BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
At Bryce Canyon National Park, erosion has shaped colorful Claron limestones, sandstones, and mudstones into thousands of spires, fins, pinnacles, and mazes. Collectively called "hoodoos," these colorful and whimsical formations stand in horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters along the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Southern Utah.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a scientist's laboratory and a child's playground. Because Bryce transcends 2000 ft. (650 m) of elevation, the park exists in three distinct climatic zones: spruce/fir forest, Ponderosa Pine forest, and Pinyon Pine/juniper forest. This diversity of habitat provides for high biodiversity. Here at Bryce, you can enjoy over 100 species of birds, dozens of mammals, and more than a thousand plant species.
It is the uniqueness of the rocks that caused Bryce Canyon to be designated as a national park. These famous spires called "hoodoos" are formed when ice and rainwater wear away the weak limestone that makes up the Claron Formation. However the "hoodoos" geologic story is also closely tied to the rest of the Grand Staircase region and the Cedar and Black Mountains volcanic complex. In short, Bryce has enough fascinating geology to fill a textbook.
We invite you to surf this section of our website to learn about some of the highlights of Bryce Canyon's natural world, and hope that one day you'll come and see the real thing in person.
One of the first questions people ask when visiting the rugged wilds of southern Utah is, "Who would live here?" The answer is, "Many different cultures over thousands of years."
A recent archaeological survey of Bryce Canyon National Park and the Paunsaugunt Plateau shows that people have been marveling at Bryce's hoodoos for at least 10,000 years. It is suspected that throughout history, just as today, most people were just passing through. Bryce Canyon winters are so harsh that even modern year-round habitation is difficult. Yet Paleoindians hunted huge mammals here at the end of the Ice Age. Pueblo peoples hunted game in the forests and meadows of the plateau. Paiutes frequented the plateau to harvest pine nuts and conduct broad scale rabbit hunts called rabbit drives. Mormon pioneers diverted water from the plateau top into the valley below by digging a 10-mile (16 km) long irrigation ditch through the forests and rocky cliffs of what would later become the park. Their efforts made the dry valleys below the cliffs of Bryce suitable for agriculture, and gave them reason to name the town of Tropic, Utah.
Later in 1924, designation as a national park put Bryce Canyon on the map. But it was the Union Pacific Railroad and the Civilian Conservation Corps that made Bryce accessible to modern day travelers. Such improvements quickly made Bryce Canyon first a national attraction, and later an international "must see." Today 1.5 million people come each year to see this little park with enormous appeal.
Bryce Canyon National Park has two campgrounds located in close proximity to the Visitor Center, Bryce Canyon Lodge and the geologic wonder that is the Bryce Amphitheater. Both have restrooms with flush toilets, and drinking water. During the summer months token operated laundry and shower facilities are available at the general store nearby. A fee-for-use dump-station is available for RV users at the south end of North Campground. NOTE: Dump-station is closed during winter because of freezing temperatures.
Both campgrounds have a very similar appearance being located in Ponderosa Pine forest habitat with equal amounts of shade and sun. Neither campground has hook-ups, but a fee-for-use sanitary dump station is available seasonally near North Campground. All sites are limited to 6 people, 3 tents and 2 vehicles and cost $10 per night. Holders of special Park Passes such as the Golden Age and Golden Access get a 50% discount. Sites fill by early afternoon during the summer months.
NORTH CAMPGROUND (Open year round):
May 15 - Sept. 30, 32 sites RESERVATION ONLY (2-days in advance), 75 sites first-come, first served.
North Camprgound is located opposite the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center and has 107 sites in 4 loops. North Campground is closest to the general store. Loops A & B are for RV campers. Loops C & D are for tent campers. Call (877) 444-6777 or click www.ReserveUSA.com to make reservations. Reservations for 32 sites can be made 240 days to 2 days in advance for May 15 - September 30. NOTE: an extra booking fee of $9 is charged per reservation (i.e., a reservation for 2 nights stay would cost $10 + $10 + $9 = $29). NOTE: Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks use a different reservation system for their campgrounds. For more information call 1-800-365-2267.
SUNSET CAMPGROUND (Closed in winter)
Sunset Campground has 101 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis; NO RESERVATIONS ARE ACCEPTED. Located opposite Sunset Point approximately 1.5 miles south of the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, Sunset Campground has 3 loops. Sunset Campground is closest to the best hiking trails which begin and end at Sunset Point. Loop A is for RV campers. Loop B & C are for tent campers. Two wheelchair-accessible sites are located in Loop A. Sunset Campground also has a group site. RV and trailer combinations over 45 feet are discouraged, but not prohibited.
Sunset Group Campsite:
Group size is limited to 7-30 people and 8 vehicles. The cost is $3 person >age 6, with a minimum of $30 per night. Call (877) 444-6777.
A $5 backcountry permit is required for overnight backcountry camping. Permits must be obtained in person and are issued at the park visitor center from 8:00 a.m. until two hours before sunset or one hour before the Visitor Center closes. No phone or email reservations will be accepted. In person reservation can be made up to 48 hrs. in advance. Park staff reserves the right to refuse permits to parties that fail to demonstrate the necessary preparedness that Bryce Canyon's high and dry backcountry demands.
Bryce Canyon's backcountry is a primitive area and managed according to regulations that protect its wilderness values. Backcountry camping is allowed on a limited basis and ONLY at designated campsites. Download the Backcountry brochure in PDF for more information, regulations, and preparedness guidelines.
Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. operates the Bryce Canyon Lodge, with 114 rooms including lodge suites, motel rooms and cabins. The season begins April 1 and runs through October 31.
The dining room at Bryce Canyon Lodge is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner reservations are required. A gift shop and post office are also available at the Lodge.
Additional lodging is available in the local area. Reservations are recommended.