Bryce Canyon is the less well known but equally specatular sibling of the Grand Canyon, just to the north in Utah. Formed by different forces, Bryce is technically not a canyon, but more of a stunning geological oddity that is canyon-shaped. In particular it is known for its breathtaking natural ‘amphitheaters’, great circular formations of stepped, carved rock. Bryce Canyon is located in Bryce Canyon National Park.
The area round Bryce Canyon is one of the oldest inhabited places in the United States. Traces of Anasazi culture can be traced back nearly ten thousand years. The first westerners to arrive in the area were Mormon explorers in the 1850s. Railroads arrived in the area at the turn of the century, and the tourists followed. Bryce Canyon was established as a national park in 1928.
Bryce Canyon is a labyrinth of amazing rock formations, some of which tower over two hundred feet in height. There are a number of clusters of formations within the park called amphitheaters, circular canyons with levels of rocks climbing from the base to the rim. The largest of these, and the canyon’s main attraction, is Bryce Amphitheater which spans twelve miles. There are also natural arch formations and countless other geological treasures.
Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah and is surrounded by several larger, better known and more accessible national parks, so it is easily overlooked by vacationers in the American southwest. Those who do find their way to Bryce are rewarded with one of America’s most pristine national park experiences. Countless trails allow for endless hiking and horseback riding experiences, and wildlife, especially mule deer, abounds. Web: www.nps.gov/brca (official website).