August 2019 – When we were casting about on the internet to find beautiful places to ride our Polaris RZR side-by-side, we came across a claim that Casto Canyon in Utah is one of the top 10 ATV trails in the country. Wow!! We had to go!
Casto Canyon (there is no “r” in the word “Casto” ) is located on the back side of spectacular Red Canyon, a unique collection of red and pink hoodoo pinnacles that acts as a warmup show for visitors heading to Bryce Canyon National Park.
We eagerly hopped into our RZR and hit the two track trail.
The Casto Canyon ATV trail follows a wash that winds through the canyon and criss-crosses it repeatedly. In no time we had a view that totally warranted that “Top 10” designation we’d read about.
Our little Buddy ran along ahead of us in his usual role as Trail Scout and sprinted down the two track trail as it ducked back into the woods.
The Casto Canyon trail parallels the wash and hops back and forth across it repeatedly. We had the whole canyon to ourselves, and the rising sun felt warm on our skin each time we emerged into the wash from the deep shade in the woods..
Casto Canyon Trail is only 5.5 miles long, but we took our time, riding a few hundred yards and then stopping to take pics and explore on foot. At first, the shadows were long and deep, but gradually the sun rose higher and the shadows crept back towards the base of each tree and red rock hoodoo.
Casto Canyon Trail is a multi-use trail that is open to horses, hikers, bikers and motorized vehicles. It would be possible to ride it on a bike, but we knew we’d be jumping on and off our bikes a lot to walk through the more difficult patches.
As we explored the fringes of the trail, our gaze was drawn both down to our feet where delicate flowers were in bloom and up high above us where the red rock spires reached towards the sky.
At last we came to an intersection with Barney Cove Trail. This spot marks the end of the dramatic red rocks lining the sides of the wash and the trail. Buddy decided it was time for a rest!
Suddenly we heard the sounds of a motor in the distance, and then an ATV appeared on the trail ahead of us. The driver stopped and took a break while he waited for his companions behind him.
It turned out that he and his friends were on a 12 day long 300 mile ATV adventure. They had already covered 100 miles in the first four days and they had another 200 miles to go.
They were carrying all their gear on their four wheelers, from tents, clothes and food to drinking water and gas for the ATVs. They were staying on or near the trail in the wilds the whole time, and they were having a blast.
As we watched him and his buddies ride off down the trail behind us, we agreed that they were probably about to see the most beautiful scenery of their whole trip.
Nearby, we found a trickle of a stream flowing. The wash is enormously wide with steep eroded dirt walls that have been carved by blasts of rushing water in some places. But at the moment, in mid-August, there was just a dribble of water here and there, likely from the recent afternoon monsoon storms.
We continued a little further on Casto Canyon Trail. Casto Canyon is a narrow trail and we were glad we had a skinny trail model RZR when we squeezed through one tight spot.
The trail got rougher as we went along, and the most stunning red rock scenery fell behind us. So, we turned around and headed back. The sun was much higher now, and with the different lighting and in direction the views were all new.
The size of the red rock canyon walls is hard to comprehend, but the size of the trees gives a hint.
Even as tall and rugged as the red rock hoodoos were, we kept finding dainty little things down at our feet. We were immersed in Nature’s wondrous beauty.
The trail twisted and turned around berms on the edge of the canyon on our way back.
The red rock hoodoos stood cheek-by-jowel on the edges of the wash, each one covered with horizontal stripes. When we turned one corner, we noticed a red rock hoodoo that had slipped on its foundation and was lying at an angle. Cool!
Even if you don’t own an ATV or small UTV, Casto Canyon is a true delight to explore. The views begin within the first few hundred yards, so even a short out-and-back hike is rewarding. If you are comfortable riding (or walking) a bike across multiple washes filled with loose sand and gravel, Casto Canyon would also be lovely to experience from the seat of a bike.
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More info about this area:
Other blog posts from Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park:
- Red Canyon – Arches Trail – Windows & Hoodoos in Utah!
- Red Canyon Utah and the Bryce Canyon Bike Trail!
- Red Canyon Utah is an Overlooked Treasure
- Bryce Canyon in Winter – Snow and Lace on the Red Rock Spires!
- Spring in Sarasota FL + Bryce Canyon’s Night Skies – in Trailer Life
- Bryce Canyon – Rainbow Point – Bristlecone Pines and Sweeping Vistas
- Bryce Canyon National Park – “Mossy Cave” – Mystery Waterfall!
- Red Canyon Utah and the Bryce Canyon Bike Trail!
- Bryce Canyon Gone Wild – Tempests, Rainbows & Wildlife
- Bryce Canyon National Park – Fairyland Trail – A Beautiful Hike!
- Bryce Canyon – Hiking The Rim & Navajo Loop + A Tourist Time-lapse!
- Bryce Canyon National Park – Inspiration Point – OMG!
- Bryce Canyon, UT – Fairyland of Pink Turrets
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Stunning landscapes. Looks surreal. Could have been titled, “Life’s Better With Hoodoos And A Dog.” 😉
Life is definitely better with hoodoos and a dog!!!
We’ve camped here many times. In fact, we met up with you two when you asked about our Egg Camper at Red Canyon Campground. Such a beautiful area, I never get tired of it. Thanks for the great article and photos. We had never gone back into that canyon, just hiked around the area near the campground. Next time!
We remember well, Liz, and we talked about you two and your Egg Camper. Red Canyon is very special to us because it’s the place where we decided to get our first RV, a popup tent trailer. We were camping in our tent and it was raining and everyone in an RV was happy and dry and playing card games while we drove from coffee stop to lunch stop to snack stop to dinner stop trying to keep warm!!! We bought our popup before the week was out! Happy trails!
Yes, we talk about your experience watching those warm, dry campers and wanting to get a pop up ( and eventually your current set up). We’ve parked at the Days End spot a few times as well. Love that area. Keep up the wonderful photos and reporting!
Thank you, Liz. We are continually amazed that even after all these years we still wind up exploring new places most of the time. What a beautiful country we live in!
Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful pictures and stories. I don’t drive or travel as much anymore. I also have a dog; she is still a great traveler. I am enjoying what you post.
Thank you for reading and appreciating our work, Margo. We are fortunate to be able to travel as we do now, and we love hearing from readers like you who aren’t traveling at the moment but get a kick out of escaping with us to pretty spots each week!
What a beautiful place! We must go next time we’re in that area. Thank you for exploring and taking such gorgeous pictures.
We love discoveries like this and feel so fortunate to be able to explore and take pics of such a priceless place. You’ll enjoy a special ride when you get there!!
I enjoyed another GREAT ride-a-long. I’ve been back in the archived articles lately. You guys have done so much to help those of us that dream of joining the ranks of full-timers one day. You provide such great material on just about every RV topic. It is amazing what you two have experienced and how much you have published. What an outstanding resource and service to the RV community….and that is an understatement!
WOW!! Jeff, such enthusiastic and heartfelt compliments — Thank you!! It means so much to us to read your words. We pinch ourselves every day that we have managed to pull it all off and dedicate a large chunk of our time in this life to exploring the world around us. It’s not easy to line up all the ducks in a row to head out like we’ve done, and we’ve met a lot of folks who dreamed of a life like this but were never able to live it.
So, we hope to provide inspiration not only to anyone planning to live this way or living this way already, but also to other folks who likely won’t ever have a chance to see these magical places. What a gift the internet is to allow us to share our pics and stories in such an intimate and immediate fashion, without the intermediaries of commercial editors and journalistic requirements, and give our readers a glimpse of how beautiful our world is along with a breath of fresh air.
Hopefully some day we will meet you and Rhonda and the pups — we are looking forward to it!
Spectacular scenery and excellent pics to do it justice! As always, thanks for sharing. Nice job on the Trailer Life article on shopping for an RV, Emily!
Thank you very much, Mary. The Trailer Life article was a big project to write and it got a lot of attention from multiple editors as well. Fortunately, they kept it pretty much exactly as I wrote it. I’m really glad to know you appreciated it. Some think we are being too choosy, but it’s our home, and it deserves the same kind of rigorous search as a house!
Awesome scenery in that area. Would an off-road Jeep get through ok?
A Jeep would be fine. The only hard part while driving is keeping your eyes on the road ’cause the scenery is so fabulous!