Today marks the 100th birthday of the United States National Park Service. On August 25th, 1916, the act to establish the national parks in the US was signed by president Woodrow Wilson. The very first national park, Yellowstone, was actually protected before that. Today, there is already 413 protected national park units.
My most unforgettable national park experience so far has been a visit to Bryce Canyon in southern Utah. It was breathtaking and I had never seen anything like that! I really thought it was even better than Grand Canyon.
We visited Bryce Canyon a couple years ago. We arrived to the park early since we knew it could get very crowded. Before entering the park you will drive thru Red Canyon which also has a lot of beautiful rock formations. We did a quick stop there at the visitor center, and we walked a little bit around the rocks. I'm sure there would have been great hiking trails in this area, but like most other people too, we were here to visit Bryce Canyon.
Soon after entering Bryce Canyon National Park you will see the visitor center. I highly recommend stopping there to get at least a map of the park, but also to get tips from park rangers for your hikes. Since we were hiking with a 2 year old in a carrier, we were a little limited with the number of hikes, so we decided to do the loop from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point. It allowed us to visit the bottom of the canyon and see the most gorgeous views like Queens Garden and the hoodoos, without being too demanding. The hardest part was the climb back up. From Rim Trail you can also continue to other, longer hikes if you wish.
Bryce Canyon is full of amphitheatre-like rock formations. They are formed due to frost weathering and erosion. It has the most hoodoos in the world: tall, thin rocks standing proudly in the desert.
When hiking with kids, I suggest doing the most demanding part right at the beginning when everyone is still in a good mood and with full strength. After our hike, we had some snacks and headed on auto-tour for the rest of the park. Bryce Canyon National Park is perfect for those who only wish to drive around with a car. There are multiple look outs where you can stop to see the canyon, rock formations and arches. But there are no words to describe the views at the bottom of the canyon, and photos don't really do justice to it, so I do recommend the hike if possible. It is spectacular!
I hope to return to Bryce Canyon someday for more exploring and hiking. There are several national parks close by, so if you plan to visit, reserve some extra time. If you want to see more about Bryce Canyon National Park, Google Maps is celebrating the 100th centennial by offering a virtual tour of a few parks, including Bryce Canyon. Oh, and don't forget that this weekend you can visit any national park for free!
Happy birthday to the National Parks Service and thank you for protecting these wonderful parks to explore!