Monday, April 30, 2007

Bryce Canyon

The "Hoodoos" in Bryce Amphitheater
N37.62295 W112.16664

I am learning that quirks of fate have played a large hand in naming some of our most famous national parks. Death Valley, for example, got its name after one (and only one!) lost fortune-seeker died here, while trying to find the gold fields in 1849.

Here's another one that confused me...Bryce Canyon.

can·yon: noun
a deep valley with steep sides, often with a stream flowing through it.

Bryce, Ebenezer (1830-1913)
Mormon convert who came to America c. 1847. Helped complete a seven-mile irrigation ditch from Paria Creek. Built a road to make timber more accessible. People started to call the amphitheater where the road terminated, “Bryce’s Canyon.” Bryce lived in the area only five years, then spent his remaining 23 years in Arizona.

Having now seen Bryce Canyon, I can tell you that neither of the words in its name describes it whatsover. It is not like any canyon I've ever seen, and this fellow Bryce's connection to it is just a coincidence.

There is, however, a very descriptive and accurate name for this beautiful national park. It suffers from just one shortfall: being unpronouncable, at least to me. That name, in Paiute, is Agka-ku-wass-a-wits, meaning, "red-rocks, many-standing-in-holes." Think of this name, and you will have some idea of what Bryce really is.

Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park
N37.62818 W112.16293

Next: Zion Canyon

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