Bryce Tours Are Best When Combined With Other Parks
Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States, and is home to several unique features that many observers are unaware of. First and foremost, that Bryce Canyon is not a canyon at all, and is actually a series of amphitheaters on the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Utah. Second is the "hoodoos" which are unique geological structures that are caused by frost weathering and erosion, creating an otherworldly landscape of spires that stretch from the floor into the sky. The rock colors range from brown to brilliant red, and create an absolutely beautiful backdrop to the world-class hiking trails and other outdoor activities. Bryce Canyon was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s. It was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874.
Bryce Canyon actually receives only a fraction of the yearly visitors that travel to other parks in the area like Zion Canyon or the Grand Canyon. While it is debatable why this might be, it probably rests on the remote nature of the park, being further from the nearest large cities than others. While this might be odd to some people who would assume that all National Parks are long distances from big cities, so why would one get more traffic than another based upon this reasoning? The answer may surprise you, but it is probably to do with Las Vegas.
Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are the closest major metropolitan areas to Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon. All the parks are roughly 1/2 day drive from both cities, but Bryce itself is about ten more miles from Salt Lake City than it is from Las Vegas. Bryce is about 100 miles closer to Las Vegas than it is to Salt Lake City, and Zion is 100 miles closer to Las Vegas than Bryce. What this leaves us is the determining factors of Las Vegas being the more popular starting point of many journeys to Southwest National Parks, and Zion being the park of choice for these adventures due to it being the closest to Las Vegas.
There was a recent push on the part of the National Parks Service to increase tourism at the National Parks of the southwest. Zion and the Grand Canyon have received the biggest increases by far, and are now dealing with the problems of overcrowding. One obvious cause for this issue is the fact that Las Vegas as a starting point makes so much more sense than Salt Lake City. Due to its low airline fares and inexpensive hotels and restaurants, Las Vegas itself is a far more attractive destination for tourists than Salt Lake City. For those choosing to plan their vacations and include a visit to a National Park, the Las Vegas to Zion trip makes the most sense.
Many providers of tours of Bryce Canyon combine the tour with visits to Zion and the Grand Canyon, in a "tour loop" of sorts. Because the drive from one park to the next is far less than the drive from the Las Vegas starting point to any of the parks, it makes more sense to experience them all during the same trip, camping in between parks overnight and saving on drive time. It would be far more driving time if you attempted to travel from the starting point to any of the parks then return back to the starting point than if you simply drove from park to park on a tour then traveled back from the last destination. This is the reasoning behind the majority of the professional tour companies based in Las Vegas to offer Bryce as part of a larger tour, instead of as a single day event.
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