15 Enthralling Facts About Bryce Canyon National Park

If you want to discover astounding rock formations referred to as “hoodoos,” then this national park in the Mountain West subregion is the place to go.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Bryce Canyon National Park, an enthralling attraction in Utah that will have you stand in awe of its natural beauty.

1. It’s located in the southwest of the state of Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park is an American national park located in the southwest of one of the states in the so-called “Mountain West” subregions, Utah.

The area of the park is situated within the Colorado Plateau, a magnificent natural landscape also sometimes referred to as the “Colorado Plateau Province.”

The natural beauty inside the national park is astounding and dominated by the red, orange, and white colors of the rock formations.

It’s far from being the largest national park in the United States, though, as it covers an area of 35,835 acres (145.02 square kilometers).

Bryce canyon national park facts
Bryce Canyon National Park entrance sign / Wiki Commons

2. The main feature of the national park is technically not a canyon

Even though the name of the national park implies that its main feature is a canyon, it’s technically not. That’s because the geological feature referred to as “Bryce Canyon” is actually an area nestled against the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

The other reason is that canyons are technically created from a central stream that carves its way through the landscape.

Instead, the fascinating rock formations were created by “headward erosion,” which means water pouring from the top edge of the plateau.

Bryce canyon rock formations
Detail of the rock formations / Wiki Commons

3. The landscape is dominated by thin rock formations called hoodoos

The first thing you notice about the rock formation inside Bryce Canyon National Park is that they consist of thin pinnacles that are referred to as “hoodoos.” Some of these colorful spires of rock can reach a height of up to 200 feet (60 meters).

These rock formations were carved out of the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau and take on the shape of giant amphitheaters, a magnificent spectacle, that’s for sure.

These amphitheaters extend all along Bryce canyon which has a length of about 20 miles (30 kilometers). The largest of these is called “Bryce Amphitheater” and has a length of 12 miles (19 kilometers, a width of 3 miles (5 kilometers), and a maximum height of 800 feet (240 meters).

Bryce Canyon amphitheater
One of the amphitheaters / Jean-Christophe Benoist / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

4. Erosion has created other magnificent natural features as well

The process that started the creation of the rock formations inside the Bryce Canyon started in the final part of the Cretaceous period between 145 and 66 million years ago.

The actual hoodoos inside the national park were carved from rocks known as the “Claron Formation.” The erosion of the sedimentary rocks of this formation resulted in the creation of thin majestical spires of rock inside the enormous amphitheaters.

Apart from hoodoos, other rock formations that were carved into the landscape by headwater erosion are “natural arches,” an equally fascinating feat of nature that can be found inside the park.

Bryce canyon national park natural arch
A natural arch that was formed in the national park / Wiki Commons

5. The highest point of the park is located at the end of the scenic drive

What better place to get amazing views than the highest point in the entire national park, right?

This area is known as “Rainbow Point” and is situated at an elevation of 9,105 feet (2,775 meters). To make things even better, this is situated at the end of the 18-mile (29 km) scenic drive that passes the most amazing parts inside the national park.

These natural wonders can be seen from Rainbow Point:

  • Bryce Amphitheater
  • The Henry Mountains
  • The Vermilion Cliffs
  • The White Cliffs / The Navajo Sandstone
  • The Aquarius Plateau
Rainbow point bryce canyon national park
The amazing view from Rainbow Point / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about Bryce Canyon National Park

6. While the highest point inside the national park is situated at a height of 9,105 feet (2,775 meters) above sea level, the lowest point is situated in the northeastern section of the park.

This section is where a small stream that is known as “Yellow Creek” exists the park. This area is situated at an elevation of 6,620 feet (2,020 meters) above sea level.

7. Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Utah. Over 2.6 million tourists a year want to get a glimpse of the abundant amounts of natural wonders inside this fascinating piece of nature.

8. The Bryce Canyon isn’t the only landscape that features a giant amphitheater filled with hoodoos. An American national monument that is known as “Cedar Breaks National Monument” has similar features.

This national monument is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the west and was formed on the edge of the Markagunt Plateau in southern Utah.

9. The area of the park was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s. The national park and multiple of its features were named after a man named “Ebenezer Bryce” (1830-1913) who built his home in the area in 1874.

Home of Ebenezer Bryce
The first house of Ebenezer Bryce / Wiki Commons

10. Ebenezer Bryce was far from the first person to live in the area of Bryce Canyon. It’s estimated that humans have lived here for at least 10,000 years.

Anasazi artifacts have been found in the area dating back to thousands of years ago. The area was most recently inhabited by the Paiute Native Americans before European and American explorers settled here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

11. The amazing natural wonders of the area started being promoted in the early 20th century and an increased number of visitors during this period resulted in the construction of the Bryce Canyon Lodge between 1924 and 1925.

This amazing lodge was built exclusively from local materials and is the only one of the original buildings in the area that still stands in the region.

Bryce canyon lodge
Bryce Canyon lodge / Brando / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

12. The national park was finally established on February 25, 1928, in an attempt to prevent damage from overgrazing, logging, and unregulated visitation in the area.

13. The temperatures inside the national park are for the most part enjoyable during the summer as these are hot and dry. Because the park is located at a relatively high elevation, the winters can be very cold.

The climate is considered to be a continental climate which is defined by large fluctuations in temperatures throughout the year. This can range from 98 °F (37 °C) in the summer to −26 °F (−32 °C) in the winter.

Bryce canyon in winter
The canyon during the winter / Wiki Commons

14. The park is home to 3 animal species that are considered to be endangered. These include the Utah prairie dog, the California condor, and the southwestern willow flycatcher.

The Utah prairie dog, a member of the squirrel family, was reintroduced into the area and almost solely lives within the boundaries of the park.

15. The scenic drive inside the park offers 13 viewpoints to admire the amazing amphitheaters and the hoodoos that were carved into the landscape. Other days to explore the park are on horseback or by hiking one of the trails.

If you’re not amazed enough by the fantastic scenery during the day, you can stay here at night and get a glimpse of the amazing night sky. Due to the extremely low levels of light pollution, up to 7,500 stars can be seen here with the naked eye, an incredible sight!

Bryce Canyon at night
Bryce Canyon at night / Barton Davis Smith / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/