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Centennial of Bryce Canyon National Park celebrates history of splendor

Posted at 12:07 PM, Jun 08, 2023

BRYCE CANYON, Utah — On June 8, 1923, President Warren G. Harding declared Bryce Canyon a National Monument. Now, 100 years later, the national park holds special memories for people across the world.

Anyone who has been to Bryce Canyon knows of the glorious views, mystical hoodoos and overall splendor of the area.

FOX 13's Spencer Joseph shares Bryce Canyon's birthday festivities below:

Centennial of Bryce Canyon National Park celebrates history of splendor

"You can stand along the rim and watch people come from the parking lots, the paths to the rim," reflected Peter Densmore, Spokesperson at Bryce Canyon National Park. "That moment when they're awestruck, you know. Some people cry, other people laugh you know and celebrate seeing that."

These "Bryce Moments," the times when visitors recollected their first time seeing the view of the rim, were shared as part of the centennial celebration.

On Thursday, local officials, including Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, as well as other guests, headed to the park to commemorate its success over the last 100 years.

Cox shared his own "Bryce Moment," which he said came when many things seemed hopeless during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

"I said, 'I need to go to Bryce.' Sorry, I get emotional thinking about it," he remembered. "The crazy thing was that the Park Service had just opened. The opening of Bryce [was] the day before...right then it was magical and it literally saved my life. I came back just renewed...inspired...with energy, knowing that we could do what we needed to do to move forward."

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A member of the Paiute Tribe offered a prayer in the ceremony where thanks were offered for the animals and water that brings life to the area.

Later in the evening Thursday, the Piano Guys will perform with the majestic outdoor backdrop of the rim to celebrate the park and its history.

"When this park was first established, there was a few thousand people visiting each year," Densmore said. "Now we see over two million people each year."

A year after the park was first protected as a National Monument in 1923, it was dedicated as a national park. Then, four years later, the area was established as the second of southern Utah's "Mighty Five" national parks, joining Zion.

The park's uniqueness is what makes it so grand, with people traveling from around the world to get a glimpse at the beauty.

"I've never seen anywhere that looks quite like Bryce Canyon," Densmore said. "I think it just overwhelms a person and I think cracks them open to how beautiful the world can be."

As a century has passed since the park first became a protected area, officials are optimistic about the future, saying they're ready to give even more opportunities to experience the outdoors.

"We're not only ending the first century of Bryce Canyon National Park, but we're beginning the next one," Densmore remarked. "We're looking forward to doing much of the same great work that was done in the last century to make this available to the enjoyment of the American people."

The Centennial celebration is lasting through the rest of the year with events for guests to participate in at the park. The butterfly count and geology festival in July, heritage days, eclipse viewing and more is scheduled to continue the 100 years of fun.