Red Canyon Utah is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. With stunning scenery, a variety of hiking trails, bike paths, and camping spots to choose from, you’ll find something that caters to everyone in your group. Plus, with plenty of nearby attractions like Bryce Canyon National Park and Kodachrome Basin State Park, there’s no shortage of things to do!
Experience majestic sunsets, take in the fresh crisp air, explore hidden trails, or embark on daring mountain biking adventures. Whatever you choose, it will be an unforgettable experience that will have you coming back year after year.
Where is Red Canyon Located?
Red Canyon is located between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon. Approximately 7 miles south of Panguitch on Highway 89, turn east onto Highway 12 (follow the signs for Bryce Canyon). From the turn off its about 3.5 miles to the Red Canyon Visitor Center.
What Is The Red Canyon Scenic Byway?
The Red Canyon Scenic Byway is a stunning 17-mile stretch of road that winds through the heart of Red Canyon, just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park. The scenic byway offers breathtaking views of towering red rock formations, hoodoos, and unique geological features, making it a popular destination for tourists and nature enthusiasts. The Red Canyon Scenic Byway allows visitors a chance to see scenery and geology similar to nearby Bryce Canyon without the crowds. While driving the Red Canyon Scenic Byway is a necessity, to truly experience the Red Canyon area, plan on spending some time on the trails.
Red Canyon Visitors Center
The Red Canyon Visitors Center is SO GOOD, so we recommend that everyone visiting the area stop in for a bit. There are exhibits teaching about local geology, wildlife, and the history of the area. The visitor center also has a gift shop and information desk staffed with knowledgeable personnel who can provide advice on hiking trails, camping spots, and more. The visitor’s center is open year-round and is the perfect place to get information before you head out into the Red Canyon area. Make sure to also stop and use their restrooms here and fill up all your water before you head out on the trail.
Best Hikes In Red Canyon
Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Very Easy
The Hoodoo Trail is a 0.3-mile loop trail that offers stunning views of the canyon and its unique hoodoos. The trail starts at the Red Canyon Visitors Center. It’s the easiest hike in Red Canyon and is a perfect hike for little kids who are just learning to hike on their own.
Distance: 1.7 miles
The Birdseye Trail is a 1.7-mile trail that winds through a scenic landscape of red rock formations and pine trees. When you enter Red Canyon, the first trailhead to your left is Birdseye Trail. After driving past the Thunder Mountain Trailhead on the right, there will be a parking area on both sides of the road. Just follow the road until you reach the signs marking the start of the trail. This trail will take you to the Red Canyon Visitor Center and can be done as an out-and-back hike, or combined with the paved Red Canyon Trail to make a loop hike.
Golden Wall Trail
Distance: 2.1 miles
This trail will have you walking through giant ponderosa pines and golden-colored rock walls. It has great viewpoints of Red Canyon and is an easy to moderate hike. The Golden Wall Trail is most often used as a connector to join other trails in Red Canyon. The most popular route is Golden Wall to Castle Bridge, which is a 2.1-mile trail that offers breathtaking views of the canyon and its red rock formations. This trail earned its name due to the stunning natural bridge created between two towering rock spires, found northeast of the junction with the Golden Wall Trail.
Pink Ledges Interpretive Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
The Pink Ledges Trail is a short 0.5-mile interpretive trail that starts at the Red Canyon Visitors Center. Make sure to grab an interpretive guide at the visitors’ center to highlight the things you’ll see along your hike. Along the way, you’ll walk along red rock cliffs and through some juniper trees. This is a simple Red Canyon Hike that anyone can do.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
The Buckhorn Trail is one of the more difficult hikes in Red Canyon due to steep decents and some exposure, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. If you’re scared of heights, this hike is probably not for you, but if you’re comfortable with a little bit of scrambling, you’ll love this Red Canyon Hike.
Cassidy and Rich Loop Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
The Cassidy and Rich Loop Trail is a 4.5-mile trail of mixed conifer trees. It does not have the stunning views of Red Canyon like most of the other area hikes, but that makes it one of the least crowded trails. The trail is named after the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy and can be challenging with some steep sections and switchbacks.
Biking Red Canyon Utah
Seeing Red Canyon by bike is one of the best ways to see the area. Everyone in our family loves to bike the trails around Red Canyon, so we always bring our bikes along when we come.
Red Canyon Paved Bike Trail
Distance: 15 Miles
The Red Canyon bike path has recently finished and is our favorite way to see Red Canyon as a family. The trail connects all the way to the multi-use trail inside Bryce Canyon National Park. The most scenic areas are between the Coyote Hollow Trailhead and the Thunder Mountain Trailhead.
The trail is in excellent condition and is perfect for all ages and abilities of riders. This is the best Bryce Canyon area bike trail for kids. You could even do this trail with a kid on a balance bike if they’re good at controlling their speed. The trail is split in half for safety, though we usually only encounter a few other people along the trail.
If you are able to do a car shuttle and want an easy downhill ride, start at the Coyote Hollow Trailhead and ride down the canyon. As soon as you exit the canyon, you’ll be at the Thunder Mountain trailhead which is the perfect place to have a car waiting for you.
The Red Canyon paved trail is also great for walking and stroller users!
Thunder Mountain Bike Trail
Distance: 7.7 Miles One Way
Thunder Mountain is considered by many to be one of the best mountain bike trails in Utah, and I would not disagree at all. While the riding is a solid black level (difficult), the scenery is some of the best you’ll find in the entire state of Utah. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, with red rock formations, hoodoos, and forests providing a scenic backdrop for the ride.
The ride is typically done as a one-way, top to bottom ride, though the trail is a 2-direction trail. Ascending from the bottom will require a high level of fitness since the trail has 1,700 feet of descent in 7.7 miles. The easier way to make it a loop ride is to ride down the mountain bike trail and then ride the Red Canyon paved trail back up to your car.
The trail is a combination of double track and single track. The first half is more mellow with more double track and the second half is singletrack with several steep and technical riding sections.
The Thunder Mountain bike trail can typically be ridden from May-October or whenever the trail is dry.
Camping In Red Canyon
Red Canyon is a great place to camp and enjoy the canyon, and is also a great overflow option if you can’t find a place to camp in Bryce Canyon.
Red Canyon Campground
Cost: $21 per site + $9 for an extra vehicle
The most popular place to camp in Red Canyon is at the Red Canyon campground. It’s a really nice campground that has 37 first come first served sites, located near the west end of Red Canyon, next to the Thunder Mountain trailhead. There are a combination of tent sites and RV sites, depending on your camping preference. There are no RV hookups here, but there is access to a dump station.
Drinking water, flush toilets, and showers are all available at Red Canyon Campground.
Coyote Hollow Equestrian Campground
This is a very basic campground geared toward campers with horses, though you are not required to have a horse to stay there. There are only 4 campsites and very limited facilities. You’ll find a vault toilet and at times there is secondary water (suitable for animals, but needs to be filtered for drinking water). This campground has direct access to the top end of the Thunder Mountain bike trail.
Are dogs allowed in Red Canyon?
Yes, dogs are welcome in Red Canyon. They need to be on a leash if they’re around other people or in developed areas.
History of the Red Canyon Tunnel
Built in the 1930s as part of a New Deal initiative to provide jobs during the Great Depression, the Red Canyon Tunnel is located along Scenic Byway 12 in southern Utah. Capturing and showcasing its breathtaking surroundings, this tunnel was crafted to allow tourists a beautiful way to see the canyon.
Constructing the tunnel through such a rugged, jagged area was no small feat. Dynamite had to be used to break up and blast away hard-packed rocks and boulders before hand tools and heavy machinery could clear them away. The project took years of work until finally, in 1935, it was ready for visitors from near and far – quickly becoming one of the region’s most popular attractions!
Throughout the decades, Red Canyon Tunnel has been modernized for safety and durability. In the 60s it was widened to permit bigger vehicles while adding a paved road surface. A decade later came an extensive renovation which included reinforcing rock walls and establishment of new water drainage systems – all done with safety as the top priority!
The Red Canyon Tunnel is only outdone by the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel, which any history or engineering buff should also visit since it’s just 90 minutes away!