Bryce Canyon is not a canyon. It is spectacular edge of Paunsaugunt Plateau, a place where intricately carved towers and archways of stone shimmer in a dazzling array of colour under bright sun.
The state of Utah in United States is home to many beautiful National Parks, and Bryce Canyon National Park ranks as one of most magnificent and awe inspiring.
15 million years ago earth in this region began to shift, forming a series of plateaus. The Paunsaugunt is an extensive plateau, with Paria River gradually eroding away edge to form Bryce Canyon.
The rock in Bryce Canyon is composed of layer after layer of sediment deposits, deposited millions of years ago when area was at bottom of a lake. Now Paria River has exposed layers, allowing a detailed history of lake to be determined.
The Park itself was established in 1924, and was named after an early settler in area, Ebenezer Bryce. He emigrated from Scotland, married a local girl then moved southwards in stages, building sawmills as he went.
In mid 1870s he reached Paria River, where he and his family settled for a number of years. It was at this time that Bryce made his immortal comment about Bryce Canyon - he called it "one hell of a place to lose a cow".
The area remained basically undiscovered by European tourists, first guest houses only being constructed around time when park was officially established.
Luckily this has led to Bryce Canyon being an area of largely unspoiled beauty, as well as enormous scientific value of historic information trapped in its pinnacles and spires.
The canyon is by no means a stagnant place - rim recedes by an average of about a foot every 50 years, and in this ever changing scene it is water that plays most vital role in shaping and eventual destruction of magnificent scenery.
Because rock was laid down in layers, there is a variation in hardness of rock formed. When water runoff trickles across rock, some areas erode rapidly whereas others hold firm.
This variation in erosion speed causes formation of pinnacles, or "hoodoos" of stable rock. In some places water seeps down through cracks and eats out holes beneath surface. When side rock erodes away, an archway is left behind.
Eventually arch collapses, leaving two more pillars to join rest. The ever changing vista of colours, spires, walls and archways is spectacular at any season, and park is open all year round.