Geologically, Bryce Canyon National Park is part of what is known as "The Grand Staircase". This enormous sequence of rock stretches all the way from Bryce Canyon, through Zion National Park and into the Grand Canyon. The Grand Staircase preserves more of Earth's history in its layers of sedimentary rock than any other place on Earth.
Ice and rainwater shaped the richly colored limestone "hoodoos", arches, fins and walls that make Bryce Canyon such an amazing landscape. The "Canyon" isn't really a canyon at all as it was not formed by running water, rather weathering and erosion by freezing, and thawing, and slightly acidic rainwater slowly dissolving the limestone.
If You Go
A hike along the canyon rim provides an interesting look at the different types of features carved into the limestone. A hike down into the canyon is like entering a different world, and is well worth the steep climb back out.
Today, Bryce Canyon natural resources are in good condition. Air quality in the park is generally excellent; scenic vistas can stretch for up to 200 miles. The park's dark, starry nights are renown. Park staff keep non-native species in check, and have successfully reintroduced federally-threatened Utah prairie dogs.
Overall condition of Bryce Canyon's cultural resources is another matter. In a 2005 park assessment, NPCA rated these as in "poor" condition. Due to funding shortfalls, staff is limited and the park's archive and museum collection, including old furnishings; historic structures including an old Standard Oil service station; archaeological sites that date back thousands of years; and other treasures need greater protection.