Capturing the Canyons: Bryce Canyon National Park
Hoodoos. The word is both enticing and mysterious, fitting for what the word actually describes. A hoodoo is a unique rock formation caused by erosion, mostly from wind and water that freezes during the winter and thaws in the warmer weather. They are found all over the world, but the largest collection of hoodoos in the world is found at Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.
The earliest evidence of human activity in the Bryce Canyon area is wall drawings from early Puebloan peoples, who then moved on to more southern locations. Paiute artifacts have been found as well, indicating that perhaps they lived in the area for a while as well. Bryce Canyon is named after Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce, who lived in the area and took visitors to see the magnificent landscape. Other Mormon settlers lived in and explored the area. In the late 1800s, surveyors from the U.S. Government made trips out to the area as well.
Grove Karlk Gilbert, a member of an 1870s surveying expedition to the area, wrote in his journal, “Up the Sevier (East Fork) a few miles and then to the left a few miles more until we came suddenly on the grandest of views. We stand on a cliff 1,000 feet high, the ‘Summit of the Rim.’ Just before starting down the slope we caught a glimpse of a perfect wilderness of red pinnacles, the stunningest thing out of a picture.”
Today, visitors can spend their time on these overlooks of the canyon (a misnomer actually, as the whole of Bryce Canyon is actually made up of 14 natural amphitheaters that eventually even out to the desert floor miles beyond the overlooks), or visitors can venture into the trails that take them deep into the hearts of twisting, turning trails with massive hoodoos overhead.
Fast Facts about Bryce Canyon:
Year established as a National Park:1928
Visitors in 2015: 1,435,741
Size: 56.2 square miles
Shortest trail: Mossy Cave, .8 mi.
Longest trail: Rim Trail, 11 mi.
Fun fact #1: On a clear day, visibility at Bryce Canyon reaches over 100 miles and into three states!
Fun fact #2: Due to its remote location, Bryce Canyon has some of the darkest night skies in the country. In most locations in the United States, about 2500 stars are visible with the naked eye. At Bryce Canyon, about 7000 stars are visible!
Learn more about Bryce Canyon National Park at the National Park Service website!
Learn more about the Capturing the Canyons: Artists in the National Parks exhibition!
Top image: Bryce Canyon National Park Service Photo