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Bryce Canyon National Park

37,277 acres of some of the world's most oddly shaped and beautifully colored rocks

Bryce Canyon National Monument was established within the Powell (now Dixie) National Forest in 1923; it became Bryce Canyon National Park in 1928. It was named for Ebenezer Bryce, a pioneer who settled in the region in 1875.

location of Bryce Canyon (green dot)
location of Bryce Canyon National Park

The name "Bryce Canyon" can be applied to any one of the many horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau by ancient rivers and erosion. The combination of water and erosion shaped the colorful limestones, sandstones and mudstones into thousands of even more colorful spires, fins, pinnacles, and mazes. These unique formations are collectively known as "hoodoos," a term derived from a Native American word for "to cast a spell." More than sixty shades of red, pink, copper, and cream are exposed in the formations, and the colors change with the sunlight. Geologists say that 50 million years of history of the earth's crust can be read in the rocks. The park contains 14 valleys that are up to 1,000 feet deep. Sharp rocks rise up into shapes resembling temples, cathedrals, castles, and even animals.

More than 400 plant species grow in the park, including Ponderosa pines, various firs and spruces, gentian, yarrow, and sego lily. The park's forests and meadows support a diverse array of animal life, from rodents to foxes and black bears and over 160 species of birds. Mule deer are the most common large mammal, and mountain lions the most common predator. Swifts and swallows can regularly be seen performing aerobatics along cliff faces while feeding on insects in flight.

panoramic view of Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

Thor's Hammer
Thor's Hammer

natural rock arch in Bryce Canyon
natural rock arch in Bryce Canyon

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> The New Southwest >> Utah

This page was last updated on May 17, 2017.