Bryce Canyon National Park   9 comments

Bryce Canyon NP 00Where Is It: 264 miles northwest of Las Vegas, or 269 miles south of Salt Lake City.

The Birth: From the National Park Service website for the Park:

The person most responsible for Bryce Canyon becoming a National Park was J. W. Humphrey. Mr. Humphrey was a U. S. Forest Service Supervisor who was transferred to Panguitch, Utah in July 1915. An employee suggested that J. W. view the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. When Humphrey came to the rim, at the point now known as Sunset Point, he was stunned:

“You can perhaps imagine my surprise at the indescribable beauty that greeted us, and it was sundown before I could be dragged from the canyon view. You may be sure that I went back the next morning to see the canyon once more, and to plan in my mind how this attraction could be made accessible to the public.”

J. W. Humphrey had still photographs and movies of the canyon sent to Forest Service officials in Washington D. C. and to officials of the Union Pacific Railroad. Magazine and newspaper articles were written. In 1916, Humphrey secured a $50 appropriation to improve the road and make the rim accessible to automobile traffic.

By 1919, tourists from Salt Lake City were visiting Bryce Canyon. Ruby and Minnie Syrett erected tents and supplied meals for over night guests near Sunset Point. In 1920 the Syretts constructed Tourist’s Rest a 30 by 71 foot lodge, with eight or ten nearby cabins and an open air dance floor. In 1923, the Union Pacific Railroad bought the Tourist’s Rest land, buildings and water rights from the Syretts. Ruby and Minnie established Ruby’s Inn just outside the park.

Gilbert Stanley Underwood was hired by the Union Pacific to design a lodge near Sunset Point. The original main building was finished by May 1925. Additions were made and the final configuration completed by 1927. The standard and deluxe cabins near the lodge were constructed between 1925 and 1929.

President Warren G. Harding proclaimed Bryce Canyon a national monument on June 8, 1923. On June 7, 1924, Congress passed a bill to establish Utah National Park, when all land within the national monument would become the property of the United States. The land was acquired and the name was restored to Bryce Canyon. On February 25, 1928, Bryce Canyon officially became a national park.

It Happened Here: 19th century Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce, for whom the park is named, said it was “a hell of a place to lose a cow.” The canyon’s remarkable collection of whimsical hoodoo spires were believed by the early Paiute Indians to be people frozen in stone by the mischievous spirit Coyote.

Size: 37,277 acres

# Visitors: 1,385,352 in 2012. The largest attendance was in September; the least was in January. It’s the 14th most-attended Park.

Plants: There are more than 400 plant species in the Park. The variety in plant communities in Bryce Canyon National Park is due to its diverse topography. While it is surrounded by desert, Bryce’s plateau gets much more rain and stays cooler during the summer. The resulting ecosystem is a fertile island hundreds of feet above a vast arid landscape.

Animals: 210 species of birds and 17 species of reptiles and amphibians have been seen in the Park. 73 species of mammals are known to be in the park.

Choices: There aren’t a lot of day hiking options in the Park, but you can combine 2 trails to create a 3-mile hike with some rather spectacular geology. Queen’s Garden Trail connects to the Navaho Loop, and they take you into one of the main amphiteaters in the park. You’ll pass Queen’s Garden and Thor’s Hammer. Bryce Canyon National Park is known as a park you see from your car … but when you go hiking, you’ll see a different park.

Fees: $25 per car for a 7-day pass.

Staying There: The Bryce Canyon Lodge has 114 rooms, including suites, motel rooms and cabins. There are a total of 210 camping sites in two campgrounds in the Park. They are both at 8,000′ in elevation. Maximum RV length is 30′. There are showers.

Contact Info:

PO Box 640201
Bryce Canyon UT 84764-0201

Current Issues: In August, the bicycle race Tour Of Utah crossed the Park on Utah State Road 12. The Park was apparently not consulted, and former Park employees are emphatically against cyclists riding through a National Park … on a State Highway. The sky did not fall during the event, apparently, and the Park was undamaged by cyclists riding through on an asphalt highway.

Don’t Miss This: Drive to Rainbow Point (18 miles one way) and stop at the 13 viewpoints on your return trip. Check at the Visitor Center for current road conditions and closures.


National Park Service: Bryce Canyon National Park

National Park Traveler: Is National Park Service Abrogating Its Responsibility With The Tour Of Utah Bike Race?

Jason’s Travels: Driving The Rim Of Bryce Canyon


9 responses to “Bryce Canyon National Park

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  1. Fabulous photography. You must have been there at just the right time — the reds of the rocks really stand out. You’ve made me want to go there, for sure!

    • Alas, most of the photos are not mine. The best shots are from the Park’s Facebook page. The last few shots are mine … taken in 1997 on (wait for it) … film. We did a family road trip moving forward in geological time from the Grand Canyon, to Zion, to Bryce Canyon. Looking back at those decidedly average shots taken when I was a baby photographer … reminds me of how hard it is to get those perfect pictures with the wonderful colors.

      • You are so right. I’m trying to do better with photography, but I appreciate the “right time” and “right equipment” even more now. So often, we are whirling through a place by car or tour bus, and the photography suffers! Thanks for sharing anyway. These pics are gorgeous!

  2. I’m inspired now to go! We were supposed to be there right now, actually – on what I am calling the Great Canyon Palooza Trip (3-4 weeks just in Utah) – but it didn’t work out for this year. Maybe next…

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