On February 25, 1928, the long-planned national park in Utah was established as Bryce Canyon National Park.
On the edge of a southern Utah plateau are a series of horseshoe-shaped basins surrounded by abrupt slopes of mostly sandy limestone that varies from white and gray to pink, red, and purple. Yellow-brown, grey and red sandstone form conglomerate beds within some of these limestone formations. Much of the limestone contains small marine fossils from the over 100 to 30 million years ago.
In the tens of millions of years since, the Bryce Canyon area has evolved from under a shallow seaway, marine sedimentary layering, geologic uplifting, mountain building, subsidence, and additional ash from volcanic eruptions nearby. From that combination of soft rock and soluble layering, canyons have been carved from constant erosion of rain, running water, freezing and thawing ice, and wind. The erosion has produced spectacular formations of colourful rock in spires, needles, arches, bridges, fins, slot canyons, mazes, and hoodoos.
The elevation within the park rises 660 m (2170 ft), creating distinct ecosystems within it. These range from a spruce forest at the lowest elevation to Ponderosa Pine to the top levels of wind sculpted Pinyon stands. Since the plateau is higher than its surrounding lowlands, there are many oases of vibrant plant life in the meadows and grasses that have found meltwater, seeps, and springs in the constantly eroding landscape. The infinite range of height in canyon structure attracts birds of every size. Large and small mammals and reptiles add their variety. Many animal names reveal the range of the park’s ecosystems – prairie dogs, sagebrush lizards, and desert bighorns, nuthatches, mountain lions and mountain bluebirds, cliff swallows and Pinyon mice.
In addition to its hiking, photography, horse riding, dark sky, and nature activities, Bryce Canyon National Park programs include specialized speaker engagements, an Astronomy Festival each June, and a Geology Festival each July.
B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage