A vast amphitheater of bizarrely eroded salmon- and orange-colored limestone, Bryce Canyon represents the top of the geological Grand Staircase of southern Utah. Here the forested Paunsaugunt Plateau suddenly gives way to a maze of spires, pinnacles, and fins. The fantastically shaped rock pillars and narrow spires (called hoodoos) of Bryce Canyon in Utah formed from erosion by a myriad of tiny streams along the rim of a plateau. Water moving along the steep slopes carved out gullies, which widened over time, leaving thin blades of rock. The red, orange, yellow, and white colors of the rocks are the result of minor concentrations of iron-containing minerals.
An 18-mile paved road parallels the amphitheater’s rim; its overlooks provide access to hiking trails that meander both along and below the rim. The longer trails are studded with designated backcountry campsites. Scenery is the 35,000-acre park’s selling point, but more than 400 plant species have been identified here. Animals, too, are abundant. Utah Prairie Dogs sound alarm calls in grassy meadows, where early morning and late afternoon may also bring browsing Elk or Mule Deer. The cliff faces are enlivened by darting White-throated Swifts and Violet-green Swallows, and more rarely by soaring Golden Eagles.
Have you been to this park? How many stars would you give it?