Plenty of Things to do in Southern Utah: Alternatives for Zion & Bryce

Mt. Carmel rainbow


Travel Advisory:

You can still drive through Zion on Highway 9.

And the government shutdown won’t keep us from enjoying the fall weather in some amazing places.  Luckily, the ENTIRE state of Utah is scenic.  The geological marvels don’t stop at national park borders.

For our guests, here’s an update on the status of Southern Utah’s National parks and monuments — and, more importantly — a list of open Southern Utah attractions,  state parks, and guided tours that rival the big name national parks for visit-worthiness:

(Please visit for more information)

Attractions Near the Arrowhead Inn

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary….15 minutes…

Maynard Dixon Property and Bingham Art Gallery…across the street

Horseshoe Bend….1 ½ hours

Red Canyon State Park….45 minutes

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park….15 minutes

Moqui Cave…..15 minutes

Grafton Ghost Town / Smithsonian Butte drive…. 1 hour ½ Day Colorado River Trip….Page, AZ …

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs….1 ½ hours

Calf Creek Recreation Area State Park ….2 hours

Angel Canyon Petroglyphs….15 minutes

Spring Hollow Slot Canyon ….15 minutes (with permission, ask Jane)

Antelope Canyon Slot Canyon….1 ½ hours

Frontier Movie Town….20 minutes

Red Hollow Slot Canyon….3-4 hour hike from Arrowhead

Peekaboo Trailhead….15 minutes

Hwy 12 Scenic Byway…..2 ½ hours each way

Paria Canyon Trailhead….1 hour

Cedar Breaks National Monument ….can be seen from Hwy 143 without going into the park (45 minutes)

Cascade Falls Trailhead ….1 hour

Navajo Lake Trailhead….45 minutes

Duck Creek….45 minutes

Mammoth Cave (lava tube) 35 minutes

Panquitch Lake…..1 ½ hours

Kodachrome State Park/ Grovsner Arch….1 ½ hours

Grand Staircase drive thru Johnson Canyon (old Gunsmoke set) …1 ½ hrs round trip and much, much more.

Arrowhead farm animals: on the property!

And don’t forget the slot canyons behind the Inn…1 to 1 ½ hour hike.

These are just time-estimates, so don’t hold us to them exactly, but they should be close to accurate.

There are also ATV Tours, horseback riding, guided tours (ask Jane for more information) locally: ,

For anyone wanting special pampering during these trying times, there are several day-spas and even a few local 9-hole golfcourses nearby.  Restaurants in Mt. Carmel Junction and Kanab remain open.

And here’s a gratuitous picture of our famous Peach Dutch Babies, mostly because I’m hungry:

Dutch Babies


Status of National Parks and Monuments

Arches National Park: Park closed to visitors.

Bryce Canyon National Park: Park closed to visitors.
Canyonlands National Park: Park closed to visitors.
Capitol Reef National Park: Park closed to visitors.

Zion National Park: Zion National Park is closed to visitors.  The parks trails and other amenities will be closed to the public.

Highway 9 will be open for through traffic and the Mt. Carmel tunnel will be open to vehicle traffic. Escorts are not available for oversized vehicles and these vehicles will be turned away at the park gates.

National Monuments

Cedar Breaks National Monument: Update from the Utah Department of Transportation: “SR-148 Cedar Breaks National Monument connecting SR-143 and SR-14 should remain open.”

Dinosaur National MonumentNo information available at this time

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: The parks trails and roads are open-there are no gates to close. Visitor centers and permit offices will be closed, though law-enforcement officers will be patrolling the park. Visitors in need of assistance should ask park law enforcement for assistance. Visitors are encouraged to request local information at State Park offices and county travel offices. We’ll be adding a list of these offices with addresses later today. Guides and outfitters with permits will be allowed to continue operations within the park.

Hovenweep National Monument: No information available at this time
Natural Bridges National Monument: No information available at this time
Rainbow Bridge National Monument: No information available at this time

Timpanogos Cave National Monument:
Timpanogos cave has already closed for the season.

National Recreation Area & Historic Site

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area:No information available at this time

Glen Canyon/Lake Powell National Recreation Area: According to Riverwire:9/30/13

Fishing at Lee’s Ferry, including from the bank and by boat, both public and guided, will not be allowed. The smooth water concessions river trips from the base of Glen Canyon Dam downstream to Lee’s Ferry will also cease operation.”

Zion National Park Alternatives 

Kolob Reservoir Road: This scenic drive skirts Zion National Park and the northern, Kolob, section of the park as it climbs the hillside toward Kolob Reservoir. Due to the park’s closure, it is unclear what access visitors will have to trails and pullouts along the drive. Kolob Reservoir, has primitive camping in a spectacular environment.

Best Friends Animal Shelter: Stunning red-rock vistas against expansive blue skies. The sweet smell of sage. Nestled in gorgeous Angel Canyon, it’s a sight to behold and a place of compassion unlike anywhere else on earth – it’s the nation’s largest animal sanctuary. With thousands of acres of open space and a delightful creek, it is a miraculous place of love and caring for homeless pets. And 1,700 adoptable pets are eager to show you around their home-between-homes. Here, they’re given love, medical care and the chance to be adopted. Free tours of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary are offered daily or explore one of the many walking paths or hiking trails. Volunteers are always needed, and the experience is always a magical one.

Brian Head Ski Resort: Brian head is Utah’s premier southern Utah winter resort in the winter, and mountain playground in the summer. During the summer and fall months visitors can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, scenic chairlift rides, disk golf and geocaching. Southern Utah isn’t all about the red rock, it’s also about our mountain peaks offering family adventures for all.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park:Venture onto a shifting sea of red sand. Changed by winds, these mountains and hills of sand can move as much as 50 feet per year. With areas for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and those with non-motorized pursuits, the dunes offer adventures for

Dixie National Forest: The Dixie National Forest, with headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, occupies almost two million acres and stretches for about 170 miles across southern Utah. You can experience the solitude of hiking in the Wilderness, enjoy camping in developed campgrounds, or in the backcountry. The forest is also a prime location for fishing, hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, OHV opportunities, and winter activities such as cross-country and downhill skiing

Gunlock State Park: Surrounded by rustic red rock and extinct black lava cinder cones lies the 240 acre Gunlock State Park & Reservoir. The park offers year-round boating, water sports and quality fishing for bass and catfish. Facilities include boat launching ramp and pit privies. The reservoir is two miles long, one-half mile wide, 115 feet deep and provides a pleasant setting for swimming, boating and fishing. Camping is allowed but there are few amenities. The park is just 15 miles northwest of St. George. The reservoir, built in 1970 and fed by the Santa Clara River, also provides excellent fishing for bass, crappie, and catfish. The banks of the reservoir are lined with pine and juniper trees, with a backdrop of red and pink Navajo sandstone cliffs to the west and ancient lava beds to the

Kanarraville Falls: Meandering hike thorugh a rugged canyon bottom culminating in a short, but spectacular slot canyon. Located between the entrance to Zion National Park and Cedar City, the Kanarraville Falls hike makes for a great half-day adventure. The moderate hike is dog and kid friendly with many options to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.

Markaguant High Plateau Scenic Byway, Highway 14: An amazing, 40-mile journey through the Dixie National Forest, the Markaguant High Plateau Scenic Byway connects Interstate 15 and Highway 89 through beautiful southwestern Utah. Beginning in Cedar City and climbing steeply through narrow Cedar Canyon and into the Dixie National Forest, catch glimpses of Cedar Breaks National Monument through gaps in the dense aspen, pine, and spruce forest. Camp, bike, or hike at numerous stops along the way, in these elevated outdoors. Learn of the history and settlement of the area. Breath-catching views throughout invite you to delve deeper.

Quail Creek State Park: The park provides excellent year-round camping, picnicking, boating, and fishing. The 40,000 acre reservoir sits in the red desert at the bottom of the 10,000 foot expanse of Pine Valley Mountain and with views toward Zion National Park. The park is easily accessible just 14 miles north of St. George near Interstate 15. Surrounded by red rock vistas, the park offers excellent camping, boating, kayaking, swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. The reservoir is fed by the Virgin River and is well-stocked with rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, and bluegill. There is a fish-cleaning station on

Sand Hollow State Park: Locally called “Little Lake Powell” with its warm, blue waters and red sandstone landscape and brilliant orange sand beaches, Sand Hollow is a recreational haven for boating, wake boarding, fishing, camping, four wheeling and swimming. Modern campgrounds and picnic areas have been developed adjacent to the beaches for RV or tent camping. The sand beaches are a part of the massive dunes of Sand Mountain – a huge off road recreation area open to ATVs, sand trails, motorcycles and dune buggies. OHV enthusiasts consider the 6,000 playable acres of red sand dunes some of the best off-road terrain around. The park also boasts biking, hiking and equestrian trails, and a modern RV and tent campground with electric, water, and sewage

Snow Canyon State Park: Snow Canyon State Park is a ruggedly beautiful 7,400 acres of black lava-capped cliffs, winding red canyons, soaring sandstone arches, ancient cinder cones, lava caves, sand dunes, and scenic overlooks. The park offers abundant opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, wildlife watching, camping, and photography. The spectacular vistas have beckoned everyone from Ancestral Puebloans and Paiute Indians to Mormon Pioneers and Hollywood execs. The park’s rugged splendor has even provided a backdrop for films such as The Electric Horseman and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Bring your camera and take time for a walk along the paved trail or a hike into the backcountry.


Bryce Canyon National Park Alternatives

Calf Creek Recreation Area: A premier stop along Scenic Byway 12 in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Calf Creek Recreation Area is a desert oasis including a 13-site campground, a day-use picnic area, and trailhead. The campground provides small sites nestled along Calf Creek on a first-come, first-served basis. Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail is an almost 6-mile moderately strenuous round-trip hike to a stunning 126-foot

Cottonwood Canyon Road Scenic Backway: This route features strangley eroded rock formations in Cottowood Canyon and Kodachrome Basin State Park. A popular feature is Grosvenor Arch, a soaring pastel buttress located about ten miles east of the Kodachrome Basin turn-off. In Cottowood Canyon, the sandstone colors are particularly stiking. The Paria River and the rugged upthrust of the Cockscomb formation are also prominient features of this journey.

East Fork, Sevier Scenic Backway: This backway is located in a broad valley scattered with Ponderosa pine. Panoramic views open in all directions. Red rock formations and other geologic features are visible along the road. Mid-route is Tropic Reservoir providing fishing, boathing and camping. This route follows the east fork of the Sevier River which meanders near the road. At the backway’s end is the Podunk Guard Station, built in 1928.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park:Escalante State Park has nature trails through the remnants of a petrified forest, where hikers can view fossils, petrified wood, fossilized dinosaur bones, and artifacts left by ancient Fremont Indians who inhabited this area nearly 1,000 years ago. Nearby Wide Hollow Reservior provides boating, canoeing, fishing and bird watching

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A vast and rugged, yet easily accessible national monument. Divided into three regions: Canyons of the Escalante, Grand Staircase, and the Kaiparowits Plateau, scenic and recreational opportunities abound within the monument. Scenic Byway 12, a federally designated, All-American Road, between Boulder and Bryce, and US 89 between Kanab and Big Water provide easy access to the graded dirt roads that crisscross the monument. Enjoy an easy hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls, or a more intense exploration of the slot canyons off the Hole in the Rock Road (dirt road, check for current conditions). Visitor centers are located in Kanab, Escalante, Cannonville, and Big

Kodachrome Basin State Park:Kodachrome Basin is a spectacle of massive sandstone chimneys and pillars, ranging in height of six – 170 feet, which change from gray and white to shades of red depending on the light and shadows of the day. The park offers camping in solitude and desert beauty immediately adjacent to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with several hiking, biking, and equestrian

Red Canyon: Twelve miles outside of Bryce Canyon National Park on Scenic Byway 12, Red Canyon beckons with a similar red rock landscape. Like Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon’s hoodoos were sculpted from Claron limestone over eons from wind and water erosion. Red Canyon is part of the Dixie National Forest, and follows Scenic Byway 12 for about four miles. The hoodoos can be explored with short hikes along many of the trails that run throughout the canyon, or along the paved, five-mile Red Canyon Bike

Scenic Byway 12 – Utah’s All-American Road: Passing through some of the most spectacular scenery and natural wonders seen along any rural route in the nation, this exceptional 124 mile route negotiates an isolated landscape of canyons, plateaus, and valleys ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. You’ll encounter archaeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities while driving this exhilarating byway.

Scenic Byway 143 – America’s Patchwork Parkway: This national scenic byway climbs past the colorful Vermillion Cliffs through Parowan Canyon, rises to forested heights of 10,000 feet, then drops down to Panguitch. Scenic Byway 143 is fondly referred to as the Patchwork Parkway because of a significant historic event, where early pioneers saved themselves from starvation by using quilts to cross the deep winter snows of the plateau. Places of interest include Brian Head Peak, Panguitch Lake, Markagunt Plateau forests, and the town of Panguitch-listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The colorful aspens and maples in mid-September make this a perfect autumn drive.


 Please visit or call or visit the Kane County Visitors Center in Kanab for more information.

Kane County Office of Tourism

78 South 100 East, Kanab



We hope this helps with your travel plans!


Happy trails….

Jane & Jim




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