Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

May 03, 2012


: Ray Boren 
Summary Author: Ray Boren 

During the transition from winter to spring, when patches of snow stripe and fleck both the steep, shadowy cliffs and the seemingly luminescent pinnacles called hoodoos, Bryce Canyon best shows off just how the national park’s eye-pleasing wonders came to be. That recipe, explained more extensively in "The Hoodoo" the park’s newspaper for visitors, can be summarized as follows: 

Take pink and white limestone, laid down as dissolved calcium carbonate in the marshy and subsequently lake-filled Claron Basin of what is now southwestern Utah some 30 million to 55 million years ago. Compress, forming rock, and raise from 3,000 ft (914 m) to 9,000 ft (2,743 m) in elevation 15 million years ago via tectonic uplift. This creates the Paunsaugunt Plateau, a segment of the much larger Colorado Plateau. Allow acidic rainwater, and especially the freezing and thawing of water (which occurs some 200 days a year here), to dissolve the limestone. This erosion carves the plateau’s rims, ridges, cliffs, snowmelt runoff and rainwater paths, gullies and jagged hoodoos, and voila! We can enjoy Bryce Canyon’s wondrous – and to our eyes artful – natural amphitheaters.

The photo above was captured from Bryce Canyon National Park’s Sunset Point late in the afternoon on March 10, 2012.