A Brief History of Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is a geological marvel and people have been fascinated by its red spires for millennia. Signs and artifacts exist of early peoples having been in the area about 10,000 years ago. While little is known about them, they appear to have been a part of the Anasazi people. After time, this first group left the area and the next native American people to move in were the Paiutes. The Paiutes lived in the area until the late 1800s, when the first European American settlers came to the area. Severe drought, along with frequent flooding and overgrazing, pushed the remaining Paiutes out of the area along with many of the American settlers.

The first non-native people to visit Bryce Canyon were Mormon Scouts, sent to study the land for agricultural use and settlement. After a U.S. expedition led by Major John Wesley Powell in 1872, many settlers followed, mainly those from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One man named Ebeneezer Bryce was sent by the same church to live along with his family in Bryce Canyon. They lived in a cabin just below the rim, right in what is now known as the national park. After a time, many locals came to know the area as Bryce’s Canyon. The name carried on and was officially changed to Bryce Canyon, long after Ebeneezer and his family moved to Arizona in the 1880s. Many settlers also left the area after repeated failed attempts were made to prevent flooding and subsist through drought.

This beautiful scenery was first described in the early 1900s in magazines that captured the imagination of the general public. Due to the remote location of the canyon, visitation remained low until the 1920s, when lodging and services began to spring up. The Union Pacific Railroad also gained interest in expanding into Southern Utah to accommodate higher tourist levels. After growing concerns on the condition of the land, a petition was made to protect the area and Bryce Canyon became the national park we know and love. Make a visit to learn even more about the history of this geographic wonderland.

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