Visiting Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park

When planning our trip to Utah my sister, Shannon, and I had a wealth of natural wonders to choose from. After all, the state is home to 5 national parks! We could have seen them all in one fell swoop but that seemed like a lot to put on our plate. By the time we visited the last one would be able to remember which was which? So we settled for Zion and decided to leave it at that. But, we’re natural born explorers and as we traveled the back roads of the state we discovered ourselves at the gateway to Bryce Canyon and, deciding it was fate, we decided to pay it a visit.

We spent much of the day driving lonely Highway 89 and were happy to detour toward the national park. We turned onto Highway 12 and were suddenly confronted with a most otherworldly landscape.

Red Canyon. Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest is perhaps the most unique spot I’ve ever visited. After miles of rolling hills I came face to face with the reddest rocks I’ve ever seen. They were in your face red. Fell asleep while sunbathing red. RED RED RED.

Pictures do not do them justice. As shocking as their color was they seemed oddly familiar. I knew I’d never been there before yet…

Shannon then noticed a sign for nearby Thunder Mountain. That’s it! Thunder Mountain at Disneyland! In all my years visiting the park I never once thought one of my favorite rides was based on a real place. Yet, here it was right in front of my eyes with the red rocks to prove it.

After picking my jaw off the ground we continued on to Bryce Canyon. Like most of the day, the road was empty and, as it was Sunday, everything was closed. Imagine my surprise when we got to the park and found it crowded. Where did everyone come from? Luckily, it was still easy to get around and we started exploring.

In a way, Bryce Canyon is the opposite of Zion. In Zion, much of the park is at the bottom of a canyon. At Bryce, you’re on the top reaching elevations of over 9000 feet. Most of the points of interest reside on the main park road and we decided to traverse all 18 miles of it.

Bryce Canyon is known for its hoodoos (tall rock spires) and they are truly a sight to see. They look as if a giant decided to stack rocks and then just left them there.

My very favorite sight was Natural Bridge. Only viewable from a lookout point it’s absolutely stunning.

Bryce Canyon may have been an unexpected stop but I’m so glad we visited. Combined with Red Canyon it offered some of the most stunning views of our trip and and made for experiences I won’t soon forget.





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