Landscape Design Meets National Park



Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah and is notable for stunning landscapes. The Park sits along the rim of a steep-edged valley that drops away to reveal a maze of sunset-toned hoodoos, ridges and nobs of rock that form an alien and endlessly interesting landscape. Trails zigzag down into to the valley, snaking around and through the hoodoos; the trails themselves are historic in their own right as constructions of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

On my recent visit to Bryce, I was drawn to a collection of historic cabins just south of the lodge. The cabins are arranged like a small village, complete with lamp posts and curving streets of sidewalks. The architecture at Bryce is emblematic of the developing “Parkitecture” (architecture in National Parks) as well as early twentieth-century ideas about communities and travel. In fact, the layout mimics the design of idealized suburbs of the late nineteenth century–for example, that of Riverside, Illinois. The goal for the architects and landscape architects was one of integration and cohesion between natural and built environments. And, of course, a welcoming vacation spot (count me in!). Was it successful? I will let you be the judge.

Today, this rustic design type is iconic within the National Park system. Historic lodges stand as testaments to this in many of the most-visiting National Parks, from Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn to Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel. The historic cabins at Bryce Canyon National Park, where a wander amongst the cabins is also a wander amongst the trees, perhaps best encapsulate a true integration of design and landscape.










Sources and Further Reading:

You can read more about the history of the Bryce Canyon Lodge and cabins at the Bryce Canyon National Park website. (The main website for Bryce is here.)

For more details, check out the Bryce Canyon Lodge National Register form. You can also read the NRHP form for the scenic trails historic district here.

There are a number of places in Bryce that are listed on the National Register. They are nicely rounded up, with links, on this Wikipedia page.

Interested rural Utah? Check out my previous post from this trip, The Architecture of Rural Rest Stops. I also have written about architecture in National Parks before–check out that post here.




8 thoughts on “Landscape Design Meets National Park

  1. Thanks for this great post about Bryce Canyon. The accomplishments of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the other New Deal programs that built national and state parks are amazing. The Living New Deal at University of California at Berkeley is an excellent resource for not only the park system, but the growing collection of New Deal projects in every state and territory. Check it out at for Bryce Canyon. A link at the top of the page will direct you to a list of states where you can see all the locations documented to date by the project.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks! Beautiful pictures of that historic streetscape. And a good reminder to look at more aspects of our national parks than the single most famous feature. I learned a lot from the link to other historic features in the park, too!


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