Bryce Canyon Country is home to nine parks and monuments, meaning there are grand stretches of land and sky preserved so you can enjoy the same views above and below generation after generation. You know the area for Bryce Canyon National Park, of course, and there are even more parks in which to camp, play, and take in views the size of the universe.
This story was created in partnership with Bryce Canyon Country.
The landscape of Bryce Canyon Country feels timeless as you move from one community to the next. While we tend to think about parks and monuments in terms of grandchildren appreciating these landscapes on their own road trips, you can also appreciate these parks through the perspective of eons and lightyears as you go! Relish the cooler temperatures of summer in southern Utah’s higher elevations as you follow this route.
Otter Creek State Park
For a peaceful start to your vacation, settle in at Otter Creek State Park. Stock up all your camping and family vacation supplies in the nearby community of Antimony. Unwind on the shores of Otter Creek Reservoir as you cast your line for rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout as well as smallmouth bass and wipers. Or turn your gaze upward for Canada geese, mallards, scaups, buffleheads, grebes, and coots. With campgrounds and cabins, boats and paddleboards, and bikes all available for rent, the whole family will find it easy to switch into vacation mode at this sometimes overshadowed state park in Bryce Canyon Country.
Stargazing in Bryce Canyon Country
From Otter Creek State Park, make your way to Kodachrome Basin State Park by way of the towns of Tropic and Cannonville. The drive is only about 60 miles (100 kilometers) or 75 minutes, so lunch in Cannonville might be perfectly timed after a leisurely morning in Otter Creek State Park.
On a moonless night in Bryce Canyon Country, a stargazer’s view can encompass 7,500 stars. So set up camp and start counting.
Kodachrome Basin State Park is characterized by rock spires and chimneys that actually seem to glow at sunrise and sunset, providing idyllic bookends to a night of dozing and designing your own constellations. You can even join a summer star party with a park ranger who will teach you all about the shimmering sky above. As a bonus, once the sun rises, the dramatic colors of the aptly named park only extend the visual experience into the daylight hours.
Escalante: The Town & The Prehistoric Forest
For a look at timelessness a little closer to home, check out Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. The colorful, 135-150 million-dollar tree stumps capture the imagination in the same way constellations do. Spend some time at the visitor center with dinosaur bones and interpretive displays before heading out to the trails or out on the water at Wide Hollow Reservoir.
You can even pick a spot at the campground to enjoy another night of stargazing, surrounded by ancient trees and stones.
If you’re ready for a break from camp sleep and camp food, head into Escalante, a hub for adventurers resting, relishing good meals, and resupplying on anything from local art souvenirs to knowledge from local guides.
Boulder and Anasazi State Park Museum
The final stop in your Bryce Canyon Country tour of state parks is Anasazi State Park Museum, located in the town of Boulder. Follow Scenic Byway 12 from Escalante for just under 30 miles (48 kilometers) to Boulder. Find the lodging that best suits you and your family, and grab a meal at the renowned Hell’s Backbone Grill before exploring the Anasazi State Park Museum.
In the museum, you can not only view an ancient Ancestral Puebloan village believed to date back to 1050 A.D.; you can also walk through the doors of a life-size, six-room replica such a pueblo.
As you gain a whole new perspective on your size and on time, remember there is more to explore across Bryce Canyon Country, from colorful canyons to surprising waterfalls, from welcoming communities to fascinating museums. Slow down, as if you were appreciating the night sky, and take it all in.