Bryce Canyon National Park in south-central Utah is one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world. It’s especially known for its wonderfully bizarre hoodoos, pillars of stone left by erosion and thought by the ancients to be bad people turned to rock. Those, as well as the amazing variety of canyon walls and outcroppings, welcome visitors from around the world. The stone of the canyon, in hues of red, orange, pink and white, includes shapes worthy of Dr. Seuss. Bristlecone pines, the longest-living organisms on the planet, dot the landscape, with end branches looking like bottlebrushes. The overlooks above the hoodoos and the hiking trails winding among them are usually teeming with visitors on beautiful, bright days in late September and early October.
But on October 1, 2013, the government shutdown left the overlooks eerily deserted, except for the tourists already camping in the park and allowed one more night there, with an almost-private showing of the fabulous scenery. (See photos, attached. Or click here for photos from the national park site or here to find other photos online.)
Tourists from around the U.S. as well as many other countries drive to the park, come by the busloads, or arrive in rented motorhomes, having saved and splurged to tour this, one of America’s most spectacular national parks. But for twelve days this fall they were denied entry. Excellent state parks with beautiful views can be found in areas adjacent to the national lands, offering an almost-as-good experience. And now, after almost two weeks of the government shutdown, the U.S. government has a new agreement with several states, allowing those states to pay the federal government an agreed-upon amount, to cover the cost of payroll and other expenses, authorizing Bryce Canyon, as well as several other national parks and monuments, to reopen in time for this long weekend of Columbus Day, traditionally one of the busiest for tourism in the western U.S., and to welcome appreciative visitors to share the grandeur of our country.
If you haven’t been to Bryce Canyon, add it to your bucket list, certain that it’s a great privilege to visit there.