Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park occupies an otherworldly area composed of a dozen amphitheaters, or horseshoe-shaped canyons, on an eroded escarpment of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The whimsical formations of limestone rock, created by erosion and rain, are entrancing to visitors who love to explore the slot canyons, windows, fins and, most notably, the tall, skinny spires called hoodoos. In fact, Bryce Canyon National Park boasts more hoodoos than any other place in the world.
The park was named after a Scottish immigrant, Ebenezer Bryce, who settled in the region with his family in 1875. Locals called the canyon where they lived "Bryce's Canyon" and the name stuck, even after they moved to Arizona in 1880. With elevations reaching 9,115 feet, Bryce offers panoramic views of three states and about 200 miles of visibility. Since it's exposed to very little light pollution, the park offers optimal conditions for stargazing. In fact, you can see 7,500 stars on a moonless night.
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The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, which is generally open from late March through early November, is the only lodging in the park. It has three eateries, two in the lodge and one by the North Campground.
In the lodge, visitors can eat at the restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, or at Valhalla Pizzeria & Coffee Shop, also open for all meals. Menu items include seared salmon, quinoa primavera and bison stew. Valhalla features artisanal pizzas and Italian dishes, as well as home-baked pastries, espresso drinks and coffee.
The General Store, located near the North Campground, offers grab-and-go items, such as pizza, soft pretzels, hot dogs, soup and sandwiches, that can be eaten on the porch or at picnic tables. Meanwhile, the grocery section sells fresh, frozen and canned foods, as well as soda, water and beer.
Most injuries at Bryce Canyon National Park can be avoided with proper preparation, common sense and caution. This includes wearing the right shoes, being aware of the weather and driving safely. As in any natural setting, never approach, startle or feed any wild animal you encounter. Observe wildlife from a distance, and make sure you have food contained properly.
Though lightning is a year-round danger at Bryce Canyon National Park, it's especially threatening during the summer. Storms are most common in July, August and September but can happen any time of the year. To avoid injury, follow the NPS' rule of thumb, "when thunder roars, go indoors." If you can hear thunder, that means lightning is within 10 miles. Head to a shelter or your vehicle immediately.
As on any hike, preparation is key. Wear hiking boots with good ankle support and "lug" traction; don't climb or slide on cliffs (it's dangerous, as well as illegal); bring plenty of water to avert dehydration; stay on the trail; and wear a hat and sunscreen. It's important to remember that at Bryce Canyon National Park, elevations can reach 9,115 feet and Bryce's trails start at the top, which means you'll be returning uphill.
The best way to get around Bryce Canyon National Park is by shuttle and car. The park's free shuttle system operates from mid-April through late October. If you're visiting outside those months, a car is the best way to get around. To reach the park, you'll need to have your own car since there is no public transportation to the park.
Many visitors fly into McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which are both located about 270 miles from the park. Car rentals are abundant at the airports and in the surrounding areas.See details for Getting Around
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