The National Park Service website for Bryce Canyon National Park reads thus: "Bryce Canyon is, in the strictest sense of the word, UNIQUE; nowhere is anything else even similar! What is Bryce Canyon? Words confound when no comparable exist. A cave without a ceiling? A forest of stone? Even 'canyon' is misleading since Bryce is carved by freeze-thaw cycles, not a river. Yet, 'world's largest pothole' is neither adequate nor flattering." If there were a stronger word than "unique," I would use it. It is the most beautiful place I have seen in my extensive travels.
A group of families established the town of Clifton, Utah, near the junction of the Paria River and Henrieville Creek, in 1874. Ebenezer Bryce and his family arrived in Clifton in 1875, but soon moved upstream to Henderson Valley (New Clifton). Ebenezer helped to complete a seven mile irrigation ditch from Paria Creek and built a road into the pink cliffs to make timber more accessible. People started to call the amphitheater where the road terminated, "Bryce's Canyon." Ebenezer Bryce and his family moved to Arizona in 1880, but the Bryce's Canyon name stuck.
Bryce Canyon, first designated Bryce Canyon National Monument on June 8, 1923; reached National Park status on September 15, 1928. The pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon are the top step in the Grand Staricase - Esclante National Monument.
Utah Highway 12 runs through the north section of the park, so one is in the park long before he reaches the welcoming sign on two-lane Highway 63 into the main part of the park. Long before I turned onto the two-lane road, I knew I was in for something really special. I have seen red, brown, black and white cliffs along my travels, but never have I seen anything like Bryce. The colors range from pink to salmon to white.
The first stop was at the Mossy Cave Trailhead. I was so in awe of what I saw and it was getting late, so I did not walk the trail. I'll save that for next time. I will return to Bryce one day.
Before the Sign
This was just the beginning
All of the above shots were taken before I arrived at that sign
As I settled into the campsite, the sun began to set. There were too many trees to actually see the sunset, but I did get these four shots.
Sunrise Point is the second viewing are along the Rim Road. The first is Fairyland Point, which I visited on my way out of the park, north of the park gate. I arrived really early at Sunrise Point and when I saw the red between the clouds and assumed the sun would rise in that area.
In the center of some of these photos you can see a large mountain in the distance. That is Navajo Mountain and is 90 miles southeast of the park.
The cliffs were barely visible
As I kept a lookout for the sun over Navajo Mountain, the cliffs began to take shape
Still no sun
Daylight was coming and I was beginning to think I would not capture a sunrise. The heavy cloud cover hid it from view.
This red under the clouds indicated the sun was out there somewhere
Thick, dark clouds filled the valley, but that didn't deter this bluebird from singing.
The silver lining indicated I had been looking in the wrong direction; and finally a glimpse of sun about 30° north of Navajo Mountain.
I figured with the clouds above and bellow the sun wouldn't be visible for long