Among the many places and sites to see in southern Utah, the beauties of Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are must-sees for nature fans. Amid these national treasures are many other beautiful sites and parks in the surrounding area for people of all ages to enjoy. With places Like Dixie National Forest, Hole in the Rock, Lake Powell and Red Canyon, there is almost too much to do. Make your trip today and see the beauties that southern Utah has to offer!
Bryce Canyon National Park, open all year, is located near the junction of Scenic Byway 12 and U-63. Bryce Canyon is a series of large natural amphitheaters with thousands of multi-colored rock pinnacles called “hoodoos”. These formations shine brilliantly under sunny skies, but glow most exquisitely under the softer light of the rising or setting sun.
This ancient Indian village in the heart of Utah’s canyon country was one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River. The site is believed to have been occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200. The village remains largely unexcavated, but many artifacts have been uncovered and are on display in the newly remodeled museum.
Boulder Mountain, also known as Utah’s Aquarius plateau, is part of the High Plateaus section of the Colorado Plateau. At over 11,000 feet in elevation, Boulder Mountain is roughly 90 miles long, north to south, and forms what looks like an S in reverse. The plateau covers more than 900 square miles, and is the largest and highest plateau in Bryce Canyon Country. Eighty lakes are found across the mountain that is covered in aspen, fir, spruce, sub-alpine grasslands and meadows. Along the middle elevations you’ll find ponderosa pine, while pinyon and juniper trees are found in the lower elevations.
Open all year, the rugged western landscape of Capitol Reef adds to the western adventure. Capitol Reef is accessible via Scenic Byway 12 and U-24, or take the Burr Trail from Boulder. Drive the Park’s scenic drive, stop in at the Visitor Center and Museum, hike the trails, and visit the old log schoolhouse and the village of Fruita.
The town of Widtsoe, Utah was first settled in the early 1900s by Jedediah Adair. He was successful as a ‘dry’ farmer and this soon attracted other settlers to the area. The town was originally known as Adairville, but was later renamed multiple times using names of local prominent leaders such as John Houston and John R. Winder. Ultimately it retained the name of one-time University of Utah president John A. Widtsoe.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast tract of land (1.7 million acres) that connects Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks. The nation’s newest monument is largely desert wilderness. Hike the canyons, view wildlife, explore and photograph the remote areas.
While the Hole in the Rock road is a dirt road, it is wide and quite well maintained and is passable for most vehicles during good weather. Many visitors venture down this road to hike into slot canyons such as Peek-a-boo, Spooky, Egypt, Coyote Gulch and more. Also along this road is Devil’s Garden which is very much a natural play-land for adults and kids with its curious rock formations and arches.
Kodachrome Basin State Park is just a short drive from the picturesque communities of Tropic, Cannonville, and Henrieville that make up the scenic Bryce Valley. Best known for the 67 towering sand pipes that dominate the desert landscape, this colorful park has a well-deserved reputation as a photographer’s paradise.
Fish, boat, swim, hike at Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Bullfrog Marina is accessible via the Burr Trail or by way of U-95 and U-276. To get to Wahweap Marina near Page, Arizona, drive south on US 89.
There are three sections of the Dixie National Forest in the Bryce Canyon Country region (Garfield County). Each section encompasses a major plateau and elevations range from approximately 6,000 to over 10,000 feet. The Markagunt Plateau, Paunsaugunt Plateau and Aquarius Plateau are each within these three sections of the Dixie National Forest. The Aquarius Plateau is believed to be the highest plateau in North America.
Panguitch Lake is located just 20 minutes south of the town of Panguitch and, at 8,400 feet in elevation, is a great year-round mountain destination. Panguitch Lake is found right along Scenic Highway 143 and is a great base-camp for exploring nearby attractions such as Cedar Breaks National Monument, Mammoth Cave, Cascade Falls, and other mountain attractions.
Hike past large specimens of petrified wood and dinosaur fossils at Escalante Petrified Forest. Located one mile west of Escalante, at 710 N. Reservoir Road off Scenic Byway 12. The Park has hiking trails, fishing at Wide Hollow Reservoir, canoeing, camping and picnicking.
Trails lead visitors past many of the hoodoos can be explored via short hikes, or visitors have the option of enjoying the paved, five-mile Red Canyon bike and walking path. This popular bike and walking trail winds through the ponderosa forest between Red Canyon and the upper Paunsaugunt Plateau, with access points for the Grand View Trail and the Thunder Mountain Trail.
This road extends approximately 120 miles through many elevations and some of the most scenically diverse terrain in America.
Visitor Centers are one thing that we do especially well in Bryce Canyon Country. There are several visitor centers that are run by Federal Agencies and several that are managed by our local tourism office.