For me this was a place so different from anywhere else i had visited.From the viewing area at Bryce Point you had a fantastic view of the odd shaped pillars of rock (hoodos) left standing from the forces of erosion.The beautiful colour of the canyon with a sprinkling of snow and the pine trees made this an amazing sight.
Bryce Canyon National Park, is a naturally beautiful setting with wildlife and scenes of the colorful rock that makes up the canyon. It is nice this time of year the weather can be on the colder side because of the elevation and location, it is a nice break from 100+ temps in Vegas. The drive is just under 4 hours making it an easy weekend trip, but if you want to explore or do any activities you will want more time. I spent 4 days and didn't get to do all I had wanted, you can rent bikes, boats and ATV's, you can watch for wildlife or take beautiful photos of scenes rarely witnessed by most people. There are rivers, lakes and streams providing serene water sounds to your visit, best time to go for that is spring when the runoff is at the peak. All in all a very affordable memorable event for all ages to enjoy.
The best place to start your visit to Bryce Canyon National Park is the Visitors Center. Here you can get a brochure and newspaper for the park; look over maps; and get recommendations from the helpful rangers on how to best enjoy your visit based on your interests and the amount of time you have to visit. You can also arrange for campsites and get backcountry permits here. In the summer rangers meet you at the Visitors Center or other locations in the park for ranger-led hikes and talks about subjects covering from geology, ecology, wildlife, and other subjects. Hours are 8 AM to 4:30 PM daily with extended hours in the late spring, summer, and early fall.
There are a few different hiking trails in the park like the "Rim Trail"; "Under the Rim Trail"; "Bristlecone Loop Trail"; and the "Riggs Spring Loop Trail". There are also trails of varying length to the viewpoints. Some of these trails were inaccessible due to snow when I visited. There are a total of about 50 miles of trails in the park. I will go into more details about some of these trails in the Sports Tips.
As the name implies, this viewpoint offers beautiful views of distant mountains, cliffs, and plateaus to include the Kaibab Plateau on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Bryce Canyon is part of a much larger formation called the "Pink Cliffs" which is in turn part of a series of formations forming the "Grand Staircase" which stretches from Southern Utah to the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona.
Here you can see some of the formations visible from Sunset Point: Boat Mesa 2 miles away (left midground Photo 1); Sinking Ship 3 mile away; Aquarius Plateau 15 miles away ( midlle background Photo 1) and Canaan Mountain 23 miles away.
People who are visiting the park for only a very short amount of time sometimes stop here and just tour the Sunset and Sunrise Viewpoints. Both offer nice views of the Bryce Amphitheater which is the largest naturally occurring amphitheater in the park. I highly recommend, however, that you allow yourself more time at this magnificent park. This is also the trailhead for the Queen's Garden Trail that leads to Thor's Hammer and Wall Street.
Taking the road opposite the turnoff for Paria View brings you to Bryce Point the southernmost viewpoint for the extremely impressive Bryce Amphitheater. Bryce Point is the northernmost point for the Under the Rim Trail. North from here the trail follows closer to the rim.
The Paria Overlook is also very interesting because of the grottoes and the Row of Windows. These formations show how the erosion by rainwater and snow forms the rock. Moisture from rain and melting snow seeps through small cracks in the harder caprock to the more porous sandstone below. The water then makes its way to the cliff face where it slowly melts the Calcium Carbonate that holds the rock together forming ever deepening grottoes. As time passes these grottoes continue to grow forming the Row of Windows. Note the arch that has formed in this manner in the center of Photo 2.
Paria View is another that I highly recommend. Here you can see an impressive amphitheater carved by Yellow Creek; the Paria Valley and Table Cliff Plateaus. If you look further south you can see the Navajo Sandstone forming the White Cliffs.
The parking area for Swamp Canyon Overlook offers a nice view of Swamp Canyon which parallels the plateau you are driving on. You can also access the Swamp Canyon or Sheep Creek Connecting Trails here that will lead you to the Under the Rim Trail.
This point is called "Natural Bridge". It is misnamed, however, because this is not a natural bridge. Natural bridges are formed by rushing streams but this "bridge" was formed by water seeping into cracks and freezing and thawing, then combining with chemical erosion and gravity to form the opening.
Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point are the highest points in the park. At about 9000 feet in elevation, they are 1200 feet higher than the visitors center. If you are not used to higher elevations, you may want to take it easy until you acclimatize. This high elevation also means you will see snow much of the year here.
Rainbow Point is the southernmost point on the scenic drive. Rainbow Point has a spectacular view that on most days shows Navajo Mountain and the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona, some 90 miles away. Look at the vast array of colors visible in the hoodoos and slopes.
There is an 18 mile scenic drive accessing almost all the viewpoints in the park. All of the pullouts are on the east side of the road. In order to keep from having to cross traffic, you may want to drive to the end of the road and work your way back.