Walk among towering hoodoos in silence. Located in Dixie National Forest, feel the uniquely different textures of pine and pastel sandstone. Crawl through hidden ATV and biking trails in solace, and wish upon stars in the silence of night.

The warmth; likely exaggerated by my excitement and the sun burning the canyon a crimson red. The goal; listening intently as night becomes day and Southern Utah springs to life. The plan; taking my time, with a place as grand in size and adventure, it’s easy to overlook the smaller wonders on Bryce Canyon Country.

By Semaj Thomas. This story was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

red canyon trail

Free

That’s the feeling you get when visiting Red Canyon, in more ways than you can imagine. A smaller kin to nearby Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon is a step towards solitude and away from the crowds of the big-name spots. Furthermore, there’s no entrance fee to this area! Walk among towering hoodoos in silence. Located in Dixie National Forest, feel the uniquely different textures of pine and pastel sandstone. Crawl through hidden ATV and biking trails in solace, and wish upon stars in the silence of night. It’s an intimate and rare experience to have a place like Red Canyon to yourself, and thanks to the catalog of adventure in the area, the possibility is more than likely.

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Willis Creek

The first time I walked through a slot canyon, it was an unreal feeling. Gorgeous sandstone so perfectly smooth and curved, one would believe it to be an artist’s installation. However, carved instead by scores of flash floods and wind erosion, slot canyons like Willis Creek are uniquely natural slits through otherwise impenetrable rock. The towering on either side gives the illusion you are walking through a mountain, not traversing one! Willis Creek runs through the slot canyon, so come prepared to get your feet wet. Be sure to bring sturdy shoes, more than enough water, and possibly an umbrella for shade. Hikers tend to underestimate the energy-sapping power of a desert sun, but it is real and unrelenting! Stay safe, and always remember to leave no trace.

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Calf Creek Falls

With so much public land in Bryce Canyon Country, it’s relatively easy to venture off the beaten path. No one would expect a waterfall as incredible as Lower Calf Creek Falls in the middle of the Utah desert! Marked from the start by anticipation and curiosity, you’ll start this trail at a hastened pace, but those steps soon slow as the beauty of the hike come into full view. Sandstone pillars weave with perfect pine, dotting your journey. The true reward, the falls, come into view at the end of this hike. It’s a geologic shower in an oasis-like atmosphere. Greenery grows freely, even behind the spray of the lower falls, adding contrast to a well-aged scene of natural beauty. The smaller Upper Falls only adds to its height and wonder. It’s well worth a swim, and a picture! (or twenty!)

Bryce Canyon Country is a place with a new discovery around every corner, so be sure to spread out! Furthermore, stretching your adventure radius means stretching your contributions to the local economy, not just the national parks of Utah. The BCC Community is a beautiful as their gold mine of landscapes and geologic history! With towns like Escalante, Boulder, Tropic, and Panguitch, you’ll find yourself extending vacation and taking your time, which is the true way to experience Bryce Canyon Country.