is not a canyon. It is the spectacular edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, a
place where intricately carved towers and archways of stone shimmer in a
dazzling array of color under the bright sun.
The state of
in the United States is home to many beautiful
National Parks, and Bryce
National Park ranks as one of the most magnificent and awe inspiring.
15 million years ago the earth in this region
began to shift, forming a series of plateaus. The Paunsaugunt is an
extensive plateau, with the Paria River gradually eroding away the edge to
The rock in Bryce
Canyon is composed of layer after layer of sediment deposits,
deposited millions of years ago when the area was at the bottom of a
lake. Now the Paria River has exposed the layers, allowing a detailed
history of the lake to be determined.
The Park itself
was established in 1924, and was named after an early settler in the
area, Ebenezer Bryce. He emigrated from Scotland, married a local girl
then moved southwards in stages, building sawmills as he went.
In the mid
1870s he reached the Paria River, where he and his family settled for
a number of years. It was at this time that Bryce made his immortal
comment about Bryce
Canyon - he called it "one hell of a place to lose a cow".
remained basically undiscovered by European tourists, the first guest
houses only being constructed around the time when the park was
has led to Bryce
Canyon being an area of largely unspoiled beauty, as well as the
enormous scientific value of the historic information trapped in its
pinnacles and spires.
canyon is by no means a stagnant place - the rim recedes by an average
of about a foot every 50 years, and in this ever changing scene it is
water that plays the most vital role in the shaping and eventual
destruction of the magnificent scenery.
rock was laid down in layers, there is a variation in the hardness of
the rock formed. When water runoff trickles across the rock, some
areas erode rapidly whereas others hold firm.
variation in erosion speed causes the formation of pinnacles, or
"hoodoos" of stable rock. In some places the water seeps down through
cracks and eats out holes beneath the surface. When the side rock
erodes away, an archway is left behind.
arch collapses, leaving two more pillars to join the rest. The ever
changing vista of colors, spires, walls and archways is spectacular
at any season, and the park is open all year round.
In the warmer months there are plenty of trails
for the visitor to explore, ranging from easy strolls to hard hikes. Some
of the best trails are located in the Bryce Amphitheatre, located near the
entry to the park.
Here you can wander through the Queen's Garden,
or gaze up at Queen Victoria herself surveying the 'flowers' in her
garden. Some of the most awe inspiring lookouts are situated in this area,
including Sunset Point and Inspiration Point - a must for any visitor.
Walkers can also follow the Fairyland, Riggs Spring and Under-the-Rim
trails, which are longer, but allow more opportunities to see the
different elements of the park at close quarters.