Posts Tagged ‘Scenic Byway 12’

Scenic Byway 12 – Fox News Rates #2 In the World

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Scenic Byway 12

Utah's Scenic Byway 12 near the summit along the edge of Boulder Mountain.

Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, a spectacular 124-mile paved highway that runs between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks was just rated by as one of the World’s Top 10 Scenic Drives, coming in at number number two.   Read the story!

Torrey Utah

A view over Torrey, Utah (looking southeast). Scenic Byway 12 climbs over the forest ridge on the middle right.

From Torrey to Panguitch, Scenic Byway 12 leads through a beautiful and varied landscape of red rock formations, cliffs, deep slot canyons, high timbered plateaus, and lush alpine forests as you cruise along at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet.  View an area map.

Scenic Byway 12 - Utah

A view just south of Torrey along the summit of Scenic Byway 12 (9,600' elevation)

The byway winds through a recreational paradise of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, canyoneering, and rock climbing opportunities. Geological, archaeological, historical, and recreational wonders await in the small towns along the highway, and in the three state parks, two national parks, national forest, and national monument. There are seven official visitor information centers along Scenic Byway 12, also known as Utah’s first All-American Road, and interpretive panels located at points of interest along the highway.

Scenic Byway 12 - Summit View

A view from the summit of Scenic Byway 12 looking southeast across the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and toward the Kaiparowitz Plateau.

Some of the best-known destinations along Scenic Byway 12 include Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks, Red Canyon, The Blues/Powell Point Overlook, Upper Valley Graineries, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Head of the Rocks Overlook, Boynton Overlook, Escalante River Trailhead, Calf Creek Recreation Area, The Hogback, Anasazi State Park, and Homestead Overlook. From Escalante to Boulder, Scenic Byway 12 runs through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, one of the most rugged and remote places in the U.S.

Utah's Scenic Byway 12

A view toward the Henry Mountains from along Utah's Scenic Byway 12

There’s a lot to see along Scenic Byway 12, and the sometimes isolated stretches make for some pretty impressive views. The byway winds through the vast, slickrock Escalante Canyons area, including Calf Creek Canyon and the slightly terrifying Hogsback, a narrow ridge with steep drops—and magnificent views—on both sides. Head of the Rocks offers expansive views stretching as far as the eye can see. Hole-in-the-Rock Road and the Burr Trail can be reached via spur roads off Scenic Byway 12. The Hell’s Backbone spur road cuts through Dixie National Forest.

Boulder, Utah is home to the Anasazi State Park Museum, and is definitely worth a look.  North of Boulder, Scenic Byway 12 crosses Boulder Mountain (on the Aquarius Plateau, the highest timbered plateau in North America), where you’ll find great fishing, camping, and hiking. You’ll get spectacular views of Capitol Reef National Park, the Henry Mountains, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Circle Cliffs. On a clear day you can see for more than 100 miles, especially from the 9,400-foot-high vantage point of Homestead Overlook.

The northern end of Utah's Scenic Byway 12 winds it's way through the Dixie National Forest.

Just before Torrey, the Wildcat Guard Station is a quaint log building constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  At the end of Scenic Byway 12, Torrey is the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park where you’ll find canyons, natural arches, and hiking galore. The park is largely defined by the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile geologic “wrinkle” in the earth’s crust.

Scenic Byway 12 cross rough terrain such as this area called the Hogback where the terrain drops 1,000 feet on both sides of the road.

As noted by, “Sometimes, it’s not about the destination, but the journey.” So hop in the car and head down Scenic Byway 12 for a scenic drive you won’t forget!  Read the story on

Scenic Byway 12 / Burr Trail / Notom Road Loop

Friday, May 31st, 2013

The Scenic Byway 12/Burr Trail/Notom Road Loop brings you on an unforgettable journey through Capitol Reef Country’s rugged and diverse landscape. Begin the scenic drive in the Torrey,  Bicknell, or Teasdale area, and head south on Scenic Byway 12, then east onto the Burr Trail, looping back up Notom Road through the east side of Capitol Reef National Park and back to Torrey.

Torrey is one of the gateway communities to this scenic loop, a pretty community with a tree-lined Main Street where the town’s original log schoolhouse still stands.  Stop at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Information Center for maps and information to get oriented before heading out on the loop.

View of Scenic Byway 12 at the summit with Boulder Mountain as a backdrop

Scenic Byway 12
As Scenic Byway 12 climbs Boulder Mountain, you’ll pass the Wildcat Guard Station, a seasonal information center housed in a charming 1935 log building. After about 30 minutes of driving, you’ll find Larb Overlook with views of the Henry Mountains and Navajo Mountain, and Steep Creek Overlook with visibility of up to 100 miles on a clear day. From 9,400 feet, Homestead Overlook offers dramatic sweeping views of the Waterpocket Fold, the Henry Mountains to the east, and the Kaiparowits Plateau to the west. It should take just about an hour to reach Boulder via the paved two-lane scenic road.

As you arrive in Boulder–a.k.a. the “last frontier in Utah”–make a brief stop at Anasazi State Park Museum, the preserved site of one of the largest native communities west of the Colorado River. Boulder is where Scenic Byway 12 and the Burr Trail intersect. Big signs ensure you won’t miss the turnoff.

The Burr Trail as is descends from the plateau and through red rock canyons..

Burr Trail
Between Boulder and Bullfrog, this old cattle trail passes through the colorful landscape and slickrock canyons of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park, with striking backdrops of the Henry Mountains, Waterpocket Fold, and Circle Cliffs. The narrow, paved Burr Trail twists and winds between craggy, light-colored Navajo sandstone domes, the petrified remains of ancient sand dunes. As you pass through The Gulch and into Long Canyon, the Wingate sandstone walls soar higher and the road narrows and transitions from asphalt to gravel and dirt as it crosses into Capitol Reef’s boundaries. There are great views of the Circle Cliffs, all five peaks of the Henry Mountains, and the craggy Waterpocket Fold. The junction to Upper Muley Twist Canyon and Strike Valley Overlook is right before the switchbacks.

Burr Trail Switchbacks
About 34 miles into the drive you reach the Burr Trail Switchbacks. This is where things really get interesting, a series of hairy switchbacks with incredible views of the Waterpocket Fold. Things level off in Burr Canyon, where the Navajo sandstone has eroded away and flat top mesas accent the desertscape as you approach Notom Road at the 36-mile mark.

Traveling along the Notom Road.

Notom Road
Bear north and continue at a leisurely pace along the Waterpocket Fold—plan about two hours for this section. The drive along this unpaved backway alternates between packed and loose red sand. You definitely want to check the weather forecast because this isn’t the best road to drive during or immediately following wet weather. The Oyster Shell Reef is to the west, and you get a glimpse of the steps of the Grand Staircase in some of the rock formations. The road turns two lanes and paved for the last 11 miles.

A view of a bed and breakfast with domes from Capitol Reef in the background. Along the Notom Road.

Capitol Reef Visitor Center
Wind up your visit with a stop at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center to learn about the park’s interesting geology, archaeology, and history, before heading back to Torrey for the night.

View more about this and other scenic drives.