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HW-12
Red Canyon to Bryce National Park



0.0  Junction of Utah State Highway 12 with U.S. Highway 89. Utah State Highway 12 leads east to Bryce Canyon National Park. The state highway crosses the Sevier River immediately east of the junction. The Sevier River is entrenched into floodplain and possible lacustrine deposits.

7.2  Red Canyon Indian Store. Terraces of the Sevier River show well toward the south. To the north the grayish purple hills of Black Mountain are composed of volcanic rocks which have been downdropped west of the Sevier Fault.

9.1  Cross drainage of Red Canyon, approximately on the trace of the Sevier Fault. The fault is well displayed to the north where dark gray volcanic rocks on the west have been downdropped against the reddish Wasatch or Cedar Breaks Formation on the east (fig. 2.37).

9.2  Enter Dixie National Forest at the mouth of Red Canyon. The canyon and its spectacular display of erosional columns and hoodoos is carved in the Wasatch Formation. The irregularly weathering outcrops are characteristic of the marly, lacustrine rocks of the Wasatch Formation.

9.8  Parking area for Pink Ledges Trail on the north. The road continues to climb up through a sparse Ponderosa pine forest in relatively barren reddish Wasatch Formation.

Figure 2.37.The Sevier Fault as exposed at the mouth of Red Canyon at approximately Mile 9.1 on Route 2A. Gray basalt, on the left, has been lowered along the fault against the column-forming Cedar Breaks Formation, on the right.


10.4  Entrance to Red Canyon Campground on the south.

11.2  Tunnels through fins in the Wasatch Formation.

13.8  Summit at the head of Red Canyon. Prominent cliff toward the north is Casto Bluff held up by volcanic rocks at the southern end of the Sevier Volcanic Field. Ponderosa pine blankets the upper part of the Wasatch Formation to the south around sagebrush covered Coyote Hollow. The road continues to the east over the upper surface of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

17.2  Rest area on the north in Wasatch Formation.

18.3  Cross the East Fork of the Sevier River, immediately west of a gas station- service area complex. To the cast Aquarius Plateau is on the skyline. The Wasatch Formation erodes to form the Pink Cliffs around the plateau above the grayish Kaiparowits Formation and below the light gray Brian Head volcanics that cap the plateau. The Aquarius block has been uplifted east of the Paunsaugunt Fault.

19.9  Access road to Bryce Canyon airport on the north in Emery Valley. Living quarters for the airport crew are on the south of the highway.

20.4  Junction of Utah State Highway 22 with Utah State Highway 12. Utah State Highway 22 to the east leads off the plateau and toward Escalante and other communities. Utah State Highway 12 continues toward the south to Bryce Canyon National Park. Turn south toward Bryce Canyon National Park,

21.7  Rubys Inn on the west. The highway continues to climb toward the park across a flat rimmed with Ponderosa pine.

22.4  Entering Dixie National Forest.

23.1  Entering Bryce Canyon National Park.

23.4  Junction of side road to Fairyland Canyon I mile to the cast. The canyon is carved in Wasatch Formation, as is all the scenic upland of Bryce Canyon. Continue south into the main part of the park through marly upper Wasatch Formation.

24.2  Entrance Station and Visitors Center. Exhibits, rest room facilities and literature are available in the Visitors Center.

24.7  Junction of side road east to lodge, grocery store, and Sunrise Point Overlook. Sunrise Overlook parking area is near the canyon rim north of Queens Garden and is approximately 0.2 mile off the main road, north of the lodge, but south of the grocery store. A service station is west of the junction.

25.4  Junction of Side Road East to Sunset Point. The side road leads approximately 0.2 miles east to the parking area. This overlook is one of the most dramatic and most easily accessible in the park and is on the rim of The Amphitheater above the Queens Garden section of the park (fig. 2.38). Trails begin near the parking area and loop down into the intricately eroded Wasatch beds. Headward erosion of various tributaries to the Paria River has combined with a regular joint pattern and variation in ease of erosion of various parts of the Wasatch Formation to produce here an unusual display.

Figure 2.38.View southeastward from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon across the Queen's Garden Amphitheater to Inspiration Point. Columns within the Queen's Garden Amphitheater are controlled by jointing and differential erosion of the mart beds within the lacustrine Cedar Breaks Formation.


25.9  Junction of Side Road East to Inspiration Point, Paria View, and Bryce Point (fig. 2.39). The access road leads to easily accessible viewpoints on the southern and southwestern rim of The Amphitheater. These overlooks offer spectacular views of erosion features in the Wasatch Formation in the Pink Cliffs. Inspiration Point parking area is 0.4 miles to the east.

Figure 2.39.View northward across the Gueen's Garden Amphitheater to Sunrise and sunset Points from Bryce Point. Aquarius Plateau forms the skyline in the distance on the right. Complex jointing and irregular differential weathering within the Cedar Breaks Formation produces the spectacular scenery at Bryce Canyon.


27.4  Aspens in the Ponderosa pine forest suggest that we are at an elevation of approximately 8,000 feet. Exposures of Wasatch Formation in the distance to the northwest are south of Red Canyon and west of the airport.

29.8  Viewpoint on the south of the road overlooks the rim of the Pink Cliffs and The Grand Staircase toward the south. Other view points ahead provide similar distant views for the next few miles but do vary in scenery along the Pink Cliffs.

35.9  Natural Bridge Parking Area. The bridge is immediately south of the highway and is capped by a resistant limestone in the pinkish beds of the upper part of the Wasatch Formation.

36.8  Viewpoint. Fir trees now begin to appear with aspen and Ponderosa pine on the northern slopes. The road continues to climb essentially in the same light gray to pink upper part of the Wasatch Formation.

37.5  Viewpoint on the cast. In the far distance to the cast the Aquarius Plateau and Boulder Mountain rise on the skyline above gray exposures of Cretaceous and older rocks.

41.7  Parking Area and End of Road at Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point. Rainbow Point, to the north, looks out over the length of the Pink Cliffs in the park, as well as northward over the Paunsaugunt Plateau in the middle distance and the Markagunt, Sevier, and Awapa Plateaus in the far distance. Yovimpa Point, to the south, looks out over The Grand Staircase and northern Arizona. The Kaibab Plateau shows as a great uparch to the south and Navajo Mountain to the east rises above the Lake Powell country.

Turn around and return toward the main park area.





from Field Guide: Northern Colorado Plateau by J. Keith Rigby - Purchase Information