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  • Writer's pictureBryce Canyon ATV

The Sunset Cliffs & Black Mountain Lava Flow

Updated: May 6

4 or 6 Seat Family Adventure: 2 Hours - $425

This experience takes you out of town and across the Panguitch Valley, surrounded by 10,000-foot and 11,000-foot mountain ranges in all directions. Your destination: the Sunset Cliffs, home to the Black Mountain Lava Flow and the entrances to Casto, Losee, and Red Canyons. This entire route is our smoothest, and it even has a restroom!

The Colorful Sunset Cliffs and Casto Canyon Trailhead:

You'll ride out to the red rocks of the Sunset Cliffs. Upon arrival, you'll find the Casto Canyon Trailhead. This location offers a restroom, map boards, informative signs, and trail markers. The Sunset Cliffs get their name from the brilliant Bryce Canyon colors – shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Black Mountain Lava Flow: A Geological Wonder

The dirt road you're on, BLM 1800, turns south here and runs for five more miles along the base of the Sunset Cliffs. You'll pass Losee Canyon and cross over the unique Black Mountain Lava Flow. Geologists estimate that roughly one million years ago, the red rocks of the Bryce Claron Formation split open and erupted here.

A Closer Look:

  • As you slow down for the right-hand turn and steep downhill, pay attention to the gray ash tuffs and the enormous black boulders covered with gray-green moss. These features mark the spot where the road crosses the cooled, hardened basalt lava.

  • Look around and out west as the road turns west and downhill. You'll see the hills formed by the lava flow, now covered in a thick pine forest.

  • As the road turns south again, you'll reach the bottom of this volcanic hill. Continue for the last mile to the end of the road, where you'll need to turn around at the base of Red Canyon on Scenic Highway 12.

Black Mountain: A Towering Presence

After making your U-turn and heading north, look to your east at the enormous, barren, rugged boulder field of 7,300-foot Black Mountain. You'll notice that this tallest area of the lava flow, where it erupted from the red cliffs, is too steep and rugged to support any vegetation.

Returning Along the Scenic Route:

On this two-hour ride, you'll return along the same route. We recommend heading straight out to Red Canyon and turning around to maximize your picture time and geological exploration on the way back. Keep an eye on the time to ensure you have enough time for stops.

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