Book your helicopter tour over Bryce Canyon for a breathtaking experience
HOW WAS BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK FORMED? Bryce Canyon National Park is a series of huge natural amphitheaters carved into sedimentary rocks by the Paria River and its tributaries, along the edge of the Paunsagunt Plateau. Differential erosion has produced a fantastic array of brightly colored pinnacles, windowed walls, pedestals, fins and spires eroded from the Pink Cliffs layer of the Tertiary Claron formation, formerly referred to as the Wasatch formation.
HOW OLD IS BRYCE CANYON? Bryce Canyon is over sixty million years old. Sedimentary deposits in a large prehistoric lake created the claron formation, a combination of limestone, siltstone, shale, sandstone and occasional conglomerate as well. Subsequent uplift and faulting created the massive blocks we now call the Paunsagunt and Aquarius Plateaus. Erosion caused the exposure of the claron formation atop of these plateaus, which continues to this day.
The uplifts and faulting formed blocks that streams carved into the plateaus. The joint systems and cracks produced by the uplifting determine the location of walls, arches, windows and natural bridges. The pinnacles (hoodoos) are the result of differential weathering along vertical fractures on these claron beds, containing layers with varying degrees of hardness. Most arches in the park are carved from the sandstone beds of the claron formation in much the same manner.THE FIRST TO EXPLORE & SETTLE AT BRYCE CANYON? Ebenezer Bryce helped settle southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. He arrived on the Paunsagunt Plateau and Paria Valley in 1875 to harvest timber. The canyon behind his home came to be known as Bryce's Canyon; today it remains the name of both a specific canyon and the national park. After 1900, visitors began to arrive to view the colorful geologic features, and initial accommodations were constructed along the plateau rim above Bryce's Canyon. By the 1920s, efforts were being made to set aside these scenic wonder of the Paunsagunt Plateau.