Bryce Canyon National Park is one of our Nations National Parks located in the southwestern part of the United States. Bryce Canyon has many geographical features which have made this national park such a desitination, but it is most well known for that is that actual Bryce Canyon itself.
The canyon is basically a group of giant amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The one thing that makes this area unique is the geological structures called hoodoos (one of the highest concentrations of these formations on earth), which are formed by what is called frost weathering and streem erosion from the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. These formations have outrageous colors of red, orange, and white. These colors are spectactular and any time of the day. Sunsets are amazing, sunrises are equally incredible, and any time in between is just as nice to look at. It really is hard to visit here at Bryce Canyon and not come home with really good photos.
Bryce Canyon was originally settled by the Mormon Pioneers in the 1850’s and named after a man called Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded the area in 1874. The area surrounding Ebenzers homestead later became a U.S. National Momument in 1923 and then went on to become a National Park in 1928. If you plan on taking a vacation to Bryce Canyon, plan on a little time to enjoy the park which covers 35,835 acres. Due to its location and accessibility to major metropolitan areas, you should expect smaller crowds here as opposed to other National Parks such as Yosemtite in California or the Grand Canyon. The park is more remote, however, Knab residents live close enough to take advantage of this natural wonder which paints the horizon daily with its amazing colors and landscape.
Geography and Climate of Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National park is nestled in the southwestern part of Utah about 50 miles northeast of Zion National Park and about 1,000 feet higher in elevation. When planning your trip here Bryce Canyon, keep in mind that the weather is cooler than Zion due to its elevation. Certain times of the year can see some snow and cool weather so plan accordingly. This area gets about 15-18 inches of rain fall a year. Temperatures vary from as low as 9°F in January to an average of 83°F in July. It can get hot here as well. Bryce Canyon has a record high of 98°F. On the other side of the thermometer, the record low is -28°F on December 10,1972.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located withing the Colorado Plateau geographical province of North America and sits on the southeastern edge of the Paunsagunt Plateu west of the Paunsagunt Fault. If you plan on visiting Bryce Canyon, you will be entering the park from the plateu part of the park which overooks the edge toward a valley which contains the fault and Paria River just past that.
Bryce Canyon is technically not a canyon. Its errosison came from a process called headward erosion which exposed the delicate towers Bryce is well known for called hoodoos which can reach heights up to 200 feet. Bryce Amphitheather is the largest collection of hoodoos, which is 12 miles long and 3miles wide, and 800 feet deep. If you want a vacation to National Parks that really offer unique landscape and a visual display unlike any other, the South Western part of Utah is a perfect place for this. Cedar Breaks National Monument is another nearby colleciton of these types of formations about 25 miles west of the Markaggunt Plateau.
The highlight of the park in many peoples opinion is without question Rainbow Point. Rainbow Point has a spectacular view of Aquarius Plateau, Bryce Amphitheater, the Henry Mountains, the Vermilion Cliffs and the White Cliffs. Make sure you have lots of room on your camera’s digital storage because your will most certainly need it when visiting this place.
Human History Of Bryce Canyon National Park
Native American habitationThere is very little known about the early human existance in this area. There have been archaeological surveys of Bryce Canyon National Park and the surrounding areas show that people have been in the area for at least 10,000 years. Artifacts several thousand years old have been found in the area south of the park. You never know, someone in your family just might be lucky out exploring the park and run acrross an early american artifact. Artifacts have also been found from the Pueblo-peroid Anasazi and the Fremont culture as well.
Paiute Indians moved into the surrounding valleys and plateaus and lived off the land as well as culivating the land to provide for themeselves. The Paiute Indians also developed a mythology regarding the hoodoo formations in Bryce Canyon, where they believed the formations where the Legend People whom the trickster Coyote turned to stone. It is also believed that the term hoodoos was Paiute for “Red Painted Faces”.
Creation of Bryce Canyon National Park
Early Magazine articles featuring the area were first published by Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads in 1916. The parks began to be promoted in many publications which resulted in its growing popularity resulting in becoming nationaly recognized. The publics interested was sparked in this beautiful place. The one thing that always kept Bryce Canyon from becoming a national park was its remote location and lack of accomodations. Because of this, people just did not find it worth it to make such a far trip.
Ruby Syrett, Harold Bowman and the Perry brothers saw the need for accomodations and as businessessmen, decided to build modest accomodations and set up “touring services” in the area. Syrett later served as the first Post Master of Bryce Canyon. As people continued to continue to come to the park, so did the demand for access grow. Union Pacific Railroad expanded services to that area in the 1920’s to accomdate more guests. With growing visitation to Bryce Canyon, came additional interest to the area for logging and grazing of livestock. As conservationalists became concerned for overuse, the area was declared Bryce Canyon to be a National Monument on June, 8th, 1923. In that same year, a road was built to the plateau to overlook the pictureasque views of the park. During the years of 1924 – 1925, Bryce Canyon Lodge was built from local timber and stone and would serve as another favorite spectacle of the area. It wasn’t until 1924 that members of U.S. Congress started work on turning Bryce Canyon from a National Monument to a National Park in order to establish Utah National Park. This process we led by the Utah Parks Company for transfering the ownership of the private land to federal over a four year process. Bryce Canyon National Monument became Bryce Canyon National Park on February 25, 1928.
When planning a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, you need to be aware of some of the biology of the area. First off, the park is home to many species of animals, including Black Bears, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Mule Deer, Elk, amount the larger animals, and smaller wildlife such as birds, foxes, and others. The park is also home to several Endangerd Species such as the Utah Prarie Dog, the California Condor, and the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. The park is home to 170 species of birds that migrate to the park each year. Summer visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park should be aware of some of the previosuly mentioned animals, but one in particular that should be aware of its presense is the Great Basin Rattlesnake. More than 400 native plant species compliment the canyons in the park. Many varieties of pine tress are in the park including the Great Basin Bristelcone Pine which there are some in the park more than 1,600 years old. When you come visit Bryce Canyon National Park, make sure to adhere to all posted signs and respect both the plant life and wildlife of the park. As humans continue to respect this American tresure, the park will continue to be available for your enjoyment.
What To Do In Bryce Canyon National Park
Just about everyone who comes here takes the scenic drive which takes you to 13 different view points of the parks amphitheaters. There are 8 marked trails which are maintained and can be hiked in less than a day. Easy to moderate hikes are: Mossy Cave (one hour), Rim Trail (5-6 hours), Bristlecome Loop (one hour), and Queens Garden (1-2 hours). Moderate Bryce Cayon hiking trails are: Navajo Loop (1-2 hours), and the Tower Bridge (22-3 hours). The advanced trails are Fairyland Point (4-5 hours), and Peekaboo Loop (3-4 hours). Many of the trails intersect eachother which allow for hikers to create their own variation of hikes to create new adventures for people that visit more often.
There are two hiking trails in Bryce Canyon that are designed for overnight hikes. One is the 9 mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail. The other is Under-the-Rim Trail. Bot of these trails require a backcountry camping permit. Bryce Canyon contains a total of 50 miles of trails on the park.
Bryce Canyon also has cross country skiiing trails. There are more than 10 miles of marked but ungroomed trails which you can start from Fairyland, Paria, and Rim trails in the park. There are23 miles of connecting trails groomed and maintained at the nearby Dixie National Forest and Ruby’s Inn.
Stargazing is one of the best locations in the United States for Stargazers. 7,500 starts can be seen with the naked eye, whereas most places you will ever visit has fewer than 2,000 due to polution. Star gazing events and evening programs are available during certain times of the year. For you star gazing enthusiasts, the Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival is held in June and attracts thousands of visitors.
Bryce Canyon National Park has two campgrounds, the North Campground and Sunset Campground. There is also the 114 room Bryce Canyong Lodge if camping is not quite your thing.
One of the most popular activities in the park is landscape photography. The clean air, the vibrant colors at alltimes of the day, have photographers coming here just to take photos. Amoung the natural landscape photo oportunities, you can also take photos of the diverse wildlife as well.