Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon, Kurt Repanshek

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Southern Utah's national parks all are red-rock wonders.

Zion National Park features towering cliffs of stone. Arches National Park showcases a one-of-its-kind collection of stony arches and windows. Canyonlands National Park is a maze of canyons, and Capitol Reef National Park offers a sprawling rockscape.

Bryce Canyon, on the other hand, is much, much more intimate and, in some manners, more curious, geologically.

Not quite 36,000 acres in size -- little more than a tenth the size of Canyonlands -- the drawing card of Bryce is its namesake amphitheater crowded with hoodoos and goblins that erosion has sculpted from the pink underbelly of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Whether you gaze down upon the amphitheater, or stroll through it, the features known as Thor's Hammer, Queen's Garden, Natural Bridge, ET, Indian Princess, and the Warrior, just to name a few, fire your imagination and cause you to marvel at nature's artistic side.

For most visitors, Bryce is a one-day adventure, as the 18-mile long Rim Road leads to all the major overlooks that provide dramatic views into the canyons down below.

But this small park deserves a closer, more attentive inspection, for its wonders are in the nuances that wind, rain, ice and snow have created, and even in the shadows it casts. You can spend at least a day exploring down below the rim, and the viewpoints from the top of the rim can take up the good portion of another day.

Not to be overlooked, either, are the dark skies overhead that sparkle with stars once the sun goes down. Another good reason to spend at least one night in the park.

Traveler's choice for: Hiking, photography, geology

Park History: Bryce Canyon National Park

What's in a name? Would Bryce Canyon National Park be as popular if it was known as Temple of the Gods National Park?.

Lodging in Bryce Canyon National Park

At first glance, lodging options at Bryce Canyon National Park might appear simple and straightforward, but a little exploration reveals charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations in the area as well as the more typical park lodgings.

Camping in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park offers some gorgeous camping options for those toting a tent or pulling an RV.

Hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park

Though not a park filled with endless miles of trails, Bryce Canyon National Park has a potpourri of wonder-filled hikes that take you down into, and then wind through, an incredibly eroded land of color.

Wildlife in Bryce Canyon National Park

Most of the wildlife you initially spot in Bryce Canyon National Park flit about the park's coniferous forests or scamper across the forest duff, but if you take the time to look, and are in the right place at the right time, you just might be surprised.

The Essential Bryce Canyon

Surrounded by southern Utah’s rugged wilderness, I’m confronted by, of all things, butterscotch. In a landscape of warm kaleidoscopic colors that change with the swinging of the sun, butterscotch currently is the color of the limestone ramparts that brought fame to Bryce Canyon National Park. And, I find as I plant my nose against the rough and rumpled bark of a 100-foot-tall Ponderosa pine, butterscotch is the unmistakable scent wafting from the tree.

Traveler's Checklist: Bryce Canyon National Park, Winter Edition

Though summer draws the bulk of Bryce Canyon National Park's 1.2 million annual visitors, a strong argument can be made that winter is a more fascinating time to visit this red-rock icon. The sharp contrasts between fresh-fallen snow, cerulean skies, and the park's red-hued amphitheaters are spectacular.

Resources For Bryce Canyon National Park

This is where you can find websites, helpful phone numbers, friends groups and cooperating associations, and, sometimes, books related to the park.

Bryce Canyon National Park News

Bryce Canyon National Park Gets OK To Built Multi-Use Visitor Path

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah has been given the go-ahead to built a multi-use pathway from Bryce Canyon City into the park.

Public Meeting Set To Discuss Entrance Fee Increases Proposed For Zion, Bryce Canyon, And Cedar Breaks

With timing running out to comment on proposed increases in entrance fees at Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, as well as Cedar Breaks National Monument, all in Utah, the National Park Service has scheduled an open house to discuss the proposals with the public. Park superintendents and staff from all three park areas will be in attendance.

New Year's Eve Snow Will Bring Beauty And Hazards To High Desert Parks

A layer of snow can add a special dimension to the scenery in parks anywhere, but the contrast with colorful rock formations can be especially striking in places like Arches, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. That's expected to be the case for start of the New Year in several parks in the high desert, but park officials are asking visitors to use caution—and common sense—on icy roads and trails.

Bryce Canyon National Park Images