Sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t just get it right but seems to boast about its accomplishments. Think the Grand Canyon, the mighty Swiss Alps, the massive ice flows at the poles and the “smoke that thunders” at Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia in Africa. Then there is the Amphitheatre at Bryce Canyon in Utah.
The Amphitheatre at Bryce Canyon is a massive dolomite and sandstone formation formed over millions of years by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river. As the ground slowly eroded, magnificent multi-colored outcrops packed together formed.
- Distance: 0-11 miles (0-17.7 km) round trip
- Est hiking time: 2-3 hours
- Elevation: 8,354 feet (2,546m)
- Difficulty: Moderate
The Amphitheatre At Bryce Canyon
There are very few English words that do justice to the majesty of the amphitheater at Bryce Canyon. This unique sandstone amphitheater was formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lakebed, causing different erosion rates of the dolomite caps and the sandstone at the base.
The result is thousands of red, orange, yellow, and white geological structures, called hoodoos, that seem to poke out of the earth’s surface and look similar to stalagmites in caves. The hoodoos extend up to 200 feet (60 m) high.
The Bryce Amphitheatre is the largest series of amphitheaters extending more than 20 miles (30 km) north-to-south within the park.
The Bryce Amphitheatre is:
- 12 miles (19 km) long
- 3 miles (5 km) wide
- 800 feet (240 m) deep
What Does Each Of The Amphitheatre Viewing Points Offer?
There are four main viewing points located around the canyon’s edge, and each provides a unique view of this magnificent geological marvel.
At an altitude of 8,300 feet above sea level, Bryce point offers some of the most spectacular views of the amphitheater. If you are around at sunset, you will leave with a memory of having seen one of the most beautiful natural phenomenal sites internationally.
The photographs you take will leave you spellbound.
Spending some time at Inspiration point will provide you with dramatic views of Bryce Canyon and the Silent City.
Inspiration point has a spectacular view of the extraordinarily high concentration of Hoodoos known as the Silent City.
Visit in the early morning when the colors are the most vivid and there is the greatest variety.
While not quite as spectacular late afternoon to early evening does provide a very impressive view with perfect lighting for a photographer.
Not to be outdone, the view from Sunset Point provides some of the most iconic, picture-perfect views of the amphitheater.
Below Sunset Point, the Silent City rises from the canyon floor and provides a spectacular view of the maze of hoodoos and fins.
Looking to the northern edge provides a view of “Thor’s Hammer,” a single hoodoo formed into a striking shape. The hoodoo, Thor’s Hammer, is a firm favorite among visitors.
If there were ever a suspicion that nature boasts, it would be at Sunrise Point as the sun comes up.
If you are prepared to beat the sun and get to Sunrise Point before it has risen, you will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in the Country.
Being so high up, at this time of the morning, it gets very cold, and so the best way to enjoy the spectacular sunrise view at Sunrise Point is to wrap up warmly in a blanket with a hot cup of steaming coffee in your hand.
You will not be disappointed as you watch the sunrise over the canyon and cover everything up in a fiery red light.
How Do You Get To The Bryce Canyon?
There are several easily accessible methods to get to the different viewing locations on the Bryce Canyon.
Ride The Free Shuttle
Having paid the $35 entrance fee to Bryce Canyon, you and your vehicle occupants can use the free shuttle service, which runs every fifteen minutes during working hours from mid-April to mid-October.
The shuttle travels from the visitor center to Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point.
It then continues to the shuttle station, old Bryce town, Best Western Grand, and Best Western Ruby’s, which completes the loop and returns the shuttle to the visitors’ center.
You can hop on and off the shuttle at any drop-off point and re-join another when you have finished viewing.
The Bryce Canyon Rim Trail
The Bryce Canyon Rim trail navigates the same path as the shuttle around the entire rim of the amphitheater and connects each of the overlooks, which are:
- Bryce Point
- Inspiration Point
- Sunset Point
- Sunrise Point
Each of these points serves as a trailhead for other routes which take you down into the amphitheater.
Whether navigating the trail’s full distance or only hiking to one vantage point is up to you. You can also walk some of the routes and pick up the shuttle for the next stage.
The rim trail offers at least five miles of moderate hiking, from easy to terrain, which is more difficult.
The main focus of the trail is to get to the best viewpoints through the various points of Bryce.
The easiest section is between Sunset to Sunrise Point, a flat 0.5 mile (0.8 km) walk one way.
Travel By Car
While traveling by car is very feasible, you will lose some of the experience gained by walking the trail or traveling by shuttle.
However, circumstances may make it necessary.
Direction To Bryce Point
To find Bryce Point, you need to travel along the Main Road for 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the Visitor Center and turn left at the signposted directional sign. After turning the corner, Bruce point is 2 miles away.
Directions To Inspiration Point
The inspiration point is very close, and if you are up to it, it is within easy walking distance.
If not, return down the road from Bryce point and turn right before you get to Main Road. Inspiration Point is a short distance away.
Directions To Sunset Point
Return to Main Road and turn right to head back to the visitor center.
You will see a sign on the right indicating where you should turn off to see Sunset Point.
Directions To Sunrise Point
Return to Main Road from the Sunset Point parking area and turn right.
The next sign to the right will direct you to the Lodge, and this is where you should turn.
You will pass the Lodge on your right-hand side and the Historic Service Station on your left-hand side.
After the Historic Service Station, you will see a sign pointing to Sunrise Point and the General Store. Turn right here, and it will lead you to sunset point.
It’s strange that when the powers that be were naming the world’s seven wonders, they missed Bryce Canyon and its Amphitheatre. This relatively obscure natural feature is one of the world’s most spectacular and beautiful sights.