Free activities Hikes

Red Canyon

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Red Canyon is a beautiful scenic area operated by the forest service just outside of Bryce Canyon along scenic Highway 12. There is a small Visitor’s Center and several really cool hikes in this area. If you get tired of the crowds and overlooks at Bryce, head over Red Canyon.¬†We tried three hikes in this area, and enjoyed all of them.

 

You will most likely pass Red Canyon as you head toward Bryce. They told us that most people confuse it with Bryce Canyon because it is where you start seeing red rock hoodoos. You will also drive through two man made tunnels that help you feel like you are driving through a huge arch. This can be a great beginning to your trip as you head into Bryce, almost like a warm-up. We did it on the way out of town, but either way, Red Canyon is worth the stop.

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Be sure to stop in the Visitor’s Center. They were very helpful about the trails in Red Canyon.

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You will drive through these tunnels on the way to Bryce Canyon after you pass Red Canyon.

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We loved driving under “the arches.”

The first hike that we tried was called Pink Ledges. Before we hit the trail, we picked up an interpretive pamphlet that went along with the trail markers along the way. We learned a lot as we hiked, and our boys liked looking for and arriving at each marker. Our favorite was a stop at a ponderosa pine, which the pamphlet claimed smelled like butterscotch. After scoffing loudly, Dad took a tentative sniff, and sure enough, it smelled exactly like butterscotch. We spent much of the rest of this short trail sniffing trees. The total distance for this trail is under a mile, and it begins at the parking lot by the Visitor’s Center.

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The Pink Ledges Trail starts down here by this old ranger building. It wasn’t open when we were there, but is sometimes open.

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Look for this sign behind the picnic table by the ranger building.

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We picked up a trail guide in the Visitor’s Center and it had very interesting info at each of the number posts.

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The trail walks right along the hoodoos and is in and out of the shade.

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We were in love with the Ponderosa Pines and how they smelled like butterscotch!

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The trail climbs up and down, but nothing very strenuous.

The second trail we walked was an extension of the Pink Ledges Trail, but can be walked on it’s own called the Hoodoo Trail. It added about a third of a mile to the route, and was much flatter and easy than Pink Ledges, which was pretty easy anyway. This trail has interpretive signs along the way so no pamphlet is needed. It is the most common walk in the park as it leads to the base of the most famous structure in this area, the two totems. This walk, though not wheel-friendly, could be done by any hiker. You can begin at the Visitor’s Center if you don’t want to add it to the Pink Ledges Trail.

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When we came to this sign, we took the hoodoo trail around and then back to the Visitor’s Center. It didn’t add much distance (0.3 miles).

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The Hoodoo Trail is very flat and walks along the road for a section.

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There are some amazing rock formations along the trail.

The final trail we did at Red Canyon was the Arches Trail. To get to the Arches Trail, drive west from the Visitor’s Center on Highway 12 to a road called Casto Canyon/Losee Canyon Road, which takes off to the right (north). Follow this road for 2 miles to the Losee Canyon Trailhead and park. Don’t get confused and go on the wrong trail up the wash, but instead, start out to the north along the green gate (but not through it). This trail is a bit steep and runs for .7 miles. Make sure you have a hold of little ones as there are plenty of places to slip, bump, or scrape an elbow or knee. The cool thing about this hike is that it passes 14 arches or windows according to our 9 year-old, or 15 according to our 7 year-old, depending on who you trust. Most of these arches are relatively small, just a few feet across, but our boys had a grand time spotting them and keeping track. This was the best hike at Red Canyon.

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This is where you park for the Arches Trail.

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Walk across the parking lot and the road you came in on, and find this sign. Follow the trail down from here.

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The trail leads down near this gate. DO NOT go through the gate. That is the wrong way.

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Instead follow the wash to the left along the rock face. The wash also heads to the right along the road, but don’t go that way either.

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You will come to this fun little shelter that someone has constructed.

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Then you will see the Arches Trail sign again. Shortly after this sign, the trail will fork. You can go either way. It is a loop.

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Watch for little arches and windows all along the way.

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There is some steep climbing in sections. Here we are walking along some switchbacks up to those stairs. Our 3 year-old handled it fine, but we held his hand the entire way.

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Our boys loved looking for the arches on the trail.

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Once you are up, the trail is flat and easy as you walk among Red Canyon. Then you will walk back down to the wash.

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This spot had a lot of windows in one place.

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Some of the arches allow you to walk up and be right next to them.

You’ll love Red Canyon! But do a little more than drive through the two man made arches that span the road. Stop for a hike!