Sunset at Bryce Canyon red spires
Sunset at Bryce

Bryce Canyon National Park

Tropic Ditch

Story of Tropic Ditch. From 1890-1892 Mormon Pioneers labored with picks and shovels to carve an irrigation ditch from the East Fork of the Sevier River, through the Paunsaugunt Plateau, into this canyon.
About Tropic Ditch

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon
Hoodoos Along the Mossy Cave Trail Bryce Canyon National Park
Tropic ditch Bryce Canyon with hoodoos in background
Tropic Ditch in Bryce Canyon National Park
Tropic Ditch Waterfall
Tropic Ditch Waterfall Bryce Canyon National Park
Mossy cave showing green moss
Mossy Cave Bryce Canyon National Park

Our first stop in Bryce Canyon National Park was a short visit to Mossy Cave. This is a small part of the park, just off of Scenic Highway 12. The trail follows the Tropic Ditch that was dug by early pioneers to bring irrigation to the desert. In order to minimize the amount of digging they had to do, they tried to follow existing water features when possible. In this case they followed a drainage feature that was normally dry. An unintended consequence of digging the ditch, is that the stream is carving a water canyon in the desert. The hoodoos here will eventually fall.

This digging of ditches to move water from one place to another is a continuing story in the west. The desert blooms with water and farmers prosper. However, the water was generally not in the right place so the pioneers had to move it to where it was needed--big rivers like to Gunnison and Colorado were moved as were smaller steams like the Tropic. Amazing engineering efforts.

Mossy Cave

Mossy Cave is a small grotto or shelter cave where a small spring starts. The spring is fed by water that slowly seeps through the rocks and provides a constant flow of water year round. It is a cool spot in the summer and one of the few sources of water in the desert.

The slow flow of water keeps the cave moist and hospitable to moss and other plants that normally would not survive in the desert. In the winter, the water freezes and the cave fills with icicles. The sign at the cave says that because the cave is sheltered from the sun, ice is often present well into summer.

This small part of Bryce Canyon National Park is very different from the rest of the park. It's a water feature in the middle of the desert. Something that we didn't expect.

After we visited the the waterfall and the cave, we continued our trip to Brian Head, Utah where we head quartered for the week. The trip to Brian Head took us through Red Canyon, an interesting place that we visited and hiked in later in our trip. As you'll see when you visit the Red Canyon Page, Red Canyon is well worth the visit.

We came back to Bryce Canyon National Park proper a few days later.

Back to Bryce Canyon National Park

Black and White Image of Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park
BW of area in Utah around Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park
Color photo of Bryce Canyon showing red erosion features
Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park

We got back to Bryce Canyon a couple of days later. We didn't get there until afternoon because we had to have the oil changed in the mini-van. Our late start limited the time we had for exploring the park. One more thing to leave for next year.

Bryce Canyon at Sunset

The huge impact of lighting on the landscape in the Southwest is amazing and nothing like what we're used to in North Carolina. Before sunset the reds a muted and you can easily see white bands in the formations. The areas in shade are somewhat saturated.

Bryce Canyon before sunset
Before sunset

The reds and other colors in the various formations come to life at sunset and at times seem almost unreal. The colors change rapidly as the sun goes down The sunset seemed to last longer here than back home. Twilight is especially long.

Bryce canyon at early sunset rocks are pink.
Bryce Canyon near sunset.
Bryce Canyon Sunset red rocks with new moon
Bryce Canyon Sunset
Sunset at Bryce Canyon rocks glow red
Sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park
Sunset at Bryce Canyon
Sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park
Twilight at Bryce Canyon New Moon is visible
Twilight at Bryce Canyon National Park