NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Geodiversity refers to the full variety of natural geologic (rocks, minerals, sediments, fossils, landforms, and physical processes) and soil resources and processes that occur in the park. A product of the Geologic Resources Inventory, the NPS Geodiversity Atlas delivers information in support of education, Geoconservation, and integrated management of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem.

bryce canyon report cover with hoodoo photo
In-depth geologic information is contained in the baseline inventory products of the Geologic Resources Inventory, see table below.


Bryce Canyon National Park (BRCA) is located along the edge of the high plateau country in southcentral Utah in Kane and Garfield Counties. BRCA encompasses approximately 14,502 hectares (35,835 acres) of brightly colored and picturesque pinnacles, walls, fins, canyons, alcoves, windows, bridges, and spires that stand in horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters. Originally proclaimed a national monument June 8, 1923 and re-designated Utah National Park June 7, 1924, the park was renamed Bryce Canyon National Park February 25, 1928 (Anderson 2017). The park features the largest collection of geologic features known as “hoodoos” in the world, which attract millions of visitors every year.

Geologic Features and Processes

The unique and colorful scenery in Bryce Canyon National Park has been formed by differential erosion of the freshwater limestones of the Tertiary-aged Claron Formation that are exposed along and below the rim of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The park has world renowned hoodoos, fluted cliffs, columns, spires, windows, and arches formed along a system of joints (fractures) in the rock. Minute cracks form and are enlarged by freeze thaw, water erosion, and chemical weathering (Bowers, 1991, USGS map and report I-2108). Additionally, klippe features are present in the northern part of the park where older Cretaceous strata have been thrust faulted over younger Tertiary strata.

Paleontological Resources

Fossils at the park include marine & terrestrial organisms (ammonites, turtles, dinosaurs, early mammals) which lived in or along the shores of an inland sea which dissected North America during the Cretaceous Period (100-65 million years ago). Fossils in the Tertiary Claron Formation are scarce.

All NPS fossil resources are protected under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11, Title VI, Subtitle D; 16 U.S.C. §§ 470aaa - 470aaa-11).

Regional Geology

Bryce Canyon National Park is a part of the Colorado Plateaus Province and shares its geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with a region that extends well beyond park boundaries.

Maps and Reports

The Geologic Resources Inventory produces digital geologic maps and reports for more than 270 natural resource parks. The products listed below are currently available for this park, check back often for updates as many maps, reports, and posters are still in progress.
  • Scoping summaries are records of scoping meetings where NPS staff and local geologists determined the park’s geologic mapping plan and what content should be included in the report.
  • Digital geologic maps include files for viewing in GIS software, a guide to using the data, and a document with ancillary map information. Newer products also include data viewable in Google Earth and online map services.
  • Reports use the maps to discuss the park’s setting and significance, notable geologic features and processes, geologic resource management issues, and geologic history.
  • Posters are a static view of the GIS data in PDF format. Newer posters include aerial imagery or shaded relief and other park information. They are also included with the reports.
  • Projects list basic information about the program and all products available for a park.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2729. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

NPS Soil Resources Inventory project has NOT been completed for Bryce Canyon National Park information can be found on the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2737. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas

The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on geoheritage and geodiversity resources and values within the National Park System. This information supports science-based geoconservation and interpretation in the NPS, as well as STEM education in schools, museums, and field camps. The NPS Geologic Resources Division and many parks work with National and International geoconservation communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Last updated: June 17, 2024