As summer approaches maybe it’s time to explore America’s incredible national parks again. A great place to start would be the national and state parks of Utah.
On any trip to the Parks of Utah one of the highlights has to be a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. The park itself encompasses a flat, high plateau featuring incredible overlooks, miles of canyons with incredible geological features called hoodoos, a number of fantastic hiking trails, campsites and a historic lodge.
The man we owe for the creation Bryce Canyon National Park was U. S. Forest Service Supervisor J. W. Humphrey who was transferred to Panguitch, Utah in 1915. Upon visiting the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, at the point now known as Sunset Point he famously commented “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.”
By 1919, tourists from Salt Lake City began visiting Bryce Canyon. The growing popularity caught the attention of some business leaders and Gilbert Underwood was hired by the Union Pacific Railroad 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.
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon is one of the park’s most iconic structures. The Lodge and its surrounding cabins are located a short walk from the park’s Bryce Amphitheater, and offer 114 rooms including lodge suites, motel rooms, and cabins. Reservations are a must. The dining room at Bryce Canyon Lodge is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and there’s a nice gift shop in the Lodge.
President Harding proclaimed Bryce Canyon a national monument on June 8, 1923 and on June 7, 1924, Congress passed a bill to establish Utah National Park, land was acquired and the name was restored to Bryce Canyon in 1928 when it officially became a national park.
One of the most spectacular features of the park is Bryce Canyon Amphitheater located just yards from the lodge. It comprises a section of canyon dropping from the plateau that’s covered in spires called hoodoos. These formations reveal a long geologic history of sedimentation and erosion in a colorful sequence of layers in the rocks. The area exposes the faulting, uplift and erosion and gives access to the discovery of fossils from plant and animal life in the region millions of years ago.
Traveling through the park you come to where the road ends near Rainbow Point. The views are spectacular and beautifully illustrate the geology where the terrain drops off from the parks high plateau.
Outside the Park
If visiting Bryce Canyon during the Summer high season often there are serious restrictions to driving in. There is a park bus system with the main pickup stop just outside the park in Bryce Canyon City. The buses run a complete route throughout the National Park on a frequent schedule.
To find more lodging, dining, and recreation opportunities, Bryce Canyon City is only a short distance from the parks entrance. The small commercial areas focus is on visitors to the park and there is are gift shops and a couple of food options. A park shuttle stop is right in the middle of town.
For additional options in the area visit Garfield County Tourism’s website HERE.