Utah’s Highway 12: An All-American Road

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
Highway 12 is the only All-American Road in Utah (designated in 2002). The scenic byway connects Capitol Reef National Park with an even more popular, iconic park: Bryce Canyon National Park. Along the way, you’ll pass through public lands like Dixie National Forest and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and past state parks like Escalante Petrified Forest and Kodachrome Basin. You’ll also be treated to numerous lookout points lending views of towering cliffs, diving canyons and rock formations colored in reds, oranges, creams and pinks. The Utah section of this scenic byway is 124 miles long.
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. 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.
Locals say you can do it in three hours or three days. Others say it will take three years. 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.
Highway 12 passes through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and over Boulder Mountain in the Dixie National Forest to its conclusion near the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.
A small community rich in pioneer heritage, Tropic is typical of the other small towns on U-12 east abreast of Bryce Canyon. Near the town of Cannonville, is the northern boundary of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. A visitor center in Cannonville may help visitors experience the local culture past and present. A 7-mile paved road leads south from Cannonville to Kodachrome Basin State Park.
One mile west of the town of Escalante is Petrified Forest State Park. The town itself borders the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The road continues through the Escalante canyons with panoramic views over miles of colorful slickrock. After crossing the Escalante River, visitors may picnic at Calf Creek Campground. From here, a six-mile round-trip trail takes visitors to Lower Calf Creek Falls.
Nearing the town of Boulder, Highway 12 twists and turns through the Hogsback, a section of the road where cliffs drop steeply into narrow canyons on both sides of the highway. In Boulder, a museum and remnants of a prehistoric Indian village at Anasazi State Park.
Following the summit of Boulder Mountain, the byway travels a spectacular forested course where views of colorful Capitol Reef National Park, the Circle Cliffs and the Henry Mountains are framed by the trees of the Dixie National Forest.

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