Bryce Canyon is a unique and magical place. Get to know some strange facts about this incredible National Park.
Winter is actually one of the best times to visit the park
Wintertime at Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best times to see this natural wonder. The white snow juxtaposed against the crimson earth makes the scenery even more stunning in the winter. Wintertime visitors witness firsthand the eroding forces that created the thousands of hoodoos. Also, the crisp winter air allows the human eye to see for miles. Framed by intense blue skies and bold red rocks, the snow-covered trails take cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and snowshoeing to a new scenic level.
The colder season also means fewer crowds and lower costs. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and horse-drawn sleigh rides are some examples of the many fun activities that visitors can enjoy in the winter.
Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the world’s largest collection of hoodoos
Hoodoos—tall and thin rock spires of multiple colors and varying thickness— are formed by two weathering processes working together to erode the edges of a plateau. In Bryce Canyon, these unique-looking geological features have been formed primarily through a process called frost wedging, which acts in a similar way to how potholes in the road are formed. Each winter, the snow thaws and melts around the formations, then seeps into any cracks. When the water freezes, it expands by almost 10%, stretching out existing cracks. Each year about 200 freeze/thaw cycles do their work on the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
The hoodoos are a must-see at sunrise and sunset when the orange glow makes the rocks come alive and casts long shadows deep into the natural amphitheater. The contrasting colors, textures, and rock layers make Bryce Canyon a red-rock paradise for photographers, hikers, and families.
These Hoodoos may have an ancient history
Utah’s indigenous Paiute Native American tribe who used to live in the surrounding area developed some mythology about the Bryce Canyon hoodoos. They called these structures the “legend people,” believing that the mythological god Coyote once turned an entire crowd of people gathered on the side of the hill into stone.
No matter what you believe, the hundreds of hoodoos throughout the park are a stunning sight to see.
The unique red color actually comes from rust
Rust, bacteria, and water are responsible for the stunning colors found within Bryce Canyon. In fact, Iron oxide is what colors most of the rock. It is found both in the original rock and carried on by groundwater. Bacteria also live on the surfaces of these rocks which expel iron, manganese, and other minerals that stick onto the surface. This effect is called desert varnish and produces that reddish color you are familiar with. The intricate white lines that decorate these colorful formations are formed when water runs over the rocks and deposits salt as it evaporates.
The red rock effect creates impressive vistas from viewpoints all around the park.
Bryce Canyon National Park isn’t a canyon at all
Despite what the name may suggest, Bryce Canyon National Park isn’t actually a canyon. This geological marvel is made up of more than a dozen carved-out natural amphitheaters, which means a large hollow in the rock. Each of these is carved 1,000 feet into the stone forming the stunning scenery that draws in visitors from around the world.
This surreal landscape is made up of towering hoodoos and natural bridges that seem to defy gravity and awe spectators. Hundreds of years of erosion and frost wedging have formed the spectacular sites that you see today.