We had originally intended to stay close to the interstate in St George on the way up to Salt Lake City, but we couldn’t find any parks with availability for the entire time we needed. After much searching, we finally found a spot near Red Canyon, Utah. We set up camp for the couple weeks surrounding Memorial Day and really took advantage of the setting out in the neighborhood of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Let me start with the fact that none of us had ever been to Utah before, so we really didn’t know what to expect. When we booked our stay, they were careful to tell us that they were expecting snow and 20 degree weather that week, so we needed to be prepared for anything! Lucky for us it was totally mild while we were there. Temps were in the 70s most of the time and skies were mostly clear.
This area is known for it’s scenic hikes through canyons and cliffs and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ll share some photos and videos of many of the sites we experienced below, along with a couple additional things we were able to check out…so let’s get started.
So first…the one in our backyard. Red Canyon was totally beautiful. Hwy 12 runs right through it and it’s one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever experienced. Below are some pictures and some video of our hike near the visitor center.
Bryce Canyon National Park was a real treat. Many people gave us advice on how to see the park in the most efficient way, and we took their advice! The trick is to drive clear to the end of the park (about 19 miles past the gate) and then stop at each pull off on the way back (they will then all be on the right). There are so many stops and breathtaking views that it almost numbs your senses. Take a look at the photos and video below and you’ll see what I mean…
Red Hollow & Thunderbird Restaurant
The next stop was an hour south in the town of Orderville. We were able to meet up with our old friends, the Setzers, for dinner…but first we wanted to squeeze in a short hike. I had found a new app called AllTrails and it said there was an awesome hike there in town called Red Hollow. After hiking down a half mile dirt road, we found a fence erected across the path. Further investigation led us to a new path through the wash and back to the other side of that old trail. It would around some outcroppings in the wash for about 2/3 of a mile, then run you straight into a beautiful slot canyon. This was our first slot canyon experience and it’s hard to articulate how pretty and yet restricting those canyons are.
Eventually we made it to dinner and the restaurant was a hit. We had a great time catching up with our old friends and I’ve included some pictures below of both the hike and our two families outside the Thunderbird…
Our next hike was late one afternoon. We didn’t have much time but we’d heard about a waterfall just east of Bryce on Highway 12. Low and behold…we found Mossy Cave. It’s named after a cave on one leg of the hike, but that cave is not horribly picturesque if its not icy (when it is icy, the pictures look amazing though). The rest of the hike was beautiful though… the stream runs through the entire path and there are gorgeous hoodoos up on the hill. Take a look a the pictures and video below!
Another family of friends came into the picture for our next stop. The Fulmer’s stopped in for a few days and Ame was kind enough to schedule a white-water rafting trip for us about an hour north of where we were camping. The trip was only class 2 and 3 rapids and was about 7 mile of river, but man was it fun for the kids and the adults alike. Scott was kind enough to clip the camera to his vest since he sat in the front, so we got some pretty good video of some of the rapids. Take a look, but be aware that there is sound in this one and you can hear the girls screaming…so watch that volume 😉
The last hike of the trip was my favorite and we were again joined by the Fulners. Wilson’s Creek is about an hour east of Red Canyon (about 30 min east of Bryce) but it’s not a simple drive up hike. You have to take a winding dirt road for about 6 miles up and down mountains and into gullies. It’s not for the week of heart and should definitely not be attempted in the rain!
Once you actually arrive at the trailhead, the hike is super easy (very flat) and you are in the slot canyons almost immediately. As you hike, the sides seem to get higher and higher…it’s really surreal and crazy. There are a couple waterfalls and a big monolith about halfway through. Take a look at the pics and video below…I’m not sure they do it justice, but I did my best.
All told, we loved southern Utah, even though what we saw was only a drop in the bucket. I know we’ll spend more time out there eventually, but for now we are off to Salt Lake City…