Southern Utah presents puzzling rock formations, “hoodoos”, slot canyons, and some of the most colorful landscapes in the United States! Travelers visiting the area will quickly realize that 3 days isn’t nearly enough time to explore the region, but with this “squeeze” itinerary, you can hit some of the area’s highlights.
Food + Lodging
Southern Utah may feel isolated, but the lodging and dining options are limitless. From camping to luxury lodges, and funky yurts in between—there are standards to suit every style of traveler. For the foodies out there, enjoy creative dishes prepared by James Beard award finalists, and farm-to-table specialties in Boulder, Utah.
Day 1: Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon & Kodachrome Basin
This park is known as a photographer’s paradise, packed with colorful landscapes. Towering sand pipes bloom throughout the park and contrast beautifully against the blue sky on a clear day. There are a variety of trails through the park, and it can easily be visited in all seasons given the mild weather in the area.
Similar to Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon is also chock full of glowing hoodoo rock formations. Stretch your legs in this park with a hike, bike ride, or venture out on horseback. The park is also dog-friendly, making it a nice alternative to Bryce Canyon National Park—that is—if you have the whole family aboard.
Spend the last third of your day in one of Utah’s most famous national parks, Bryce Canyon. For more adventurous hikers, consider the Fairyland Loop trail. This hike is more strenuous than some of the other jaunts in the park, but you’ll find it much quieter and less crowded as well. For sunset, make your way to “Sunrise Point” or “Sunset Point”. Both overlooks offer stunning views over the landscape! When you’ve wrapped up the day’s adventures, grab a meal at the Lodge at Bryce Canyon—one of the coziest dining experiences in the area.
Day 2: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Ideally you’d spend the day with a guide exploring slot canyons in this national monument. A couple of the slot canyons, Spooky and Peek-a-boo, can be explored on your own terms, but a guide can lead you into hidden locations that you’d be darned to find on your own. For even deeper exploration, guides are available for more technical slot canyons. Push your limits and surprise yourself exploring the maze of canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante.
At some point in your day, make the drive along the Cottonwood Canyon Road Scenic Backway. Along the route pull off to view the Grosvenor Arch — a striking sandstone double archway.
Day 3: Burr Trail
Moving on to Capitol Reef National Park? Grab a meal in Boulder, Utah then descend into a red rock canyon on the Burr Trail Scenic Backway. The paved road winds through the landscape with jaw-dropping scenery the whole way. En route, stop off at Singing Canyon and take a short walk into one of the best natural acoustic environments in the state. Once inside, the walls tower 80-feet into the sky—it’s quite the experience!
This article was written in partnership with the Garfield County Office of Tourism, Utah.
All photos provided by the Garfield Country Office of Tourism.