This area encompasses 3 life Zones: Upper Sonoran from 6,000-7,000’ with piñon and juniper; transition zone from 7,000-8,500’ mostly pine; Canadian Zone from 8,500-9,000+’ with fir, aspen and bristlecone pine.
The high elevation and more abundant water, these zones produce a variety of vegetation.
On the north-facing slopes in narrow gullies, the climate differs from the south-facing slopes, resulting in different vegetation. South: juniper and piñon. North: Douglas fir, limber pine and ponderosa pine. One gnarly bristlecone pine near Rainbow Point is more than 2000 years old!
Gullies form more easily on the south side where more frequent winter freeze-thaw cycles loosen the crust and will wash away with snowmelt and summer runoff.
Bryce has some of America’s cleanest air! You can see about 200 miles (160k) and three states on an average day. So, take the view and take in the smells — smell the junipers? The colors change with the light of day, the moisture in the air, cloudiness, snow, etc. (Over the past 25 years, the visibility in Bryce Canyon is improving on the clearest days, but not improving on the haziest days.)
164 kinds of birds
53 kinds of mammals
11 species of reptiles
4 types of amphibians
Surrounded by deserts, Bryce's highland plateau gets much more rain than the lowlands below and stays cooler during hot summers. The relatively lush ecosystems that result are like fertile islands towering above a vast arid landscape. Forests dominate the upper altitudes of the Paunsaugunt Plateau containing white fir-spruce-aspen forest. Bristlecone pine lives in the high limestone knolls. Ponderosa pine and manzanita dominate the middle altitudes. Pinyon pine-juniper forest dominates the lower elevation areas of the park. Gambel oak, cactus and yucca punctuate the lower elevation juniper forest.
A special area of notice are the "breaks" of the amphitheater, better known as the pink cliffs, they are exposed, nearly unforested areas. Meadows, seeps and springs are home to a different, grassy and deciduous plant community. Many of the meadows in the park are high and dry, home to sagebrush, rabbitbrush and grasses.
Great Basin Bristlecone Pine
Rocky Mountain Juniper
Red Canyon Penstemon
Bryce Canyon Paintbrush
Rock Columbine Flower