Plan Trip to Bryce Canyon
Here’s just a few of the hundreds of things to do around So. Ut.
Spend the Day at Zion National Park
Enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at Arrowhead, then head south on Scenic Highway 89 to Mt. Carmel Junction. Turn right (west) on Highway 9. The East Entrance of the Park is a 15 minute drive from Arrowhead. Once you’ve entered the park, pullouts and trailheads) are available at many scenic points. Checkerboard Mesa, the Canyon Overlook Trail, and the Zion Tunnel are some of the most stunning attractions. As you make your way down through the switchbacks to the valley floor, you’ll see a great closed arch to the east, and immense rock monoliths to the west.
Continue on through the park to the South Entrance, where in the summer you can hop onto a shuttle (the Zion Canyon Scenic drive is closed to private vehicles during the peak months, but the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, Kolob Canyons Rd. and Kolob Terrace Road are open to vehicles). The shuttles run up and down the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive all day, with stops at the museum, the visitor center, and the many trail-heads in Zion Canyon. Casual hikers will enjoy the nice and easy Riverside Walk, or the slightly more difficult hike to the Emerald Pools, while intrepid adventurers can try the climb to Angels’ Landing.
Bryce Canyon National Park Awaits
The day begins with a farm fresh breakfast at Arrowhead, and continues with a beautiful drive north, on Scenic Highway 89. Turn east on Scenic Highway 12, where you will pass through the awesome Red Canyon (feel free to stop at one of the trailheads), and from there, Bryce is only minutes away. The entire drive is about an hour, but seems much shorter with all the scenery to distract your mind. At the Park entrance, an optional shuttle service is available, or you can take your car on the 18 mile drive through Bryce. The drive is pleasant, but you can see much more of the Canyon’s amazing hoodoos (a term for the strange, whimsical and colorful rock formations) if you stop at the scenic viewpoints. We recommend driving nonstop to the southern end of the Canyon and stopping for a look off of Rainbow Point. Then, on the way back up the Canyon (you leave the same way you came in), stop at the other viewpoints as you return northward to the Park Entrance. This will help you to avoid making left turns in front of oncoming traffic.
Trailheads are available at the roadside pullouts. Hike down into the Canyon for the most spectacular views. At Sunrise Point, take the Queen’s Garden trail for great scenery and a moderate hike. At Sunset Point, take the Navajo Loop for a short, steep climb and views of Thor’s Hammer and a stroll down Utah’s own Wall Street. Other trails meander along the bottom of the canyon, wandering amidst the hoodoos and highlighting the spectacular contrast of the blue sky against the red and orange rock walls of the canyon. Taking a mule ride into the Canyon is another great option.
The Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Open approx. May 15th – Oct 15th
Your trip to Southern Utah wouldn’t be complete without a day at Grand Canyon National Park. After starting out the day with a wonderful breakfast, head south on Highway 89. You’ll pass through Kanab, UT (keep going straight at the stop-light) where Highway 89 becomes Highway 89A. Continue on through Fredonia, AZ and keep going to Jacob’s Lake, where you’ll turn south onto Highway 67 to the Grand Canyon. The 95 mile drive, through beautiful red-rock cliffs, alpine meadows and the ponderosa pine forests of the Kaibab, takes you right to the Park Entrance. From the entrance, a 10 mile drive takes you to the Visitor’s Center, where you can park your car and enjoy the panoramic views from the Rim of one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world.
The truly adventurous can hike partway down the Canyon (remember, you must hike back out, so take precautions and come prepared with water, a hat for shade, good hiking boots and sunscreen). Riding a mule into the Canyon is another option (look into reservations for mule rides far in advance of your trip). Casual hikers can see the canyon just fine from the many different trails along the rim. On the way back to the Park entrance, don’t miss the right hand (east) turn off to Point Imperial and Cape Royal. Point Imperial offers a look at the Painted Desert. Cape Royal presents truly amazing views of the Colorado River (patiently carving the Grand Canyon still deeper), framed in the natural rock arch of Angels Window. On the way back from Cape Royal, stop at the trailhead to the Walhalla Ruins. On one side, you can see a stunningly beautiful bend in the distant Colorado River and on the other side, just off the road (within a few yards) you’ll find the foundation stones of a group of ancient Native American buildings. Other trailheads lead to paths through the forests and views of the amazing landscape this area has been formed into by the forces of nature and time. With a head full of colorful vistas and a Grand Canyon, head back to Arrowhead where an evening of stargazing awaits you.
Dive into Lake Powell
Awaken to Blueberry Pancakes, Caramel Apple French Toast, or Pear Dutch Babies. After breakfast, put on your sunscreen and bathing suit, and head to Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area for some sun, great water adventures and colorful scenery. Go south on Highway 89 to Kanab. Turn left (east) at the 2nd stop-light. You’ll still be on Highway 89. Next, you’ll pass through Big Water and from there you can catch a glimpse of beautiful – and unusual – Lake Powell, with its blue waters, blue skies, spectacular red cliffs and sandstone vistas. The area around Lake Powell was the set of many films, including “Maverick,” “Planet of the Apes,” (the original) and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
The drive to the lake takes about 1 1/2 hours. Turn off at Lone Rock Beach to play in the sand, or continue on to Wahweep Marina to see the Visitor’s Center. For a half day trip, you can take a boat tour to Antelope Canyon, or for a full day trip, take a guided boat tour of Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Non-guided boat rentals are available at Wahweep Marina, as are other water toys. Hiking tours of Antelope Canyon are also available. If you need a break from the sun, drive a little further, past the lake, and you’ll see the Glen Canyon Dam. Stop at the Dam’s Visitor Center to learn about this incredible structure that holds back the Grand Canyon-carving Colorado River. To cool off after all that sun, head back to Arrowhead for a cool evening walk in the orchard.
Keep in Touch with Your Best Friends
Enjoy a gourmet breakfast at Arrowhead, then head south on Highway 89. After about 15 miles, you’ll see a replica cliff dwelling on the left, signaling Moqui Cave. Stop in, and for a few dollars, you can see a collection of Native American artifacts, dinosaur tracks, fluorescent rocks, and Old West Memorabilia. Souvenirs are available in the gift shop. Continue south on Highway 89, and within a mile you’ll see the sign for Best Friends’ on the left side of the road. Follow the driveway a short way to the Visitor Center of Best Friends’ Animal Sanctuary: the largest no-kill domestic animal sanctuary in the world. A free 1 1/2 hour guided tour is available to show you how and where they house the hundreds of dogs and thousands of cats, as well as a number of horses, birds, and other animals. Volunteer for-a-day programs are available, where volunteers can help to care for the animals. In the Best Friends’ complex you can also visit Angel Canyon, site of the Lone Ranger’s famous ‘Hi-Ho Silver’ scene.
If the day is still young, head south a couple of miles on Highway 89 until you reach the northern edge of Kanab, and on the south (right) side of the road, you’ll find the Frontier Movie Town, which features movie set memorabilia and a gift shop. Venture a few blocks further into town to find Denny’s Wigwam – a wonderful shop for souvenirs. In the evening, head back to Arrowhead to relax on the patio with one of our cats on your lap (optional!) and watch the nearby White Cliffs glow pink and yellow in the rays of the setting sun.
Sand Dunes and Pipe Springs
Enjoy a great breakfast at Arrowhead, and then put on your sandals. The turnoff to Coral Pink Sand Dunes is three miles south of Arrowhead on Highway 89. Follow the narrow country road 11 miles to the entrance of the State Park, on the left (east) side of the road. A small fee is required for admission. The sand dunes are mostly hidden from the road by a long, low hill, so for the best view, park and walk the short distance over the rim to the dunes. Sightseers needn’t hike far for spectacular scenery, while the intrepid hiker can climb to the top of one of the dunes for great views of the colorful field of wind shaped sands. The most adventurous can climb the dunes and roll down them, just like in the movies.
The sand dunes are an interesting and beautiful orange-pink color, hence the name, “Coral Pink,” and seem out of place amidst the ponderosa pine trees and sandstone cliffs and sagebrush flats that surround them. The incongruity of merged desert and forest makes a visit to this park a unique and inspiring experience.
When the day gets hot and you’ve had your fill of playing in the sand, head back towards Highway 89, but before you get there, take the short-cut to Kanab, on the right (east) side of the road. The east fork leads to an intersection with Highway 89. (The short cut saves you a few miles of driving, but if you miss the turn, don’t worry! Head back the way you came in and turn right on Highway 89.). From there, head south a few miles to Kanab. Keep going, past the stoplight, and you will be on Highway 89A. After a few miles drive, you’ll reach Fredonia, Arizona. Turn right (west) on Highway 399AZ. Drive about 19 miles to reach Pipe Springs National Monument, an early Pioneer and Native American museum, housed next to the original fort used by the Mormon pioneers. Pipe Springs, located within the Paiute Reservation, is an interesting blend of historical Native American and early Mormon Pioneer cultures. Return to Arrowhead, via Kanab.
Take a Break on Cedar Mountain
To escape the midday summer heat, Cedar Breaks National Monument (10,350 ft. elevation) is a beautiful and refreshing destination, but remember to take a jacket: it can be a bit chilly up there. The Monument is about 45 minutes from Arrowhead. After breakfast, take Highway 89 north 20 miles, turn west (left) on Highway 14, and drive another 20 miles through the town of Duck Creek to Highway 143, where you’ll turn north (right). Drive for a few more miles through the high mountain forests and meadows and soon you’ll see some roadside pull-outs, where you can park and take hiking trails along the rim of the incredible Cedar Breaks Amphitheatre. We recommend taking the moderate hike to Alpine Pond, which gives you a great stroll through the cool and peaceful forest and wildflower meadows.
Cedar Mountain also offers the Dixie National Forest, Navajo Lake and Duck Creek Pond, which you can visit on the way there or on the drive back. An experience you won’t want to miss is the hike to Cascade Falls. Just to the west of Duck Creek, go south on the turn-off to Navajo Lake, but don’t follow the road as it curves to the right (west). Instead, take the left hand turn, marked Cascade Falls, and follow the dirt road (usually well-maintained) into the forest. You’ll reach a fork at the edge of a clearing, turn right (southwest) on the broad gravel road and follow it for several miles. Park at the end of the road, and take the moderately difficult hike (1 or so miles, somewhat steep grade on some parts of the trail and some spots in the trail can be washed out) to the Falls, which you’ll begin to hear from some distance away. This is an excellent place for a picnic.
If your legs aren’t too weary and you’d like a little more adventure, then stop at Mammoth Cave on your way back to Arrowhead. To the east of Duck Creek, turn north at the road marked “Mammoth Creek.” Follow the road for several miles, then turn right (east) at the turn-off for Mammoth Cave. Turn one more time, to the left, and you’ll be on a dirt road that meanders through the forest. Look around and you might see some mule-deer, elk, wild turkeys and more. Soon you’ll come across a parking lot seemingly randomly placed in the middle of the forest, but when you park and get out of your car, you’ll see a great hole in the ground with volcanic boulders tumbled down into it. If you forgot your flashlight, enough sunlight filters in for you to explore the shallower parts of the cave, but if you want to get into the nooks and crannies, then a flashlight will be necessary, especially if you start telling ghost stories. Back at Arrowhead look for a scary movie on Direct TV. Watch out for deer on the road as you drive back towards Arrowhead.
After days of trekking through National Parks and Monuments, you might like to do something a little different such as take a guided horseback tour or ATV tour. Enjoy the awesome scenery of the area from the back of a horse or atop an ATV. There are several tour companies in the area to choose from.
After a great day of horse or ATV adventures, head back to Arrowhead and take a refreshing dip in the pool (seasonal) before spending the afternoon taking a guided tour of the historic summer home and studio of famous western artist Maynard Dixon, as well as the Bingham Art Gallery, both just across the street from Arrowhead. See the White Cliffs from the gallery’s picture windows, and see a variety of artists’ renditions of them on canvas.
If the day is still young, play a round of golf at the nearby 9 hole golf-course at Mt. Carmel Junction.
Escalante’s Petrified Forest and Boulder’s Anasazi Village
For anyone who likes to drive through extremely rugged and unusual – but beautiful – scenery, a drive up Highway 12 past Bryce Canyon can’t be beat. After a breakfast of Peach Waffles or a Southwestern Sausage and Egg Casserole, head north from Arrowhead on Highway 89. Turn right (east) on Highway 12, a federal scenic highway, and continue northeast through the town of Escalante and then on to Boulder. The drive takes about 2 1/2 hours. The road between these two towns is unbelievable, with tortured and twisted rock formations everywhere and steep drop-offs into canyons on both sides of the highway. In Boulder, visit the Anasazi Indian Village State Park for a look at the site of an actual Anasazi village and its artifacts, dating back to a thousand years ago.
On the way back to Escalante stop at Calf Creek Recreation Area (15 miles east of Escalante), where you can hike through soft, deep sand to cool off in a natural, beautiful pool at the bottom of the towering Lower Calf Creek Falls that crash down from the heights of a huge sandstone cliff. This is a semi-strenuous, 5.5 mile round trip hike, but once you reach the beautiful and stunning waterfall and pool and the hanging gardens on the sandstone cliffs, you’ll think it worthwhile. Pick up a booklet at the trailhead to help you spot the two granaries that were constructed by the Anasazi Indians some 800-1000 years ago, as well as the Fremont Indian Petroglyphs. The falls are a great place for a picnic, as is the recreation area at the trailhead. There is a small fee for parking – and though it might sound far-fetched, beware of the crows at the trailhead – they apparently like to eat windshield wipers, so wrap yours in a shirt or towel.
Just 1 mile west of Escalante turn left on 710 N. Reservoir Road to experience the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Entrance fee is about $5. The park offers a reservoir with canoe rentals as well as hiking trails with great views. Plus, you can touch trees that lived millions of years ago. Back at Arrowhead, sit on the patio by the pond and enjoy the fresh air.
Gunsmoke & Slot Canyons in the Grand Staircase
The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument consists of 2 million acres and is located between Arrowhead Country Inn, Bryce Canyon National Park and Lake Powell. The Grand Staircase is a series of geological “steps” on a massive scale – the Chocolate, Vermillion, White, Gray and Pink Cliffs – ascending northward in awesome grandeur across the southwestern corner of the Monument. This vast, rugged monument of open land has very few paved roads, few marked trailheads, and no services, but is worth the effort.
One entrance into the monument is 5 miles north of Arrowhead in the town of Glendale. Enjoy a breakfast of Vanilla Raspberry French Toast or a Potato and Cheese Casserole, then head north on Highway 89. When you reach Glendale (9 miles north of Mt. Carmel Junction), turn right (east) on the Bench Road across the highway from the Smith Hotel, at the north end of town. Follow the dirt road (fine for 2WD’s if dry, may be impassible if wet) all the way through the cliffs, juniper forests and open spaces, until it turns into a paved road in Johnson Canyon. You’ll pass the remains of the “Gunsmoke” set (the T.V. series with Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty). Eventually, you end up at an intersection with Highway 89. Turn left and head east on Highway 89, to the sign marking the turnoff to Old Paria. Follow the gravel road north a few miles where you’ll find the remnants and foundations of the small Old West town of Old Paria, situated in a beautiful little valley. If you have a 4WD vehicle, return to Hwy 89 and drive a few miles further east to Cottonwood Canyon Road, on the left (north) side of Hwy 89. Follow the road north to see Grosvenor Arch, Yellow Rock, parts of Kodachrome Basin State Park and the short (1.5 mile one-way) hike to Cottonwood Narrows. The towns of Cannonville and Tropic have restaurants if you don’t feel like picnicking. Cannonville also has a Grand Staircase Visitor Center. Return to Cottonwood Canyon Road and head south to the junction with Skutumpah Road (If road conditions allow. If not, return via Cottonwood Canyon Road or go through Cannonville and Tropic on Hwy 12 to get to Hwy 89). Follow Skutumpah Road southwest to the junction with the Bench Road and head west to Glendale. Turn left on Hwy 89 to return to Arrowhead. The trailheads (unmarked) for Lick Wash (4 miles one-way, moderate) and Willis Creek (2 miles one-way, moderate) are along Skutumpah Road.
Cottonwood Canyon and Skutumpah Roads are dirt roads and may be impassible when wet or after a rainstorm, due to washouts and flooding. Even in dry weather, emergency supplies, first-aid kit, extra water and food, and a high clearance, 4-wheel-drive vehicle are recommended. Also, anytime you venture into the backcountry, let someone know your plans, including your route and when you are due back. Call ahead for road conditions: 435-644-4680
Alternatively, arrange for a guide to take you to Coyote Buttes and “The Wave,” in the Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area. Permits are required and available online, but generally sell out quickly.
Another option is to visit the Paria River Narrows, a 14 mile round-trip day-hike that begins near the Paria Ranger station (43 miles east of Kanab on Hwy 89) and takes you to the confluence of the Paria River and Bucksin Gulch, and then back to the trailhead. Just east of the bridge over the Paria River, turn right (south) at the Paria Ranger Station and take the gravel road south 2 miles to White House Trailhead. Parts of the hike involve wading in the river and other parts involve slot canyons, so check for weather conditions at the ranger station before proceeding. Also, as on any hike, be prepared with proper shoes (in this case boots that don’t mind getting wet), water, food, a detailed plan and knowledge of the route, a map, waterproof bag with matches and another with fire-starting kit (for example, cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly, along with paper and little bits of kindling), warm clothing in case you end up hiking or stranded in the dark, first-aid kit, pocket-knife, flashlight, water sanitizing tablets, and other emergency supplies. This is a wilderness area and help may not be immediately available, so you have to be prepared to take care of yourselves. Also, anytime you venture into the backcountry, let someone know your plans, including your route and when you are due back. At the end of the hike, get back on Highway 89 and head west (left) for about 50 miles to the stop-light in Kanab, turn north (right) and follow Highway 89 back to Arrowhead.