You don’t have to go into space to walk on another planet.
Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah presents an otherworldly landscape like nothing else — it’s as if Tim Burton, Disneyland and aliens from Mars collaborated to create this unique natural wonder. Viewpoints from the top of the canyon afford a scaled-back look at the red-orange hoodoos (tall, thin pillars of rock formed by erosion) and bristlecone pines below.
But don’t miss an opportunity to dive into this beautiful terrain. Even if you have only a few hours in the park, be sure to hike down into the canyon. The Navajo Loop trail is just 1.3 miles roundtrip and drops more than 500 feet (and back up again), affording visitors close-up views of the Seuss-like hoodoos and the deep-green trees that grow alongside them.
The quiet of the canyon — punctuated by the chirping of birds (there are some 175 different species that frequent the national park), the scurrying of chipmunks along rocks and branches and the sound of my own footsteps — is just as beautiful as the scenery.
It wasn’t hard to imagine I was light years away, in the outer reaches of the universe on an unexplored celestial body. But as another hiker passed by me, I was reminded that, incredibly, I was still on Earth.