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.)

Bryce Canyon and the Hoodoos… A Photographic Journey through America’s National Parks

Bryce Canyon photograph by Curtis Mekemson.

Bright colors combine with interesting rock formations to make Bryce Canyon.

There is nowhere in the world quite like Bryce Canyon. This is a place where you can let your imagination run as wild as it wants to run. I am always struck first by the colors of the rocks and then immediately afterwards by their shapes.

Thousands of years of ice-driven erosion have created a fantasy world of amphitheaters filled with hoodoos and other rock formations climbing down the side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Southern Utah.

The best way to experience the canyon is to hike down the trails but even a quick drive-through is rewarding. Early morning and evening are best times to catch the colors. Snow adds another dimension.

Bryce Canyon overlook. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

An overview of Bryce Canyon from one of the major overlooks.

Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Bryce Canyon is actually not a canyon created by a river but is a series of amphitheaters dropping on of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

Walls, Fins and hoodoos at Bryce Canyon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Hoodoos are stand alone rocks created by the process of erosion. A thick wall becomes a fin. Arches are created in the fin and then cave in, leaving hoodoo behind.

Hoodoo formation at Bryce Canyon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A close-up of hoodoo formation. The rock in the foreground is showing cracks and a small arch that will eventually fall in and form a hoodoo.

A hoodoo at Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A ghostly hoodoo.

More views of Bryce Canyon:

Bryce Canyon photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Bryce Canyon photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Bryce Canyon photograph by Curtis Mekemson.

NEXT BLOG: A visit to the Redwoods.


Bryce Canyon… The National Park Series

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a fantasy land of rocks guaranteed to impress visitors.

The first time I came across a group of hoodoos, I stopped and stared. Then I grabbed my camera. But I didn’t have to rush. Hoodoos are strange rock formations of arid regions. They don’t go anywhere. They just stand there for centuries as nature and erosion do their work, carving whimsical statues of stone.

Bryce Canyon National Park is a superb location for hoodoo watching. They come in a multitude of shapes, forms and colors creating a fantasy land that even the wildest of imaginations can appreciate.

Hoodoos are created in Bryce Canyon through the erosion of sandstone, which eventually creates whimsical statues.

Carved from sandstone of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, Bryce Canyon drops some 2000 feet in altitude to the valley below. Trails ranging from easy to challenging provide the visitor with numerous opportunities to meet the hoodoos up close. Or you can stroll along the rim trail. Be sure to check the park out at sunrise and sunset.

Bryce Canyon is located off of Highway 89 in Southwestern Utah. An easy day’s drive can take you to either Capitol Reef or Zion National Parks and through millions of years of geological history. I consider Utah’s Highway 12 that connects Bryce National Park with Capitol Reef to be one of the most scenic roads Peggy and I found in our 200,000-mile exploration of America.

A family of Hoodoos hidden in a canyon.

Following one of the many trails into Bryce Canyon will bring you face to face with one of the National Park’s unique sculptures.

Another sandstone hoodoo. This one reflects the warm colors of the setting sun.

Erosion created a box canyon here. I saw it and thought immediately it would have made a great corral for cattle stolen by outlaws of the old west.

A final view of Bryce Canyon National Park.