This Utah National Park Is Famous for Its Red Rock Spires and Incredible Stargazing — and It Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary This Summer

Bryce Canyon National Park earned national park status a century ago for its “unusual scenic beauty."

Anyone who has visited the red rock formations at the Bryce Amphitheater or experienced the sun going down near Sunset Point knows that Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park is a special place. The 56-square-mile park is famous for housing the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular, spire-shaped rock columns) in the world. Bryce Canyon became a national monument on June 8, 1923 — officials sought to protect it for its “unusual scenic beauty" and for "scientific interest" — and was renamed Bryce Canyon National Park shortly after.

This June, the park will celebrate its 100th anniversary by reflecting on the changes that have taken place over the last century. According to the park’s centennial celebration page, “the rim of the Bryce Amphitheater has retreated an average of 22 inches, 18,000 freeze, and thaw cycles have shaped and toppled countless hoodoos, the sun has risen 36,889 times over Thor's Hammer.”

To honor the park’s changing landscape and to celebrate 100 years of welcoming travelers from all over the world, the park is hosting a series of events and celebrations in the month of June. A photo exhibit at the Bryce Canyon Lodge will be up from April 1 to November 30, showcasing standout images of the park’s evolution over the past century. And on the park’s official 100-year anniversary — June 8, 2023 — there will be a special ceremony and a canyon rim performance by The Piano Guys, a beloved Utah music group. Tickets to the anniversary celebration are free but require advance reservations.

Close up of hoodoos in amphitheater as seen from Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

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The following week, June 14-17, is the annual Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival. The event, which coincides with June’s new moon, includes constellation tours and ranger-led evening programs that provide context to Bryce Canyon National Park’s notoriously dark, star-filled skies. In fact, it's Utah's fourth national park to receive dark sky certification from the International Dark-Sky Association. (This title is designated to natural areas that have night environments with low light pollution. Not only does this protect nocturnal animals native to these spaces, but it makes it ideal for stargazing.)

In addition to park-sponsored programming, National Geographic Expeditions is offering a multi-national park tour that includes a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park during its anniversary month. The expedition starts and ends in St. George, Utah, and swings through Grand Canyon in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, and Bryce Canyon National Park. The trip, which is led by a National Geographic expert and expedition leader, will delve into the geological events that shaped the various parks and includes plenty of hiking and stargazing.

The eight-day National Geographic Expedition runs twice during the summer, with both events coinciding with Bryce Canyon National Park’s anniversary month: June 3-10 and June 18-25. For more on the National Park trips, visit, and to learn more about Bryce Canyon's 100th anniversary, visit

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