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Why Bryce Canyon Photographs are Famous
Photographers love to take pictures of the National Parks in the United States as they are amazing places to visit and photograph. If you were to Google the Top Ten National Parks for photography then Bryce Canyon National Park would be on that list … just as it is on mine.
Why is Bryce Canyon so famous and why do photographers like to capture the beauty of Bryce Canyon in photographs? What makes these photographs unique? People come from around the world to take photos of the distinctive hoodoos, spires, and towers that look like forests made of rock. The Bryce Canyon amphitheater is home to the largest concentration of colorful hoodoos on the earth…. it is a red rock wonderland.
The light of the rising sun causes the hoodoos to appear to “glow” such as when the early sun bursts from behind Thor’s Hammer. The entire amphitheater lights up at sunrise at Inspiration Point, the inside of Natural Bridge lights up at sunrise, and fresh snowfall is the finishing touch for an incredible fine art landscape photograph.
I find the best opportunities for creating a fine art photograph are found in the early morning and last evening as light and shadows travel across the hoodoos and the contrast of light and shadows sets Bryce Canyon photography apart from other locations.
I love the way the white snow of winter contrasts with the red rock giving the hoodoos and other formations a magical look, while the greens of the pine trees in the summer months provide a vibrant contrast.
As you look through my Bryce Canyon collection of fine art prints, I hope you will get a sense of the incredible beauty found in the Red Rock County of southern Utah. These photographs capture many unique moments …. the light of the rising sun making hoodoos glow… the snowfalls contrasting with the red rocks. Please contact me if you are interested in adding one of my Bryce Canyon fine art prints to your art collection.
Visiting and Photographing Bryce Canyon
I remember from when I was just a boy on a family trip going to Bryce Canyon National Park and my mother taking a photograph thereof the hoodoo amphitheater that wound up hanging in our house for many years. She considered it one of the best photographs she had ever taken. I can understand why.
There are a variety of canyons across the United States. In many ways, they are similar. Bryce is different from all of them, which is probably why it has such an impact on those that visit. If you have the opportunity to be anywhere in Utah, it is worth the side trip.
I consider Bryce Canyon a part of what many refer to as Red Rock Country. This is an area comprising of a large section of Northern Arizona, with places like Sedona and Monument Valley and a big chunk of Southern Utah, with places like Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Zion National Park.
There is something special about the way the early sun hits the hoodoos and lights them up. There is a short time that they just seem to glow as if they are lighted from within. It’s not really possible to capture in a photo. It’s just one of those things where you have to be there.
The Park consists mostly of one main road running north to south. If you are a hiker, the Park has many miles of trails that take you to rock formations that you cannot see from the various overlooks. I will freely admit to not having done any of these, due partially to their length and difficulty.
After entering the Park, the first area you come to is Fairyland. The hoodoos here are more subtle than some of the others, but there are also some dense pine trees that add some nice color contrast. I like shooting this area in the early morning.
Next along the road are Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. For me, they both are great at sunrise, as the sun rises from the east, filling both of the amphitheaters with light. However, it is possible to capture good light on the eastern hoodoos at sunset from Sunset Point. The good light doesn’t last long, and you have to be ready to move fast.
Thor’s Hammer at Sunset Point is a must for any photographer. It’s fun to get the sun bursting over the edge of the hoodoo at sunrise. You just have to check out where its going to rise from on your preferred photography app.
From Inspiration Point, you begin to see the main amphitheater. Like most of the overlooks, being there at sunrise is the key.
Bryce Point is the real deal here. The hoodoo amphitheater is on full display here. If you only make it to one overlook for sunrise, this is the one to be at. Get there before sunrise to get in position as you don’t want to be late. The warm, orange sunrise light only lasts for a few minutes.
There are more overlooks as you continue down the main road. Swamp Canyon, Farview Point, and Natural Bridge are all worth stopping at. I made it a point to get to Natural Bridge right at sunrise one morning, and the inside of the bridge formation lit up nicely from the early sun.
There are a few more overlooks such as Aqua Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, Black Birch Canyon, and at the very end of the road, Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point.
Just outside the main entrance and to the east is the Mossy Cave Trail to a waterfall. I’ve simply run out of time to get there on my previous trips, but I have it on the top of my list for next time.
Bryce Canyon is at 8,000 feet of elevation and receives quite a bit of snowfall. My images of snow there are from early November. It can be severely cold in the winter, so be prepared. I think there is something special about the contrast of the snow on the red rock hoodoos.
Bryce Canyon National Park will not disappoint. I hope my images in this gallery convey the magic and beauty of this park.
Fun Facts About Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is one of 63 National Parks in the United States and was designated as such in 1928. The Park is located in southwest Utah not too far from the very popular Zion National Park.
Bryce is famous for its distinctive hoodoos, spires, and towers that appear as forests of rock. Millions of years ago, this part of the United States was covered by freshwater and inland seas. Massive amounts of fine-grained sediment were deposited over time, turned into sedimentary rock, and were later uplifted by tectonic activity. Due to the effects of weathering and erosion, the Bryce Canyon landscape was molded into the layered columns we see today.
Bryce Canyon got its name from an early settler—Ebenezer Bryce who was a member of the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The Mormon church sent scouts to assess the area for its potential agricultural and grazing use and settlers began arriving to create a new life with Ebenezer Bryce among them. He was a shipbuilder by profession but used his skills to build churches in the area instead due to the lack of ocean waters.
He and his family eventually settled near an area that is now called the “Bryce Amphitheater”. He grazed his cattle there and the story goes that after losing too many cows to the grand maze of rock formations, Bryce is quoted as saying that the area was “one hell of a place to lose a cow.” Settlers and newcomers began calling the area “Bryce’s Canyon”.
But…… when is a canyon not a canyon? Although the park is named Bryce Canyon, it is in truth not a canyon but a series of more than a dozen amphitheaters. Each of the amphitheaters is filled with rock sculptures—domes, pinnacles, arches, bridges, and so forth. Together they create a canyon-like appearance.
Are you a fan of the Avengers movies? Do you like Iron Man or Captain America? Or is your favorite Avenger the god of thunder, Thor, and his hammer? Then you should visit one of the park’s most famous landmarks, Thor’s Hammer. This massive spire-like rock formation is 150 feet tall. At the top is a large sandstone block resembling the Norse god’s weapon.
Twinkle twinkle little star ….. Bryce offers more than rock sculptures—in 2019 the park officially gained International Dark Sky status. Bryce Canyon's location creates some of the darkest skies in the country allowing you to see planets, thousands of stars, and the awe-inspiring band of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Does putting on hiking shoes and outdoors make your heart beat faster? But you do not want to spend the night in a tent? Then Bryce Canyon is the place to be as it offers several day-hiking trails. Most day hikes and their trailheads are found in the Bryce Amphitheater area.
One trail to consider is the Queens Garden Trail which begins at Sunrise Point and is less than 2 miles long (round-trip).
While hiking or touring the area, keep an eye out for Prairie dogs which were wiped out from the area in the 1950s due to extensive eradication efforts by farmers. These animals destroyed crops but in the 1970s, they were reintroduced to the area and have lived as a protected species in Bryce Canyon since.
Some of the beauty of Bryce Canyon stems from the colors that one sees in the rock formations especially during sunrise and sunset. Reds, yellows, and whites are predominant and there are various tints visible. One of the most famous unique rock formations is the Pink Cliffs which are pink and red-colored limestone. The hoo-doo spires come alive with colors when the rising or setting sun shines on them. It is a sight that you will find captivating.
Bryce Canyon may be one of the smaller national parks but its scenery will rival that of any other park. I hope the photographs in this gallery will inspire you to visit Bryce Canyon one day so you can experience the beauty of this park in person.