Scenic Drives

Scenic Utah Byway 12 from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef

Scenic Byway 12 has it all: isolated canyons, grand plateaus that rise 9,000-feet above sea level, deep valleys that plunge to 4,000-feet and the natural and man-made history to prove it.

A State Road With Impressive Ratings

  • Rated one of the ten most scenic highways in the nation by Car and Driver Magazine
  • Named by Forbes as one of America’s best snowy drives
  • Named by Backpacker magazine as a favorite Wild Roads

This 124-mile byway is one of the most scenic in the nation and Utah’s first All American Road takes you from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef.

Utah Route 12 near Kiva Koffeehouse in Grand Staircase-Escalante
Utah Route 12 near Kiva Koffeehouse in Grand Staircase-EscalanteDeposit Photos

Locals say you can do it in three hours or three days. Others say it will take three years to fully take advantage of all it has to offer. The Henry Mountains are to the south and home to the country’s only free roaming bison. On the way out, take a break at Head of the Rocks Overlook to catch the pastel hills and dales.

Stop at these natural attractions along the route (from west to east).

  • Red Canyon
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Kodachrome State Park
  • Dixie National Forest
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Escalante State Park
  • Calf Creek Recreation Area
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Anasazi State Park Museum
  • Boulder Mountain
  • Capitol Reef National Park

Hellish 27-mile Bypass from Boulder to Escalante

Hell's Backbone Bridge
Hell’s Backbone BridgeJason J. Corneveaux via Wikimedia Commons.

Hell’s Backbone Road is a high-country alternative to the paved Utah Scenic Byway 12, which also connects Boulder and Escalante, 27 road miles apart. From late spring to autumn, the road, which climbs to more than 9,000 feet elevation, is easily passable by ordinary passenger vehicles, but it is very narrow and winding, and not for the faint of heart.