Posts Tagged ‘bryce canyon national park’

Contrasting Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Many people coming to stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort have the opportunity to enjoy the scenic diversity of this region.   If you’ve spent time on our web-site you know that our ranch sits literally on the border of Zion National Park.   The good news is that Bryce Canyon National Park is just 75 minutes away and makes a perfect half-day or full-day excursion while staying with us.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos colored by oxidizing minerals in rock

Bryce Canyon is quite different from Zion in that most of Bryce sits between 8,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation, while the most accessible parts of Zion are within the 4,000 to 6,500 feet elevation range.   Anciently this entire region was part of the bottom of a great lake.   Zion represents layers of sediment that were deposited in the lake much earlier than Bryce Canyon.     The layers of sediment that comprise Bryce Canyon National Park are predominantly limestone while Zion is mostly sandstone.

The harder limestone in  Bryce Canyon is eroded by water entering the cracks of the stone and then freezing and breaking.   This creates hard chunks or small boulders that break and fall away.   Zion is eroded in a much smoother fashion by flowing water or by wind.    In both cases it is rare to ever see the erosion effects actually occurring.    Flash floods in Zion National Park offer one time when you can see erosion in full-swing.  This usually occurs when rain comes heavily in one area for several hours and the water gathers on Zion’s upper reaches and flows into narrow slot canyons.   Within a matter of minutes the quickly accumulating water can rise to levels of over 40 feet, insde a slot canyon.  This rare occurring event represents a time when you will not want to be nearby.    At Bryce Canyon you’ll find that melting snow and heavy rains have less of an immediate impact.

Bryce Canyon is actually a series of rock amphitheaters on the eastern edge of a large plateau.   You can drive along the rim and stop at many points along the 20 mile road that traverses the Bryce Canyon plateau area.   You may also walk down inside the amphitheaters among the rock formations called Hoodoos.     Willdlife such as deer, porcupines, coyotes, mountain lions (cougars), and many types of birds inhabit this region.   It is not uncommon to see mule deer on your visit to Bryce Canyon.

How to get to Bryce Canyon:     Leave Zion Ponderosa and go five miles southeast on the Northfork Road.   Turn left at Highway 9 and follow this 14 miles to Mt. Carmel Junction.    Turn left on highway 89 and go north approx. 35 miles to Scenic Highway 12.  Turn right and follow this through Red Canyon and onto the plateau (approx. 10 miles).  Turn left at highway 63 (watch for signs).   Go south two miles to the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance.