Anytime is a good time to be in Bryce Canyon Country, but winter holds special treats for those who venture here. As the temperature drops, so do the crowds. At this elevation, the chill in the air only accents the vastness of the blue sky. A serenity you can’t quite capture elsewhere seems to rest over the canyons, cliffs and mountaintops. The people who live and work in Bryce Canyon Country know a thing or two about where to go and what to see. Use these tips from the year-round residents to inspire your next winter adventure in Bryce Canyon Country.
Willis Creek Narrows Trail
Hikers on Willis Creek Narrows Trail
"My favorite is Willis Creek. It is an amazing slot canyon without all the crowds you find in Zion or Antelope Canyon in Arizona. It has some easy-to-get-to waterfalls and impressive slot sections. You get there on the Skutumpah Road just south of Cannonville. It’s a good idea to check with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Cannonville for road conditions. The road itself is a blast, but it is not always easy to get through sometimes even with a 4-wheel drive. The reward of getting there is worth the trouble. Willis Creek is one of my favorite places on earth."
Red Ledges Inn
The Red Ledges Inn is conveniently situated on Scenic Byway 12, Utah's All-American highway. A short distance in nearly any direction will take you to see such natural wonders as Bryce Canyon National Park, Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument, Kodachrome State Park and Calf Creek Falls.
Burr Trail Road and Circle Cliffs Overlook
Burr Trail Road above, is also a secret access road to Lake Powell.
"There are many places we like to go to as a family, but when family comes here for a visit, the one place I love to take them is down the Burr Trail. The Burr Trail is paved for 32 miles and offers such a variety of scenery that is not seen anywhere else. You start the drive going through some beautiful slickrock formations. About 10 miles down the road, you’ll come to Long Canyon. This is a narrow road that you drive to the bottom of. On both sides, you’ll see cliffs 300- to 400-feet high."
Circle Cliff overlook. Photo courtesy of David Heaton.
A slot canyon off Burr Trail. Photo courtesy of David Heaton.
"Another mile in and on the left side you will see a huge slot canyon that you can walk into and explore. It is not very long. But makes up for it with its beauty. The trees at the entrance of the slot canyon and the goldish-red colors of the rocks surrounding you can simply take your breath away. This is a great spot for a nice picnic. Another seven miles down the road and you’ll come to Circle Cliffs overlook. This is an amazing area to view the cliffs all around. Especially as you drive by hoodoos and spires that seem to defy gravity."
Photographer and artist
David Heaton captures natural color landscape and close-up photography. David photographs beautiful places and special moments in time not accessible to others.
Aquarius Plateau’s dense, alpine forest.
"One of my favorite things to do in Garfield County is to load my family in our side-by-sides (off-road vehicles) and go discover the beauty that Garfield County has to offer. My favorite places to ride to and hike are the Escalante Desert, Red Canyon, and the Aquarius Plateau. From the Aquarius Plateau on a clear day, you can see all the way to Lake Powell. The view is truly breathtaking. Each one of these rides is vastly different from the other. You can be in the red rocks of Bryce Canyon National Park, or up in the thick, alpine forest at 10,000 feet. Some of the lakes in Bryce Canyon Country have some of the most amazing trout fishing in the West, especially in Panguitch. If you want solitude, you go to the slot canyons for a day of hiking."
Manager Bryce Canyon Airport
Bryce Canyon Airport offers one asphalt-paved runway, which is 7,400-feet long and 75-feet wide. The runway is used daily by small propeller-powered planes and Bryce Canyon Airlines. The airport is available for charters and private aircraft.
Boulder Arts Scene
"We love attending art events. Boulder has a burgeoning art scene. Whether it’s an opening at the community art gallery, a collage workshop, poetry reading, or musicians playing at the Boulder Community Center or Town Park. You can also get to know some great folks over food and drinks at the new 4th West Pub in Escalante. The owners and employees of the pub are friendly and always appreciate that we made the trip from Boulder. After the snow flies, my friends and family love to hike and picnic in areas that are overrun with people during the summer. I like to go to Deer Creek, the Gulch, or even that little drainage by the big ponderosa pine on the Burr Trail. I stop at Hills and Hollows store to pack my picnic basket."
Boulder Heritage Foundation
Cheryl Cox is currently retired and serves on the board of the Boulder Heritage Foundation. She lives in Boulder where she takes a deep dive into the local history and lore while improving her hiking technique.
Lower Bowns Reservoir
Food of Sweetwater Inn.
"One of our favorite places in Garfield County is Lower Bowns Reservoir. It's fun to go fishing there in the winter and wade in the water in the summer. The feel is like a beach high up in the mountain with beautiful views of the Aquarius Plateau and the evergreen forest around it. There are also great hiking trails nearby."
Manager Sweetwater Kitchen
Sweetwater Kitchen serves Southwestern cuisine finessed with Old World classical culinary technique. The restaurant is located inside the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch.
To plan your trip this winter, visit BryceCanyonCountry.com. As always, check weather and road conditions before you go.