Bryce Canyon National Park: Wikis

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Bryce Canyon National Park
IUCN Category II (National Park)
Location Garfield County and Kane County, Utah, United States
Nearest city Tropic, Panguitch
Coordinates 37°34′0″N 112°11′0″W / 37.566667°N 112.183333°W / 37.566667; -112.183333Coordinates: 37°34′0″N 112°11′0″W / 37.566667°N 112.183333°W / 37.566667; -112.183333
Area 35,835 acres (145 km2)
Established September 15, 1928
Visitors 1,012,563 (in 2007)
Governing body National Park Service

Bryce Canyon National Park (pronounced /ˈbraɪs/) is a national park located in southwestern Utah in the United States. Contained within the park is Bryce Canyon. Despite its name, this is not actually a canyon, but rather a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to its geological structures, called hoodoos, formed from wind, water, and ice erosion of the river and lakebed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views to visitors. Bryce is at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m).

The Bryce area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874.[1] The area around Bryce Canyon became a U.S. National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a national park in 1928. The park covers 56 square miles (145 km2) and receives relatively few visitors compared to Zion Canyon and the Grand Canyon, largely due to its remote location. The town of Kanab, Utah, is situated at a central point between these three parks.

Landscape with red and pink rocks with some snow
Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Contents

Geography and climate

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of—and 1,000 feet (300 m) higher than—Zion National Park.[2] The weather in Bryce Canyon is therefore cooler, and the park receives more precipitation: a total of 15 to 18 inches (38 to 46 cm) per year.[3][4] Yearly temperatures vary from an average minimum of 9 °F (−13 °C) in January to an average maximum of 83 °F (28 °C) in July, but extreme temperatures can range from −30 °F to 97 °F (−34 °C to 36 °C).[4]

The national park lies within the Colorado Plateau geographic province of North America and straddles the southeastern edge of the Paunsagunt Plateau west of the Paunsagunt Fault (Paunsagunt is Paiute for "home of the beaver").[5] Park visitors arrive from the plateau part of the park and look over the plateau's edge toward a valley containing the fault and the Paria River just beyond it (Paria is Paiute for "muddy or elk water"). The edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau bounds the opposite side of the valley.

Bryce Canyon was not formed from erosion initiated from a central stream, meaning it technically is not a canyon. Instead headward erosion has excavated large amphitheater-shaped features in the Cenozoic-aged rocks of the Paunsagunt Plateau.[5] This erosion exposed delicate and colorful pinnacles called hoodoos that are up to 200 feet (61 m) high. A series of amphitheaters extends more than 20 miles (32 km) north-to-south within the park.[5] The largest is Bryce Amphitheater, which is 12 miles (19 km) long, 3 miles (4.8 km) wide and 800 feet (240 m) deep.[5] A nearby example of amphitheaters with hoodoos in the same formation but at a higher elevation, is in Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is 25 miles (40 km) to the west on the Markagunt Plateau.[2]

Rainbow Point, the highest part of the park at 9,105 feet (2,775 m),[6] is at the end of the 18-mile (29 km) scenic drive.[5] From there, Aquarius Plateau, Bryce Amphitheater, the Henry Mountains, the Vermilion Cliffs and the White Cliffs can be seen. Yellow Creek, where it exits the park in the north-east section, is the lowest part of the park at 6,620 feet (2,020 m).[4]

Human history

Images of geometric forms on a tan colored rock
Petroglyphs in Bryce Canyon indicate the presence of people in the area several thousand years ago, but little is known about them.
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Native American habitation

Little is known about early human habitation in the Bryce Canyon area. Archaeological surveys of Bryce Canyon National Park and the Paunsaugunt Plateau show that people have been in the area for at least 10,000 years. Basketmaker-period Anasazi artifacts several thousand years old have been found south of the park. Other artifacts from the Pueblo-period Anasazi and the Fremont culture (up to the mid-12th century) have also been found.[7]

The Paiute Indians moved into the surrounding valleys and plateaus in the area around the same time that the other cultures left.[7] These Native Americans hunted and gathered for most of their food, but also supplemented their diet with some cultivated products. The Paiute in the area developed a mythology surrounding the hoodoos (pinnacles) in Bryce Canyon. They believed that hoodoos were the Legend People whom the trickster Coyote turned to stone.[8] At least one older Paiute said his culture called the hoodoos Anka-ku-was-a-wits, which is Paiute for "red painted faces".[7]

European American exploration and settlement

It was not until the late 18th and the early 19th century that the first European Americans explored the remote and hard-to-reach area.[7] Mormon scouts visited the area in the 1850s to gauge its potential for agricultural development, use for grazing, and settlement.[7]

Ebenezer Bryce and his family lived in Bryce Canyon, in this cabin, here photographed circa 1881.

The first major scientific expedition to the area was led by U.S. Army Major John Wesley Powell in 1872.[7] Powell, along with a team of mapmakers and geologists, surveyed the Sevier and Virgin River area as part of a larger survey of the Colorado Plateaus. His mapmakers kept many of the Paiute place names.[5]

Small groups of Mormon pioneers followed and attempted to settle east of Bryce Canyon along the Paria River. In 1873, the Kanarra Cattle Company started to use the area for cattle grazing.[7]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent Scottish immigrant Ebenezer Bryce and his wife Mary to settle land in the Paria Valley because they thought his carpentry skills would be useful in the area. The Bryce family chose to live right below Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. Bryce grazed his cattle inside what are now park borders, and reputedly thought that the amphitheaters were a "helluva place to lose a cow."[1] He also built a road to the plateau to retrieve firewood and timber, and a canal to irrigate his crops and water his animals. Other settlers soon started to call the unusual place "Bryce's canyon", which was later formalized into Bryce Canyon.

A combination of drought, overgrazing and flooding eventually drove the remaining Paiutes from the area and prompted the settlers to attempt construction of a water diversion channel from the Sevier River drainage. When that effort failed, most of the settlers, including the Bryce family, left the area.[5] Bryce moved his family to Arizona in 1880.[4] The remaining settlers dug a 10 miles (16 km) ditch from the Sevier's east fork into Tropic Valley.[5]

Creation of the park

Bryce Canyon Lodge was built between 1924 and 1925 from local materials.

These scenic areas were first described for the public in magazine articles published by Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads in 1916.[1] People like Forest Supervisor J. W. Humphrey promoted the scenic wonders of Bryce Canyon's amphitheaters, and by 1918 nationally distributed articles also helped to spark interest.[7] However, poor access to the remote area and the lack of accommodations kept visitation to a bare minimum.

Ruby Syrett, Harold Bowman and the Perry brothers later built modest lodging, and set up "touring services" in the area.[7] Syrett later served as the first postmaster of Bryce Canyon. Visitation steadily increased, and by the early 1920s the Union Pacific Railroad became interested in expanding rail service into southwestern Utah to accommodate more tourists.[7]

Two story wood building next to flag pole with U.S. flag waving in the wind. Snow on ground.
In 1928 the canyon became a National Park. It now has this visitors' center.

At the same time, conservationists became alarmed by the damage overgrazing and logging on the plateau, along with unregulated visitation, were having on the fragile features of Bryce Canyon. A movement to have the area protected was soon started, and National Park Service Director Stephen Mather responded by proposing that Bryce Canyon be made into a state park. The governor of Utah and the Utah Legislature, however, lobbied for national protection of the area. Mather relented and sent his recommendation to President Warren G. Harding, who on June 8, 1923 declared Bryce Canyon National Monument into existence.[7]

A road was built the same year on the plateau to provide easy access to outlooks over the amphitheaters. From 1924 to 1925, Bryce Canyon Lodge was built from local timber and stone.[4]

Members of U.S. Congress started work in 1924 on upgrading Bryce Canyon's protection status from a U.S. National Monument to a National Park in order to establish Utah National Park.[4] A process led by the Utah Parks Company for transferring ownership of private and state-held land in the monument to the federal government started in 1923.[7] The last of the land in the proposed park's borders was sold to the federal government four years later, and on February 25, 1928, the renamed Bryce Canyon National Park was established.[9]

In 1931, President Herbert Hoover annexed an adjoining area south of the park, and in 1942 an additional 635 acres (2.57 km2) was added.[7] This brought the park's total area to the current figure of 35,835 acres (145.02 km2).[9] Rim Road, the scenic drive that is still used today, was completed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Administration of the park was conducted from neighboring Zion Canyon National Park until 1956, when Bryce Canyon's first superintendent started work.[7]

More recent history

The USS Bryce Canyon was named for the park and served as a supply and repair ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet from September 15, 1950, to June 30, 1981.[10]

Bryce Canyon Natural History Association (BCNHA) was established in 1961.[11] It runs the bookstore inside the park visitor center and is a non-profit organization created to aid the interpretive, educational and scientific activities of the National Park Service at Bryce Canyon National Park. A portion of the profits from all bookstore sales are donated to public land units.

Responding to increased visitation and traffic congestion, the National Park Service implemented a voluntary, summer-only, in-park shuttle system in June 2000. In 2004, reconstruction began on the aging and inadequate road system in the park.

Geology

A large opening in red red with snow on top
Erosion of sedimentary rocks has created natural arches.
Thor's Hammer
Thor's Hammer.

The Bryce Canyon area shows a record of deposition that spans from the last part of the Cretaceous period and the first half of the Cenozoic era. The ancient depositional environment of the region around what is now the park varied. The Dakota Sandstone and the Tropic Shale were deposited in the warm, shallow waters of the advancing and retreating Cretaceous Seaway (outcrops of these rocks are found just outside park borders).[12] The colorful Claron Formation, from which the park's delicate hoodoos are carved, was laid down as sediments in a system of cool streams and lakes that existed from 63 to about 40 million years ago (from the Paleocene to the Eocene epochs). Different sediment types were laid down as the lakes deepened and became shallow and as the shoreline and river deltas migrated.

Several other formations were also created but were mostly eroded away following two major periods of uplift. The Laramide orogeny affected the entire western part of what would become North America starting about 70 million to 50 million years ago.[9] This event helped to build the ancestral Rocky Mountains and in the process closed the Cretaceous Seaway. The Straight Cliffs, Wahweap, and Kaiparowits formations were victims of this uplift. The Colorado Plateaus were uplifted 16 million years ago and were segmented into different plateaus—each separated from its neighbors by faults and each having its own uplift rate.[6] The Boat Mesa Conglomerate and the Sevier River Formation were removed by erosion following this uplift.

Vertical joints were created by this uplift, which were eventually (and still are) preferentially eroded. The easily eroded Pink Cliffs of the Claron Formation responded by forming freestanding pinnacles in badlands called hoodoos, while the more resistant White Cliffs formed monoliths.[5] The brown, pink and red colors are from hematite (iron oxide; Fe2O3); the yellows from limonite (FeO(OH)·nH2O); and the purples are from pyrolusite (MnO2).[13] Also created were arches, natural bridges, walls, and windows. Hoodoos are composed of soft sedimentary rock and are topped by a piece of harder, less easily eroded stone that protects the column from the elements. Bryce Canyon has one of the highest concentrations of hoodoos of any place on Earth.

The formations exposed in the area of the park are part of the Grand Staircase. The oldest members of this supersequence of rock units are exposed in the Grand Canyon, the intermediate ones in Zion National Park, and its youngest parts are laid bare in Bryce Canyon area. A small amount of overlap occurs in and around each park.

Biology

Mule deer are the most common large animals found in the park.

More than 400 native plant species live in the park. There are three life zones in the park based on elevation:[4] The lowest areas of the park are dominated by dwarf forests of pinyon pine and juniper with manzanita, serviceberry, and antelope bitterbrush in between. Aspen, cottonwood, Water Birch, and Willow grow along streams. Ponderosa Pine forests cover the mid-elevations with Blue Spruce and Douglas-fir in water-rich areas and manzanita and bitterbrush as underbrush. Douglas-fir and White Fir, along with Aspen and Engelmann Spruce, make up the forests on the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The harshest areas have Limber Pine and ancient Great Basin Bristlecone Pine—some more than 1,600 years old—holding on.[8]

Trees with snow on them
Bryce Canyon has extensive fir forests.

The forests and meadows of Bryce Canyon provide the habitat to support diverse animal life, from birds and small mammals to foxes and occasional bobcats, mountain lions, and black bears.[8] Mule deer are the most common large mammals in the park.[8] Elk and pronghorn antelope, which have been reintroduced nearby, sometimes venture into the park.

Bryce Canyon National Park forms part of the habitat of three wildlife species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act: the Utah Prairie Dog, the California Condor, and the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.[14] The Utah Prairie Dog is a threatened species that was reintroduced to the park for conservation, and the largest protected population is found within the park's boundaries.[15]

About 170 species of birds visit the park each year, including swifts and swallows.[4] Most species migrate to warmer regions in winter, although jays, ravens, nuthatches, eagles, and owls stay.[8] In winter, the mule deer, mountain lion, and coyotes migrate to lower elevations. Ground squirrels and marmots pass the winter in hibernation.[8]

Eleven species of reptiles and four species of amphibians have been found at in the park.[16] Reptiles include the Great Basin Rattlesnake, Short-horned Lizard, Side-blotched Lizard, Striped Whipsnake, and the Tiger Salamander.[16]

Also in the park are the black, lumpy, very slow-growing colonies of cryptobiotic soil, which are a mix of lichens, algae, fungi, and cyanobacteria. Together these organisms slow erosion, add nitrogen to soil, and help it to retain moisture.

While humans have greatly reduced the amount of habitat that is available to wildlife in most parts of the United States, the relative scarcity of water in southern Utah restricts human development and helps account for the region's greatly enhanced diversity of wildlife.

Activities

A line of snowshoers with colorful rock cliff in background.
There are marked trails for hiking, for which snowshoes are required in winter.

Most park visitors sightsee using the scenic drive, which provides access to 13 viewpoints over the amphitheaters. Bryce Canyon has eight marked and maintained hiking trails that can be hiked in less than a day (round trip time, trailhead):[4] Mossy Cave (one hour, State Route 12 northwest of Tropic), Rim Trail (5–6 hours, anywhere on rim), Bristlecone Loop (one hour, Rainbow Point), and Queens Garden (1–2 hours, Sunrise Point) are easy to moderate hikes. Navajo Loop (1–2 hours, Sunset Point) and Tower Bridge (2–3 hours, north of Sunrise Point) are moderate hikes. Fairyland Loop (4–5 hours, Fairyland Point) and Peekaboo Loop (3–4 hours, Bryce Point) are strenuous hikes. Several of these trails intersect, allowing hikers to combine routes for more challenging hikes.

The park also has two trails designated for overnight hiking: the 9-mile (14 km) Riggs Loop Trail and the 23-mile (37 km) Under the Rim Trail.[4] Both require a backcountry camping permit. In total there are 50 miles (80 km) of trails in the park.

Horseriders on a dirt trail going toward pillars of pink rock
Horse riding is available in the park from April through October.

More than 10 miles (16 km) of marked but ungroomed skiing trails are available off of Fairyland, Paria, and Rim trails in the park. Twenty miles (32 km) of connecting groomed ski trails are in nearby Dixie National Forest and Ruby's Inn.

The air in the area is so clear that on most days from Yovimpa and Rainbow points, Navajo Mountain and the Kaibab Plateau can be seen 90 miles (140 km) away in Arizona.[17] On extremely clear days, the Black Mesas of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico can be seen some 160 miles (260 km) away.[17]

The park also has a 7.4 magnitude night sky, making it the one of the darkest in North America.[4] Stargazers can therefore see 7,500 stars with the naked eye, while in most places fewer than 2,000 can be seen due to light pollution (in many large cities only a few dozen can be seen). Park rangers host public stargazing events and evening programs on astronomy, nocturnal animals, and night sky protection. The Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival, typically held in June, attracts thousands of visitors. In honor of this astronomy festival, Asteroid 49272 was named after the national park.[18]

There are two campgrounds in the park, North Campground and Sunset Campground.[17] Loop A in North Campground is open year-round. Additional loops and Sunset Campground are open from late spring to early autumn. The 114-room Bryce Canyon Lodge is another way to overnight in the park.[17]

A favorite activity of most visitors is landscape photography. With Bryce Canyon's high altitude and clean air, the sunrise and sunset photographs can be spectacular.

References

  1. ^ a b c Kiver 1999, p. 523
  2. ^ a b Harris 1997, p. 44
  3. ^ Tufts 1998, p. 71
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Hoodoo (Summer 2005)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harris 1997, p. 46
  6. ^ a b Harris 1997, p. 53
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Tufts 1998, p. 73
  8. ^ a b c d e f NPS visitor's guide
  9. ^ a b c Kiver 1999, p. 524
  10. ^ "Bryce Canyon". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/b10/bryce%20canyon-i.htm. Retrieved November 16, 2008. ""  
  11. ^ "About Us". Bryce Canyon Natural History Association. http://brycecanyon.org/pages/about.htm. Retrieved November 16, 2008.  
  12. ^ Harris 1997, p. 51
  13. ^ Harris 1997, p. 50
  14. ^ NPS website, Bryce Canyon (archived home page)
  15. ^ "Bryce Canyon National Park: Utah Prairie Dog". National Park website. National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. 22 February 2007. http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/upd.htm. Retrieved 17 November 2008.  
  16. ^ a b NPS website, Reptiles and Amphibians
  17. ^ a b c d NPS website, Farview
  18. ^ IAU: Minor Planet Center. "Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (45001)-(50000)". http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/NumberedMPs045001.html. Retrieved May 22, 2007.  

Bibliography

  • Harris, Ann G.; Tuttle, Esther; Tuttle, Sherwood D. (1997). Geology of National Parks (5th ed.). Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing. ISBN 0-7872-5353-7.  
  • Kiver, Eugene P.; Harris, David V. (1999). Geology of U.S. Parklands (5th ed.). New York: Jonh Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-33218-6.  
  • NPS contributors. Bryce Canyon visitors guide. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service.   (public domain text)
  • NPS contributors (Summer 2005). "Park Planner, Hiking and Shuttle Guide". The Hoodoo (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service).  
  • NPS contributors (2007). "Bryce Canyon National Park official website". Washington, D.C.: National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/brca/. Retrieved 2008-11-16.  
  • Tufts, Lorraine Salem (1998). Secrets in The Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks (3rd ed.). North Palm Beach, Florida: National Photographic Collections. ISBN 0-9620255-3-4.  

Further reading

  • DeCourten, Frank. 1994. Shadows of Time, the Geology of Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon Natural History Association.
  • Kiver, Eugene P., Harris, David V. 1999. Geology of U.S. Parklands 5th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Sprinkel, Douglas A., Chidsey, Thomas C. Jr., Anderson, Paul B. 2000. Geology of Utah's Parks and Monuments. Publishers Press.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Hoodoos from Sunset Point
Hoodoos from Sunset Point
Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge

Bryce Canyon National Park [1] is a United States National Park that is located in Utah's Canyon Country. Some 35,835 acres (14,502 ha) or 56 mi² (145 km²) in extent, the designated area around the spectacular Bryce Canyon (not actually a canyon, but rather a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion) became a United States National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928. The park is one of the most popular in Utah with nearly one million people visiting each year.

Understand

History

The area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1875 and was known to have described the canyon as "a hell of a place to lose a cow". President Warren G. Harding proclaimed Bryce Canyon a national monument on June 8, 1923. On June 7, 1924, Congress passed a bill to establish Utah National Park, when all land within the national monument would become the property of the United States. The land was acquired and the name was restored to Bryce Canyon. On February 25, 1928, Bryce Canyon officially became a national park.

Bryce Canyon in the snow
Bryce Canyon in the snow

Bryce lies at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, varying from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,440 to 2,740 m), whereas the south rim of the Grand Canyon sits at 7,000 feet (2130 m) above Sea Level. Bryce Canyon National Park therefore has a substantially different ecology and climate, offering a contrast for visitors to the south west (who often visit all three parks in a single vacation).

Flora and fauna

Bryce Canyon is home to 59 species of mammals including mule deer, elk, gray fox, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, marmots, ground squirrels and pronghorn antelope. 175 different species of birds have been documented to frequent Bryce Canyon National Park, including swifts, turkeys, red-tailed hawks, swallows, jays, ravens, nuthatches, ravens, eagles and owls.

When visiting, do not, under any circumstances, feed the wildlife or allow wildlife to obtain human food. Animals which obtain food from humans often become aggressive, will sometimes get ill or even die due to a change in diet, and most seriously stop foraging for natural foods and frequently starve to death in winter months when human food is no longer available.

Climate

From April through October the park's weather is relatively mild, with pleasant days, cool nights and occasional thunderstorms. Temperatures drop during winter months, with many clear sunny days reflecting off of the deep snowpacks. The park boasts some of the world's best air quality, offering panoramic views of three states and approaching 200 miles of visibility. This, coupled with the lack of nearby large light sources, creates unparalleled opportunities for stargazing.

Bryce Canyon Map
Bryce Canyon Map

By car

The park's main road is Utah State Route 63, which is accessed from Utah State Route 12. The road into the park is open year-round, although it may be impassable during heavy winter storms.

By air

The small Bryce Canyon Airport [2], located off Utah State Route 12 near the park entrance, only serves general aviation and charter flights.

The nearest city with commercial airline service is St. George [3], from which Interstate 15 (from St. George to Harrisburg Junction), Utah State Route 9 (from Harrisburg Junction to US-89, passing through Zion National Park en route), US Route 89 (from UT-9 to UT-12), and finally Utah State Route 12 lead to the park. SkyWest Airlines serves St. George from Salt Lake City and Los Angeles under the Delta Connection and United Express banners.

The closest full-scale commercial airports to Bryce Canyon are in Las Vegas [4] and Salt Lake City [5], which are connected by Interstate 15. Various roads link I-15 with Utah State Route 12.

Fees/Permits

Private, non-commercial vehicles must pay a $25 entrance fee that is good for 7 days. Holders of the National Park Pass ($80), which allows access to all National Parks for one year, do not have to pay this fee. For individuals (applies to motorcycles, bicyclists, or individuals traveling on foot) the fee is $12 for 7 days (National Park Pass holders are again exempt). The entrance fee includes free and unlimited use of the park shuttles during the summer.

Get around

By car

The eighteen mile long park road is easily accessible to automobiles, although it is closed beyond Rainbow Gate during winter storms. Traffic may be heavy during the summer, and some viewpoints may not have parking available.

By shuttle

A park shuttle runs during the peak summer months, allowing people to park their cars outside of the park and then travel to the overlooks along the road. Shuttles run from well before sunrise until after sunset and ensure that a full parking lot won't prevent a visit to any of the park's sights.

By foot

For backpackers there are multi-day trails that run the length of the park. Permits are required for all overnight camping.

By bike

Bikes are not allowed on most of the park trails, but they are useful for avoiding traffic around the sometimes busy viewpoints. Be aware that much of the park lies between 8,000 and 9,000 feet of elevation, making travel by bicycle much more difficult than it would be at lower elevations.

By guided tour

A number of companies provide guided tours of Bryce Canyon National Park that include transportation from the surrounding areas. Some companies will provide bus travel from nearby towns while others begin in Bryce Canyon National Park. Some will provide just a brief tour with small stops, while others may take you on a hike, and arrange all your meals.

  • Hydros Adventures Tours, 928-310-8141. [6] Offers one day and overnight hiking, rafting, backpacking, and adventure tours to Bryce Canyon National Park, the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah. Pickups in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon area.
  • Sunrise Point. Located near the Bryce Canyon Lodge, Sunrise Point provides an inspiring view of the canyon amphitheatre, with light best at (surprise!) sunrise.
  • Sunset Point. Located a short hike from Sunrise Point along the Rim Trail, and also accessible by car, Sunset Point offers an alternative view of the canyon amphitheatre with best light occurring at sunset.
  • Inspiration Point. Another viewpoint accessible by car or from the Rim Trail, Inspiration View's name is well-deserved. Photography from this overlook is best at sunset.
  • Bryce Point. One of the most dramatic overlooks in the park, Bryce Point offers a tremendous panorama of the hoodoos and the surrounding landscape. It is accessible either by car or along the rim trail.
  • Natural Bridge. Formed from an eroded hoodoo, the natural bridge is an interesting feature, although it may not impress those expecting an enormous natural arch.
  • Rainbow Point. Located at the end of the park road, Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point provide lookouts onto more hoodoos and also allow access to park trails including the Under the Rim Trail and the Riggs Spring Loop Trail.
  • Rim Trail (11.0 miles round trip). Leading along the cliff edge from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point, this trail is paved in portions and accessible from numerous overlooks. Most park visitors will hike at least a portion of the trail to enjoy the views.
  • Mossy Cave (0.9 miles / 1.5 km round trip). Accessible from highway 12, this easy trail leads past a waterfall and up to a cave, with views of hoodoos along the way.
  • Bristlecone Loop (1.0 miles / 1.6 km round trip). This trail starts from Yovimpa Point and leads through a coniferous forest to a nice view on the cliff's edge.
  • Navajo Loop (1.3 miles / 2.2 km round trip). One of the most popular trails in the park, leading through the heart of the Bryce Amphitheatre past formations such as Thor's Hammer and Wall Street. The trailhead is at Sunset Point.
  • Queen's Garden/Navajo Loop Combination (2.9 miles / 4.6 km round trip). A popular loop trail that starts from Sunrise Point and finishes at Sunset Point, passing through much of the Brcye Amphitheatre along the way.
  • Tower Bridge (3 miles / 4.8 km round trip). A trailhead north of Sunrise Point follows a portion of the Fairyland trail to a natural arch.
  • Hat Shop (4 miles / 6.5 km round trip). Departing from Bryce Point, this trail descends 900 feet to some interesting rock formations.
  • Swamp Canyon Loop (4.3 miles / 7.2 km round trip). This loop trail starts from the Swamp Canyon overlook and briefly joins with the Under-the-Rim trail before returning.
  • Peekaboo Loop (5.5 miles / 8.8 km round trip). A trail shared with horses and leading through formations within Bryce Amphitheatre. It is accessible from the Queen's Garden trail.
  • Fairyland Loop (8 miles / 12.9 km round trip). The Fairyland loop trail starts at Fairyland Point and loops into the Bryce Amphitheatre near Sunrise Point before returning.
  • Riggs Spring Loop (8.5 miles / 14.2 km round trip). The Riggs Spring Loop Trail (8.8 miles round trip) from Yovimpa Point has four backcountry sites.
  • Under-the-Rim (23 miles). This trail extends 23 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point and has eight backcountry campsites.

Photography

The park is a mecca for landscape photographers, with clear air and incredible scenery making for amazing photographs. Offseason trips may be best in order to avoid crowds, although the best light for photographing the amphitheatre occurs during the long days of summer. The best light to bring out the colors of the rock is at sunrise and sunset.

Horseback riding

Guests wanting to join a guided horse riding trip can do so during the spring, summer and fall.

  • Canyon Trail Rides, P.O. Box 128, Tropic, UT 84776, Ph: (435) 679-8665 or (435) 834-5500, [7]. 2-hour and 4-hour trips are available on either horses or mules into Bryce Amphitheatre along the Peekaboo trail.
  • Ruby’s Inn, Ph: 435-834-5341, email: Brady@rubysinn.com. Half day, full day, and 1 ½ hour rides, including the Thunder Mountain Ride.

Buy

The visitor center has a well-stocked gift shop featuring books, posters, and numerous other souvenirs. The general store (located near Sunrise Point) offers food, camping supplies, and more souvenirs. There is also a gift shop located within Bryce Canyon Lodge.

Outside of the park is a mind-numbing array of shops catering to tourists and offering treasures ranging from pop-tarts to bumper stickers.

Eat

The general store located near Sunrise Point offers basic food supplies. Bryce Canyon Lodge has a dining room offering breakfast, lunch and dinner; reservations for dinner are required.

If you're staying late in the park to watch the sunset, keep in mind that nearly all restaurants close at 9 o'clock; the grocery store stays open for about an hour later.

Sleep

Lodging

The only hotel within the park is Bryce Canyon Lodge, located between Sunrise and Sunset Points.

  • Bryce Canyon Lodge, 13500 E. Highway 12, +1-435-834-5351 (toll free: 866-834-0043, fax: +1-435-834-5256), [8]. Located near Sunrise Point, the lodge is open from April 1 through October 31 and has 114 rooms, which include motel rooms and cabins. On-site restaurant, free WiFi.  edit
  • Best Western Ruby's Inn, 1000 S. Highway 63, +1-435-834-5341 (, fax: +1-435-834-5265), [9]. Rates from $99 per night in the summer, and from $50 per night in the winter.  edit
  • Bryce View Lodge, 991 South Highway 63, +1-435-834-5180 (toll free: +1-888-279-2304, , fax: +1-435-834-5181), [10]. Rates from $99 per night in the summer, and from $50 per night in the winter.  edit
  • Bryce Canyon Resort, 13500 East Highway 12, +1-435-834-5351 (toll free: +1-800-834-0043, fax: +1-435-834-5256), [11]. Conveniently located junction Hwy 12 & Utah 63, rooms and cabins to meet every need, at reasonable rates.  edit
  • Bryce Canyon Pines Motel & RV Park/Campground, Highway 12 Milepost 10, +1-435-834-5441 (toll free: +1-800-892-7923, , fax: +1-435-834-5330), [12].   edit
  • Foster's Motel, Highway 12, +1-435-834-5227 (, fax: +1-435-834-5304). Those looking for a resort-style lodging will probably want to look elsewhere, but during busy times Foster's offers a warm place to spend the night that won't bust the budget.  edit

Camping

There are two campgrounds within the park. Facilities at the campgrounds include drinking water and restrooms, and pay showers are available during the summer at the general store.

  • North Campground (Year Round). Located near the Visitor Center, this campground offers 107 campsites, with some sites suitable for RVs. Fees are $10 per site, and reservations can be made from May through September up to 240 days in advance by calling 877-444-6777 or visiting www.ReserveUSA.com. Note that a $9 fee is charged for all reservations.
  • Sunset Campground (April - October). Located near Sunset Point and offering 101 campsites, with some sites suitable for RVs. Fees are $15 per site, and all sites are first-come, first-serve.

Additional campgrounds cluster outside of the park's borders:

  • Ruby's Campground, Highway 63, Ph: (866) 866-6616, [13]. Located just outside of the park entrance, rates are charged based on the number of people per site and begin at $18 for two people, increasing by $2 for each additional person. Rates for RVs start at $26 for two people, also increasing by $2 for additional individuals.
  • Bryce Canyon KOA, Highway 12, Ph: (435) 679-8988 or (888) 562-4710, bvkoa@color-country.net, [14]. Open March 15 to November 15 and located twelve miles from the park entrance, this KOA charges $18 - $24 for a tent site, $21 - $30 for an RV site, and $36 - $48 for a cabin.

Backcountry

All backcountry camping is by permit only. Permits can be obtained for a $5 fee at the visitor center and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Overnight camping is allowed only on the Under-the-Rim trail and and Riggs Spring Loop trail.

Stay safe

Be especially careful with children around the canyon edges; drop-offs are steep and not all areas are protected by railings. During thunderstorms avoid isolated trees and open areas and, if possible, stay in your vehicle to protect against lightning strikes. There is little danger from mountain lions, but should one be encountered gather small children, back away slowly, and make yourself look as large as possible.

Altitude in the park reaches as high as 9,100 feet, so most visitors will experience some shortness of breath while hiking, and in extreme cases headaches and respiratory problems may be experienced. For those not used to the elevation, pace yourself and take a few days to acclimate before attempting any strenuous physical activity.

Unlike the other national parks of southern Utah, heat is not a major problem due to the park's high elevation. Temperatures rarely reach 90°F (32°C), even during the height of day in summer months.

  • Zion National Park. Zion National Park is located 78 miles west of Bryce National Park and offers incredible scenery amongst sandstone canyons.
  • Red Canyon. Nine miles west of Bryce Canyon, Highway 12 passes through the floor Red Canyon allowing views up at hoodoos similar to those in Bryce Canyon without the need to climb down to their bases. The road also passes through two man-made arches. There are hiking trails in Red Canyon which are open year-round, weather permitting.
This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information about the park including attractions, activities, lodging, campgrounds, restaurants, and arrival/departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

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