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Park Beat III – Bryce Canyon National Park

Occasionally when visiting a national park, I am taken back by the sheer oddness of the landscape. Bryce Canyon National Park, nestled 78 miles from Zion and 150 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, is one of those places that you might find yourself saying, “Huh? How did that happen?”  Situated off of Highway 63 in southern Utah, the topography of the region looks like a giant pin art mural. Made up of a series of amphitheaters carved into the limestone rather than an actual canyon, the geology of the eastern edge of the Paunsaugaunt Plateau is a sight to be seen.

Over time, erosion shaped the limestone into curious forms such as slot canyons, windows and spires called hoodoos. It’s simply impossible to visit Bryce Canyon and not appreciate the immense power of the natural forces that formed the strange creations. 

Standing on top of the park’s rim, ready to descend into the peculiar world below, the sky stretches out to the distant ridge of mountains. 

Bryce Canyon, located in parts at an elevation of 9,100 feet, has some of the world’s best air quality, so you will often be able to gaze across a three state span with the exception of some white puffy clouds. 

 Yellowish rolling hills also protrude to the side of the limestone creations. 

Ponderosa pines, fir and spruce trees are scattered throughout the orange and cream colored terrain. The landscape is reminiscent of orange creamsicles. 

Although you can get a decent view by driving along the 38-mile scenic round trip drive through the park, it’s practically a requirement to enter Bryce Amphitheater on foot if you want to get an up close look at the surrounding oddities. There are many trails to choose from, but the one pictured below leads to Queens Garden. As you descend into the amphitheater, an orange dusty path zig zags back and forth, weaving in and out of unearthly  rock formations. Soon you’ll find yourself enclosed by massive walls and hoodoos. 

Further and further down you go. 

At the base, a towering tree pops up from the dungeon below. 
Eventually, you’ll reach a rock formation that is said to resemble Queen Victoria, but you may need to use a little imagination. 

Venture on along the trail to find more interesting discoveries before heading back up out of the amphitheater or hop on another one of the trails to hike to more distant locations. 
The colors of the park are unique, but it’s also fun to see a contrast in the way the landscape is portrayed by photographing the dynamic scenes in black and white. The pictures below are similar to the ones above, but were taken with 35 mm black and white film. 

It’s truly difficult to display the full geological magnificence of Bryce Canyon through a lens, but one thing is for sure, it’s a fascinating place to explore. Whether in black and white or in color, there’s a new spectacle to uncover around each corner. 

Fun Facts: 

Does it snow in Bryce Canyon? Yes! The park receives an average of 96 inches of snow a year. 

How long does it take to drive along the entire scenic drive of the rim round-trip? At a minimum 3 hours. 

Is there any wildlife in the park? You may see Mule Deer, Utah Prairie Dogs, Chipmunks, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Gray Fox and Pronghorn along with various bird species. 

How do you get there? Bryce Canyon sits almost equal distance from the two closest major airports, Salt Lake City, UT and Las Vegas, NV. 

Craving Pizza? Stop off in the town of Panguitch, UT for a quick bite to eat at a local hangout called C Stop Pizza (290 E. Center Panguitch, UT 84759). Great pizza!  

What would we do without Google Map right? 

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