My 8 Favorite Stops Along Utah’s Beautiful Highway 89

If sandstone canyons, rosy-hued sand dunes, dizzying rock hoodoos, and scenic main streets sound like the stuff of a perfect road trip, then Utah’s southern stretch of US Highway 89 is it. made for you.

Although nearby Interstate 15 provides a somewhat parallel and arguably faster north-south route through Utah, I’d say the 200-mile stretch of Interstate 89 through the southern half of the state worth the extra time for its panoramic gain.

Not only does the highway pass through two of Utah’s spectacular national parks, Zion and Bryce Canyon, but it also serves as a conduit to the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the beautiful Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and a series of historical sites. small towns.

On my recent road trip from northern Arizona, I followed Highway 89 north from the town of Kanab in southwestern Utah to Mount Pleasant in central Arizona. ‘state, before heading east. Along the way, I marveled at the treasures of the road that is sometimes called the National Park Highway.

When to Visit Southern Utah

The best seasons to drive Utah’s Highway 89 are spring and fall, when average high temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers tend to be hot, with average highs in July and August in the 80s and 90s. Winters are cool, with average temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees.

To do justice to the itinerary, it is best to spend at least 5 days to 7 days. After driving Utah’s Highway 89 several times, I have a few favorite spots. Here are 8, from south to north.

Poisonous mushrooms at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

1. Kanab

With red sandstone cliffs surrounding it and many historic rock buildings lining its streets, the small town of Kanab alone is worth a stop. Take into account the many natural wonders that surround the community and you’ll have a worthy spot for a multi-day stay.

Kanab is known as an ideal base for exploring everything from the slot canyon of Buckskin Gulch, to the Toadstool rock formations of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, to three iconic national parks: Zion and Bryce Canyon to the north and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the south.

Although Kanab has less than 5,000 inhabitants, it offers the services of a larger city, with many choices of restaurants and hotels. For dinner, I loved Sego Restaurant for its unique take on regional favorites like elote fritters and duck lo mein, and Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen for its excellent vegetarian pizzas and salad choices. For hotels, go to the Flagstone Boutique Inn & Suites or the Canyons Lodge Hotel.

I recommend staying 2-3 nights in Kanab if you want to explore nearby sites such as Buckskin Gulch and Grand Staircase.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

2. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Even for sand dune aficionados, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a jaw-dropping experience. At this state park located just off Highway 89, about a half-hour northwest of Kanab, visitors will find shifting red sand dunes overlapped by Navajo sandstone cliffs.

There are few established trails, but much of the park is open to exploration, and the rolling waves of sand attract walkers, hikers, and mountain bikers.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is perfect for a day trip from Kanab or a 2-3 hour stopover on a road trip along Highway 89.

Pro tip: Campsites are available at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park year-round.

The Narrows of Zion National Park

The Narrows of Zion National Park

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

3. Zion National Park

Two of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks – Zion and Bryce Canyon – are just 15 to 20 minutes off Highway 89, making them convenient stops on a southern Utah road trip .

Zion, the park home to the famous Angels Landing and The Narrows trails, is about 30 miles northwest of Kanab, and its eastern entrance is about 15 miles west of Highway 89 on State Highway 9.

The town of Springdale, on the southern border of the park, is the main gateway community and perhaps the most convenient place to find restaurants and accommodations. For upscale pub fare, head to the Zion Canyon Brew Pub for gourmet burgers, sandwiches, steaks and local beers. Or for gourmet coffees, paninis, salads and soups, head to Café Soleil.

You could easily spend a week or more exploring Zion’s spectacular scenery, but a 2-3 night stay would allow you to explore Springdale, take the park shuttle to many of the top attractions, and do a hike or two. .

Pro tip: In an effort to reduce crowds on the popular Angels Landing trail, Zion began requiring permits in 2022. More information is available on the national park’s website.

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park, famous for its large concentration of rocky spiers called hoodoos, is about 75 miles northeast of Kanab and about 15 miles southeast of Highway 89 via Highway 12 and Highway 63.

Like Zion, Bryce Canyon is a national park worthy of a bucket list, and it should definitely be part of a southern Utah road trip. I loved Bryce for its easy vehicle access to lookout points that offer stunning views of the hoodoo-filled canyons.

The park’s website recommends visiting the Bryce Amphitheater, home to the largest concentration of hoodoos found on Earth. Viewpoints along the first 5 km of the main road provide access to views overlooking the area. Then, if you have time, continue on Southern Scenic Drive, which offers nine scenic viewpoints that display the less visible beauty of Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon also offers plenty of hiking opportunities, from easy to strenuous, that will take you through the middle of the hoodoos.

Plan to stay a night or two to take in the main sights and try several hikes. Scenic and convenient accommodations are available at the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge.

Main Street, Panguitch

Main Street, Panguitch

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

5. Panguitch

A taste of the Old West, stellar fishing, and proximity to three of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks (Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef) come together in the quaint little town of Panguitch.

Much of the city’s main thoroughfare, which coincides with Highway 89, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and informative signs offer fascinating history insights. For authentic dining, head to Cowboy’s Smokehouse, where the menu includes regional favorites like mesquite barbecue ribs, green chili pork burrito and country fried steak.

The town’s name means “big fish,” and Panguitch is less than half an hour from four well-known fisheries: Paragonah Reservoir, Panguitch Lake, Panguitch Creek, and Asay Creek.

A 3-4 hour stop would allow you to have lunch, explore the antique shops, and visit one of the lakes in the area.

Butch Cassidy's childhood home

Butch Cassidy’s childhood home

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

6. Circleville

For fans of the classic 1969 western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Circleville is a sentimental stopover. Just south of town, road trippers will stumble upon the childhood home of Butch Cassidy, also known as Robert Leroy Parker.

Unlike the outlaw lifestyle of Cassidy’s later life, the small farm is a peaceful place consisting of a small log cabin, a stand of leafy trees, and a few interpretive signs and tables of picnic.

Cassidy (played by actor Paul Newman in the film) lived at the site with his family from about 1880 to 1884, from the age of 14 to 18. Information discovered about Cassidy indicates that he was “a fun big brother, loved dancing and running”. horses, loved to read, worked hard and was kind to animals,” according to a sign on the site.

Plan to spend about an hour reading the signs and touring the Cassidy property. The town of Circleville offers a small selection of cafes and gas stations for a lunch break and a fill up.

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

7. Big Rock Candy Mountain Bike Loop

For a place to stretch your legs and take in the rugged landscape of Marysvale Canyon and the peak known as Big Rock Candy Mountain, the Big Rock Candy Mountain Bike Trailhead in Sevier is a convenient stop along Highway 89.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Bike Loop trailhead is located along the highway and just north of Big Rock Canyon Mountain Resort, which sits at the foot of the caramel-colored mountain that takes its name from a popular song from the 1960s. 1920.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Bike Loop is a paved trail that is part of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. It offers views of the colorful rock formations and the pretty Sevier River.

The trail is smooth and is rated as easy. If you decide to take a walk or bike ride on the trail, plan to stop for an hour or two. The trailhead has ample parking and restrooms.

Das Cafe in Spring City

Das Cafe in Spring City

Photo credit: Cindy Barks

8. City of Spring

Sheer charm is in store in the small town of Spring City, a community billed as one of the few sites in the United States where the entire town is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Settled primarily by English and Danish pioneers, Spring City features a main street (Highway 89) lined with historic stone buildings, including the Old City Hall building, which was constructed of local limestone in the Revival style. Greek, with a bell tower. . The building now serves as the home of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum.

Opposite the museum is a row of historic buildings that house shops, galleries, and restaurants. Be sure to stop by Das Café, an iconic Spring City eatery that offers dishes that Visit Utah describes as “American-German-Mormon fusion.” You’ll find menu items such as bratwurst and kraut burgers alongside omelettes and Belgian waffles. I particularly liked the shaded patio of Das Café, decorated with colorful murals.

A 2-3 hour stop would allow you to have lunch, visit the museum, and explore the period buildings along the streets of Spring City.

Pro tips: Along with Kanab and Springdale, other nearby towns that are convenient bases for exploring Utah’s Highway 89 include Richfield and Provo.

And for another incredibly scenic drive, check out Utah’s Highway 12.

About Wilhelmina Go

Check Also

Tribute to our veterans in 2022 – @theU

University of Utah to Honor 11 Utah Veterans and Award Student Veteran of the Year …