I visited yesterday with a friend from high school who was on a trip to see Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon all in three days. He lives in Boston and was traveling with three other people, one of which, wanted to take his Russian wife to see the Grand Canyon. He thought it was an important place for her to see. When they asked for any suggestions I might have concerning their trip I told them to skip Bryce Canyon altogether and go instead to Cedar Breaks, which is more scenic (in my opinion), convenient to see and composed of the exact same layers as Bryce but more colorfully displayed.
This advice always throws people for a loop because, for some reason, Bryce Canyon has this iconic status among American scenic wonders, while Cedar Breaks is virtually unknown outside of southern Utah. I hope my friend ended up opting for the Breaks because it is a much more interesting park than Bryce because:
1) it is 1700 feet deeper;
2) 3000 feet higher in elevation and contains extensive Alpine meadows and forests;
3) is far less visited and thus uncrowded when compared to Bryce;
4) is easy to explore and photograph from the main park road or the excellent trail network;
5) has a wider range of colors in the rocks (the Claron formation) than Bryce;
6) contains one of the finest stands of Bristlecone pines in the world, with the oldest tree in the grove being over 1600 years old;
7) and because there are generally less Germans wearing Speedo swim trunks than are found at Bryce due to the relative obscurity of Cedar Breaks to most travelers. Let's hope it stays that way, so don't forward this blog.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah