September 19, 2019
Bryce Canyon is a must-see U.S. landmark, but did you know there is an endless list of things to do in the surrounding area which most visitors haven’t heard about? If you are visiting Bryce Canyon, we’ve created an itinerary filled with other things to do in the surrounding area which will make your trip even more memorable and unique. Here are the top spots to find a bite to eat, see some beautiful scenery, spend the night, ride horses, and so much more.
This post was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.
Day 1: Boulder, Escalante
There are countless options for places to stay, there are countless options, but one unique option is the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch. Just 45 minutes from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, it offers incredible features. Guests can rent a room, a tipi, or a cabin and experience life on the guest ranch in comfort and style. The Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch offers many activities for its guests from hiking, and horseback riding, to guided garden tours, and fly fishing, even yoga on the heated patio.
The landscape surrounding the guest ranch is breathtaking and the restaurant is world-class. At the Sweetwater Kitchen located on the ranch property, the food is farm to table and all meat is organic and pasture-raised locally in the state of Utah. This restaurant will even pack a lunch for you if you are going to be gone exploring all day! You really cannot go wrong with this place! When visiting Bryce Canyon Country, this guest ranch should be at the top of your list as a base camp.
In the Escalante and Boulder area, there are countless hikes, restaurants, museums, and other incredible things to do. Start your morning in the Anasazi Museum to beat the crowds and the heat. If you want to learn more history when you’re visiting the Bryce Canyon area, the Anasazi Museum lets you explore an ancient Puebloan village that was likely occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200. Outside is the six-room replica of the Pueblo, and inside you will find genuine artifacts recovered from the site.
Magnolia Food truck offers delicious meals made from the produce of local farms. The menu includes breakfast burritos, fresh-cut fries, salads, kid-friendly quesadillas, and the specials vary depending on what the local farms and gardens can provide. So, plan to have a picnic in the shade outside of the Anasazi Museum anytime within the food truck’s business hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Hop in the car and take Highway 12 to Escalante. Highway 12 is one of the most famous scenic byways in the country and is also classified as an All-American Road. This trip will take about 45 minutes and along the way, there are countless arches, rivers, and other natural wonders that can be seen from the car. You can also pull over and hike to get a better view of spots like Calf Creek Falls, a beautiful 6-mile hike. There are also wonderful places to stop for a bite like Kiva Koffeehouse, which offers coffee and treats paired with incredible views.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Once in Escalante, explore, relax, and check out the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center before heading into the park. There are many roads for vehicles in the park, but they might not be on your GPS, so make sure to grab a map to be sure of where you are going in the park. Also, keep in mind that this park is run by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the state or national parks services, so most of the roads will not be paved. A great place to start is the Hole in the Rock Road, where you can access various slot canyons or Devil’s Garden. If you want to explore some of the hidden gems in the area, it is best to hire a local outfitter based in the town of Escalante, they can make sure you stay safe while experiencing some local hidden gems. Visiting the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in the evening lets you avoid the heat of the day, and stargazing in the park is highly recommended.
Day 2: Tropic, Thunder Mountain Trail
Stone Hearth Grille
When visiting Bryce Canyon Country, you will find one of the most recommended restaurants in Utah, Stone Hearth Grille. Just look it up and you’ll find hundreds of ecstatic reviews. They even have incredible vegetarian options. The top it all off, the views from this restaurant deck are outstanding. But make sure you go before they close for the season on October 31st! This place starts serving dinner starting at 5 pm, so you might want to work up an appetite on some bike trails.
If Thunder Mountain Bike Trail sounds familiar to you, that’s because there is a Disneyland ride by the same name. This iconic area has captivated every passerby, and there is no better way to truly experience it than from the seat of a mountain bike. This trail is considered intermediate/difficult, so first-timers might want to try the Red Canyon Bike Trail instead.
Day 3: Antimony, the Wild Wild West
Finally, head on over to the Rockin R’ Ranch. This place is incredibly unique and filled with activities which easily fill up an entire day or even an entire week. Rockin’ R Ranch offers horseback riding and instruction, barrel racing, archery, western dancing, and more. If you have ever dreamed of living the cowboy lifestyle, the Rockin’ R Ranch can offer you all that and more. This is the perfect place to take the whole family and share some uninterrupted quality time.
Trying to narrow down everything Bryce Canyon Country offers into just a three-day experience is difficult, so take your time and venture into the unknown at your own pace. You won’t be disappointed with the experiences that await.