Red Canyon in Utah: the magnificent antechamber of Bryce Canyon

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

To talk about the Red Canyon in Utah I like to tell my experience, because this short stretch of road is one of the things that have remained most etched in my memory. On my first trip to the West Coast I was on my way from Las Vegas to Bryce: I made a stop in St. George - where the typical red coloring of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Snow Canyon was already beginning to be seen - and, since I was in a bit of a hurry, to go to Bryce I didn't take the beautiful UT-9 scenic route, but I continued my on-the-road on I-15, a highway that cuts a not particularly attractive landscape in half, except for the Kolob Canyons area.

At the Panguitch, a small strategic city center for visiting the park, I was still on US-89, around me the landscape of the Dixie National Forest it was green with its coniferous forests. I could not wait to enjoy the show of the pinnacles of the Bryce, but I could not imagine that a few kilometers before entering the park I would have had such a beautiful anticipation: in fact, the red spectacle of the Red Canyon.


  • Where is it?
  • How to visit it
  • Map of points of interest
  • The main trails of Red Canyon
    • Casto Canyon e Losee Canyon
  • Where to sleep?

Where is it?

He Red Canyon Is part of the Dixie National Forest and is located precisely in the part in the initial part of the western end of the Scenic Byway UT-12, one of the most scenic scenic drives in Utah that leads to Capitol Reef via Escalante and Boulder. This road takes you 11 km south of Panguitch or - for those coming from the south - 13 km north of Hatch. After a few kilometers you are inside the Red Canyon real, which is practically crossed by the road: you will understand it from the fact that here you begin to see the reddish peaks of the hoodoos, a tasty anticipation of Bryce Canyon which is just 17 km deviating on UT-63 S. through the Red Canyon takes approx 7 km.

The address of the Red Canyon Visitor Center and 5375 UT-12, Panguitch.

How to visit it

Not to be confused with the Red Rock Canyon (near Las Vegas) nor with the Red Rock Canyon State Park in California, the Red Canyon of Utah is a kind of Bryce Canyon in miniature in the natural setting of the Dixie National Forest. As you may have guessed by now, all those who want to reach Bryce from the west they are obliged to pass through the middle of this canyon.

As anticipated, the road that goes into the heart of the Red Canyon it is 7 km long, and most people walk it without ever stopping, contenting himself with what he can see along the way. For this reason the pitches on the sides of the road are often deserted or almost: it is an invitation to take advantage of them, in case you want take some pictures or start a trail to reach a better vantage point.

One of the most characteristic and unforgettable moments of this short scenic road inside the Red Canyon is the passage of the car under the two rock tunnels red: there could be no more suitable entrance to the landscape of bizarre shaped rocks and pinnacles of the canyon you will cross.

Map of points of interest

The main trails of Red Canyon

The Red Canyon is very popular with cyclists, who often travel to the area for the 38km Red Canyon Bicycle Trail. However, if, of course, you haven't brought your bike to the USA and you can't resist the on the road charm of Red Canyon, you can park your car and venture along one of these. walking trails of the canyon:

  • Pink Ledges Trail: This is the most popular path in the Red Canyon, being the one that allows you to fully enjoy the landscape typical of the area with the least effort: you arrive at the foot of cliffs and red hoodos, with the green shades of the surrounding woods. It is a loop departing from the Visitor Center, where there is also a convenient parking lot if necessary. The length of the path, which is an "interpretive trail", is 1.1 km in total for a difference in height of just 46 meters.
  • Red Canyon Tunnel Trail: from this precise point you can begin the Tunnel Trail, a simple path that offers a beautiful view of the valley and above all of the two famous tunnels / arches mentioned above. The excursion lasts no more than half an hour: you will travel 1.3 km with a minimum difference in height, about 75 meters.
  • Golden Wall Trail: those with more time available can walk this loop of 6.8 km, from the not indifferent elevation of 317 meters. The effort will be rewarded by the sight of some of the most curious formations of the Red Canyon, which stand out on the sides of the path like a compact wall with warm colors to indicate the way. The start of the trail is near the Visitor Center, but on the other side of the road: here are the coordinates. The final part of the trail takes place on Buckhorn Trail and ends at the campsite.
  • Cassidy Trail: legend has it that the well-known outlaw Butch Cassidy hid in the wild surroundings of Red Canyon after killing a man in Panguitch during a sentimental brawl. The path that the villain used to walk is now called Cassidy Trail in his honour. The start of the trail is 1.6 km from the Visitor Center, at the Red Canyon Trailhead; the walk offers beautiful views of the red rocks of Red Canyon and Losee Canyon and can be combined with the Losee Canyon Trail. The length of the path is 7 km and the elevation of 190 meters.

Casto Canyon e Losee Canyon

Il Red Canyon it is the most famous area of ​​a called plateau Sunset Cliffs, which includes two other much more remote canyons: the Casto Canyon and Losee Canyon. I'll tell you more: both (but especially the Casto Canyon) are far more beautiful than the Red Canyon, especially for the variety of colors and shapes of the rocks. How to reach them for an exploration on foot? The quickest way to do this is to drive up to their respective trailheads on one dirt road which branches off from UT-12 just before entering the Red Canyon: the Casto Canyon Road.

The exact point where to take the Casto Canyon Road with your 4 × 4 or with an SUV is this. From here you have to drive for 3.3 km to cross the Losee Canyon. Continuing straight for another 1.7 km you will reach the Casto Canyon. Each of the two trailheads is well signposted and offers a space where you can leave your car before you start walking. We proceed inside a suggestive red gorge where the hoodos and the vermilion, orange and pink rock walls rise on both sides in a beautiful contrast with the evergreen trees of the forest and the blue of the sky. Beware of Casto Canyon! The trail trail is often used by ATV vehicles e UTV.

Where to sleep?

For some targeted advice on staying overnight, the reference is to our article dedicated to Bryce area accommodation. Click below to read it.

Tips for staying overnight in the area

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