Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon located in southwestern Utah in the Dixie National Forest, is a beautiful place full of twisted rock spires and capped domes. In actuality Bryce Canyon isn't even a canyon at all, but is a series of eroded rock amphitheaters on the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The orange, red, yellow and white colors of the limestone formations make Bryce Canyon one of the world's most breathtaking locations.
Things to do
Activities to enjoy while in the Bryce Canyon region may include, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, ATV riding, aerial tours, back-packing, camping and fishing. Bryce Canyon trails offer varied degrees of difficulty from easy hikes, to some more challenging strenuous hikes. There are two trails that are set up for overnight hiking, Long Riggs Loop Trail and Under the Rim Trail. In total there are 50 miles of trails within Bryce Canyon. For winter-time visitors there are groomed cross-country ski trails, located within the Dixie National Forest.
Bryce Canyon National Park rests within the Colorado Plateau, and is on the southeastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce Canyon is unique for its geologic spires called "Hoodoos". These formations are continually being shaped by the forces of erosion, primarily during winter months, when water freezes and expands within the cracks of the rock, forcing the frail limestone to split apart. Bryce Canyon's rim ranges in elevation from 8,000 to 9,000 feet and its' geologic formations are quite different than those of the south rim of the Grand Canyon, or Zion National Park. The highest part of the park is Rainbow Point, which is at the end of twenty-mile long scenic drive. From this point the Aquarius Plateau, the Henry Mountains, White Cliffs, and other distant formations may be seen.
Petroglyphs in Bryce Canyon indicate that people were in the area several thousand year's ago, but there is not a lot of information about these ancient groups. "Basketmaker" and Anasazi artifacts have been found south of Bryce Canyon which date to be approximately 10,000 years old. Native Americans of the Paiute tribe began living in surrounding valleys and plateaus, around the time the other cultures left the region. The first Caucasians were unable to explore the desolate and tough areas of the Bryce Canyon region until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. A Spanish group of explores led by Sylvestre Escalante venture through the region in 1776. In the 1850s Mormon scouts visited the area to measure the possibility for agricultural development, grazing, and homesteading and the Bryce Canyon area was consequently first settled by Mormon Pioneers. Ebenezer Bryce, who established a ranch in the nearby Paria valley was the first pioneer to discover the formations of the canyon when he went looking for lost cattle. His only recorded comment about searching for his cattle within the large rock amphitheaters was, “It's one hell of a place to lose a cow!” His neighbors later called the area "Bryce's Canyon” and the name just stuck.
Bryce Canyon has a wide range of animals and plants. The mammals in the park include bobcats, mountain lions, mule deer, foxes, ground squirrels, and marmots. The most common large mammal you will see in Bryce Canyon is the mule deer. There are 160 different types of birds including swifts and swallows, that are commonly seen in the summer but migrate away for the winter season. Other common birds are eagles, owls, and ravens, which stay year-round. Plants and tree's within Bryce Canyon are varied based on elevation within the park.