Red Canyon just outside Bryce Canyon National Park, is a perfect spot for a sunset.
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The Perfect Sunset Spot Near Bryce Canyon
Looking for a great sunset spot in Bryce Canyon National Park? You are not alone. It’s a struggle. Bryce Canyon overlooks are mainly to the South or East and in a bowl. The Amphitheatre is in shadow long before the sun hits the horizon at sunset. Bryce Canyon is definitely more of a sunrise/early morning location.
However, Red Canyon, about 9 miles away in the Dixie National Forest has some excellent trails that glow at sunset. The Buckhorn Trail to the top of the Golden Wall offers 360-degree views, superb in all directions.
The Buckhorn trail starts in the campground near the visitor center and ascends to the top of the Golden Wall. You can make a loop back to Highway 12 or do an out-and-back to the campground.
The Golden Wall trail combined with the Buckhorn Trail and the Red Canyon Bicycle Trail makes a scenic five-mile loop. One can add the Castle Bridge side trail to the combination without adding much extra length.
Those interested in a sunset hike will want to be at the top of the Golden Wall about an hour before sunset. The short spur to the top of the wall from the Buckhorn-Golden Wall trail junction is a dead end. If you wish to do the Golden Wall loop trail, it heads down into the amphitheater from the plateau not from the top of the Golden Wall itself.
The round-trip hike to the top of the wall back to the public parking area in the campground is just over two miles, with an elevation gain of about 500 feet. I rate the trail easy to moderate, but there is a narrow ledge to traverse to get to the top. Scattered Bristlecone Pines greet you on the top.
This is a family-friendly hike. And unlike the trails in Bryce Canyon, you may only see few other people. Solitude is a welcome bonus for those who wish to escape crowds.
We did the hike on May 27. Despite lingering on top for about 15 minutes, we made it back down in time for dinner at the Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant with a few minutes to spare before the last dinner seating. We did not run out of light or need headlights coming back down.
Other Red Canyon Images
Golden Wall Photo Tips
A tripod and a camera with a full frame sensor camera are best, but excellent images are possible with any camera or newer phone.
I used a 16-35 mm lens for every image in this set. My backlit images are multiple exposures, blended. I focus stacked some images so that the foreground and background are sharp.
There are spectacular images in every direction in the last hour before sunset, the golden hour.
Sunrise is also nice given 360 degree views. Sunset is nicer because afternoon clouds often build and to be at the top well before sunrise requires setting out in the dark. I have done both.
Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.
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Mike “Mish” Shedlock