The view to the northeast from Sunrise Point captures Boat Mesa and the Sinking Ship, set against the stark Pink Cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau. Boat Mesa, capped by the resistant rock called "The Conglomerate at Boat Mesa," rises above the hoodoos of Fairyland Canyon to an elevation of 8073 feet.
To the northeast of the mesa, the tilted rocks of the Sinking Ship impart an impression of geologic unrest to viewers, and rightly so. These rocks are a reminder of the tectonic activity that began 15 million years ago, raising the Paunsaugunt Plateau to its present elevation and dragging sections of rock along the faults, resulting in the tilt we see today. Earthquakes in recent years remind us that Earth is constantly adjusting and that activity along those faults continues, although in relatively minor magnitudes.
The Limber Pine at Sunrise Point, roots exposed by erosion of the rim, serves as a reminder of the resilience and ability of life to adapt to adverse conditions, and also of the rapidity with which the scene before us is disappearing. Geologists have calculated that the rim of the canyon is eroding at a rate of two to four feet every century and that in approximately three million years, Bryce Canyon will be gone forever. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon's main amphitheater appear as a snapshot in the rapid process of erosion on the Paunsaugunt Plateau. This rapidly eroding land creates a harsh environment for any living thing, and like this limber pine, all creatures which live here, from people to animals to plants, must adapt to the conditions in order to survive.
Last updated: April 13, 2016