Located 200 mi/335 km south of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park's surreal landscape is not a true canyon but a large natural amphitheater. A strange and wonderful place, the park is centered around formations known as hoodoos—thousands of pillars that tower above the amphitheater floor. If possible, view the park both from the rim (to see the big picture) and from one of the many trails (for a more intimate look). Even if you only have time to stop at the rim viewpoints, it's well-worth the time.
In addition to the hoodoos, there are extensive pine forests that shelter wildlife: mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, yellow-bellied marmots, prairie dogs and porcupines. The park lies 6,600-9,100 ft/2,000-2,775 m above sea level, so take along a jacket any time of year. Sunscreen also is a good idea. There's a lodge inside the park—make reservations early—as well as campsites. http://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm.
West of Bryce Canyon is Cedar Breaks National Monument, near Cedar City. It's another natural amphitheater and shares many of Bryce's features (they're both from the same rock layer)—minus the crowds. It can be cold and windy at Cedar Breaks (the elevation is 10,000 ft/3,000 m), but in summer it's a great place to see wildflowers. http://www.nps.gov/cebr/index.htm.
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