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Bryce Canyon Geology

Rainbow Point in Bryce CanyonLong ago, and changing over the great spans of time, the rocky area of of Bryce Canyon was once covered by sea, mountains, desert and coastal plain. Over millions of years, the rock and land was subject to violent storms and severe changes. Earthquakes, mudslides and volcanoes roared upon the primitive earth, forcing, molding and reshaping it. Seas and streams came and went, moving sediment and depositing it in layers.

The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are 60 million years old. More changes occurred until sand, gravel and sedimentary deposits filled ancient lakes within the Colorado Plateau. These materials compressed and hardened into sedimentary rock. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are 60 million year old sculpted claron rock formations which consist of limestone, dolomite and siltstone layers. The Colorado Plateau has risen over a time period of about sixteen million years. The Paria River and its streams flowed through the area sculpting and eroding the walls. These sedimentary layers contain lignite, coal and fossils, including evidence of the lush mesozoic period when the climate of the area was tropical with lush plants and a variety of unique animals flourished. The location at the plateau rim allows for hoodoo formation because the steep slope gives the environment needed for the structures to form. At the slope, faults and joints form compressional forces that guide the patterns of erosion.

Bryce Canyon Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona - North Rim Map Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah Lodging: Zion National Park Zion National Park Cedar Breks National Monument, Utah Dixie National Forest: Cedar Mountain Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona - North Rim Map Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah Lodging: Zion National Park Zion National Park Cedar Breks National Monument, Utah Dixie National Forest: Cedar Mountain Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Geology in Bryce Canyon Red rock hues
Rock formations, dating from the late Mesozoic and Early Cenozoic periods include: Dakota, Tropic Shale, Straight Cliffs and Bryce's dominant and soft, calcareous Claron Formation. Claron is a highly colorful combination of pinks and oranges caused by trace amounts of iron oxide. The white formations you see in the park are lacking the iron oxide. The pink limestone from the Claron formation, with its iron and manganese oxides, is responsible for the reds and pinks that we see in the rocks today. This fascinating geology can also be seen in nearly Cedar Breaks National Monument. Small pockets of hoodoos can also be seen along SR-89 and SR-14.

Directions to Bryce Canyon

From Salt Lake City: Travel south on Interstate 15 past Beaver to UT 20. Exit on UT 20. Turn south on UT 89 and travel past Panguitch. Follow UT 89 to UT 12. Travel along UT 12 through Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon. Turn south on UT 63 to enter the park.
From Las Vegas: Travel Interstate 15 past St. George to Exit 16. Drive through Hurricane, Utah. Follow Utah Highway 9 through Hurricane and to the only stop light in LaVerkin. Turn right at the stop light. Continue on Highway 9 to the south entrance of Zion National Park. Drive through Zion to the junction of UT 9 and US 89 at Mt. Carmel Jct. Turn north on UT 89, then exit on UT 12. Follow UT 12 through Red Canyon, turning south on UT 63 to enter Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon Road Map - Bryce Canyon Trail Map

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Bryce Canyon geology

This structure began as long thin limestone rock or fin, a window then formed in the fin resulting in the image you see. Next the top to the window will break away leaving a hoodoo.

 

Lodging Zion National Park
Lodging Zion National ParkLodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.

 

Carving the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon - The yearly weather cycle aids the process needed for a hoodoo to form. In Bryce Canyon it freezes at night approximately 360 days of the year. The freeze and thaw cycle loosens the slope surface, allowing debris to be sluffed off by water run-off. When hiking among the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon, look closely at the fins and hoodoos and you will see the vertical cracks. The material carried away works on the softer rock to create gullies, and ultimately canyons. The hard rock that was left behind is further eroded along its vertical cracks, again subjected to the freeze - thaw cycle carving the hoodoos.

Geology at Bryce CanyonPatterns form through a process of freezing and thawing. The patterns of Bryce's rock formations show off their unique crisscross design formed though this long process of freezing and thawing. The process still continues today, and the rock formations continue to be designed by nature. When water seeps into the fractures of the rocks, it dissolves the calcium carbonate that holds the small rock particles together. In cold weather, the water turns to ice as temperatures drop, then the ice expands pushing the fractures open. The overnight freezing and daytime thaw are abundant, occurring two to three hundred times a year, but since different rocks are of varied hardness, erosion takes place at different rates. Just like at Zion National Park, erosion will continue until the plateau is flattened and the rocks turn to sand.

zion National Park CanyoneeringCedar Breaks vs Bryce Canyon - Comparing the Claron of Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon reveals the thicker more colorful Claron of Cedar Breaks. Cedar Break's smaller amphitheater is three miles wide and two thousand feet deep and the hoodoos are more pleasing to look at than those of Bryce Canyon, but the smaller park gets little visitation compared to Bryce. Cedar Breaks is located off Highway 14 atop the Markagunt Plateau. Located at a higher elevation than Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks sits at 10350'. The Bryce Canyon Visitor Center sits at just over 8000' elevation, making for much cooler weather than that of Zion National Park (6000'), and warmer weather than that of Cedar Breaks National Monument.

 


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