You know Bryce Canyon is beautiful. Wondrous. Magnificent even. That’s not exactly breaking news (it’s been a national park for pert near a century). But what you may not know is that it’s surrounded by a flourishing, fantastical area with a heckuva lot more to see/love/do. All-American roadways. Ancient forests. Hidden gardens named after devils that are actually quite heavenly. No big deal for Garfield County. Big frickin’ deal for you.
Now, by all means, visit Bryce Canyon. But while you’re there, venture out beyond all the hoodoo hubbub and see what else the county has stashed in its daypack. Wait, what? There just happens to be a planned mini-’tinerary for you right here? Crazy how that works.
5 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
Start your day off with a bit of time travel. And we mean that semi-literally since Highway 12 is also known as “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.” This amazing stretch of blacktop is an official All-American Road — the only one so designated in this great state.
See, you’re already stoked and the day just started.
KODACHROME BASIN STATE PARK
30 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
You’ve heard of National Geographic? We thought so. Those folks were so impressed by the colors in this area that they named it after the signature camera film back in ‘48. See what the fuss was about by placing your peepers on 180 million years of geologic history, and just as many hues to boot.
ESCALANTE PETRIFIED FOREST STATEN PARK
56 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
You’re not even an hour away from Bryce and you’re already at your second state park? Dang, Gina! Here, you can take a walk through a certified, bona fide, petrified forest. But it’s not, like, spooky, or anything. Unless you’re scared of old, dead trees that have been magically transformed into old, colorful fossils. There are a lot of other great things to do here, too, like fishing, horseback riding, and dinosaur-bone viewing.
1 HOUR 18 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
You won’t find any zebras in Zebra Canyon. Sorry. But you will find striped walls that remind you of everyone’s favorite African equid. Fair warning: getting here takes some work. You’ll need to travel 7.8 miles along the unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock Road, then hike 5.2 miles round trip down the canyon and back. We never said it would be easy. We only said it would be worth
1 HOUR 27 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
The devil may have gone down to Georgia, but apparently he stopped here for a garden party first. You can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour exploring divine structures like hoodoos, domes, narrow passages and smaller arches. Drive another 30 minutes along Hole-in-the-Rock and you can visit Peek-a-boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch, where the devil presumably held several choice afterparties.
IT’S A DEAD MAN’S PARTY→
LOWER CALF CREEK FALLS
1 HOUR 23 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
Throw it in reverse for a bit and hang a ricky back onto Highway 12, and you’ll wind your way to the Calf Creek Falls trailhead. Hike three miles up the trail past Navajo sandstone, beaver ponds, and prehistoric rock art, and you’ll find yourself gaping at a mist-filled, 126-foot waterfall that drops into a paradisiacal pool. Take a dip (not the skinny kind) and cool off. You’ve earned it.
CANYON COUNTRY LODGE
JUST 58 MINUTES FROM BRYCE CANYON
Wow, it’s been a day. Time for a bit of southern (Utah) hospitality. And it just so happens that you can find it right where you’re at. Canyon Country Lodge will have you chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool — right there in Garfield County. The lodge is newly built with modern perks and rustic flair. Unwind in the hot tub, work your kinks out in the pool or just kick back and take in the gorgeous canyon views. Your feet (and your eyes) will thank you.