Park managers using popular formation’s decapitation as a teaching moment

Posted at 8:03 PM, Mar 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-26 13:03:37-04

BRYCE CANYON, Utah - A popular rock formation in Bryce Canyon National Park has changed, as “The turtle” seen from the Mossy Cave Trail is without a head.

Park managers say they’re not sure exactly when it happened, but they said it’s an example of nature at work. And while it’s a sad moment for those who always looked for the turtle, rangers are using it as a teaching moment.

“That’s what makes Bryce Canyon,” said park chief of interpretation Kathleen Gonder. “We experience over 200 freeze/thaw days per year. That water gets in there, then it freezes and thaws, and it breaks and crumbles.”

Gonder said the last documented picture they have of the turtle with its head was taken on President’s Day 2014. The decapitation was discovered during an excursion on President’s Day 2015. Rangers are trying to do some research to narrow things down. They’re hoping visitors who photographed the hoodoo will share those pictures with the date taken.

A similar incident happened in Moab in August 2014, the popular rock formation, “The Cobra” toppled following some storms. With hundreds of rock formations throughout the state, it’s to be expected a few will fall. Visitors to the park said, while it may be sad to see one go, it’s a chance to experience a new beauty.

hoodoo before“I think it’s great that things change, nothings ever permanent in life,” said Carey Heider, who was visiting Bryce Canyon from Oregon. “So nature just always reminds you.”

The photo of “The Turtle” seen above was taken in 2011 by Arizona photographer Jim Peterson.