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Bryce Canyon National Park & Around/USA

Introducing Bryce Canyon National Park & Around

The Grand Staircase, a series of steplike uplifted rock layers stretching north from the Grand Canyon, culminates at this very popular national park (435-834-5322; www.nps.gov/brca; Hwy 63; per vehicle $25; visitor center 8am-8pm May-Sep, to 4:30pm Nov-Mar, to 6pm Oct & Apr) in the Pink Cliffs formation. It’s full of wondrous pinnacles and points, steeples and spires, and odd formations called ‘hoodoos.’ The ‘canyon’ is actually an amphitheater eroded from the cliffs. During fall rains, the hoodoos peeping out of fog look otherworldly.

From Hwy 12, Hwy 63 heads 4 miles south to Rim Road Dr (8000ft), an 18-mile dead-end road that follows the rim of the canyon, passing the visitor center, lodge, viewpoints (don’t miss Inspiration Point) and trailheads, ending at Rainbow Point at 9115ft elevation. You can whisk in and out in a few hours, but for a richer experience, numerous trails will take you out among the spires and deeper into the heart of the landscape. There is a free (voluntary) shuttle system from Hwy 12.

The park’s only licensed outfitter is Canyon Trail Rides (435-679-8665; www.canyonrides.com; Hwy 63; 2hr/half-day $40/65), which operates out of Bryce Canyon Lodge; horse and mule rides head past dramatic hoodoos into Bryce Amphitheater.

The two campgrounds, North Campground (877-444-6777; www.recreation.gov; Bryce Canyon Rd; campsites $10) and Sunset Campground (campsites $10; late spring-fall), both have toilets and water; Sunset is more wooded, but has fewer amenities and doesn’t accept reservations. For laundry, showers and groceries, visit North Campground. During summer, sites fill by noon.

The 1920sBryce Canyon Lodge(435-834-5361, 888-297-2757; www.brycecanyonlodge.com; Hwy 63; r $115-140, cabins $149; Apr-Oct; ) exudes rustic mountain charm. Rooms are in satellite buildings and range from modern hotel-style units with up-to-date furnishings and balconies to romantic, slightly dated, freestanding cabins with gas fireplaces and front porches. If you can secure a reservation, it’s worth every penny.