If you’re thinking of a tryst to Bryce Canyon, you’re in for a treat. The park is not as heavily traveled as nearby Zion Park and the Grand Canyon, but it’s arguably just as beautiful. It has a history of exploration that culminates in its declaration as a national park by President Harding in 1923.
The hues and vistas of the park are stunning throughout the year, but certain seasons afford the best experience. And the well-stocked Visitor Center not only provides information but serves up more things to do.
The history of Bryce Canyon goes back to 1776, when the Spanish explored and settled camps around some of the area. Lead by Franciscan monks who’d already evangelized throughout southwestern Utah, the wayward conquistadors had sought to make a route that spanned modern-day New Mexico and California. Over a century later a stalwart Mormon named Ebenezer Bryce settled in the area for two years attempting to start a family farm, succeeding only in leaving behind his name.
Today, though the park is both open and enjoyable year-round, the best time of the year to visit Bryce Canyon are the spring and the autumn. Cooler temperatures at the park make hiking and a horseback riding more pleasant, but the main draw for travelers in the know are the reds and oranges of the park’s majestic geology. Bryce Canyon is famous for its spectacular “hoodoos” and “amphitheaters”: the former high-pointed rock formations, the latter vast U-shaped cuts from the edge of a high plateau; both shapes sculpted by millennia of erosion.
Bryce Canyon information is readily available all year. The Visitor Center is the central resource for maps, including trail guides, along with books, discs, post cards, and souvenirs. Yes, the Center even sells some very basic hiking gear. In addition to being the headquarters for Bryce Canyon information, the Visitor Center is also an activity center. Kids ages 5 to 12 at the Center can become “Junior Rangers” by finishing a program of activities that’s offered in the three languages of the most common visitors: French, German, and, of course, English.
Enjoying less renown than other parks but no less spectacular, Bryce Canyon offers breath-taking views with exploration and activities. There’s a rich history here best explored hiking, the better to soak up the unique geology. The days are aptly capped with a trip to the Visitors Center, where adults can satisfy any urge for in-depth information while setting the kids loose to go native. So pack the boots and binoculars, and prepare to be wowed.
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