Bryce Canyon National Park is named for one of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. Erosion has shaped colorful Claron limestone and sandstone into thousands of spires, fins, pinnacles and mazes. Collectively called "hoodoos," these unique formations are whimsically arranged and tinted with colors too numerous and subtle to name.
Ponderosa pines, high elevation meadows and fir-spruce forests border the rim of the plateau, while panoramic views of southern Utah spread beyond the park's boundaries. This area boasts some of the nation's best air quality. This, coupled with the lack of nearby large light sources, creates unparalleled opportunities for star-gazing.
Bryce Canyon National Park is named for southern Utah, pioneer Ebenezer Bryce who came to the Paria Valley with his family in 1875. He was sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because his skill as a carpenter would be useful in settling this area. Bryce built a road to the plateau top to retrieve firewood and timber. He also built an irrigation canal to raise crops and animals. Local people called the canyon with the strange rock formations near Ebenezer's home "Bryce's Canyon".
Little is known of the native American inhabitants of the park area prior to Mormon pioneer settlement. Limited archeological studies indicate that this area was used primarily for hunting with most habitation in the river valleys below. Trips to the plateau were limited to harvesting its forest resources, including wild game. Later settlers continued this seasonal use.
Each year, this southern Utah park is visited by more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world. Languages as varied as the shapes and colors of the hoodoos express pleasure in the sights. Open all year, the park offers recreational opportunities in each season. Hiking, sightseeing, and photography are the most popular summer activities. Spring and fall months offer greater solitude. In the winter months, quiet combines with the area's best air quality for unparalleled views and serenity beyond compare. In all seasons fantastic shapes cast their spell to remind us of what we protect here in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon Visitor Center
The new Bryce Canyon Visitor Center is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Entrance fee for the park is $25 per vehicle. You may want to check on an America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. The cost is $80 and provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee as well as in any National Park for up to one year. Visitor Center closures are only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The National Park Service offers special programs at the Visitor Center, including a short informational video shown on the 1/2 hour and on the hour and short Geology talks.
The new Visitor Center is completely wheelchair accessible. Because of the park's natural terrain, only a 1/2 mile section of the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points are wheelchair accessible. The one-mile Bristlecone Loop at Rainbow Point has a hard surface and could be used with assistance, but several grades do not meet standards. Parking is marked at all overlooks and public facilities. Accessible campsites are available in Sunset Campground.
Bryce Canyon Shuttle
Starting mid-June and running through the summer season, the National Park Service offers shuttle service for the park. You can pick up the shuttles at Ruby’s Inn, Ruby’s Inn Campground, Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, Sunset Campground, Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon Lodge, and the General Store. There is no charge for riding the shuttle, but boarding the shuttle from outside the park requires a shuttle ticket or park pass. The shuttles are wheelchair accessible. No pets allowed.
Back-country camping is allowed on a limited basis and only at designated campsites. A $5 backcountry permit is required. Permits are issued at the Visitor Center from 8 a.m. until two hours before sunset.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located 62 miles east of Cedar City on Hwy U-89. From the north or south on US Hwy 89: Turn east on Utah Hwy 12 (seven miles south of Panguitch, Utah) and travel to the junction of Utah 12 and 63. Turn south (right) onto Utah 63 and travel three miles to reach the park entrance.
Kodachrome Basin State Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Panguitch Lake, Navajo Lake, Brian Head Ski Resort.
For more information regarding Bryce Canyon National Park, click on their website at www.nps.gov/brca.