Wildlife In Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is known for its incredible geology and sweeping vistas, but equally impressive are the plants and animals that make the uplifted plateaus of Utah such a unique environment. Surrounded by deserts, these highlands get much more rain than the lowlands below and stay cooler during hot summers. The relatively lush ecosystems that result are like fertile islands towering above a vast arid landscape.
To see animals of the Bryce Canyon Area, Click Here!
What is a mammal? Webster’s Dictionary defines a mammal as…”any of a class of higher vertebrates comprising man and all other animals that nourish their young with milk secreted by the mammary glands and have the skin usually more or less covered with hair.”
What mammals can be seen in Bryce Canyon National Park? We have chipmunks, squirrels, prairie dogs, mountain lions, pronghorn sheep, coyotes, gray foxes, bats, mice, and many more animals classified as mammals.
The three most common birds found in the park are the Peregrine Falcon, California Condor and the Clark’s Nutcracker.
Ants are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. Something like ten thousand trillion ants control vast stretches of territory on planet earth. Their success lies in cooperation. They are a social insect, living in often enormous colonies, coordinating their activities to an exceptional degree to achieve domination.
These are aggressive and capable critters, ones whose existence is characterized by continuous work and conflict. In many places they are the dominate insect, and usually displace solitary insects (those that live and forage alone and not in social groups) to less favorable habitat or eat them.
Trees – Conifers
What are conifers?…The name “conifer” is derived from the Latin word which means “to bear cones.” Cones, the fruiting body which produces the seeds of the tree, are common features of most conifers, with the exception of junipers and yews which produce berry-like fruit.
How do I identify a conifer?…The best way is to look at the leaves. Does the tree have linear, needle-like or scale-like leaves? Conifers are usually evergreens although they still shed their older foliage on various annual cycles. The larch and cypress are deciduous, shedding their leaves annually in the fall.
Are there many conifer species (types)?…More than 500 conifer species have been identified worldwide.
Do all conifers look about the same? Are they the same size and color?…Among the conifers can be found some of the largest, smallest and oldest living woody plants known to mankind. There is an astounding amount of diversity in the conifer world. Some conifers grow into huge forests which are harvested for their timber and others are admired for their adaptability and color variations for the household garden. Overall, they vary in textures from soft and fluffy to rigid or majestic. The wide range of greens, blues and golden yellows paint a colorful landscape wherever conifers grow.
What are the names of the different conifers found in Bryce Canyon National Park?…In the Park you can find pines, junipers, firs, spruces, cedars and Douglas fir.
Biological soil crusts, or more commonly called Cryptobiotic soil or Cryptogamic soil, occur on every continent and in nearly every environment. However, they are most commonly found in arid or desert environments. In the high deserts of the Colorado plateau (i.e. the Four Corners region), biological soil crusts can cover up to 70-80% of the ground cover.
Health & Safety
Every time you go to a National Park, you probably hear the same thing: “Don’t feed the animals.” Why do we say that? What harm could a pretzel or apple slice do to a deer or a chipmunk? Too often, it is not an apple slice, but salted peanuts or chips whose high sodium content is poisonous to an animal’s system. Those kinds of food are not healthy for people, how much less for an animal whose diet is supposed to consist of berries, flowers, and insects? Also, the animals become dependent on people as a food source and lose their ability to successfully forage when they have been raised begging for human food.
Although human food can and does harm the animals for a variety of reasons, the reason we ask you not to feed them is for the safety of humans as much as of the animals. In Bryce Canyon, there are two major hazards to humans associated with feeding the animals, specifically ground squirrels, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. First, the animals frequently bite people when they are hand feeding them, or especially when they try to touch the animal without food in their hand. Hantavirus is a disease which has received considerable publicity in southern Utah because several people have died from it recently. One of the ways it is transmitted is through the infected animal’s saliva–by being bitten. It is also transmitted by inhaling or touching dust in which infected animals have urinated or defecated, as the virus is viable in that matter for about three days. Since that dust could be on the animal’s fur, touching the animal is another potential way to obtain the disease. Currently there is no cure for Hantavirus, but if extreme flu like symptoms develop after association with these animals, contact a physician for the available treatment.
Rabies is another disease which is transmitted through an animal bite, which many more animals than just small rodents could carry. Beware of any ringtail cat, rodents, foxes, or other animals who appear extremely sluggish or have strange secretions from their mouth or eyes. Report any abnormal behavior to a ranger.
Secondly, there is a threat of disease to people who are obeying the rules and not feeding the animals when other people have fed them. Bubonic Plague, or as some know it, the Black Plague, has been known to infect our prairie dog population from time to time. A type of flea that lives on small rodents (i.e. prairie dogs, ground squirrels, chipmunks) transmits this disease. When people have fed the animals and taught them that people are their food source, that it is all right to crawl on a person’s leg because they will be rewarded with food, those people might actually be responsible for killing another person down the road. It is common for people to be mobbed by ground squirrels hoping to be fed when they go to a view point, even if the person has no intention of feeding them. If those animals have the fleas infected with Bubonic Plague, the fleas could potentially jump on the person and give them the disease. Fortunately, Bubonic Plague can be cured if caught soon enough, but it is a painful experience.
Even with the potential for all these diseases, you can still come to Bryce Canyon and enjoy a safe visit. The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should be remembered. You can prevent coming in contact with diseases if you do not feed or touch the animals, and make sure that your children stay away from them also. If the animals approach you begging for food, simply ignore them, or chase them off if they get too close. Remember, the animals would never beg for people food if people did not teach them to. So please do your part to ensure the health of the animals, yourself, and other visitors down the road by not feeding the animals.
VISITOR CENTER In Bryce Canyon
Open All Year 8am – 8pm (seasonally variable)
Phone – 435/834-5322
Closures – Only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Special Programs – Short informational Video shown on the 1/2 hour and on the hour. Short Geology talks are also available in the Visitor Center Museum during the winter months.
Exhibits – A museum with displays on local Geology, Wildlife, Star Gazing, Historic and Prehistoric Culture.
Available Facilities – Restrooms, Bookstore, and a Ranger staffed Information Desk. Obtain Backcountry Permits at this desk.
Also see Maps for Bryce Canyon
Teacher & Student Materials For Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park offers a dynamic education/outreach program to students, teachers and park visitors. We can help you in the classroom and now on the web. Our classroom presentations include fun activities and are developed to meet science requirements outlined in the Utah State Core Curriculum. To visit us on the web click on Geodetectives
The following is a list of off site classroom programs that we present:
PLANTS AND THEIR PARTS 1st grade – Introduces the basic parts of a plant and their functions as well as the many uses of plants in our daily lives.
DYNAMIC ROCKS! 2nd grade – Introduces the rock cycle, the three rock types, how rocks are formed and their characteristics. Compares the ways different rocks are used for different purposes.
HABITAT, WHAT’S THAT? 3rd grade – Explores ecosystems and introduces different habitats, living and non-living elements of habitats and relationships among living organisms in a habitat.
UTAH’S TREASURES 4th grade – Introduces geology and geography of the Colorado Plateau and the intrigue of Utah fossils, using Bryce Canyon National Park and surrounding areas as examples. Includes testing rocks/minerals for hardness, color, luster, streak and density.
OUR NATURAL RESOURCES 5th grade – Deals with conservation practices, renewable, nonrenewable and perpetual resources, recyclable or not, and how actions influence our surroundings.
A GERM’S LIFE! 6th grade – Introduces helpful and harmful aspects of microorganisms, the spread of some infectious diseases by water and ways to reduce chances of disease.
EARTH SCIENCE CLASSES Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils! 7th-12th grades – Our collections and program will enhance your science classes …. This program on rocks, minerals and their uses, Utah fossils and earth history will give your students a hands-on experience while learning about geology, geography and earth science. This program would be a great extra curricular program for all science classes. The classroom programs are one hour in length.
Onsite programs include guided field trips to the main amphitheater as well as to the south end of the park. In addition, an annual field seminar course is offered to local educators that enables them to receive graduate level credit in geology and biology from Southern Utah University.
Finally, be watching for our most recent creation, the Geodective Program, an Internet-based science program that will feature both, an educator’s page with lesson plans and a kid’s page with fun-filled geologic mysteries.
For more information, contact Debbie Cantu, Education/Outreach Specialist, at (435)834-4413 or [email protected]
Winter Activities In Bryce Canyon
Looking for some winter fun in Bryce Canyon? Ruby’s Inn has a wide variety of winter activities. Visit Ruby’s Inn Winter Activities page for a full list.
In winter this high plateau offers the most reliable snow and longest season in the southwest United States. Its hills and valleys provide the ultimate in diverse terrain and scenic beauty.
Bryce Canyon National Park and the surrounding areas are often forgotten about during the winter months. This is actually one of the best times of year to several things including photography, Snowmobiling, Cross Country Skiing, Ice Skating, and Ice Fishing. There is a long list of very exciting and enjoyable activities that take place all winter long in the City of Bryce.
With the Paunsuagunt Plateau reaching up to 9,000 feet (2,800 m) the average snowfall is around 200”s. This gives way to Great Snowmobiling and other winter activities. There is a lot of open snow covered ground, groomed trails just outside of the Bryce Canyon National Park gate, to where you can take off on Skis, Snowshoes or snowmobiles.
Ruby’s Inn Ice Skating is another great winter activity to think about when visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter months. Their skating ring (in the City of Bryce) is maintained for guests and people visiting the area. It is always a great time with the family and fun activity in the outdoors. Where its one of your past times or you have never been on skates everyone is welcome to give it a try!
Ice Fishing is another great opportunity to get out and enjoy the beauty of Bryce and the surrounding areas. There are many lakes close by that give opportunity for great ice fishing including; Panguitch Lake, Otter Creek, Tropic Reservoir, and many more. These lake are generally stalked all spring summer and fall with different kinds of trout.
BRYCE CANYON GEOLOGY SEDIMENTATION LITHIFICATION UPLIFT EROSION
Bryce Canyon Geology
Nowhere else in the world can you find rock pinnacles with fantastic shapes like the ones found in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Located in the High Plateaus region of the Colorado Plateau in Utah, Bryce Canyon’s elevation, erosion, climate and rock type are all elements that, when combined, form fantastical shapes called Hoodoos.
Hoodoos Cast Their Spell
Hoodoo – a pillar of rock, usually of fantastic shape, left by erosion.
Hoodoo – to cast a spell.
Early Native Americans left little to tell us of their use of the plateaus. We know that people have been in the Colorado Plateau region for about 12,000 years, but only random fragments of worked stone tell of their presence near Bryce Canyon. Artifacts tell a more detailed story of use at lower elevations beyond the park’s boundary. Both Anasazi and Fremont influences are found near the park. The people of each culture left bits of a puzzle to be pieced together by present and future archaeologists. Paiutes lived in the region when Euro-Americans arrived in southern Utah. Paiutes explained the colorful hoodoos as “Legend People” who were turned to stone by Coyote.
The Paiutes were living throughout the area when Capt. Clarence E. Dutton explored here with John Wesley Powell in the 1870s. Many of today’s place names come from this time. Dutton’s report gave the name Pink Cliffs to the Claron Formation. Other names – Paunsaugunt, place or home of the beavers; Paria, muddy water or elk water; Panguitch, water or fish; and Yovimpa, point of pines – were derived from the Paiute language.
The Paiutes were displaced by emissaries of the LDS Church who developed the many small communities throughout Utah. Ebenezer Bryce aided in the settlement of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. In 1875 he came to the Paria Valley to live and harvest timber from the plateau. Neighbors called the canyon behind his home Bryce’s Canyon. Today it remains the name not only of one canyon but also of a national park.
Shortly after 1900, visitors were coming to see the colorful geologic sights, and the first accommodations were built along the Paunsaugunt Plateau rim above Bryce’s Canyon. By 1920 efforts were started to set aside these scenic wonders. In 1923 President Warren G. Harding proclaimed part of the area as Bryce Canyon National Monument under the Powell (now Dixie) National Forest. In 1924 legislation was passed to establish the area as Utah National Park, but the provisions of this legislation were not met until 1928. Legislation was passed that year to change the name of the new park to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Each year the park is visited by more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world. Open all year, the park offers recreational opportunities in each season. Hiking, sightseeing, and photography are the most popular summer activities. Spring and fall months offer greater solitude. In the winter months, quiet combines with the area’s best air quality for unparalleled views and serenity beyond compare. In all seasons fantastic shapes cast their spell to remind us of what we protect here in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Visitors at Bryce Canyon National Park come to see the unique shapes formed in the Claron Formation. Bulging spires and narrow rock fins fan out from the edge of the plateau. These rock spires and fins are commonly known as Hoodoos.
The chaotic destructive force of water, not wind, is responsible for the fantastic shapes in Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon Hoodoos formed over thousands of years by the same processes that form the features of surrounding parks.
Water, ice and gravity are the forces at work in Bryce Canyon National Park. These three forces coupled with the differential erosion of the Claron Formation produces a different morphology than that of any other area in the world.
10-15 million years ago the Paunsaugunt Plateau was caught and lifted by the Colorado Plateau. Breaks, called joints, formed in the plateau during the uplift. Joints allowed water to flow into the rock and, as water flowed through, erosion widened them into rivulets and gullies. Over time, deep slot canyons formed in the sides of the plateau.
Bryce Canyon receives an average rainfall of 10 inches a year in the valley and approximately 19 inches a year on the plateau. The majority of the precipitation falls in mid to late summer, as monsoons, usually in the afternoon. These thunderstorms can be fierce, dropping an inch or two of rain in under an hour and can often be accompanied by hail.
Because the soil at Bryce Canyon is very dry, only the top inch of soil absorbs rainfall before it starts to run off causing a treacherous flash flood. During a flash flood, rapidly moving water can carry rocks, tree limbs, and other debris which crashes into the canyon walls and congest passageways. Flash floods are a serious risk for the many explorers drawn to Bryce Canyon Country’s scenic slot canyons each year. Fortunately, flash floods can usually be avoided with common sense safety practices and an understanding of the conditions that cause them.
The Paunsaugunt Plateau receives approximately 100 inches of snowfall a year, which means that everyday a small amount of snow melts and runs into the joints and freezes at night. When water freezes it expands to form an ice wedge in the joint, widening the space. The ice wedge grows as more snow melts and freezes until finally, it breaks the rock.
Fragments of rock, from tiny pebbles to boulders as large as Volkswagens, fall from hoodoos and the sides of the Paunsaugunt Plateau by frost wedging and gravity. The smaller pieces are washed away by monsoons and snow melt while Boulders explode into cobble sized pieces on the canyon floor.
Limestone, siltstone, dolomite and mudstone make up the four different rock types that form the Claron Formation. Each rock type erodes at different rates which is what causes the undulating shapes of the hoodoos.
Limestone, siltstone and dolomite are very hard and form the protective caprock on most of the spires. These harder rocks are eroded predominantly by frost.
Mudstone is the softest rock in a hoodoo and is easily identified by the way it forms the narrowest portion of the pinnacles. As mudstone moistens it erodes easily and runs down the sides of the rock forming mud stucco as a protective coating. Every time it rains the layer of mud stucco is renewed. If wind does not erode the stucco layer fast enough it will renew before wind erosion affects the rock. For this reason, wind has little to no effect on hoodoo formation or destruction.
While visiting Bryce Canyon National Park look for signs of wind and water erosion. It is surprising how visible the numerous signs of water erosion are, when you know what to look for.
The Cretaceous Period began some 144 million years ago and lasted until about 63 million years ago. The rock formations you see exposed at Bryce Canyon began to develop during this time. For 60 million years a great seaway extended northwestward into this area, depositing sediments of varying thickness and composition as it repeatedly invaded, retreated, and then re-invaded the region. Retreating to the southeast, it left sediments thousands of feet thick. Their remnants form the oldest, lowest, gray-brown rocks at Bryce Canyon.
In the Tertiary Period, between 66 and 40 million years ago, highlands to the west eroded into shallow, broad basins. Iron-rich, limy sediments were deposited in the beds of a series of lakes and streams. These became the red rocks of the Claron Formation from which the hoodoos are carved and for which the Pink Cliffs are named.
Things To Do In Bryce Canyon
First ask yourself this, am I looking to be entertained or am I looking for things to do in Bryce Canyon national Park? In Bryce Canyon country you have to realize the possibilities and activities are almost endless!
If you are planning a trip in the area of Bryce Canyon National Park and you are looking for entertainment, you are in the right spot to make some decisions. South Western Utah holds some nationally recognized entertainment options like the Ruby’s Inn Rodeo days & the esteemed Tuachan Amphitheater in St. George Utah.
Bryce Canyon in specific has several options that are very entertaining to all, and hard to choose from. If you are looking for something a little off the beaten path please look no further that all of the activities pages on this very website. You will find everything from scenic drive and overlooks, horseback rides, shopping, four wheeling, ATV tours, biking trails, hiking trails, fishing, golf, rodeo, museums, and many more options!
Remember that on some vacations and trips you look for things to entertain you, and then there are those, where you seek out your own idea of entertainment. This just might be that trip. Either way you will find so many things to do in Bryce Canyon that we hope that you can fit it all in. From places to see, and things to do there is something for everyone, and every age, in Bryce Canyon.
Here are a few of the aforementioned activities!
Things To Do In Bryce Canyon National Park & the Surrounding Areas.
All of us who are looking for a unique adventure in Bryce Canyon will have no trouble finding something to do. No matter what visitors would like to do, they will be able to find it in the Bryce area. There are a variety of activities, both indoor and outdoor, that are sure to give every visitor an unforgettable vacation. Each exciting activity is made better by being surrounded by the gorgeous Bryce Canyon landscape. Whether you want to enjoy some time indoors, test your limits with a thrilling activity, or practice your favorite hobby, enjoy the time of your life during a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Some other exciting things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park include:
Spectacular outdoor musical with a backdrop of red sandstone cliffs reaching 1500 high.
- Peter Pan
- South Pacific
Ruby’s Inn Rodeo
Wednesday through Saturday, Memorial Day – End of August, Ruby’s Inn hosts the Bryce Canyon Country Rodeo every summer. Join the fun and excitement at the Bryce Canyon Country Rodeo. Watch the bronco busters and cowboys display their skills as they perform in this western competition. This is one event you won’t want to miss! The rodeo is held nightly, Wednesday – Saturday, through the summer at Ruby’s Inn Rodeo Grounds.
For all of us who prefer less strenuous activities, or those who need a break from the action, there are many different shows and performances for visitors to enjoy. One of the most popular events in Bryce Canyon, the Ruby’s Inn Rodeo, provides fantastic entertainment for the whole family. You can watch real cowboys on bucking broncos and bulls, while more adventurous visitors can get in on the action and ride a bull, as well. A few hours away, the Tuacahn Amphitheater hosts a variety of musicals, concerts, and shows for guests to enjoy. The whole family will find incredible entertainment and culture during their stay in Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon Area Museums
Bryce Canyon Wildlife Museum
NEW ATTRACTION AT BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK! The Paunsaugunt Wildlife Museum is one of the finest museums in the Western United States featuring more than 400 animals, Indian artifacts, birds of prey, butterflies and bugs, ocean fish, Western antiques, and Live Fallow Deer.
VISIT BRYCE CANYON
Visitor Information for Bryce Canyon National Park
With roughly, 1.5 million people visiting Bryce Canyon National Park each year, it has easily become of the favorite national parks in Utah. The unique scenery and the endless recreational activity options keep visitors coming back for more of Bryce. Popular activities which can be found year round in the Bryce Canyon area include Hiking, Horseback Riding, Biking and ATV Tours.
We’re dedicated to helping you access the best that Bryce Canyon and it’s surrounding areas has to offer. Find the best options for Dining, Lodging, Hiking Trail and Guided Tours with ease and create a trip tailored to fit your travel needs. Bryce Canyon National Park has activities for those traveling solo or with family and friends. Experience this one of a kind geological spectacular for a trip that you’ll never forget.
Cookie and Privacy Settings
Click on the different category headings to find out more. You can also change some of your preferences. Note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our websites and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our website and to use some of its features.
Because these cookies are strictly necessary to deliver the website, you cannot refuse them without impacting how our site functions. You can block or delete them by changing your browser settings and force blocking all cookies on this website.
We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps and external Video providers. Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. Changes will take effect once you reload the page.
Google Webfont Settings:
Google Map Settings:
Vimeo and Youtube video embeds: