Bryce Canyon National Park does not contain one main canyon, but rather a dozen smaller ravines eroded into the east side of a ridge running approximately north-south at the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southwest Utah. This erosion has resulted in thousands of bizarre and fragile rock formations, large and small, in many subtle shades of pink, white, yellow and red, extending in quite a narrow band for over 25 miles along the plateau rim. The national park is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon farmer who was the first modern-day settler in the region, and was established in 1924.
Water is responsible for creating the rock shapes in Bryce Canyon National Park. Rain and melting snow flowing down the Pink Cliffs towards the Paria River form ridges, or fins, which subsequently erode into the spires, pinnacles and other shapes (collectively known as ‘hoodoos’) which are left standing. In time these too erode, and the whole process moves very gradually westwards as more of the cliff is slowly worn away. During the long, cold winters, the cliffs are further weakened by freezing water expanding in cracks, resulting in more erosion when the ice thaws in spring.
As with most national parks, the best way to appreciate Bryce Canyon is to explore away from the main roads. There are various trails both along the rim and down through the formations, but probably the best is the Fairyland Loop Trail, an 8 mile, little-used route which descends 900 feet from the ridge road and winds through many of the fins and spires giving a more intimate view of the park. Hiking just part of the route is enough for nice views; the other most popular paths nearby are the Navajo, Peekaboo and Queens Garden trails. Many of the formations in this part of Bryce Canyon have received official names, like Tower Bridge, reached via a short side-track, which resembles one of the Thames bridges in London. There are more features of interest besides the rocks, such as along the one mile Bristlecone Trail, at the far south end of the park, which passes several 1,600 year old bristlecone pines; these are the longest lived species of trees in the world. Other short paths include the Hat Shop Trail to a group of unusual pinnacles, and the Mossy Cave Trail to a waterfall and a sheltered alcove.
Taken with Canon 5D Mark II and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM … edited in PS6 and Photomatix Pro 4.