive audience that enjoys such readings. Otherwise, there is so much more political agenda going on in the postings that I sometimes wonder if I'm just wasting people's time and DKos' space by submitting these tour itin offerings, or by whatever name I can use to front same. Thanks, again, for posting your commentary, webranding.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:17:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  now THAT was a funny typo...oops (11+ / 0-)

      I meant to say my folks loaded us IN to the van, not ON to LOL!
      No, my dad wasn't Mitt Romney (although I did grow up in MI).

    •  I'm curious. . . (8+ / 0-)

      what age were you at this time? I am especially fascinated with people's stories about the Southwest before the worst slaughter of its open spaces took place in the 1960s and just got worse over time. Thanks for posting this memory lane commentary.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:18:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was in the 2cd grade, so I must have 8 years old (8+ / 0-)

        It was '76, the bicentennial.  The year of the Pet Rock (I got my pet rock on the trip--the only pet my dad ever approved of LOL).  My parents, two of my brothers and I, and a family friend all drove out together in a big van pulling a pop-up and food and gear.  It took almost a month to get to CA and back to MI.  It was a long trip, but so worth it.  I was exposed to a whole new world of culture and geology and history that literally blew me away.  That trip shaped every bit of the adult I have become and fostered a fascination with anthropology and history and wide open spaces (and fear of falling off mountains!) that are a large part of my own personal history, as well as my ancestors.
        You know, after talking to you and reading your story, you have inspired me.
        Soon, very soon, I will get permission from someone integral to my family genealogy/history and share a story here--it's actually pretty interesting.
        Soon--not right away.  Soon :)

  •  thank you (13+ / 0-)

    so much, for all of your diaries here.  i don't stop by in a timely manner often enough.

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:16:20 AM PST

  •  Republished in J Town (10+ / 0-)

    Republished in the J Town Babbling Brook

    Burble Burble

    Thank you

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:17:28 AM PST

  •  Cedar Breaks..... (8+ / 0-)

    I have so many fond memories of the after grocery shopping in Cedar City picnics with my grand parents at Cedar Breaks. We always laughed at the chipmunks as we rested with the beauty before us before driving back to the isolated cattle ranch that was home.

    I was fortunate to be a frequent visitor to Bryce and Zion canyons as well.....mostly in the 1950's, when I was a child in the west.

    Thanks for writing this series. The diversity of posts on dkos is (for me) one of the strengths of the site.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:22:36 AM PST

    •  and if you don't post. . . (11+ / 0-)

      such memories I am going to. . .well, I am going to coerce a hoard of squirrels and chipmunks to camp out on your doorstep and raise a bit of a fuss until you do. These kind of memories are exactly what I hope to trigger in DKos readers, as well as those who stand up for the environment and relish the awesome scenic icons throughout America. By the way, Cedar Breaks offers some great, though lengthy trail, hiking. Indeed, I once shook paws with an enormous mountain lion, who, fortunately, had a rather large fox in his or her mouth, and so passed up the opportunity given the encounter. The puma merely strolled on by and mentally said, "You can go in peace! Or something. (Pumas, like coyotes and foxes are my favorite mammal icons!) Thanks for posting your commentary.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:54:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bryce is Nice; Coal Strip Mine Next Door Is Not (8+ / 0-)

    Bryce Canyon is a beautiful place. I heartily recommend visiting. I've hiked there in the spring and fall, and cross-country skied there in winter. Winter is an especially great time to be there because of the contrast of snow and redrock, a lot fewer people, and great night sky star gazing.

    Unfortunately, Bryce is threatened by the dramatic expansion of a coal strip mine, just down the road. The impact would be significant to Bryce's air quality, quiet and solitude, among other things.

    Fortunately the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council have brought suit to stop it. Unfortunately, they have not succeeded yet. Follow this link to learn more and take action:

    SUWA suit to stop Bryce coal strip mine

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:24:49 AM PST

    •  Court decision on Bryce Canyon coal strip mine: (6+ / 0-)
      Coal Mine Threatens Sage Grouse, Tourism Economy and Bryce Canyon National Park

      Salt Lake City, UT – In a decision issued earlier this morning, the Utah Supreme Court upheld a state mining permit that allows Alton Coal Development to strip mine roughly 600 acres of private lands – the Coal Hollow Mine. The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Parks Conservation Association reaffirmed their commitment to protect the local environment key to southern Utah’s tourism-oriented economy. The Utah Supreme Court’s ruling sets the stage for a broader fight over the proposed expansion of the private mine onto 3,500 acres of publicly owned land within a dozen miles of Bryce Canyon National Park.

      In addition to impacting local air and water quality, threatening Bryce Canyon National Park’s renown night skies, and decimating North America’s southern-most population of sage grouse, the proposed around the clock mining operations would require up to 300 coal truck trips per day traveling 110 miles one-way from Alton to Cedar City, which would result in one truck leaving the site every seven minutes.

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:28:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And there is that, too. . . (7+ / 0-)

      the environmental issue, and the sordid mining and such by the sordid and blind-sided State, that tends to issue in favor of rapacious development, regardless the environmental costs. The article you sent is also already in my files. It is seething in light of what these damn anti environmental agent provocateurs get away with, almost all the time. I am a big member and promoter of NRDC, among so many others, and always pressed to make this or that call to this or that Senator or Congressman or Governor, and so very few environmental battles, in the final analysis, are won, yet so many millions of people are more and more in tune with the crap that is being pulled on us. And if it doesn't outright insult a certain party affiliation in this country that consistently votes thumbs down for anything pro environmental and thumbs up to anything promoting business, I say, thumbs (or something much, much larger) rammed up their derrieres as a reminder what they're doing by advocating such environmental destruction is screwing all of us, and most especially future generations that will inherit the worst of conditions. Thanks, again, for your sage and salient commentary, willyr.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:50:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Public Lands, Private Profit: Boom or Bust video (6+ / 0-)

        The Alton coal mine next door to Bryce was featured in Part 2 of a 3-part video series on private exploitation of public land, entitled:

        Boom or Bust

        Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

        by willyr on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 12:11:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for sharing that video (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bisbonian, willyr

          Arizona has an amazing number of ghost towns from historical mining activity. Bisbee was saved after the mining company vacated only because a group of counter-culture enthusiasts moved in. The locals have steadily worked on the tourist trade to keep the town viable.

          A few years ago the mine was bought by Freeport-McMoRan and changes are already being felt in the community. Boom, Bust, Boom is a book about the history of the copper mining activity in AZ by a local (no longer), Bill Carter. To be fair, our little town was originally created by the copper industry.

          It's crazy that after so many years the soil is being tested and replaced in remediation for the previous mining activity (by Phelps-Dodge). The community has lost several folks to cancer but then again there are people who worked in the mine still living here (they are in their 80s).

          It is strange to me that the Freeport-McMoRan is required to clean up the contaminated soil while at the same time start up operations again. So far the activity is low key but I seriously worry. A pocket of our citizens has been forced to relocate and the large trucks are steadily increasing. The increase of dust from their activity has been noticeable.

          I hope that the coal mine expansion is prevented. Bryce Canyon is a special place. I share the local citizen's concern all to well. I also fear the threat of Fracking in CA south of where I grew up. It seams that hundreds of communities are threatened by dirty energy resources all across the US. Unfortunately copper will be needed for the transition to alternative energy. It is a catch 22 situation for me.

  •  Did you mean to reference MacArthur Park? (5+ / 0-)

    "Someone left the Colorado Plateau cake out, in the rain..."


    Anyhoo, thanks for this awesome Bryce tour (another place I've yet to visit) & the introduction of the term headward erosion.  I'm not particularly clear on how this works--can't visualize it--does this mean that water pools at a head & the swirling action erodes away, rather than a unidirectional flowing erosive action?

    Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

    by Leftcandid on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:37:30 AM PST

    •  thanks, Lefcandid. . . (5+ / 0-)

      for your comments, and, yes, do, please, get to see this fantastic setting in person. It's high up there in the loftiest elevation of the Colorado Plateau, so huffing and puffing is okay. Fainting isn't. Anyway, headward erosion is a common process in parts of the Plateau country, and especially plays a key role in the Grand Canyon's forming, though NOT from the eastern sector, rather from the west (a drainage that literally chewed its way across an uncut plateau, invigorated by its volume and the direction of tilt across the planed surface. Technically, headward erosion Headward erosion is a process by which a stream or river becomes longer and more pronounced (wider). The head of the body of water erodes more quickly as the rain erodes rock at the head. As more rain falls, the rock is eroded more, and the river cuts back at the. When it cuts, it erodes rock, and so the river's length is extended. What happened in the Bryce Canyon-Paria Canyon sector is really all about this kind of erosion, and not just typical weathering. If you want to know more, kiddo, please email me at my profile's email account and I'll be more than happy to "learn" ya. Thanks, again, for posting your appreciative remarks. Most kind!

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:44:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There were thunderstorms when I was there (12+ / 0-)

    Your diary prompted me to revisit pictures that I took in the mid-'70s. They've lost a lot of color vibrancy over the years, but here goes!

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    And the wildlife thrill for me was seeing Western Tanagers.

     photo 80650055_zps2192ef04.jpg

    "The NRA says 'guns don't kill people, people do.' But I think that the gun helps." -- Eddie Izzard

    by babaloo on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 12:25:16 PM PST

  •  Breathtaking, thank you! :-) (9+ / 0-)

    I am loving this diary series. Keep it up!

    God bless our tinfoil hearts.

    by aitchdee on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 12:35:30 PM PST

  •  Hi Rich (6+ / 0-)

    I've answered my own question by finding this. Great diary.

    Tell me a story of deep delight. - Robert Penn Warren

    by bisleybum on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 03:08:14 PM PST

  •  Beautiful! (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much. Have hotlisted to read more carefully later. In the meantime, the breathtaking pictures will carry me through the end of a blah day :)

    And thank you for this diary series. I appreciate it so much and I know I'm not the only one.

    •  Carolanne. . . (4+ / 0-)

      my thanks for your comments and appreciation of this series. Mostly, I am swelled by the fact so many of you feel this way. Blushing. . .blushing. . .and more. . .blushing. Thanks for posting your commentary and trust you got through nicely your blah day. Better day tomorrows. . .

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:07:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beautiful job Rich (6+ / 0-)

    I really do love your work. It's been my experience in talking with people that of all that S. Utah has to offer Bryce is very special to most people. I hear it referenced a lot. I love it, too.

    For me you can't do any better if you are a car tourist to take Highway 12 from Bryce, down to Kodachrome, back up to Calf Creek and Escalante and then over the Boulders and east to Capitol Reef. From there I'll let people plot their own dream vacation since mine always include fishing.

    Thanks again!

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 05:16:36 PM PST

    •  and a big thanks. . . (6+ / 0-)

      to you, as well, high uintas. I shouldn't be surprised at how well Bryce has been received. Then again, so many people exclude this pink fairyland setting when doing, instead, the Grand Circle. I think it should be included, however; and look how close you are to Zion's eastern frontier! Anyway, that route you suggested. . .hell yes. . .the scenery is also this side of outrageous (or is it the other side?). And of course, that stunning Waterpocket Fold country needs to be visited, as well. And Johnson Canyon. And. . .and. . .the Escalante. . .and, and. Well, you know. You've been there. Obviously. Stay tuned for a back to back series on the Colorado Plateau sometime next week; then back to the individual most scenic icons, most of which are fashioned in Utah. I may write up some hikes, too, one of these days, and Calf Creek. . .upper or lower, is a definite choice. Thanks, again, for posting such a favorable commentary.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 05:28:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Looking forward to your series (5+ / 0-)

    As a visitor to Southern Utah since the mid sixties (family camping and Boy Scouts) I have a keen appreciation for the Colorado Plateau.  I don't get down there often enough but just started planning a hike up Cohab Canyon (in Capitol Reef) with my old buddy.  

    We did the hike when we were 21, thirty six years ago.  We camped in a box canyon and got caught in a downpour, the canyon walls were riddled with pockets 5" to 12" diameter, whistled in the rock by wind and water. As the rain slicked the rock the walls looked like pink polka dots on a black background when the lightening flashed.  Quite an image.  All the more remarkable because the total extent of our visual enhancer was a bottle of scotch.  Not quite pink elephants....

    Everybody's going serfing, serfing USA

    by Cen Den on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 05:25:15 PM PST

    •  and thank you. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and that trip you shared. . .my kind of adventure now or then, maybe tomorrow. I've had similar. It is so good to connect with people who are connected to this earth. Thanks for posting your comment, Cen Den.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:03:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been there multiple times years ago (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, Bisbonian

    Thanks for refreshing the memories. I look forward to more of this series.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:01:46 PM PST

    •  thank you. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bisbonian, FishOutofWater

      and you can bet there'll be much more to this series, especially in view of the support from the community that's behind this theme. This week, perhaps by the weekend, a running narrative on the Colorado Plateau. . .3 series. . .everything you may have ever wanted to know about the birth and matrix of all these fantastic places. Stay tuned. And thanks for posting your thoughts, FishOutofWater.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:05:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful, wonderful place and pictures. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, Bisbonian

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    •  and you are most welcomed. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      kaliope. So thanks for posting your gladness. More of these scenic icon missives still to come, and I am very happy the DKos community finds these diaries interesting, even "wonderful!"

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:45:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Loved this tour. And geology is something I (3+ / 0-)

    always forget to add to interests lists. Pitch perfect balance and illustrations.

    Thank you so much.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:50:45 PM PST

    •  Thanks. . Regina. . . (2+ / 0-)

      in a Sears Kit House (quite a handle, that) for loving the tour. More of these missives on scenic icons still to come. I find sharing the geology equally interesting, because understanding the geologic nature of any setting also entails what, if any, human history is entailed, which of course is dependent on flora and fauna, the presence or absence thereof. Thanks, again, for posting your comment!

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:44:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this. More please. n/t (3+ / 0-)

    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

    by samddobermann on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:34:02 AM PST

  •  Another beautiful diary, thank you for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Sphinx Moth, FishOutofWater

    reminding us of what we need to work to save.

    Like some others here, I have never been to Bryce (shame!)   I do fly over it pretty often, though.  One day, going over, I had my face pressed to the window, staring down intently, and the guy sitting next to me asked what I was looking at.  "I'm looking to see where I would hide if I was a cow", I said...without thinking.  It just seemed to pop into my head.  Maybe I had read the story about Bryce and his cows, but I don't remember it.

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:53:20 AM PST

    •  Thank for your reminder. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Bisbonian, about what we all need to be constantly reminded of. . .preserving the endearing places that are gifts of erosion and time and need to be cherished. Love the story about the airplane and what you mentioned to the person seated beside you. I never forgot those words when I read Bryce's account of losing cows. If ever you do venture to Bryce, and if you're up for a hike, do it, because seeing that fantasy land from inside is truly the best experience and perspective. Thanks for posting your commentary.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:34:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for an insiders view, this will be a great vacation destination.

    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:04:51 AM PST

    •  Thank you, Betty Pinson. . . (0+ / 0-)

      and if you take me along I'll be happy to give you and the others a personal tour. Just feed me (but only a vegan's diet). Just kidding. I mean, about taking me along. You'll love this setting even more now that you know a meteorite wasn't the cause for the dished face of Bryce Canyon's appearance (some folks once thought so) or there was a major plumbing leak from on top that eroded the frontal features (likely, some folks might have assumed this, too). Anyway, I am very happy you and so many others enjoyed this latest diary in a continuing series, by the way.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:03:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I might have to take you up on that (0+ / 0-)

        My husband is a workaholic who doesn't take many vacations.  The kids want to go to Costa Rica.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:58:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd say to that. . . (0+ / 0-)

          tell the kids malaria is rampart in Costa Rica these days and come up to the high country where the air is cleaner, better and healthier. Brings your friends, relatives and church members if you like, and take that info I talked about in the diary and wing it. I mean, "Act as if!" (Isn't that how the NLP therapists would coach their clients? Anyway, you already know 99% more about Bryce than most visitors. I mean, with the background info I wrote about (which is also the main purpose of the diary's information on such places). Just remember to mention Bryce is NOT a canyon. Instead, it's an escarpment and there is a big difference between the two.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:17:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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