In the plains and depths of southwestern Utah lies the snow-capped desert wonderland of Bryce Canyon National Park. Originally settled by Mormon pioneers in the mid-19th century, Bryce Canyon eventually earned monument status in 1923 and later became a National Park in 1928.
What was labeled as a canyon is really a collection of rocky amphitheaters and a geological formation known as hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and not erosion as canyons are. The end effect is a tantalizingly breathtaking series of landscapes of red rock spires, deep valleys, and sheer cliffsides dusted with a thin layer of snow and frost.
Covering nearly 36,000 acres, Bryce Canyon National Park is the unsung sister of Zion National Park. Formed around a giant amphitheater dating back to the Cenozoic Era, the main Bryce Canyon stretches 12 miles long and contains hoodoos that reach, at some points, up to 200 feet in the air. These skyscraper natural monuments make for an interesting photo opportunity, especially at dusk when the sunset lights up the surrounding vista in a spectacular painting of visual beauty.
The park, once the historic home of several Native American tribes and later Mormon homesteads, is a wonderful educational opportunity for not only its geological richness but its cultural and historical as well. At the borders of the park you can find visitors centers for more information on which spots to tour first and also find exhibits and more information on the history of the park. While you're exploring the so named canyons, you might be able to catch sight of the most abundant form of wildlife in the park, the mule deer, or even some small mammals or larger carnivores like mountain lions, bears, and more!