One of the most gorgeous areas in the American Southwest, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is located about four hours northeast of Las Vegas. While this is a significant distance, the park is close to Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Brian Head Resort -- a trip to the region packs in a lot of incredible sights.
Bryce Canyon is filled towering spires, fins, arches and mazes. Rocks throughout the park range in color from deep red to gold to tan and chalky white. They make a stunning contrast with the green forests and blue sky that surround Bryce Canyon.
The name "canyon" is something of a misnomer. Actually the park is a long but narrow desert plateau that's been carved by erosion and now bears wide, horseshoe-shaped rock basins on its sides.
Park visitors drive along a paved road above sights like Bryce Amphitheater, which is filled with fanciful rock towers called "hoodoos," and the vistas of Yovimpa Point and Inspiration Point. Hikers can take trails through landscapes like Fairyland Loop and Under the Rim Trail, meandering all the while between rock pillars for miles.
Extremely popular with summer travelers who enjoy Bryce Canyon's alpine climate, the park is also a great place for cross country skiing. There's a great deal of wildlife in and around Bryce Canyon. Lucky visitors might catch a glimpse of a mountain lion or a pronghorn antelope. Bird watchers will delight in the variety of raptors, including bald eagles and golden eagles. Reptiles found in the park include the Great Basin rattlesnake and the mountain short-horned lizard. Enjoy meadows filled with sego lilies, penstemons, asters, clematis, evening primrose, skyrocket gilias, Indian paintbrush and wild iris. Spring and early summer offer the best displays of flowers.
Visitors can free themselves of driving in the park by taking the environmentally-friendly shuttle bus. Horseback trips are available, too, and are unforgettable for city folk visiting Bryce Canyon.
Be sure and visit historic Bryce Canyon Lodge and the informative museum in the Visitor Center.
Any trip to Bryce Canyon means a stop at the famous Ruby's Inn with its stores and restaurants. The huge wooden structure is filled with interesting memorabilia. For some real authentic Western-style vittles, grab a delicious dinner at the Cowboy's Smoke House in the little town of Panguitch about 25 miles up the road.
Bryce Canyon is a gorgeous destination, from pine trees and sandstone to everything else in between.