Thor's Hammer is real and can be found in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Depending on how close visitors want to get and the effort they are willing to put in, there are multiple ways to see this landmark, from hiking trails, viewing points, and parking lots. Planning the trip to see this alienesque rock formation can be a rewarding experience.
What Is It?
Thor's Hammer is one prominent example of a distinctive rock formation, known as a hoodoo, that naturally occurs in arid basins and badlands. There are thousands of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. Also called fairy chimneys and earth pyramids, they're comparable to totem poles, spires, or natural skyscrapers. Sedimentary and volcanic rock eroded over millennia due to freezing and thawing patterns, eventually leaving behind these remarkable structures. Humans have always placed spiritual significance on these hoodoos. Native American legends, for example, state that hoodoos are the petrified remains of sinful ancient beings.
The spiritual significance of hoodoos has not been lost with the advent of modernity. One of the most distinguished earth pyramids in the park is named after the Hellenic deity's weapon of choice - the unmovable hammer of Thor, the Thunder God. This makes sense, as thunderstorms are a common occurrence at Bryce National Park and have proved fatal in the past.
When To Visit
As mentioned above, the summer months can be intense with all of the lightning and thunderstorms. Of course, for those interested in a good sky show, this would be the perfect time to visit.
Being a desert, the summer is also very hot and prone to overcrowding. This can be detrimental to the visit, as parking at the viewing spots will be difficult and the hiking trails might lose their sequestered appeal with all of the foot traffic. Therefore, it's best to visit in the spring or fall, when the weather is cooler, and people are less inclined to travel. The winter months are also worth considering, as Bryce Canyon sees a surprising amount of snow. The elevation is a lot higher than other Utah parks, making the area prone to freezing temperatures, which is what led to the formation of hoodoos in the first place.
There are a few airports close by to Bryce Canyon, but generally speaking, the closest big cities are Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. It's cheaper and more flexible to fly into one of these cities. From either place, it takes around four hours to drive to the National Park. Many travelers - over 2.5 million a year - report that the drive there is an essential part of the experience and should not be missed, as there is a lot of desert beauty and culture to see on the way.
To enter Bryce Canyon, there is an entrance fee of $30 per vehicle in addition to $20 per adult. This is a steep fee, and it can be mitigated by buying an annual pass or a countrywide National Park pass.
Different Ways To See Thor's Hammer
Once in the park, visitors wanting to see Thor's Hammer have some options.
One of the most popular spots to view Thor's Hammer is at Sunrise Point. The popularity implies that this viewing point can get busy, and visitor's with a car should get there as early as possible to avoid the rush. It makes sense to reach Sunrise Point early either way because, as the name suggests, the view of Thor's Hammer is best seen at sunrise.
To fully soak in the magic of Thor's Hammer, it's worth seeing it in its different forms. Depending on the time of the year, arrive at night, when the stars are still out. Without much light pollution, nighttime at Bryce Canyon is a spiritual experience. Gaze at the dark silhouettes of the hoodoos under the milky way, feel the cool night wind, and relish the tranquil silence.
As the sun rises and the stars fade away, the morning light shines on the Hoodoos, endowing them with a bright glow. Thor's Hammer appears as powerful and magical as, well, Thor's Hammer.
This hoodoo landmark can also be viewed from Sunset Point, which is only half a mile away from Sunrise Point. The walk between the two points is paved, flat, and easy for people of all ages and abilities.
Apart from viewing points, the best way to see Thor's Hammer is by physically stepping into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater and hiking among the hoodoos. Two of the most popular hikes are the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trail. The trails are only about three miles each, but due to the inclination, they can be somewhat strenuous. In order to make the hike even longer, visitors can combine the two trails and get a workout in.
Arguably, the most dramatic place within the canyon is Wall Street. Wall Street, a little like its New York counterpart, is a narrow slip between towering walls of stone and fairy chimneys. This natural alleyway can be accessed towards the end of the Navajo Loop, so be sure to keep an eye out.
For a unique and tiring hiking option, consider doing the Peek-A-Boo loop. This trail covers around six miles and a lot of elevation gain. It can be done on foot as well as on horseback for visitors with a penchant for classic Americana.
There are several other hikes and combinations of trails that visitors can do. The most important thing is to come prepared at the right time of year, the right time of day, and with the right attitude. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen in the summer. Carry extra layers in the winter. Travelers wishing to see Thor's Hammer have the choice to do it from a viewing point, on foot, on horseback, or on a scenic drive.