Red Canyon is only about four miles long, making it one of the shortest Wide Open Rides. But with Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion national parks as neighbors, it’s no wonder Red Canyon packs a serious punch of beauty in a fairly small space. Heading south on I-15, Red Canyon is about four hours from Salt Lake City in south-central Utah. It’s a little longer going northeast from Las Vegas. Of course, the drive to get to Red Canyon from either direction is pretty spectacular, particularly if you go through Zion on the way from Nevada (keep in mind you’ll have to pay the national park entrance fee). Red Canyon lies at the western end of another Wide Open Ride, Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, and showcases colorful rock spires and cliff faces set among ponderosa and pinyon pines. To fully appreciate the geography, plan time to explore the numerous hiking and biking trails as well as the visitor center.
Panguitch, Tropic and Bryce Canyon City all offer numerous lodging options which fill up fast in summer and can be closed for the season in winter.
Keep in Mind
Red Canyon is the western starting point of Scenic Byway 12. It’s worth driving some or all of the road’s 124 miles—it’s some of the most splendid landscape in the world. In addition, from Red Canyon, it's just 15 minutes to Bryce Canyon National Park. And at the eastern end of Scenic Byway 12 lies another treasure, Capitol Reef National Park.
Routes & Maps
From Salt Lake City, the quickest route follows I-15 south to Beaver, then takes Highway 20 to Panguitch. Continue seven more miles to the Red Canyon Visitors Center. This route is 256 miles and takes about four hours.
From Las Vegas, the most scenic route passes through Zion National Park. Drive I-15 north to St. George and then follow Highway 9 through Hurricane and Zion. You’ll have to pay the entrance fee. Then take US 89 north to the Red Canyon Visitors Center. This route is 232 miles and takes more than four hours.
Blink and you might miss this short four-mile route so plan on stopping and enjoying the views—or maybe hike or bike on the many trails.
Best Time to Visit
It’s gorgeous any time of year but spring and fall are generally more moderate. Summer gets pretty hot and winter brings snow and icy trails but that also means snowshoeing and cross country skiing.