Utah. A Three-Part Series. Part III: Trip Wrap-Up

It’s been a few weeks since the conclusion of our 2018 spring trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and after such an unforgettable trip in southern Utah we wanted to let it all marinade a bit for some added perspective.

Besides, keeping you on the edge of your seat with anticipation would be the best way to create anticipation, no?

“We deserved this one!” The overwhelming sentiment at sunrise on our final morning.

The group was like circling starved buzzards in need of a good sky after being denied by a May snow storm which hit the Paunsaugunt Plateau the day prior.

And then the sky broke.

Shutters were furiously clicking as forty mile-per-hour plus gusts attempted to  blast the group off Bryce Point Overlook. “Jesus Light” descended from the clouds highlighting the Aquarius Plateau on the horizon, and all was right with our world.

Hope everyone’s batteries were charged.

Finally we had a perfect broken sky at sunrise, and we just happened to be perched on one of the world’s most glorious doorsteps. High above the otherworldly pink hoodoos of Bryce Canyon.

Nowhere else in the world can one find rock pinnacles with fantastic shapes like the ones that were in our focus at that golden moment.

As we stood there adjusting our shutter speeds and apertures, alternating lens lengths camera angles and composition, curious minds turned to the hoodoos as they stood below, glowing in the morning sunlight.

What are these crazy cool rock features we’re so enamored with?

…Click, click, click…

The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are eroded rock made up of limestone, siltstone, dolomite and mudstone of the Claron Formation of the Colorado Plateau. The shapes caused by the different rates at which these different rock types erode. The colors from iron-rich, limy sediments deposited in the beds of a series of lakes and streams.

Limestone, siltstone and dolomite are very hard and form the protective caprock on most of the spires. Mudstone is the softest rock and is identified by the way it forms the narrow portions of the pinnacles. As mudstone moistens it erodes easily and runs down the sides of the rock forming mud stucco as a protective coating. Every time it rains the layer of mud stucco is renewed. If wind does not erode the stucco layer fast enough it will renew before wind erosion affects the rock. For this reason, wind has little to no effect on hoodoo formation or destruction.

Cool, yeah?

While photography is the primary focus on Backcountry Journeys tours, these are the sort of interesting things we are fortunate enough to see and learn about, additionally. Our tours are more than simply finding the best locations to create photographs, they additionally provide a chance to learn about, and really get to feel the beautiful places we visit, as we sit in their clutches. A chance to expand horizons (literally and figuratively), and come to know more about the world around you. We take pride, and are humbled, from being able to provide these types of experiences for you, and to be a part of your memorable moments.

We also provide instruction and help with growing your skills as a photographer.

On this particular, “non-hiking” tour, we were able to spend time during the day working on composition and holding discussions on post-production techniques. Having to chance to take a constructive look at our work each day was a nice way to add to what we’re working on while making images. As we progressed through the tour, images seemed to get better and better culminating with some really nice work.

A wonderful addition to our “non-hiking” tours.

The sunrise moment at Bryce was by no means the only special one while on this trip, just the final one. The frosting on the cake, so-to-speak.

As is always the case, photos weren’t the only thing on the agenda. Great meals are essential, in our opinion, on tours such as this and the locations for meals did not disappoint.

Highlights being Oscar’s and The Bit n’ Spur (in Springdale), and Ruby’s and Bryce Canyon Lodge. Not to mention our wonderful meet and greet dinner at St George’s Rib and Chop House. Try the Fried Green Tomatoes, they are as yummy as they are interesting!

At the end, as hugs and email addresses were exchanged, thoughts amongst the group more than likely returned to the previous six days spent together.

The trip provided so many laughs, a few challenges, and hopefully new friendships and memories to last until the next one. Lessons learned, skills improved, and maybe a few extra pounds gained (thanks to our lunches and dinners, especially Oscar’s) that will now need to be lost. But memories of the scenery remained strong. Summed up best, perhaps, by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, an artist, explorer and writer who exposed through his paintings the majesty of Zion during the early 1900’s:

“One hardly knows just how to think of it. Never before has such a naked mountain of rock entered into our minds. Without a shred of disguise its transcendent form rises pre-eminent. There is almost nothing to compare to it. Niagara has the beauty of energy; the Grand Canyon, of immensity; the Yellowstone, of singularity; the Yosemite, of altitude; the ocean, of power; this Great Temple, of eternity.”


Kenton Krueger







Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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