BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK — The iconic hoodoo known as “The Sentinel” in Bryce Canyon National Park succumbed to the forces of nature, according to park officials.
Park officials say the exact time it fell from its perch above the Navajo Loop is unknown, but photos taken by visitors seem to place the event sometime during the evening of Friday, Nov. 25.
They estimated the section that fell at 15 feet in height, having fractured at a point 2 feet in diameter. However, rangers have yet been unable to locate debris from the collapse due to snow in the area.
The hoodoo became a known landmark of the Bryce Canyon landscape and got its name due to its shape.
“As its name implied, it appeared like a sentry or protector of the peace gazing to the east, and was a familiar and trusted form along the horizon,” Bryce Canyon National Park ranger Jan Stock said in a statement. “We consider this its end of watch.”
Large sections of The Sentinel have fractured before, park officials said. In July 1986, a paddle-like section of the formation crumbled and was found on the trail below. Subsequent years of frost-wedging, wind and rain reduced the remaining spire to a gravity-defying form recognizable to more recent visitors.
"This is a hoodoo people would stop and look at and wonder if it would fall and if they would see it,” said ranger Joel Allen.
Bryce Canyon officials said that along with erosion, wind and water, probably the biggest factor that shapes the unique hoodoos and landscape at Bryce Canyon is the 200-plus days of freeze-thaw cycles each year.
"Fractures created in part during the gradual uplift of the Colorado Plateau beginning approximately 70 million years ago now provide cracks for rain and melted snow to collect, and eventually expand with rock-shattering force whenever temperatures fall below the freezing point,” park officials said. “The life cycle of a hoodoo is therefore often one of gradual formation and sudden demise.”