Bryce Canyon National Park is located in south central Utah in the heart of National Park country. The park is comprised of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. Thousands of years of erosion have created an incredible assortment of spires, pinnacles, fins hoodoos, and mazes out of a motley assortment of limestone, sandstone and mudstone. Bryce Canyon National Park offers some of the finest examples of hoodoos in the world. The varying layers of stone offer a broad range of colors and hues that change with the angle of the sun during the day.
Most of the park sits over 8,000 feet so stands of ponderosa pines, spruce, fir, and high meadows sit on the eastern rim of the plateau and offer contrast to the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns of the canyons and amphitheaters below. Bryce Canyon National Park is also blessed with some of the best air quality in the United States. Add in a lack of nearby bright lights and Bryce Canyon National Park becomes one of the best places in the United States to stargaze. If your plans are open this fall consider a visit to Bryce this November 17th when the five day long Leonids Meteor Shower is expected to peak close to midnight local time.
If you want to tour the park consider driving the 18-mile main park road that heads south along the western edge of Bryce. There are a number of spurs, pullouts and scenic viewpoints along the way that all look eastward across the park and offer views of three states. Traffic and parking are serious problems at Bryce during the summer. Visitors should plan to arrive early in the morning or late in the day until the shuttle system is finished sometime in 2001.
One of the best ways to take the park road is head down its entire length and then stop at the viewpoints on the return trip. Not only does this allow traffic to flow smoother but it will allow you to scout out your favorite views. Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce Viewpoints are must see destinations while on the park road.
There is a 114 room lodge at the park as well as two campgrounds. Eight backcountry campsites are available if you want to take a backpacking trip along the Under-The-Rim Trail. Over 50 miles of hiking trails ranging from 1/2 mile strolls on the plateau rim to 23 mile journeys through the lower regions of the park are available.
In the summer the high altitude helps temper the southern Utah heat and temperatures rarely rise above 90 degrees. Moonsonal rain flow in the late summer brings thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. Winter weather can be more extreme with temperatures plunging as low as 30 below zero. You might be surprised to know that Bryce Canyon National Park gets almost 100 inches of snow each winter and is an outstanding destination for snow shoeing and cross country skiing.
With it's close proximity to Zion, Arches and Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park should be one of your destinations when visiting the National Park Country of southern Utah. Offering four seasons of adventure, a mystical landscape, and crystal clear air, Bryce Canyon National Park is truly unspoiled country.
Just The Facts
Name: Bryce Canyon National Park
Location: Southern Utah, St. George
Nearest Major Air Service: Salt Lake City, Utah or Las Vegas, Nevada
Fees & Permits: $20 access fee for seven days. Backcountry permits are $10 and required.
Why Visit: Unique rock formations comprised of hoodoos and deep natural brightly colored amphitheatres. Some of the best stargazing in the country, exceptionally clean air.
When To Visit: Year round, best from May to October, extremely crowded in July and August
Essential Gear: Depends on activity, sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm, hat, water good sturdy shoes, trekking pole, camera, binoculars (other equipment strongly recommended)
You Should Know: High meadows and sandstone rock formations are delicate so please stay on designated trails. Parking can be a serious problem so try to get an early start. Due to the high altitude it is very easy to get sunburned, be sure to use sunscreen and lip balm, and wear sunglasses and a hat when outdoors. Watch for bad weather and stay off of the edge of plateau during summer thunderstorms. This area is extremely remote, be sure your car is in good operating condition.
More Information: Bryce Canyon National Park, Box 170001, Bryce Canyon, Utah 84717-0001, (435) 834-5322