Bryce History

Bryce Canyon National Park's land has been carved out using the forces of frost-wedging, rainwater, and time. It is a geologic wonder that has served many purposes over the years. The United States National Parks Service assumed control over its usage in 1928. Since then it has become a flagship destination for hikers, stargazers, and all sorts of other outdoors oriented individuals.

 

Native Americans

No permanent settlements of Native American tribes can be traced to Bryce Canyon National Park. Extreme weather in the winter is the primary reason. There are, however, several pieces of evidence that point to seasonal use of this wildlife rich area by the Paiute dating back to 1200 A.D. Rabbit, with a large population in the area, was a major directed effort for food by the Paiute.

Reaching back even further, other tribes are known to have utilized regions of Southern Utah near Bryce Canyon, especially the Fremont and Anasazi, and it is likely that their two unique cultures mixed on what is now National Park ground. Evidence cannot point to the frequented use of the area, though.

 

Mormons

Isolated by geographic barriers from the most useful land, the area that would become Bryce Canyon National Park was relatively unexplored by settlers until the late-1800s. The Church of Latter Day Saints had a few members that started to settle land along the Paria River and decided to send Ebenezer Bryce and his family to create a permanent presence. It was hoped his carpentry and lumber skills could bolster a new community.

Bryce and his family put a home in the bottom of the main amphitheater (hollowed out geologic area containing spears of rock known as hoodoos). They worked the homestead to eventually build a road up to the rim of the plateau, channeled the river to assist for better agriculture, and grazed cattle. An ironic combination of drought and flooding drove the family out. They moved to Arizona in 1880, but the name of Bryce's Canyon stuck.

 

20th Century

In 1916, access became more interesting for people who were interested in enjoying the sights of this magnificent area. Articles were circulated in railway magazines and tourist accommodations were begun. Bryce Canyon Lodge opened in 1925. This made it much easier on those who were making the trek to the remote wilderness.

United States President Harding responded to the need to protect the area from over logging, overgrazing, and other detriments of added visitation by certifying Bryce Canyon as a national monument in 1923. It was fully interred as a United States National Park in 1928. More land was added to the original site in 1931.

Relatively little has changed in the area since then. Road updates began in the year 2004 to help smooth out the aging vehicle routes. Over 1.5 million visitors come to Bryce Canyon National Park every year.