Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

I know I’ve said it before, but the first full day of our roadtrip (as in, first day we woke up in the van) was absolutely one of my favorites.

After spending the morning in Zion National Park, we drove barely more than an hour northeast to visit the equally incredible Bryce Canyon National Park. This post might be a bit photo-heavy, because I don’t know if I can quite do it justice with words. You might want to stop for a cup of tea halfway through.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Despite being relatively close to Zion, Bryce Canyon receives fewer than half as many visitors per year. Dear everybody: you don’t know what you’re missing!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

The main features of the park are those craggy orange pinnacles. Or, if you’re being technical, hoodoos. The hoodoos have been weathered into shape by frost and water over thousands of years.

That big open basin you see above is called Bryce Amphitheater. Aside from being the most visually interesting spectacle in the park, the hoodoos in Bryce Amphitheater had specific meaning to the Paiute tribe who once inhabited the area. Their legends said that the hoodoos were people who had been turned into stone by Coyote, a notorious trickster in Native American mythology.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

The area was settled by a small group of Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and one of them, Ebenezer Bryce, built his home right below the main amphitheater. Despite the fact that it’s not actually a canyon, it came to be called “Bryce Canyon” by the other locals. Ebenezer Bryce was a cattle farmer and apparently said that the jagged, winding hoodoos and amphitheaters were a “helluva place to lose a cow.”

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

The natural amphitheaters are also filled with firs, spruces, and Ponderosa pines, which provide that amazing contrast between the deep green and bright orange.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Gigantic puffy snowclouds rolled in and out, throwing dramatic light and shadows over the rocks and trees.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Visiting all these national parks towards the end of autumn was far and away a great plan. There were so few people around that many times, we felt like we had the views all to ourselves. There was no waiting for parking spaces, jostling through crowds, or trying to crop strangers out of our photos.

However, we did miss out on some of the activities that go on in the summer tourist season. Apparently, rangers give cliffside nature presentations when it’s warmer out!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Not a bad classroom view, eh?

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

There are a few species of plants in Bryce Canyon that don’t exist anywhere in the world outside of southwest Utah. Bill Nye would have a field day!

You begin at Sunrise Point and can continue along to Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce Points, slowly gaining elevation with each stop.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

The wind got colder, but the views kept getting more and more stunning, so we made a quick (haha, it was not quick at all) stop in one of the parking areas to make tea and coffee on our little propane camp stove. It took me twenty minutes and about the same number of matches, but I am proud to report that after that embarrassing learning experience I was much improved and am now master of portable camp stoves everywhere.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Just look at this landscape. Is this real life?!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Those cartoon clouds finally opened up and starting sprinkling snow flurries on us, so we decided to drive all the way to the highest point of the park and then make our way back down, to see as much as we could before the weather stopped us.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

(Nabbed this one from Amity)

Up at Rainbow Point, it was looking like this:

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

On the way back down, we stopped for the view of the Natural Bridge and made friends with a gigantic raven, who gave us all the news from the Tower of London.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

The light. The light!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

The snow really started to come down then and we figured we were better off getting out of the park and onto bigger roads, so we headed for the exit and left my favorite park (have you figured out that I’m going to say that every time?) behind.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

Driving out through the snowy twilight reminded me of driving through Cairngorms National Park in Scotland just before the sun rose. Total Polar Express environment.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | A Life Exotic

You made it! Sorry about all the pictures. But I’m not actually sorry. Are you?

The Details: $25 entry fee per vehicle | Open year-round with occasional closure due to weather or bears (!) | Website HERE

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

13 thoughts on “Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    1. Thanks Marcella! I can’t take too much credit – I don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo of that landscape! I totally agree with you – there were so many parks (and this was one of them) that I thought looked even more beautiful than usual in the snow. Happy Christmas to you, too! x

    1. Merry Christmas to you, too, lovely girl!! You KNOW I will be bombarding with you with unsolicited suggestions and advice if/when you plan a USA adventure – and I may just pop up and meet you along the road 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful time at home!

    1. Thanks Yvonne! I went to Yosemite a bit later on this same trip – also amazing!! Top of my parks wishlist now are Yellowstone and Glacier. Hope you get to visit Bryce Canyon someday, you definitely won’t be disappointed!

  1. Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite places in the US!!! I’ve been there twice and each time I’m just STUNNED by how beautiful it is. Like, I can’t believe it’s real! The last time I was there, my friends and I did a 4 hour horseback ride up and down the canyon. It’s one of my favorite travel activities that I’ve ever done!! I would definitely recommend it!

  2. What beautiful photos! My mom visited here a couple years ago but the photos she brought back didn’t capture it nearly as well as these. The US just as so much natural beauty to discover and enjoy- it makes me really proud to be from there 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! I really agree – there are so many incredibly different landscapes in the US. After coming back from living abroad, I felt like I really had to get out there and appreciate my own country!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *