Visitors approaching Bryce Canyon from the west on State Route 12 get an added bonus as well as a preview of great vistas to come. The road cuts through Red Canyon, a kind of miniature Bryce, complete with ghostly formations called hoodoos, and other red rock formations. The hoodoos look a lot like creatures from outer space as they sightlessly gaze down on you.
Red rock formations
The formations consist of sandstone layers of different colors, which have eroded at different rates over the years. Weathering and aging processes created spires, pinnacles, columns and arches. Stop at one of the pull-offs and take a short hike through the rocks. Let the beauty and eeriness of the place sink in.
When to visit
Any time of year is rewarding. When I visited Red Canyon in early fall, it wasn’t a stop along the way for me, but a destination. I spent half a day taking photographs and speaking to other visitors who were as entranced by the place as I was. Nature has created a sandstone showplace that hints at a living geologic record, still slowly evolving. The aura is especially pronounced around sunset as long shadows emphasize the rock shapes.