Red Canyon State Park and Pink Cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park

by Chih Kwan Chen, Nov. 2, 2009

Route 12, UT and then southward into Route 63, UT is the only way to get into Bryce Canyon National Park. Route 12 starts at US-89 at its west end, goes eastward and ends at Route 24 at Torrey, UT, a 124 mile very secenic drive. The junction with Route 63 that goes into Bryce Canyon National Park is about 14 miles from its west end. That is why most visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park take US-89, and turn into Route 12 East. After driving a short distance on Route 12 East, strange looking red rocks start to appear at both sides of the road. Very soon one comes up to a parking area at right, marked with a sign of "Dixie National Forest". Across the road, there are two impressive red stone platforms topped with whitish rocks the shapes of which are just depend on ones imagination. You are at Red Canyon, now a state park of Utah. Down the road there are several more road side parking areas, and a visitor information center at the north side of the road. To park at the road side and enjoy those strange looking red rocks is absolutely free. We do not know whether they charge fee or not to get information and hike on the trails. Further down the road there are two tunnels. So called "tunnel" is just a huge rock with a semi-cicular hole opened to let Route 12 go through. The thickness of the rocks is only about 100 feet at most. After the tunnels until the junction with Route 63, there is no more those red rocks. However, traveling further east along Route 12 passing the junction, strange looking whitish rockes appear. Again there are several roadside parking spots to allow one to enjoy those whitish rocks. Those whitish rocks mixed with pink colors belong to "Pink Cliffs" of Bryce Canyon National Park. Route 12, until the town Tropic, is actually inside Bryce Canyon National Park. From the town Cannonville it enters the northern edge of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. To enjoy those pink cliffs from road side parking areas is again absolutely free of charge.

In Bryce Canyon, most people look down at numerous strangely shaped rocks, called hoodoos, from the rim, but in Red Canyon and Pink Cliffs along Route 12 we are looking up at those rocks up close. Actually Pink Cliffs is visible from the grand view points in Bryce Canyon as something like Greek Temples at the farthest end. Hoodoos like those in Red Canyon must also exist in Bryce Canyon, but the trails that lead to close views of those hoodoos range from strenous to outright dangerous, so the opportunity offered by Red Canyon and Pink Cliffs to view them up-close should not be missed. The enchanting magic of Bryce Canyon, in our opinion, does not arise from viewing individual hoodoos, but comes from the forest of hoodoos that produces unexpected pictures and shapes depending on the light and shade. One moment you see a strange picture from the rocks, and the next it is gone forever. It is a very different experience to enjoy Bryce Canyon, and the up-close views of hoodoos provided by Red Canyon and Pink Cliffs.

To take pictures in Red Canyon and Pink Cliffs, roughly half of the scenes are rouined by the sun light geting into the camera on a bright day, depending on the visit before noon or after the noon time. During this trip in October of 2009, due to the scheduling, we traveled that portion of Route 12 three times, both in the morning and in the afternoon, so a large number of pictures about Red Canyon and Pink Cliffs have been accumulated. Some of them are posted in two separate folders, Red Canyon and Pik Cliffs respectively. They are reachable from the following two links.

2009 trip to Red Canyon State Park, Utah

2009 trip to Pink Cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park