Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

If you are looking for one of the most beautiful places on earth to visit where nature has taken wind, water and geologic magic to create a wonderland of brightly colored spires that rise up then you need to visit Bryce Canyon in Utah.  The Canyon is filled with incredible red rock formations from stunning red sandstone hoodoos and mazes to open amphitheaters and lush green forests.

You can take a hike through the canyon or experience it on horseback.  If you want to stay in the car for your sightseeing tour you can do that, there is a 37 mile round trip drive to see Bryce Canyon’s 15 most popular viewpoints.

Bryce Canyon is named for just one of many canyons which form a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah.  You will see spires, fins, arches and mazes.  These are collectively called “hoodoos.” 

There isn’t much known about the native American inhabitants of the area prior to Morman pioneers moving into the area.  With the limited studies that were done it was determined that the area by the river was used for habitation and the plateau was used to harvest its forest resources, including wild game.

Bryce Canyon is named for pioneer Ebenezer Bryce who came to the Paria Valley with his family in 1875.  He was a carpenter whose skills would help to build the area.  He built a road to the plateau to retrieve firewood and timber.  he also built an irrigation canal to raise crops and animals.  Because he was the first white associated with the canyon it got the name Bryce Canyon.

The railroad brought tours to the area and built a grand lodge for them to stay in.  It is still there, Bryce Canyon Lodge, and is on the National Historic Landmark list.  It has been updated but retains the charm of the 1930′s.  There are also campgrounds in the park which offer a wonderful opportunity to get close to nature.  Waking up to the sun coming over the colorful rock formations is just unbelievable in its beauty.

Bryce Canyon was designated Bryce Nayon National Park in February of 1928.

Address:
Bryce Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 170001
Bryce Canyon, Utah 84717-0001

Telephone:
(435) 834-5322

Operating Hours
 
The park is open 24 hours per day throughout the year. There may be temporary road closures during and shortly after winter snow storms until plowing is completed and conditions are safe for visitor traffic. Road maintenance may require brief closures of individual areas at other times.
 
Climate
Visitors can enjoy Bryce Canyon during any season. Summer days are pleasant and nights are cool at 8,000-9,000 feet. July is the warmest month, with an average daytime high temperature of 83 degrees and a nighttime low of 47 degrees. Much of the area’s precipitation comes as afternoon thundershowers during mid to late summer. Spring and fall weather is highly variable.
Cold winter days are offset by high altitude sun and dry climate. Winter nights are subfreezing. During some winters, Alaskan cold fronts descend on the Colorado Plateau region bringing temperatures as low as 30 degrees below zero. Although March is the snowiest month, the area can have snowstorms from October through April. Annual snowfall averages 95 inches, providing opportunities for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing

The high altitude sun can burn in any season-hats and sunscreen are recommended all year. Layered clothing is good preparation for the plateau’s temperature extremes and frequent strong winds. Boots with good tread and ankle support are strongly recommended for hikes into the canyons.
 
Directions
From north or south on U.S. 89, turn east on Utah 12 (seven miles south of Panguitch, Utah) and travel to the junction of Utah 12 and 63. Turn south (right) on Utah 63 and travel three miles to reach the park entrance. (Utah 12 continues east through the northern portion of the park.)
From the east, travel west on Utah 12 to the intersection of Utah 63. Turn south (left) to reach the park entrance.
 
Fees, Costs, Rates
Entrance Fees

•Passenger cars are charged $20 per 7-day visit

•Commercial tours are charged according to seating capacity as follows: $25 plus $5 per passenger for 1-6 seats; $50 for 7-15 seats; $60 for 16-25 seats; and $150 for 26 or more seats.

•Golden Eagle ($50 annual fee) and Golden Age ($10 one time fee) Passports are available at the park Entrance Station and are honored for occupants of noncommercial vehicles. Golden Access Passports are issued at the park visitor center.

•Campsites $10 per site per night. (Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders receive a 50% discount.)

Back country Fees: $5 per permit

Facilities and Opportunities
Visitor Center/Exhibits: The park visitor center is open year round except Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. A ten-minute slide program, exhibits, restrooms, information, and backcountry permits are available here. In addition, maps and other publications are available for purchase through Bryce Canyon Natural History Association.

Trails, Roads: The 18-mile main park road winds along the edge of the plateau, terminating at the south end of the park. Return to the entrance via the same road. Spur roads and pullouts offer opportunities for viewing and trailhead parking. Park speed limits range from 25 to 35 mph and are strictly enforced.

In summer, parking at most viewpoints is extremely congested. Your best chance of finding a parking space at Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, Bryce, and Paria Viewpoints is before 10:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m.

Because all of Bryce Canyon’s viewpoints are east of the main park road, we recommend that you drive the 18-mile road to the southern end of the park, start with Rainbow Point, then stop at the remaining viewpoints on your way back to the park entrance. This will help you to avoid making left turns in front of oncoming traffic.

Day Hikes: The easiest trail is the 1/2-mile (one way) section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points. Other sections of the Rim Trail (which extends 5.5 miles between Fairyland and Bryce Points) have steeper terrain. The Fairyland Loop (8 miles round trip), Peekaboo Loop (4.8 or 5.5 miles round trip), Queen’s Garden (1.7 miles round trip) and Navajo Loop (1.5 miles round trip) trails wind down through the rock formations along steep grades. The Peekaboo Loop Trail also serves as a horse trail.

Back country: The Under-the-Rim Trail extends 23 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point and has eight back country campsites. The Riggs Spring Loop Trail (8.8 miles round trip) from Rainbow Point has four back country sites. Both trails drop below the rim of the plateau and lead through forested areas. A permit is required for overnight back country camping and is available at the park Visitor Center. A $5 donation is requested for back country use.

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