"Mossy Cave Falls"

Bryce Canyon National Park / near Tropic / Garfield County, Utah, USA

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 1.5
Mossy Cave Waterfall with lots of hoodoos including the Scooby Doo formation on the topright

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

"Mossy Cave Falls" is a name I made up for this tiny 15ft waterfall near the Mossy Cave attraction, which was more of an alcove in the presence of hoodoos in the far northeastern corner of Bryce Canyon National Park near Tropic.

What was unusual (and memorable) about this waterfall was its presence amongst hoodoos, which were spire-like pinnacles resulting from a particular way cliffs of the Paunsaugunt Plateau interacted with erosional forces. Really, this waterfall provided an excuse for me to showcase of the cool scenery to be had within the boundaries of Bryce Canyon National Park as well as some of the surrounding scenery outside of the park.

Now with all that said about the unusual juxtaposition of hoodoos and a waterfall, it turned out that this waterfall was not natural. That was because the watercourse on which the falls resided on was part of the so-called Tropic Ditch which channeled water to the nearby towns of Tropic and Canonville. The water diversion was done by Mormon pioneers in 1892, and since then, it has been said that ditch has provided water pretty reliably except for the worst drought years. However, in our experiences, we saw the ditch flow well in September 2006, but not have much water (at least from a waterfall viewing standpoint) in April 2003 and June 2001. My explanation for this was that flow would be highest during and immediately after the rains of the Summer monsoon whereas in the Spring time, there didn't seem to be much water from snowmelt.

Accessing this waterfall from Highway 12 was pretty straightforward. After finding the small car park by the highway (see directions below), we crossed over a bridge traversing the Tropic Ditch (if there's water flowing under the bridge, then there will be a waterfall) then walked 0.3 miles on a well-established trail to the falls while flanked by hoodoos. There were some strange formations in the hoodoos where the most memorable one that we noticed was what we called the "Scooby Doo" formation due to the uncanny resemblance to the famous animated dog.

About 0.2 miles into the short hike, there was a fork in the trail where staying right would continue towards the waterfall while going left would lead to a dead-end within the alcove known as Mossy Cave. I recalled on one Spring visit in 2003, there were still icicles within the "cave." I've read that this cave was really more of a grotto carved out by the waters of a spring seeping into the shelter thereby allowing things like moss to grow (hence the name). Otherwise, there didn't seem to be much else of interest here.

After checking out the falls, we returned to the car where I'm sure we had hiked for a mile or less in total.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

A closer look at the waterfall backed by hoodoosA closer look at the waterfall backed by hoodoos
It's definitely worth a visit to the main area of Bryce Canyon, which is minutes from Mossy Cave by car.  This is a lookout near the Fairyland TrailIt's definitely worth a visit to the main area of Bryce Canyon, which is minutes from Mossy Cave by car. This is a lookout near the Fairyland Trail
Impressive arch formation seen by the road in the main part of Bryce CanyonImpressive arch formation seen by the road in the main part of Bryce Canyon
Looking along a low-flowing Tropic Ditch towards hoodoo formations in April 2003 from the bridge near the start of the trailLooking along a low-flowing Tropic Ditch towards hoodoo formations in April 2003 from the bridge near the start of the trail

Looking directly at the enigmatic Scooby Doo formationLooking directly at the enigmatic Scooby Doo formation

When we came in April 2003, we saw icicles in Mossy Cave, which was really more of a grotto, alcove, or open shelterWhen we came in April 2003, we saw icicles in Mossy Cave, which was really more of a grotto, alcove, or open shelter

The dry Mossy Cave Waterfall before hoodoos in April 2003The dry waterfall before hoodoos in April 2003

The Mossy Cave Waterfall seen between foliage in September 2006The waterfall seen between foliage in September 2006

Closer look at the Mossy Cave Waterfall in September 2006Closer look at the Mossy Cave Waterfall in September 2006

Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce Canyon National Park

Just east of Tropic at the town of Canonville, a short road leads to Kodachrome Basin State Park where there are spires and arches like this one here called Shakespeare ArchJust east of Tropic at the town of Canonville, a short road leads to Kodachrome Basin State Park where there are spires and arches like this one here called Shakespeare Arch.

A somewhat short drive south of Kodachrome Basin State Park on the dirt road known as Cottonwood Canyon Road (also Road 400) is the impressive Grosvenor ArchA somewhat short drive south of Kodachrome Basin State Park on the dirt road known as Cottonwood Canyon Road (also Road 400) is the impressive Grosvenor Arch


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The small car park for the Mossy Cave is about 4 miles east on Hwy 12 from the turnoff for Bryce Canyon National Park's main area (Highway 63). We had to keep our eyes peeled for that car park on the right side of the road we were descending towards Tropic.

Bryce Canyon National Park itself is about 4 hours drive from Las Vegas or 7.5 hours drive from Los Angeles. Going in the other direction, it's about an hour's drive west of Escalante (though Mossy Cave would be on the way just north of the small town of Tropic).




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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