Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a breathtakingly beautiful natural area that has been designated as a national park since 1928. The park covers an impressive 56,867 acres and features stunning geological formations, colorful terrain, and remarkable wildlife. It's one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the United States and attracts millions of visitors yearly.
The land within the boundaries of Bryce Canyon National Park has a long and storied history that dates back thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows that people have lived in the area for at least 10,000 years. The ancient Puebloans used the area as their home and hunted and gathered food from nearby sources. They also established a variety of trading relationships with nearby tribes.
In 1875, Major John Wesley Powell conducted a survey of the Bryce Canyon region. Around the same time, Ebenezer Bryce, a Scottish carpenter, was sent to Paria Valley by the LDS Church. After settling in Clifton with his wife, Bryce built the oldest continuously used Mormon chapel in nearby Pine Valley before moving to Bryce Canyon. He constructed a timber road to the canyon's rim and helped create an irrigation canal to make the area suitable for farming. Bryce famously said that Bryce Canyon was challenging to find a lost cow. Despite the Bryce family's departure and other settlers' departure, the area continued to be known as "Bryce's Canyon." Interest in the scenic canyon grew as Union Pacific expanded rail service in the early 1900s. In 1916, pioneer rancher Reuben Syrett, also known as Ruby, and his wife Minnie provided lodging and tour services near the canyon's rim to accommodate railroad visitors. The state of Utah later permitted the Syretts to build a lodge near the rim, which eventually moved to their ranch. Today, Ruby's Inn, a western-themed iconic establishment, is the gateway to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon as a National Park
In 1915, National Forest Supervisor J. W. Humphrey experienced a revelation when he was transferred to Bryce Canyon from the La Sal National Forest. Captivated by its beauty and grandeur, he made it his mission to bring attention to this hidden gem. Humphrey's efforts gained traction by hosting influential guests and securing funds for a road to the canyon rim. Soon after, articles highlighting Bryce Canyon's wonders were published in railroad tourist magazines, catapulting its reputation. The allure of moving pictures and postcards further enticed visitors nationwide. Bryce Canyon's full tourism potential was finally on the brink of realization.
In 1919, the Utah state legislature requested Congress establish Bryce National Monument, which was created in 1923. The Union Pacific railroad obtained a section of land on the rim and initiated the development of campsites, cabins, a lodge, and better access to the Canyon. In 1928, Bryce Canyon was no longer under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service and was designated as Bryce Canyon National Park. Over time, an additional 12,000 acres were added, resulting in the current 37,277-acre park. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide yearly to witness its extraordinary beauty.
Bryce Canyon Today
Today, Bryce Canyon National Park is a world-renowned destination for nature lovers. Tourists flock to the park year-round to experience its stunning beauty and partake in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, horseback riding, and bird watching. The park features an array of magnificent geological formations like hoodoos and natural arches that draw people from around the globe. Visitors can learn about the area's history with interpretive activities and educational artifacts at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. With its inspiring landscapes, diverse wildlife, and unique recreational opportunities, Bryce Canyon National Park is unforgettable for visitors of all ages.
Whether you're looking to explore ancient Native American sites or capture breathtaking views of the canyon below, Bryce Canyon National Park is a must-see destination in Utah. It's a remarkable natural area that offers something for everyone, from awe-inspiring views to thrilling outdoor activities. Its rich history and iconic landscapes make it one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Spend some time exploring this beautiful corner of the country and understand why Bryce Canyon National Park has captivated visitors since its designation as a national park.