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Trips : Utah : Bryce Canyon National Park : Rim Shots

Bryce is one of the areas in Utah that you can see right from your car. There is a road right along the rim of the canyon that takes you to the various overlook points. If you were so inclined you could see all of them in a few hours. Here are some of those "rim shots" for you to get a preview of what you might see.

There are four overlook points for the main canyon, and they all are worth visiting. The points — in order that you will encounter them from the visitor center — are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. All of these points have parking lots. You can either drive or take the optional shuttle bus. If you want to see dramatic light you will be on your own; the shuttle bus doesn't start until 8:00 in the morning.

The scenery is incredible at any time, though, so don't feel like you have to be up at daybreak or out until sunset to appreciate the park. We usually hit the overlook points at sunrise or sunset and hike down into the canyon during the middle of the day.



"Dawn Starting from Bryce Point"
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Big Picture

Sunrise
Our tour starts with an pre-dawn shot from Bryce Point. Bryce is definitely more of an early morning spot than a sunset spot, since the main formations all face east. The ridge behind the canyon blocks most of the dramatic evening light.

This picture was taken from Bryce Point just after sunrise on a chilly September morning. After getting to the point and setting up our tripods we had a cup of hot chocolate and visited with the other early birds. The wait was certainly worth it; you can't see pastel hues like this after the sun comes up.



"Sunrise from Bryce Point"
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Big Picture

And when the sun does come fully up, the entire canyon seems to glow. The red tones of the rock echo and even seem to amplify the golden tones of early morning. There is a physics explanation for this; we have an article on our site in our explanation of Morning Glow.

Bryce is one of the most dramatic national parks in Utah because it is so different from everything else. In this shot you can see the different colors of stone laid down thousands of years ago when this area was a lakebed.

The tall columns are called hoodoos. You can find hoodoos throughout the various national parks in Utah, but the most dramatic collections are here in Bryce.



"The Tree That Walks"
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Big Picture

The Walking Tree at Sunrise Point
Part of what makes the park so dramatic is the speed of its erosion. Here you can see a tree perched right on the end of the canyon. The exposed roots show the speed at which the canyon rim is eroding. For this reason you should be careful to stay on the path, as you can never tell when a very rapid erosion event (a crumbling cliff) might occur. You do not want to participate in that!

Geologists estimate that the cliff is eroding at about an inch or so every ten years. The stone here is soft limestone rather than sandstone. It is subjected to freezing temperatures over 200 nights of the year. Water always plays an important part in erosion, but here at Bryce it is almost literally a jackhammer wearing away at the stone.



"Bryce Canyon from Sunset Point"
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Big Picture

The tree shown above is near Sunrise Point. This image was taken from Sunset Point, looking back over the canyon as the sun was setting. Both of these pictures were taking during a visit in March. Notice the snow? As the snow melts, refreezes, and melts again it is a major factor in the rapid erosion mentioned earlier.

In order to hike down into the canyon on this trip we bought metal spikes that we could strap on to our hiking boots. Without them, the packed snow and ice on the steep trails becomes too slippery to navigate. If you visit Bryce during the winter, you might want to plan on bringing something like this along if you want to hike down into the canyon.

If you just want to see the overlook points the snow is less of an issue.



"Moonrise Beyond Sunrise Point"
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Big Picture

Full Moon Rising
We conclude our trip along the rim of Bryce Canyon by returning to Sunrise Point. You might recognize this tree... it is the same one that appeared a couple of pictures earlier in this tour. This picture was taken at twilight, just after the sun has passed below the horizon but before it actually gets dark.

During the full moon, the moon is rising just as the sun is setting. Here you see the full moon rising over a formation in the valley called the Sunken Ship. The "Walking Tree" appears in the foreground. Just to the left of the tree you can see the edges of Sunrise Point. Each of the overlook points has a viewing area that is right on the edge of the canyon. Each point is fenced off to keep people from falling. This picture was taken on one of our very first photography vacations. We have since learned to pay more attention to everything that appears in the viewfinder, not just the object we are trying to take a picture of.

There will be more on that when we are able to publish some of our articles on composition. If you would like to be notified when we update or post new content to our site, please sign up for our subscription service. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks for viewing our Rim Tour of Bryce Canyon National Park. If you would like to learn more about the park, there is a link to the National Park Service web site shown below.

Park Link
Bryce Canyon National Park
National Park Service Web Site

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