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.
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.
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.
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.
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!