Looking for Elvis
Trip Start ??? ??, 2001
26Trip End ??? ??, 2003
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From our look out spot high up on the canyon's rim, we marvelled at the thousands of multi-coloured hoodoos lined up below our feet. Looking like giant sandstone chess pieces, each contorted skyscraper was decked out in their own interpretation of the yellow, red, white and flaming orange theme. This scene was created (and I quote from our handy park guide) "through the process of erosion by rain and wind twisting and dripping downward through the pink limestone layers of the Paunsaugunt plateau" - so now you know, just in case you're asked.
A simpler fact is that the canyon is named after Ebenezer Bryce, who became sick of trying to farm in the area and declared "its a hell of a place to loose a cow". Our initial thoughts were "they picked a hell of a day to torch the place" as a thick blanket of smog hung over the canyon thanks to the policy of controlled burning of dead wood to avoid a forest fire. This struck me as logic akin to deliberate drinking to avoid a hangover, but to be fair even the Park Rangers shrugged rather than defend the policy.
Apart from the smell, and a tendency to cause coughing, the smoke also stopped the sun from getting through to fire the rocks. While we lost some colours, it did add to the haunting atmosphere as we began the tight switchbacks into the canyon. Near the rim tall pine trees competed with the hoodoos for prominence, while further away the landscape suddenly transformed into undulating multi-coloured sand-dunes, scattered thinly with small anaemic trees. It was truly captivating, as everywhere the eye settled looked quite different from where it had previously being playing. I think I could have sat on the rim for days and still not taken in the whole view.
As it was, we had about 10 minutes before lunch and an afternoon loop from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. It could have been sunset to sunrise, I can't be certain, apart from that it was too short. Dragging our feet so we could have longer to enjoy nature's answer to Manhattan, we saw 'Thor's Hammer', 'Queen Victoria', 'Wall Street' and the 'Queens Garden'. We also found an 'unofficial' limestone formation resembling a Klu Klux Klan conference but somehow (and I find this scandalous), we missed all TWELVE natural carvings that apparently look like Elvis. Naturally I resigned immediately.