BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Close to Zion, But a World Away
Also situated in southwestern Utah and a pretty 80-mile (plan about 90 minutes) drive from Zion, Bryce Canyon National Park makes for a unique daytrip. Though it's completely different from Zion, many of the same adjectives-from awesome to mesmerizing to zingy-still apply.
Like Zion, this area was also originally occupied by Indian Americans and then later settled by Mormon pioneers in the mid-1800s. Bryce Canyon was designated a national monument in 1923 and a national park in 1928.
Visitors coming from Zion drive through Red Canyon and it's well worth a stop. There's a Bryce shuttle boarding area in Bryce Canyon City just outside the entrance to the park, but it's not mandatory.
The Visitor Center is right inside the entrance and it's a great place to learn about the best overlooks, programs, and more. "The Hoodoo" map, shuttle, and hiking guide is also a great resource.
The 18-mile (one-way) scenic drive provides the perfect introduction to Bryce Canyon, thanks to 14 viewpoints and overlooks into the stunning Bryce Amphitheater Region. Park officials say the scenic drive can easily be completed in three to four hours, with stops at all or most of the viewpoints.
The viewpoints into Bryce Amphitheater are simply stunning. "Hoodoos" are everywhere, with their fantastical shapes and colors formed millions of years ago thanks to erosion and massive earth movements. Several mild to wild hiking trails lead down in the hoodoos.
Along with the various viewpoints, Bryce Canyon Lodge is also well worth a stop. It was designed by Zion Lodge architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and also features motel rooms, suites, and cabins. There's also a restaurant and a gift shop, as well as a general store just down the road.
For pictures, adjacent Sunset Point is a great place to start. The paved Rim Trail (which runs 11 miles round-trip along the rim of Bryce Amphitheater) also leads a half-mile to Sunrise Point and 0.7 miles to Inspiration Point. Inspiration Point and Bryce Point are also well worth the short drive, while those with more time will want to complete the entire route to see less visited Fairview Point, Rainbow Point, and Yovimpa Point.
Along with the views, ranger-led activities offer further insight into the park. The possibilities include astronomy and geology programs, several guided hikes, and-occasionally-programs for kids (including a Junior Ranger offering similar to that found in Zion). All of these options are a great way to expand a Bryce visit that almost defies description with adjectives.
Information, Please Bryce Canyon National Park P.O. Box 640201 Bryce, UT 84764 435-834-5322 www.nps.gov/brca