Bryce Canyon National Park
Described as “a helluva place to lose a cow” by its namesake, early rancher Ebenezer Bryce, Bryce Canyon National Park is a series of large, natural amphitheaters exhibiting the work of millions of years of wind and water. These erosional forces wore down the weak limestone of the Claron Formation, transforming it into a plethora of colorful shapes, from fins and windows to spires known as “hoodoos.” These natural formations provide unique sightseeing opportunities, from breathtaking views at Bryce Point to the narrow passage through “Wall Street.”
Bryce Canyon lies on the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau and boasts diverse flora and fauna among three distinct climatic zones, from pinyon pine and juniper forests at its lowest climes to spruce and fir forest along its highest rims.
The park’s abundant wildlife includes more than one thousand species of plants, dozens of mammals and over 100 bird species. With unparalleled air qualityand elevations ranging from 8,000 to 9,000 feet, the park offers nearly 200 miles of visibility, leading to panoramic views of three states, and a tremendously clear night sky for stargazing.
The park boasts over 50 miles of hiking trails, ranging from a short jaunt along the paved rim trail to overnight trip along the strenuous Under the Rim Trail, which leads backpackers through forested areas below the rim between Bryce Point and Rainbow Point. Hikers hoping to avoid the crowds should try the Fairyland Loop Trail, whose trailhead lies just south of the park’s entrance. The path (8 miles round trip) provides an intimate view of pink-hued fins, spires and arches.
Located 260 miles south of Salt Lake City and 210 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon is open year round. Summer temperatures hover in the 80s while the park’s high altitude ensures snow and cold temperatures in the winter. Horseback rides offered by private concessionaires and star talks, moonlight walks and campfire programs provided by park rangers are popular activities during the summer. The winter brings snowshoers and cross-country skiers seeking views of snow-covered hoodoos