Gateway to Natural Wonders
A New Park's Magical Opening"One little fairy hopped upon the running board and asked Governor Dern if he believed in fairies. 'Yes,' he said. 'Then,' said she, 'enter into Fairyland." - From Golden Nuggets of Pioneer Days
, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1949
On June 1, 1925, a 315-car caravan, led by Governor George Dean, arrived at the Red Canyon tunnels to celebrate the opening of Utah National Park (later renamed Bryce Canyon National Park). A flower-strewn gate closed the entrance to the second tunnel, and a banner proclaimed "Welcome to Utah's Fairyland." Children dressed as fairies tied flowers and long ribbons to the bumper of the governor's car. When the governor pronounced his belief in fairies, two young elves opened the gates while a band, perched atop the tunnel, began to play. Dancing fairies pulled on the streamers (and men pushed from behind) to draw the car through the tunnel. Ever since that momentous celebration, the Red Canyon tunnels have served as a magical entrance to Red and Bryce Canyons.
Building the Tunnels"We came upon what I have always considered the most beautiful piece of natural scenery on the face of the earth. ...Immediately upon my return to Panguitch, I began to make it possible to reach the canyon by automobile."
-W.J. Humphrey, Powell National Forest Supervisor, recollecting his first visit to Bryce Canyon circa 1915. Though it took nearly a decade of effort, Humphrey realized his dream of a road through Red Canyon.
The bright formations of Red Canyon are largely limestone, built from sediment of a lake that covered this region 35-50 million years ago. The pink, orange, and red tones come from oxidized iron in the limestone - in other words, rust. Color hues depend on the amount of iron in the rock.