From wonderfully dirty to breathtakingly scenic, riding an all-terrain vehicle, or ATV, to explore those rugged parts of Bryce Canyon Country is an experience you don’t want to miss. There are no boring moments on top of an ATV, especially when done with experienced, local guides.
Sure, you can stay in a car and drive the scenic loop through the red rocks formations of Bryce Canyon Country, but it can’t compare to the thrill of riding an ATV through dense forests, crags and huge, rock-ribbed canyons.
If you are ready to throw up plumes of dust then here are three guided ATV tours that are worth the money—and the mud splatter.
1. Where to ride: Grand Staircase Escalante
Places of interest: Backwood-Cottonwood Road, Backway Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Backway Johnson Canyon/Skutumpah Road/Backway Burr Trail.
Why ride here: The Grand Staircase-Escalante region is one of the most remote, yet accessible public lands in the contiguous United States. Hundreds of miles of trails make the area a local favorite as well as the perfect riding-surface trifecta of dirt, limestone and bentonite clay. Riders go from scenic monoclines to overviews of a river gorge and vistas that stretch into the next county. An added bonus for riders is the ability to avoid the crowds.
Outfitters: Grand Staircase ATV/UTV Tours
Guided Slot Canyon Tour $145:
Be prepared to get wet and dirty as this tour takes you to Willis Creek Slot Canyon. Water can be found in the Willis Creek year-round so wear shoes that handle wet and dry conditions well. Customers like this tour because of the knowledgeable guides who give keen insight into local events and lore. Of interest to riders is a visit to Bull Valley Gorge where a truck has been stuck in the slot canyon since the 1940s. The 3-hour tour makes pit stops for slot canyon hikes and Instagrammable moments.
Safety helmet provided but not googles. Tours depart at 9 a.m. every day.
Outfitters: Highland Adventure Rentals
ATV enthusiasts may want to have the experience of a 4x4 vehicle in Bryce Canyon Country without the guided tour. Highland Adventure Rentals offers you this opportunity. Jeep Wranglers and multiple size ATVs are available for rent for 2-8 hours. Take time to explore 3,000 miles of trails in the area. Marvel at every turn to see what scenic view is in store. Venture to Covered Wagon Bridge, Cedar Wash Arch, Devils Garden, Indian Ruins, the popular Zebra Slot Canyons, Dixie National Forest and more.
Local maps, GPS & SPOT emergency locator equipment and goggles are provided.
2. Where to ride: Bryce Canyon Rim
Places of interest: The alpine forests of Dixie National Forest, Bryce Canyon Rim and the north rim of Bryce Canyon.
Why ride here: You can’t actually ride ATV’s in Bryce Canyon National Park. Ruby’s Inn borders the park and has a terrific southeastern view of the canyons. ATV riders appreciate being able to ride in the closest spot to Bryce Canyon.
Outfitters: Ruby's ATV Tours
Special 1-hour Sunset $85:
Ruby’s is known for their half-hour to 1-hour ATV rides on their private property that edges against the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park. Spring for the Sunset Tour, which is one of a kind. This is the only place in the county where you can see the sun casting shadows in Bryce Canyon as the colors change and paint the rock. The tour is part history lesson and sightseeing but based on reviews, it’s all adrenaline-pumping fun. It is also a fun way to see an overview of the iconic red rock formations, hoodoos and spires while using your thumb to press the throttle and pick up speed. Just don’t wear white, even if it is before Labor Day.
Protective equipment provided. Call ahead for meeting time. Guided tours available from March 24 to October 31.
2. Where to ride: Paunsaugunt Plateau
Places of interest: Paunsaugunt Rim Pines Loop, Proctor Canyon, Wilson Peak Overlook, Great Western Trail, Red Rock Canyons, hideouts for Western outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Why ride here: Before he became an international outlaw, Butch Cassidy was a son of pioneers and doing chores just a few miles north of the Dixie National Forest. Whether you consider him a folk hero or criminal, his mystique brings people to explore his beginning and hideouts. Rides through high-mountain trails are surrounded by a thick forest canopy making this a cool ride during the hot summer months.
Outfitters: Bryce Canyon ATV Adventures
All-day ATV tour $200:
This trip is not for the faint of heart. It takes stamina. This group of trails goes from easy to more advanced riding as the day goes on. The guides and owners are all local and have ridden the course many times before. They start at the Great Western trail then head over to the west side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau where there are several overlooks of hoodoos and spires.
Protective equipment is provided. Lunch is provided.
To truly grasp the uniqueness of all that Bryce Country has to offer—the magnitude of the rock formations, encountering elusive wildlife and admiring the open country—book an ATV tour. You won’t regret it.