Thursday, August 4, 2016

Don't Miss these Gems outside Bryce Canyon

Don't get me wrong, I love Bryce Canyon (in fact, it's one of my top 5 favorite places), but there are lots of beautiful places surrounding Bryce Canyon.  

If you are driving from Salt Lake City down to Bryce Canyon, Little Cottonwood Campground in Fishlake National Forest is a convenient stop off of I-15 just outside the community of Beaver.  There are 14 primitive (no hookups), shaded campsites that can accommodate RVs up to 40ft.  We enjoyed sleeping nestled in the woods with our windows open.  We need to plan a visit back here to explore more of the hiking trails and spend some time fishing on Beaver River.

From there continue south on highway 15 to Panguitch where you will take 89S to Scenic Byway 12.  Stay at Red Canyon Campground (part of Dixie National Forest) for access to an extensive trail system.  We decided that you could easily spend a week or two exploring the limestone formations and ponderosa pine forests found here.  Unfortunately, we only had one day there, but we were able to pack in plenty of adventures. We spent the morning biking Red Canyon Bike Trail, which parallels Highway 12 but offers superb views of Red Canyon.  The best part of this trail is that what goes up must come down, so the return trip back to the campground is mostly downhill!
The trail run particularly close to this rock tunnel, make it easy to grab some photos.

After a quick stop back at the campground to refuel and reload (remember to hydrate often!), we decided to check out some of the hiking trails.

Buckhorn Trail leads out of the east of the campground (between site #24 and #26), and can be coombines with Goldenwall Trail and Castle Bridge Trail.  The trail begins with a moderately difficult climb (approx. 500 feet elevation change) up switchbacks through the forest before leveling out a bit and giving some breathtaking views of Red Canyon.  Towards the end of the trail it is extremely narrow with drop offs on both side.  At one point we took a sit and scoot approach (moving slowly and carefully, on the lookout for snakes and scorpions).  Here is a link to a printable trail map:

Despite the heat and long day of adventures, we finished the way every good day should with a campfire and s'mores!

Be sure to check out our other adventures in Utah!

Goblin Valley State Park:


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