Thursday, January 19, 2012
Bryce Canyon National Park
When you're planning your western road trip you will want to consider a tour of what is one of the most unique National Parks in America, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Bryce Canyon is probably one of the hardest of all National Parks to describe. Bryce was carved by the freeze and thaw cycle, quite different from most canyons that were carved by river flow. The hoodoos that are formed by this process are truly amazing This is what makes a road trip Bryce Canyon National Park such a unique experience. As one of our most treasured National Parks Bryce makes a great addition to your western trip travel planner.
During the first decade of the 1900's the first visitor accommodations will built at Bryce along the Paunsaugunt Plateau rim. By 1920 efforts were started to set aside these scenic wonders. President Warren G. Harding in 1923 designated part of the area as Bryce Canyon National Monument under the Powell National Forest. A year later in 1924 Congress passed a bill which established the area as Utah National Park. Legislation was passed in 1928 that year to change the name of the park to Bryce Canyon National Park.The park is open all year and offers recreational opportunities during all four seasons. It's estimated that Bryce Canyon National Park is visited by more than 1.5 million people annually and from all around the world. During summer hiking, sightseeing, and photography are the most popular activities. The spring and fall time offers a peaceful solitude. During winter months the park offers the most unique winter views found anywhere in the U.S.
Bryce Canyon National Park and the Bryce Canyon Lodge receive thousands of tourists each summer that arrive to see the hoodoos. In fact, southwestern Utah is a summer playground for outdoor enthusiasts. To the south and west of Bryce canyon is Zion National Park. To the south and east is the Glen Canyon Recreation Area which includes Lake Powell for boaters as well as the historic Glen Canyon Dam.
When you take the trail ride and view the hoodoos close up, you will notice how the lower parts of the formation were eroded away. The hoodoos which are sometimes called "tent rocks"were created when volcanic ash was covered with more solid volcanic rock such as basalt. The volcanic ash on the lower portion eroded away much faster than the rock on top. Eventually over a much longer period of time the lower portion will erode away to the extent that the upper harder cap will topple over. The same way which hoodoos were formed will eventually destroy them. Wind and freezing temperatures still work their wonders on these beautiful geologic formations. The pictures on this page show how uneven the vertical thickness is as you view each formation from top to bottom.
If your western road trip brings you to Bryce Canyon from the south from the vicinity of the Grand Canyon, you will want to drive north to Page Arizona via US Hwy 89. Continue on Hwy 89 over the Glen Canyon Dam and drive westward. At Mount Carmel Junction Utah Hwy 89 turns to the north. Follow US Hwy 89 northward to state route 12 and drive east. The mileage to Bryce Canyon National Park from Page Arizona is about 154 miles on US Hwy 89. Campers will delight in the fact that there are two campgrounds at Bryce Canyon which are open all year.
(Photos from author's private collection)
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