TwHP Lessons

Bryce Canyon National Park:
Hoodoos Cast Their Spell

[Photo]  Thor's Hammer and the Temple of Osiris, Bryce Canyon National Park.
(National Park Service)


hen lighted by the morning sun the gorgeous chasm is an immense bowl of lace and filigree work in stone, colored with the white of frost and the pinks of glowing embers. To those who have not forgotten the story books of childhood it suggests a playground for fairies. In another aspect it seems a smoldering inferno where goblins and demons might dwell among flames and embers."¹ This description is one attempt of many to capture in words the awesome beauty of Bryce Canyon, where erosion has shaped colorful limestones, sandstones, and mudstones into a spectacular array of spires, fins, and pinnacles known as "hoodoos." These whimsically arranged hoodoos remind viewers of church steeples, Gothic spires, castle walls, animals, and even people. Formations with names such as the Wall of Windows, the Chessmen, Thor's Hammer, Tower Bridge, and the Poodle, suggest but a few of the likenesses. A legend of the Paiute Indians, who inhabited the area for hundreds of years before the arrival of European Americans, claims the colorful hoodoos are ancient "Legend People" who were turned to stone as punishment for bad deeds. Surrounded by the beauty of southern Utah and panoramic views of three states, these hoodoos cast their spell on all who visit. The area, now protected as Bryce Canyon National Park, has been a popular tourist destination since the 1920s.

¹The Union Pacific System, "Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, The Cedar Breaks, Kaibab National Forest" (Omaha, Neb.: no publisher given, 1929), 33.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Utah and Arizona
 2. The Grand Circle Tour

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Early Uses of Bryce Canyon
 2. Interest in Bryce Canyon Increases
 3. Accommodating Tourists at Bryce Canyon
 4. Union Pacific Ad

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Bryce Canyon National Park
 2. Thor's Hammer
 3. Bryce's log cabin
 4. Tour groups at Bryce Canyon Lodge
 5. The lobby of Bryce Canyon Lodge

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. To Make Public, or Not to Make Public
 2. The Local Landscape
 3. Promoting Local Resources

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Bryce Canyon National Park

This lesson is based on Bryce Canyon, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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