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Scenic Drives

Utah Scenic Byway 12 from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef

Is this the most scenic highway in America?

Utah 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 human-made history to prove it.

A State Road With Impressive Ratings

Utah Scenic Byway 12 is one of the 10 most scenic highways in the nation. This 124-mile byway is  Utah’s first All American Road and it takes you from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef. It has been named by Forbes as one of America’s best snowy drives, and it was named by our sister publication Backpacker magazine as a favorite “Wild Roads.”

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.

Utah Route 12 near Kiva Koffeehouse in Grand Staircase-Escalante
Here is a photo of Utah Route 12 near Kiva Koffeehouse in Grand Staircase-Escalante. (Photo by Depositphotos)

View the official road map at www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/2020/maps.

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

Hellish 27-mile Bypass from Boulder to Escalante

Hell's Backbone Bridge
Hell’s Backbone Bridge is pictured here. (Photo by Jason 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.


For current road conditions from the Utah Dept. of Transportation, visit www.udot.utah.gov/connect/current-conditions/.