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Discover Petrified Forests, Dinosaur Fossils and Adventure

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Kodachrome Basin State Park | Photo Credit: Photographersnature via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to Bryce Canyon Country, Utah’s gateway to adventure and home to some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. With red rocks, countless trails, slot canyons, and premier OHV access, this is the place to be.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Picture your camping spot nestled in red and green hills set against a blue sky. You wake up early to go canoeing on clear cool waters and later on, you take your pack and head out along nature trails through a petrified forest. You can expect this, and more, when visiting Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.

The park gets its name from the thousands of pieces of petrified wood found in the area. Petrified wood describes the remains of trees or other vegetation that has gone through the permineralization process. This happens when water containing dissolved minerals eats away at the original solid material of an organism and replaces it with minerals. The petrification process is remarkable because rather than producing a two-dimensional “stamp” of the subject matter, it results in a three-dimensional representation of the original organism.

The nature trails at Escalante Petrified Forest are a main draw and visitors can be seen wandering through them for hours. The most popular route is the Petrified Forest Trail – a one-mile loop winding through lava flows and thousands of pieces of petrified wood. Currently, efforts to expand the trail to accommodate mountain biking are underway and they should be finished this summer. Keep your eyes open and don’t forget your bike!

The Sleeping Rainbow Trail is an additional three-quarter-mile loop just off this popular path, but is much steeper and requires hikers to climb over large rocks.

Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints. This petrified wood needs to stay where it lays. Not only is it a crime to remove things like petrified wood from the park, but many people believe that removing petrified wood from its home could end with the thief being cursed. Don’t believe us? Each year people return pieces of wood to the park that they say have brought them bad luck and misfortune.

Another must-see for visitors to Escalante Petrified Forest is the 50-foot petrified tree. Transported here in 2014, this is the only full-tree specimen so easily accessible. At 150-million years old, this tree is a true site to behold and recently, new interactive panels have been added to the display. The display is open now, but you can also join us on July 1, 2017 for the official grand opening ceremony.

Looking to cool off after a day exploring the petrified forest? Take a dip in Wide Hollow Reservoir to complete your park experience. The park has paddle boards, kayaks, and other implements available for rent. Don’t forget your tent or RV if you’re planning to stay awhile. The park has both primitive and full-hookup sites available, as well as on-site showers.

Experience the Grand Staircase Like Never Before

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast tract of land connecting Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks. This monument is largely desert wilderness. It is perfect for those eager to hike the canyons, view wildlife and explore and photograph remote areas. Popular destinations and hikes include the Grosvenor Arch and the Calf Creek Recreation Area.

The area is also rich in history, and fossils of both plants and dinosaurs have been found within its boundaries. Many of the dinosaurs were first discovered at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and some paleontologists say the monument has the highest concentrations of dinosaur fossils found anywhere in the world. You can go fossil hunting and explore the history of the earth, but remember to leave what you find so that others may have the same exciting experience.

Want to experience the Grand Staircase in a truly unique way? Escalante Horse Tours are a surefire way to ensure your trip is one you’ll remember. These tours take you through historic wagon routes, and even Butch Cassidy’s escape trails. Operators prefer smaller and more intimate groups, but you can bring your own horse or rent one from the business. Either way, you’re bound to have a blast.

Looking to stay the night? For another truly unique experience in Bryce Canyon Country, stay in one of the Escalante Yurts. These dwellings were once used in Central Asia by nomads and now, you can experience them as well. Don’t worry – the walls of these structures are 100% animal skin free. They are also within distance of the world-renowned Calf Creek Falls.

For those seeking a more modern flair to their trip, the Grand Staircase Resort is for you. Located in the central Grand Staircase area and within walking distance of shopping centers, restaurants, and the main Grand Staircase Visitor’s Center, you won’t regret making basecamp here. The resort has campsites, cabins, RV sites and even vacation homes available.

OHV Riding - The Modern Adventurer’s Horse

Don’t forget your toys when you journey into Bryce Canyon Country. There are many miles of trails through the area. Spanning through the Dixie National Forest and the Grand Staircase, these high country trails offer incredible views. Be sure to carry your camera, especially in autumn – the leaves changing is a sight you won’t want to forget.

These rides include trails such as the Bull Rush Loop, Yankee Meadows Ride, and the Castco Canyon and Limekiln Loop. Ranging from full-day excursions to five-hour rides, options are sure to please anyone from novices to experienced riders. Visit the Garfield County website for some PDF maps to help you plan your adventure today!

Looking For More Adventure?

Is your thirst for adventure still not satisfied? Truly, no trip to Bryce Canyon Country would be complete without a visa to Bryce Canyon National Park.

See a series of large amphitheaters made up of thousands of multi-colored rock formations that locals call “hoodoos.” These hoodoos shine brightly under the sun, and even glow during sunrise and sunset hours. You’ll find the glow of this area stays with you for long after you leave.

Whether it’s hiking through the park amphitheater surrounded by hoodoos or traveling on horseback through trails of the Old West, these scenic adventures provide some of the best experiences in Bryce Canyon Country. Be sure to stop at the visitor center and museum at the entrance of the park to gather information about hiking tours and upcoming events.

If you still have time and a thirst for adventure, be sure to check out Kodachrome Basin State Park. As its name suggests, Kodachrome Basin is a photographer’s dream. With its red rock formations and monolithic chimneys, Kodachrome Basin is a favorite for adventure seekers and photographers.

Looking to stay a while? No problem! Kodachrome Basin sports 31 campsites. Some sites close during winter months, while other full-hook up sites are open all year-round.

To learn more about the parks in Utah and plan your adventure, visit stateparks.utah.gov.

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