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Free Traveling Guides » States » Utah » Utah National Parks

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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

bryce canyon

The surface of the Earth can hold few weirder-looking spots than Bryce Canyon. The Bryce Canon is in fact not a canyon at all. Along a twenty mile shelf on the eastern edge of the thickly forested Paunsaugunt Plateau, 8000ft above sea level, successive strata of dazzling colored rock have slipped and washed away to leave many contorted stone shapes.

Many of the formations in Bryce Canyon have been eroded out of the muddy sandstone by a combination of icy winters and summer rainstorms. The racks of top-heavy pinnacles known as 'hoodoos' were formed when the harder upper layers of rock stayed firm as the lower levels were worn away beneath them. Thor's Hammer, visible from Sunset Point, is the most alarmingly precarious. The whole place is at its most inspiring in the winter, when the figures stand out from a blanket of snow.

Of the succession of scenic overlooks into Bryce Amphitheater, at the heart of the park, the two most popular are on either side of Bryce Canyon Lodge; the more northerly, Sunrise Point, is slightly less crowded than Sunset Point. A network of hiking trails drop abruptly from the rim down into the amphitheater. One good three mile trek switchbacks steeply from Sunset Point through the 200 ft canyons of Wall Street, where a pair of 800-year old firs stretch to reach daylight.

The best view at both sunrise and sunset (which is the best time for taking pictures) is from Bryce Point, at the southern end of the amphitheater. From here, you can look down not only at the Bryce Canyon formations but also take in the grand sweep of the whole region, east to the Henry Mountains and north to the Escalante Range.

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