Bryce Canyon National Park
Paiute lore has it that Coyote became displeased with the Legend People who lived in Bryce Canyon, turned them to stone, and left them frozen in time. Geologists have it that the fantastic spires, bridges, and hoodoos are the work of water erosion that’s far from frozen in time. The limestone, shale, and sandstone of the Paunsaugunt Plateau continues to wear away at the rate of a foot every 50 years or so.
Declared a national monument in 1923, the 56-square-mile national park takes its name from 1870s pioneers Ebenezer and Mary Bryce. A drive along the 37-mile round-trip park road is a great way to see the ever-changing panorama from the many overlooks lining the east shoulder. Rangers suggest driving to Rainbow Point—where, on clear days, your view is obstructed only by the curvature of the earth—and taking in the overlooks on the return trip.
Although you can see the park’s majesty without leaving the car, you’ll miss the full experience if you don’t get out and walk. A high elevation ensures daytime summer temperatures that are perfect for hiking, but be prepared for the mercury to drop after sunset. Several trails, most between 1.5- and 5.5-miles long, originate near the visitors center, itself near the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge and the Sunset and North campgrounds.
The visitors center is also a great place to learn more about the park’s history and amazing geology and to find out about scheduled activities. Ranger-led talks and walking tours take place all year (with snowshoes in winter) and span a variety of subjects including wildlife, prehistoric history, and stargazing. Astronomy lovers take note: In the average rural area, 2,500 stars are visible; at Bryce Canyon, close to 7,500 can be seen.
Entrance a few miles south of intersection of Hwy. 12 & Hwy. 63
- Bryce Canyon, Utah 84764
- 37.64027400, -112.16912600
- Visitors Center: Daily 8--4:30, 6, or 8, depending on season.
- Visit Website
- (435) 834-5322