Menu
Destinations

Most fascinating formations

Geology of Bryce Canyon National Park

A captivating region

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah and is famously known for its colorful spires, or hoodoos. These rock formations were created over millions of years by forces of nature such as erosion and weathering. The park is situated on the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, with elevations ranging from 6,620 to 8,100 feet above sea level. Its climate consists of warm summers and cold winters, with snowfall occurring from late October to mid-March.

The Colorado Plateau

Explore the breathtaking Colorado Plateau, a captivating region in the Southwest US that encompasses the Four Corners area. Home to iconic national parks like the Grand Canyon, Arches, and Bryce Canyon, this elevated landscape offers a mesmerizing glimpse into geological history.

With its highest peaks reaching heights of 2000-12,000 feet above sea level, the Colorado Plateau boasts a diverse array of rocks. While metamorphic and igneous rocks form the foundation, the striking sedimentary rocks steal the show. These layered formations exhibit captivating hues of rusty reds and vibrant oranges, leaving visitors in awe of their beauty.

Of all the rock types, sedimentary rocks dominate Bryce Canyon, contributing to its unique landscape. Formed through the gradual deposition and cementation of sediments, these rocks provide a fascinating record of the area's environmental history. By examining the size and composition of the sediment, we can unravel the story of how and where these rocks were deposited.

The rocks of Bryce Canyon paint a vivid picture of the region's past environments. Once a floodplain, part of a sea, and even a desert, this area has undergone incredible transformations. Around 50 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau was a vast flatland surrounded by higher elevations. Sediments carried from these elevated regions settled here, gradually consolidating into the diverse range of sedimentary rocks we see today. At this time, the Colorado Plateau was situated near sea level, showcasing the remarkable forces shaping this remarkable landscape.

Hoodoos

Experience the otherworldly landscape of Bryce Canyon, home to the mesmerizing hoodoos – natural geologic wonders that will leave you in awe. These pillar-like formations, made of sandstone and sedimentary rocks, result from a fascinating combination of weathering and erosion processes. The uplift of the Colorado Plateau elevated the region and combined with freezing temperatures for nearly 200 days a year, ice and rain shaped the hoodoos into their extraordinary shapes. As water seeps into the rock, it freezes and expands, gradually breaking apart the rocks and creating stunning formations. Each unique location within Bryce Canyon showcases its own distinct weathering patterns, making it a truly enchanting destination. From the iconic Silent City to Thor's Hammer, Bryce Canyon is home to a dazzling array of hoodoos – wonders of nature that are truly unforgettable.

Erosion

Discover the extraordinary landscapes of Bryce Canyon National Park, renowned for its stunning and distinctive rock formations. Marvel at the towering spires and slender rock fins that extend from the plateau's edge, affectionately known as Hoodoos.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the wind but the relentless power of water that has shaped the breathtaking wonders of Bryce Canyon. Over thousands of years, these Hoodoos have been sculpted by the same natural processes that have shaped the surrounding parks.

At Bryce Canyon National Park, water, ice, and gravity harmonize to create its magnificent features. This unique combination, along with the differential erosion of the Claron Formation, gives rise to a morphology found nowhere else on Earth.

Around 10-15 million years ago, the Paunsaugunt Plateau was uplifted by the Colorado Plateau, resulting in the formation of breaks known as joints. These joints let water infiltrate the rocks, gradually expanding them into intricate ravines and gullies. As time passed, deep slot canyons were carved into the walls of the plateau.

ROCK TYPES

The Claron Formation comprises four distinct rock types: limestone, siltstone, dolomite, and mudstone. The erosion of these rocks at different rates creates the distinctive undulating shapes of the hoodoos.

The harder rocks, such as limestone, siltstone, and dolomite, form a protective caprock on most of the hoodoos. Frost erosion is the primary force that shapes these rocks.

On the other hand, mudstone is the softest rock found in hoodoos. It can be easily identified as it forms the narrowest part of the pinnacles. When moistened, mudstone erodes quickly, creating a mud stucco that coats the rock, offering protection. This mud stucco is renewed with each rainfall. Even if wind erosion occurs, the stucco layer is replenished before it can significantly affect the rock. Therefore, wind has little to no impact on the formation or destruction of hoodoos.

Anasazi

Anasazi

Learn More

Antelope Island

Antelope Island

Learn More

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Learn More

Bear Lake

Bear Lake

Learn More

Camp Floyd

Camp Floyd

Learn More

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Learn More

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Learn More

Deer Creek

Dear Creek

Learn More

East Canyon

East Canyon

Learn More

Echo

Edge of the Cedars

Edge of the Cedars

Learn More

Escalante Petrified Forest

Escalante Petrified Forest

Learn More

Flight Park

Flight Park

Learn More

Freemont Indian

Freemont Indian

Learn More

Frontier Homestead

Frontier Homstead

Learn More

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley

Learn More

Goosenecks

Goosenecks

Learn More

The Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake

Learn More

Green River

Green River

Learn More

Gunlock

Gunlock

Learn More

Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail

Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail

Learn More

Huntington 

Huntington

Learn More

Hyrum

Jordan River Off-Highway Vehicle

Jordan River Off-Highway Vehicle

Learn More

Jordanelle

Jordanelle

Learn More

Kodachrome Basin

Kodachrome Basin

Learn More

Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon

Learn More

Yuba

magnifiercrossmenuchevron-down