Who Let the Dogs Out: Woof Woof… The Hoodoos and Other Marvelous Rocks of Utah’s Red Canyon State Park

This is a typical view you can find in Red Canyon on a short walk. Expect to see pinnacles, spires, columns and hoodoos, the same things you will see in Bryce Canyon. But beware: You might get lonely. On our easy hour walk, Peggy and I only saw six other people. 

If you have been to Bryce Canyon, the odds are you have been to Red Canyon. You drive right through it on your way in if you come come into Bryce from the west on Highway 12. Very few people bother to stop, however. After all, it’s only a State Park, not a world renowned National Park.

If you do stop, however, you may find yourself wondering why it wasn’t included in the National Park. I did. It certainly qualifies. But then I thought to myself, “Whoa, Curt.” Peggy and I were wandering around in a beautiful area in the middle of rock formations dripping with attitude. And we were by ourselves. Changing its status to be part of Bryce Canyon National Park would be like unloading a mega-cruise ship on its doorstep every day. The trails would be packed. Thousands of people would add it to their bucket list.

Join Peggy and me as we explore what makes Red Canyon special. I’ll start with Hoodoos, tall spires of rock formed by erosion, sometimes in fantastical shapes. I mentioned before that one theory about the derivative of the word Hoodoo was a similar Native American word meaning scary. And I used the hoodoo dogs of Red Canyon as an example. There are other theories as well. One suggests a voodoo connection. Here’s what the Canadian Encyclopedia has to say about it: “The word hoodoo probably derives from voodoo, a West African-based religion in which magical powers can be associated with natural features. Hoodoos conjure up images of strange events.” Okayyy…

Photo of hoodoo dogs in Utah's Red Canyon State Park by Peggy Mekemson.)
Hoodoos often come in unique shapes. Can you spot the two ‘dogs’ in this Red Canyon photo. I used them as an example in an earlier post. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The question here is: Who let the dog’s out? Woof! Woof! As I recall, my blogging friend Linda Leinen suggested this question and this link. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Trio of hoodoos in Red Rock Canyon. Photo by Curt Mekemson.
Not sure what these three amigos were up to. But I wasn’t going to question it…
Photo from Red Canyon, Utah by Peggy Mekemson
They were big. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Photo of hoodoo in Red Canyon State Park in Dixie National Forest by Curt Mekemson.
Long necked something here. Any ideas on what? Jurassic perhaps…
Hoodoo Family portrait in Red Canyon, Utah by Peggy Mekemson.
A family of Hoodoos. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Photo Groot hoodoo in Red Canyon State Park, Utah by Curt Mekemson.
At first, I thought… an ancient king. Then I thought… Groot.
Photo of sinister stand alone hoodoo in Red Canyon, Utah by Peggy Mekemson.
This hoodoo didn’t need to look like anything. It was outstanding by itself. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Photo of scary hoodoos in Red Canyon State Park by Peggy Mekemson.
Maybe it was my imagination working overtime (it happens), but I found this trio scary, like something out of a dark fantasy, or a horror movie. The guy in the middle immediately reminded me of the monsters created by Saruman in Lord of the Rings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Photo of totem hoodoos at Red Canyon State Park in Utah by Curt Mekemson.
These two hoodoos were among our favorites. At first we thought they were called totems, as in totem pole. Looking at photos in Goggle, I discovered that most people called them salt and pepper shakers. The sun was lighting them up under dark skies, creating a dramatic effect.
Photo of totem hoodoo at Red Canyon Staet Park in Utah by Peggy Mekemson.
Salt shaker or totem. Or neither. What do you see? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

While the hoodoos of Red Rock Canyon State Park are fun to photograph and play around with, there are numerous other beautiful and interesting rock structures in the park to admire. Following are some of Peggy and my favorites. The photographs are from both of us.

I thought this dead tree stump fit the fantasy theme of this post.
Photo of impressive rock formation in Red Canyon State Park, Utah by Curt Mekemson.
Having just returned from our Rhine River trip and continuing with my theme, I couldn’t help but think this formation deserved a castle on top of it.
Photo from Red Canyon State Park in Utah by Peggy Mekemson.
Or possibly a magical kingdom which seems like an appropriate conclusion to this post. Be prepared for another treat next Friday where we will take you for a drive on one of the Nation’s most scenic byways: Highway 12. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

19 thoughts on “Who Let the Dogs Out: Woof Woof… The Hoodoos and Other Marvelous Rocks of Utah’s Red Canyon State Park

  1. Wonderful to visit the Hoodoos of Red Canyon State Park, Curt, with you and Peggy. I enjoyed the photos and this lovely array of formations. I always try to find State Parks or Forests near the National Parks in America, for just the reason you found, same beauties with far less people. Thank you for taking us there.

    • Glad you enjoyed our visit with the hoodoos, Jet. We had fun with it. Red Canyon is probably 20 minutes away from Bryce, max. The State Park even has free, dispersed camping (without amenities). With all the publicity on the massive numbers at popular national parks, the media rarely mentions the alternatives. Maybe for folks like us, that’s not a bad thing. Grin. –Curt

  2. It will definitely be on our agenda if we are out that way again.
    I was able to walk through the hoodoos at Bryce but the trail was too steep for Alie. How rugged were the trails? Did you have to walk a long way?

    • Part of the trail we were on was challenging, Ray. But another section was easily accessible and relatively flat. I’d say no longer than a quarter of a mile. Lots of people seem to be walking the trails in the park proper. It looked to me like they’ve become more like freeways than when I hiked there. 🙂 They still have the steep ups and downs, however. –Curt

  3. The best part about blogging is that you have a place to park all your favourite photos!
    Your trip has certainly helped me relive the trips we have made to the highlights of Utah. You have a lot more and better photos – though I think my photos of Red Canyon with fresh snow were well worth venturing out in the bitter cold.

  4. I’d have to agree, those formations are Bryce worthy. I’ve long noticed your finding hidden creatures in nature, something that usually evades me unless it’s so obvious it smacks me alongside the head. Is this a talent you developed on your cross-country hikes to keep yourself amused?

    • It’s the work of an overactive imagination, Dave, that started with clouds in my childhood. And your are right about hiking. It does provide amusement, and excuses to stop and take photos on long days. Sometimes the creatures don’t show up until I spot them later in photographs, however. –Curt

  5. Groot! Yes! and….out standing by itself. Ha ha. And yes, I could identify the Uruk Hai from Tolkien that you saw. This is a marvelous collection. Thanks to both of you for your perspectives and for your cameras! I agree with you about keeping Red Canyon a State Park – that leaves it open for people who really want to appreciate it.

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