Things to do Near Bryce Canyon | Scenic Highway 12

Scenic Highway 12 is sometimes called the Million Dollar Road. It winds through beautiful canyons and massive slickrock amphitheaters. Just the experience of driving this road is worth your time. The route really becomes amazing between Escalante and Boulder. There is a nice overlook of the road winding down through the hardened lava floes. As you make this drive, you’ll come to a narrow hogsback that drops away steeply on both sides. Truly, Highway 12 is one of the most beautiful drives in the country.

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There are some overlooks along Scenic 12 that you definitely need to stop and view.

Most people know about Bryce Canyon along this route, but one of the things that we try to do here at Utah’s Adventure Family is give you some ideas of things to do when you are near a national park. This list will fill you in on activities to do when you are in the Bryce Canyon area driving along Highway 12.

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The road is cut right into the mountain and weaves all over the place.
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Sometimes you drive right through the mountain.
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In this spot, you drive right over the top of a ridge, so there are drop offs on both sides.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

For those who are a bit more adventurous and want to avoid the crowds, our post about GSENM has some great family friendly ideas including slot canyons, arches, caves, natural bridges, and hikes. Some of our favorites include Willis Creek, Peek-a-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyons, and Devils Garden.

We loved that we could sit underneath the arches for pictures.
There are two arches in Devil’s Garden which is a great stop in Grand Staircase: Escalante.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

This park has some of the largest examples of petrified wood in the whole world. Additionally, there is a beautiful reservoir to cool your toes in.

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Escalante Petrified Forest State Park has a beautiful reservoir.

Anasazi State Park

Farther up the road in Boulder, you’ll find this small state park that features Ancestral Native American pueblos and pithouses as well as a small museum.

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The ruins at Anasazi State Park are interesting.

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Some of the early visitors to this park dubbed it Kodachrome after the bright colors that can be seen in the rock. A few great hikes to arches and box canyons as well as nice picnic areas make this park a good spot to spend a half day.

Kodachrome Basin is full of fascinating rock formations.

Red Canyon

This recreational area sits right on Highway 12 and is often confused with Bryce Canyon. There are several fun hikes and two tunnels to drive through. And free admission!

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Red Canyon has beautiful red hoodoos similar to Bryce Canyon.


We recommend two restaurants in this area. First on the list is Nemo’s in Escalante, which features burgers, fries, and shakes. The second is Henrie’s in Panguitch, which is home of the Chubby Burger. Either of these stops is a great place for inexpensive food.

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Nemo’s has delicious shakes!
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Henrie’s Drive In has a wide variety of food, and cheap kid’s meals.

Bryce Wildlife Museum

This museum located just west of Bryce City houses tons of animals and even allows you to hand feed deer and chickens.

Bryce Wildlife Adventure Museum
You will be amazed at the number of animals in this museum.

Escalante Heritage Center

This small outdoor museum celebrates the amazing journey of the Mormon Pioneers through southern Utah. Eventually, they reached a place they dubbed Hole-in-the-Rock, through which they lowered their wagons through an amazing small crack to the Colorado River basin below.

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There are some outside displays as well as a small visitor center.

Lower Calf Creek Falls

One of the most beautiful waterfalls is near Bryce Canyon. This trail is almost 6.0 miles, but it is flat. We loved the destination and think it’s a great trail for older kids.

Lower Calf Creek Falls is beautiful.

Escalante Natural Bridge

The Natural bridge hike is so unique because there are quite a few river crossings. So bring some water shoes and be prepared to get a little wet as you hike to a natural bridge just outside of the town of Escalante.

You can stand right under Escalante Natural Bridge.

Grovesnor Arch

This arch, which is actually a natural bridge, is pretty awesome to see. It is also easy to visit. Drive to the parking area and walk along a short, paved trail to the base of Grovesnor Arch.

Osiris Ghost Town

We stopped at this little ghost town on our way to Bryce Canyon a few years ago. There are some old buildings to view, but especially this large factory makes Osiris a fun little stop.

When you head to the Bryce Canyon area on Scenic Byway 12, make sure to use our Bryce Bingo sheet. We created this bingo page to keep our kids busy looking for things in the car and on hikes.


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