Did you know that Bryce Canyon Utah is not actually a canyon?
Bryce Canyon, which is part of Bryce Canyon National Park, is actually shaped more like a giant amphitheater. Centuries of natural erosion from wind, rain and ice formed the 12-mile long Bryce Canyon amphitheater out of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Utah.
In this Caravan blog post we’ve compiled some interesting information and facts about Bryce Canyon Park.
History of Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon was originally named after one of the area’s first pioneer settlers, Ebenezer Bryce.
In 1923 the US government declared Bryce Canyon, and the surrounding area, a US National Monument. Five years later in 1928, the area became officially designated as Bryce Canyon National Park.
At an elevation between 8,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level, Bryce Canyon is more remote than its neighboring cousins, the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. While Bryce may not draw as many tourists, Bryce Canyon Park is open year round and boasts over a million visitors annually.
Bryce Canyon Hoodoos
Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its unique colorful rock formations called “hoodoos” and is home to more hoodoos than anywhere else in the world. What are hoodoos?
Bryce Canyon hoodoos are the tall, irregular totem pole shaped rock formations found in the badlands of Bryce Canyon National Park. Some hoodoos reach heights in excess of 200 feet!
Centuries of dry, hot, desert like conditions combined with extreme temperatures, wind, and water erosion, caused the lower portions of the hoodoos (the softer red and orange sedimentary sandstone) to crumble away. The resulting rock columns usually have a denser rock cap that is more resistant to erosion and serves to protect the lower part of the hoodoo pillar from the elements.
What gives the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park their unique totem-like shape is the irregular erosion of alternating layers of soft and harder sedimentary rock.
The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are not spires as some believe. A spire is smoother with a uniform shape that is generally thicker at the bottom and tapering thinner as it rises to the top.
The Colors of Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon hoodoos come in a myriad of shapes and sizes inspiring such descriptive names as Thor’s Hammer, Silent City, Queen Victoria, and Wall of Windows. Their singular pillars, grouped ridges, jagged crevices, and natural arches all play with the light and shadow, creating a myriad of colourful landscapes as the sun passes overhead.
It is this incredible display of colors that attracts tourists to Bryce Canyon National Park, highlighted by the Park’s unique hoodoos and natural arch formations.
The red, orange, and white sandstone offers up a kaleidoscope of shifting hues and majestic views that change seasonally and with each sunrise or sunset. Many tourists also enjoy Bryce Canyon during the winter when the hoodoos appear in their imposing red and orange hues but this time capped with white snow. Bryce Canyon is truly a photographers’ paradise.
Other Bryce Canyon Highlights
Bryce Canyon Wildlife – Bryce Park is teeming with an abundance of wildlife including rare golden eagles and hawks plus reptiles, small mammals, and mule deer.
Bryce Canyon Activities – Tourists will find a lot of worthwhile activities that can be enjoyed in Bryce Canyon National Park; everything from snowshoe walks, cross-country skiing, and other winter activities, to summertime activities like backpacking, horseback riding, hiking, moonlight walks, ranger-guided tours, and evening programs.
Bryce Canyon National Park Tours
A Bryce Canyon National Park tour is currently included in Caravan’s all-inclusive Grand Canyon Tour.
This fully guided 8 day tour is affordably priced and includes all tour accommodations, most meals, land travel, activities, and gratuities. Additional tour highlights include visits to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Lake Powell, and Zion National Park.
(Editor’s Note – This original post from April 2010 has been updated to reflect current Grand Canyon vacation details.)