1924: National Monument
About the SiteHoodoos, according to Paiutes who lived in this section of southern Utah, are the "Legend People" whom Coyote had turned to stone. Hoodoo is a spell. Hoodoo is a pillar of rock, usually in a fantastic slender shape, left by erosion. Bryce Canyon National Park is filled with hoodoos with amazing shades of bright colors, including pink and orange and white and red. This formation took over 140 million years to create, and weathering and erosion continues the work today.
Bryce Canyon is named for Ebenezer Bryce, an immigrant from Scotland who moved with his family to the Paria River valley in 1875. Bryce was sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because his skill as a carpenter would be useful in settling the area. Local People called the canyon with strange rock formations near Ebenezer's home, "Bryce's Canyon." The Bryces moved to Arizona in 1880, but the name remained.
What You're Going to SeeBryce is famous for its colorful spires and fins of rock in horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters. Carved by the Paria River from the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah and shaped by the force of erosion, the colorful limestone rock of the Claron Formation has been turned into bizarre shapes including slot canyons, windows, and spires called "hoodoos".
There are many trails of differing lengths that offer close-up views of Bryce's amazing beauty. But first you ought to check in at the Visitors Center, which is one of the best Centers I've seen yet. It's spacious yet offers a lot of information in books, pamphlets, informational newsletters and videos; there also is a 22-minute award-winning orientation film, and an exhibit center the kids will enjoy. The Rangers are friendly and knowledgeable and can offer suggestions on which trail will be best for you.
In summertime, the Bryce Canyon Shuttle runs often between some of the Park's most popular points. It's voluntary, but by using it visitors will avoid contributing to pollution, and will conserve fuel, protect park resources, and minimize traffic. And, since the National Park Service is currently improving the roads in Bryce, this will help avoid delays. The Shuttle operates from May 15 through September 30 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. As you drive up to the Park, tune your radio to 1610 AM for more information. Many parks around the country (including Zion, Grand Canyon, and Natural Bridges) are using this system to help alert visitors to important information.
Personal ObservationsBryce was just fantastic. I'm glad I saw Cedar Breaks first, because although the parks are similar in what they offer, the scope of Bryce is incomparable. The hoodoos are unlike anything I'd ever seen, especially in color. The yellows and whites and pinks and oranges and reds ... Even though it was cloudy when I visited, the colors just shone.
If you have the time, hike a trail or two. Bryce is amazing from up above on the rim, but you get a whole different perspective as you hike down at the base of the hoodoos. Be careful, though, not to overdo it. Altitude sickness can strike without much warning, and I promise, it's not much fun. I hiked two miles at 10,000-foot Cedar Breaks and then in the same day took the 1.3-mile Navajo loop hike at 8,200-foot Bryce -- that afternoon I developed a splitting headache, and spent four hours in the bathroom with nausea. So, you're warned.
I've got to mention Ruby's Inn. Over the last 90 years, Bryce Canyon National Park and Ruby's Inn have formed a symbiotic relationship. It's not just a hotel, oh no. Just two miles from the Park boundary, Ruby's offers: two restaurants, a Conference Center with catering, an extensive General Store (offering groceries, fresh produce, sporting goods, clothing, film and camera supplies, sundries, books, souvenirs), an art gallery, a rock shop, a rodeo, guided ATV rides, mountain bike rentals, helicopter flights, a complete car care center, post office, internet access, a swimming pool, laundry facilities, a beauty salon, campgrounds, and oh yes -- large motel rooms. It's a popular place to stay, so you're advised to make reservations in advance.
Getting ThereFrom Las Vegas, take I-15 to exit 57 at Cedar City. Take highway 14 east about 46 miles, then take Highway 89 north about 19 miles to Highway 12. Take that east for about 12 miles to the turnoff, on Highway 63. The Park just a couple of miles to the south.
Nearby AttractionsCedar Breaks National Monument is 83 miles to the west. Zion National Park is 83 miles to the southwest. Pipe Spring National Monument is about 60 miles south and west. About 80 miles to the south is Grand Canyon National Park. Directly south and east are Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which includes Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Capitol Reef National Park is 70 miles to the east.
Visited June 2004.