Bryce View Lodge, Located next to Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce View Lodge, Located next to Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce View Lodge, Located next to Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce View Lodge, Located next to Bryce Canyon National Park

Utah National Parks Article September 24, 2010

National parks are some of Utah’s enduring beauties

Published: Sunday, July 11, 2010 11:24 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has a total of 10 national parks/monuments and recreation areas, and these national areas have a long history that has been documented in the archives of the Deseret News.

For example, on June 4, 1964, the News reported on the fall of a landmark in Bryce Canyon National Park — Oastler’s Castle, a natural bridge about a half-mile northwest of Tower Bridge. The formation probably collapsed in the spring of 1964. It is all but unknown today, though it was famous on postcards of decades past.

Other old Bryce formations — such as “Stone Tree” and “Bust of Abraham Lincoln” — also collapsed years ago and no longer exist, thanks to relentless weathering of the landscape there.

Bryce has also been a special attraction for foreign tourists and a story on Aug. 25, 1980, in the Deseret News outlined that.

Flooding along the Virgin River in the summer of 1961, when five people drowned, also stressed the first strong efforts to safeguard the Narrows at Zion National Park.

A Deseret News story on Sept. 8, 1965, stated, “Under certain conditions, entering the Narrows is the nearest thing to Russian Roulette.” That was the aftermath of 42 hikers escaping danger from flash flooding and being trapped for several days in the Narrows.

By Sept. 22, 1965, hikers were finally being urged to resister at Zion Park when hiking the Narrows or any nearby wilderness hike.

The famous existing Zion Lodge has also had its share of disasters and is by no means the original building. The lodge burned to nothing but ruins on Jan. 28, 1966, destroying the kitchen, lobby, dining room, cafeteria, dance hall, gift shop and more — $350,000 in estimated damages. (A new Zion Lodge reopened in mid-June of 1966.)

The Deseret News also outlined the first time the northwest face of the Great White Throne, 2,400 feet of sheer rock, was climbed by three men, in a report on May 8, 1967.

Think the Zion Kolob scenic drive off I-15 has always been there? According to the Sept. 29, 1972, edition of the Deseret News, the road opened officially that fall.

Although buses weren’t mandatory transportation at Zion until 1997, a Deseret News headline two decades earlier, on June 29, 1977, read, “Traffic ban at Zion?” and advocated the use of buses there.

Reporter Maxine Martz described Canyonlands as a “journey to the edge of time” in 1968.

“Words are out of place. You’re caught up in the mood of timelessness, quiet and immensity,” she wrote.

An October 1970 article showcased the precarious access to Tower Ruins in Canyonlands — via human ladder.

Another Deseret News story, this one by Ray Boren, in 1977, referred to Canyonlands as America’s “great sandpile,” as there are more sand formations there than almost anywhere else on earth.

Hack Miller, former Deseret News sports writer, wrote a 1971 story about exploring the Maze of Canyonlands and using three ladders — one threaded through an arch — to search for American Indian writings.

“When we yelled at the mountain, only the mountain yelled back,” Miller wrote of the Maze’s seclusion.

Another story by Martz in March 1968 highlighted Arches National Monument and explained how “Surprise Arch,” along the Fiery Furnace trail, wasn’t even discovered until 1963.

Devils Garden first opened to automobile access in 1948. Arches National Park was dedicated in 1972.

A News story on Sept. 16, 1985, highlighted Sherma Bierhaus’ dream of being a female park ranger. She was named the first-ever female national park superintendent in Utah, by being the leader of Arches National Park, starting that year.

“Visit Capitol Reef” was the headline to a July 27, 1953, story by Hiram McDonald in the Deseret News. That story stated how the area was better known in that day as “Wayne Wonderland” and that it was only in the early 1950s that the area became accessible at all. In fact, in 1953, the paved road ended 12 miles from Fruita, and dirt roads ruled the interior. (It wasn’t until 1963 that the main road through the park was all paved.)

Deseret News stories in the early 1960s also documented Capitol Reef’s quest to become a national park.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com

For Bryce Canyon Lodging and Hotels visit www.bryceviewlodge.com

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