The Geology Part
The ever-changing rocky area was once covered by sea, mountains, desert, and coastal plain. Bryce Canyon has been subjected to violent storms and severe changes over the passed million years. Due to sand, gravel, and sedimentary deposits that filled lakes within the Colorado Plateau, Hoodoos were able to form. The infamous Hoodoos, which Bryce Canyon is most known for, are approximately 60 million years old. The force of water responsible for the unique shapes that cover the Bryce Canyon area.
Water, ice and gravity are the forces at work in Bryce Canyon National Park. These three forces coupled with the differential erosion of the Claron Formation differs from any other area in the world.
The rock formations found at Bryce Canyon began to develop during the Cretaceous Period, around 144 million years ago. For approximately 60 million years ocean waters extended northwestward into this area, depositing a variety of sediment into the region. It wasn’t until the Tertiary Period, around 66 million years ago, that highlands to the west eroded into shallow, broad basins. This became the Claron Formation, which can be described as iron-rich limy sediments. These red colored rocks are those that the hoodoos are carved from.
The Cretaceous Seaway then made its way north from the Gulf of Mexico. Sediments began to deposit as the invaded the area, now known as the park’s lowest elevations right across from the Paria Valley.
Horizontal compression from the formation of the Rocky Mountains deformed the rocks that make up Bryce Canyon. Volcanic flows covering the area also had a huge impact on the structure.
“About 10 million years ago the Earth pulled apart, moving and tilting great blocks along north-south trending fault lines. Layers, once connected, were displaced vertically by several thousand feet, forming the High Plateaus of Utah.”
The History Part
The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who founded it in 1874. Surrounding are of Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and a National Park in 1928.