Bryce Canyon – A History

Although named after Mormon Pioneer Ebenezer Bryce, the person most responsible for Bryce Canyon becoming a National Park was J. W. Humphrey, a U. S. Forest Service Supervisor who was transferred to Panguitch, Utah in July 1915. An employee suggested that J. W. view the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. When Humphrey came to the rim, at the point now known as Sunset Point, he was astonished:

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

“You can perhaps imagine my surprise at the indescribable beauty that greeted us, and it was sundown before I could be dragged from the canyon view. You may be sure that I went back the next morning to see the canyon once more, and to plan in my mind how this attraction could be made accessible to the public.”

J. W. Humphrey had still photographs and movies of the canyon sent to Forest Service officials in Washington D. C. and to officials of the Union Pacific Railroad. Magazine and newspaper articles were written. In 1916, Humphrey secured a $50 appropriation to improve the road and make the rim accessible to automobile traffic.

By 1919, tourists from Salt Lake City were visiting Bryce Canyon. Ruby and Minnie Syrett erected tents and supplied meals for over night guests near Sunset Point. In 1920 the Syretts constructed Tourist’s Rest a 30 by 71 foot lodge, with eight or ten nearby cabins and an open air dance floor. In 1923, the Union Pacific Railroad bought the Tourist’s Rest land, buildings and water rights from the Syretts. Ruby and Minnie then established Ruby’s Inn just outside the park.

Gilbert Stanley Underwood was hired by the Union Pacific to design a lodge near Sunset Point. The original main building was finished by May 1925. Additions were made and the final configuration completed by 1927. President Warren G. Harding proclaimed Bryce Canyon a national monument on June 8, 1923. On February 25, 1928, Bryce Canyon officially became a national park.

In 1930, the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel was completed. This effectively tied Bryce, Zion, Cedar Breaks and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon together. Trains would transport passengers to Cedar City. Buses would leave Cedar City and transport tourists among the four parks.

The size of the park was increased to the current 35,835 acres in 1931, via two Proclamations by President Hoover.

In 1931, the Park workforce completed a total of 4.5 miles of foot and horse trails. This included Sunset Point to Bryce Point, Bryce Point to Peek-a-boo Canyon and Sunrise to Campbell Canyon. A short bridle path was laid out to prevent indiscriminate riding between the Lodge and rim.

During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps made many improvements to Bryce Canyon National Park. These included Campground development, under the rim fire trail, Fairyland Trail, boundary fences, parking areas, museum-overlook at Rainbow Point, erosion control and insect pest control.

What to do In Bryce Canyon

Most park visitors sightsee using the scenic drive, which provides access to 13 viewpoints over the amphitheaters. Bryce Canyon has eight marked and maintained hiking trails that can be traversed in less than a day. That’s the round trip time from the trailhead. Mossy Cave, one hour, on State Route 12 northwest of Tropic, The Rim Trail (5–6 hours, anywhere on rim), Bristlecone Loop (one hour, Rainbow Point), and Queens Garden (1–2 hours, Sunrise Point) are easy to moderate hikes. Navajo Loop (1–2 hours, Sunset Point) and Tower Bridge (2–3 hours, north of Sunrise Point) are moderate hikes. Fairyland Loop (4–5 hours, Fairyland Point) and Peekaboo Loop (3–4 hours, Bryce Point) are strenuous hikes. Several of these trails intersect, allowing hikers to combine routes for more challenging hikes.

The park also has two trails designated for overnight hiking: the 9-mile. Under The Rim Trail. Both require a back country camping permit. In total there are 50 miles of trails in the park.

From April through October horse riding is a pleasant diversion.

More than 10 miles of marked skiing trails are available off of Fairyland, Paria, and Rim trails in the park. Twenty miles of connecting groomed ski trails are in nearby Dixieland Forest and Ruby’s Inn.

The air in the area is so clear that on most days from Yovimpa and Rainbow points, visibility is 90 miles all the way to Arizona. On extremely clear days, the Black Mesas of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico can be seen some 160 miles away.

The park also has a 7.4 magnitude night sky, making it one of the darkest in North America. Stargazers can, therefore, see 7,500 stars at night while in most places fewer than 2,000 can be seen due to light pollution. In many large cities only a few dozen can be seen. Park rangers frequently host public stargazing events and evening programs on astronomy, nocturnal animals, and night sky protection.

Fun in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park has everything, from hiking and biking trails to jogging areas that are perfect for you no matter what your level is. There are flatlands there are slot canyons. How can you not win?

Even if you stick to the more travelled roads, there is no shortage of fun-filled tracks to pursue. If you are feeling more adventurous, consider a pack ride or a guided night hike. The possibilities are almost limitless.

Lodging possibilities are varied and extensive. You can camp in a tent, hook up your RV, or stay in a luxury hotel.

You can also find a wealth of dining and activity options. Whether you are here for sight-seeing, bird watching, hunting or fishing, golfing or just gazing at the star-filled night sky it’s impossible to be bored.

There are many tours available. Among them are cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, as well as jeep and aerial tours year-round.

No amount of planning can prepare you for the scenic beauty of Bryce Canyon, Utah, and its neighboring attractions – and no length of stay will exhaust its possibilities. By the time you have to leave you’ll already be planning your next visit.

The Paunsaguant Wildlife Museum has become one of the finest wildlife museums in the country all because of one man’s desire to make his dream a reality.

Robert Driedonks, curator of the museum wants to educate people about wildlife. He has spent the last 42 years of his life hunting and collecting animals from all over the world to create a museum with exhibits dedicated to preservation, accuracy, and education. Robert says that since the age of 16 he has known that a wildlife museum would be his destiny. Amazing as the new museum is Robert still has future expansion plans, “There are still 50 animals that won’t fit.” His future goal is to add 10,000 more square feet to house the total animal collection.

Robert and his wife, Teri, have spent many dedicated hours making this museum one of the greatest adventures in the West. They welcome you and look forward to your visit .