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Elk Meadows, Utah Elk Meadows, Utah Elk Meadows, Utah Elk Meadows, Utah Elk Meadows, Utah Elk Meadows, Utah
Elk Meadows, Utah

Bryce Canyon in Winter

Deer foraging in the snow.

We visit Bryce Canyon in both our Elk Meadows episode during winter and our Kanab episode during summer. There is a good reason for this, it is simply beautiful. For as magnificently large as it is, it is a fairly easy place to explore in just a day. Although, the beauty and mystery can hold your interest for much longer.

A few years ago, I spent my Thanksgiving break camping with a dozen friends in Zion National Park. On the last day of the trip, we decided to head over to Bryce Canyon. By the time we arrived, the weather that had thankfully been dry to that point turned into a heavy snow due to Bryce Canyon's elevation. The sight of pristine white snow piling up on the odd looking red rock spires of Bryce is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Snow covered Bryce at sunset.
Although numerous Indian tribes have lived in this area, none ever inhabited Bryce. The Indians believed the canyon to be enchanted, and the main character in all of their stories about the canyon revolve around the trickster hero Coyote. Some stories describe the canyon as the ruins of a great city made by Coyote that became buried in mud.
The Paiute Indians have a more intriguing tale. Before man existed, Bryce was home to the Te-when-an -ung-wa. These were giant creatures that were really birds, lizards, and other animals. They had the power to make themselves look human and they liked to paint their faces. They were ruled by Coyote. These animal-people began to

Having fun in Bryce.

fight and steel among themselves, and finally Coyote decided they were evil-spirits. One day, in a moment of anger he turned them all into stone right where they stood. That is why, the story explains, many of the colored formations of Bryce Canyon look like humans doing various things like standing, sitting, talking, or fighting. Paiute Indians refer to Bryce as Angka-ku-wass-a-wits meaning "red painted faces".

As incredibly beautiful as Bryce Canyon is, one can not help but appreciate the words of Mormon homesteader Ebenezer Bryce for whom Bryce Canyon is named when he described it as "…a hell of a place to loose a cow."

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