The Utah Scenic Byway 12, covering a trip of approximately 124 miles, travels through some of the most diverse, rugged, and beautiful landscapes in the United Sates..
The Utah Scenic Byway 12 is best enjoyed by extending your stay to at least one week by visiting and exploring Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Capitol Reef National Park
For a shorter scenic route, Byway 12 takes you through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Upper Blues Overlook, Upper Valley Granaries Pullout, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Boynton Overlook, Escalante River Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, The Hogsback, Anasazi State Park Museum, Homestead Overlook, Steep Creek Overlook, Larb Hollow Overlook, and Capitol Reef National Park.
The suggested route for Utah Scenic Byway 12 begins in Panguitch, Utah, 4 miles from Red Canyon, and ends 124 miles later in Torrey, the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park.
To be sure to get the most out of this trip, plan on taking two days with a stay overnight in Cannonville/Tropic, UT.
The drive along Utah's Scenic Highway 12, in Southern Utah, connects Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park and offers unparalleled scenic views and stops with red-rocked canyons, dramatic sandstone formations, pristine lakes, and pine tree covered mountain ranges for a hard to beat scenic trip.
Begin in Panguitch, on the junction of highway 89 and 12, take Highway 12 east for approximately 4 miles until you reach the Red Canyon Forest Service Visitor Center, in the Dixie National Forest. Suggest a short walk on one of the trails in Red Canyon.
From Red Canyon Visitor Center, go to Bryce Canyon National Park approximately 10 miles east along Highway 12, onto Highway 63 south for 3 miles to the park entrance and Bryce Canyon National Park at the Visitor Center. Stop at the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater and view one or more of the spectacular overlooks within the first few miles of the park.
Return to Scenic Byway 12 and turn east (right).There is a pullout on the south side of the road where you can park. Have a picnic and take a short walk from to Mossy Cave trail head to get a glimpse of Water Canyon and the spectacular pink cliffs in this corner of Bryce Canyon.
From Mossy Cave Trail head, take Highway 12 south for approximately 8 miles to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center. The center provides travel tips, visitor orientation, and safety information. At this point, it's suggested that you spend overnight in Cannonville, either at one of the town's motels, or at a campground.
The next morning, follow Highway 12 east for approximately 7 miles to Upper Blues Overlook. This area has some of the richest fossil remains from the Cretaceous Period. From the overlook you also see a great view of the pink limestone ledges of Powell Point.
From Upper Blues Overlook, go east on Highway 12 for approximately 8 miles to Upper Valley Granaries Pullout. Snuggled in the cliffs above the pullout, there is a small structure originally built and used by Native Americans of the Fremont Culture as a storage place for grain and other foods harvested from the fertile ground below.
From Upper Valley Granaries Pullout, continue east on Highway 12 for 10 miles to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. In the the Park may want to fish or swim in Wide Hollow Reservoir or check out 160 million-year-old petrified wood. An interpretive trail winds through the nearby foothills providing information on the mineralized wood and dinosaur bones in the area.
From Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, go east on Highway 12 for approximately 12 miles to the Boynton Overlook. Continue to the Escalante River Canyon and descend to the Escalante River Bridge near its confluence with Calf Creek. The Escalante makes it way to the Colorado River where you will find remnants of Native American culture through rock art, ruins, and handmade tools and pots.
From Boynton Overlook, continue east on Highway 12 for about 2 miles to the Calf Creek Recreation Area, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is a great time to wade in the creek, have a picnic, or take the six-mile round-trip hike to the Lower Calf Creek Falls. The sandy trail ends at the 126-foot waterfall and an beautiful grotto with a deep pool surrounded by shade trees.
From Calf Creek, follow Highway 12 north for 5 miles to The Hogsback section of Scenic Byway 12. At The Hogsback you can experience the sweeping views of the surrounding sandstone "slick rock" country before continuing on your journey.
Continue north on Highway 12 for 2 miles to the Anasazi State Park Museum. They cover the period around 1050 A.D. at the time the Fremont and Kayenta Anasazi settled in the area, and was one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River. Continue here with a self-guided tour to experience a partially excavated village.
From the museum, continue north on Highway 12 for approximately 11 miles to the Homestead Overlook. Homestead Overlook offers dramatic views from Capitol Reef to Navajo Mountain.
Continue north on Highway 12 for 1 mile to the Steep Creek Overlook. Here you have another spectacular view of more than 100 miles on a clear day. Boulder Mountain is a recreation area for outdoors men with many secluded mountain lakes and streams supporting rainbow and brook trout.
Continue north on Highway 12 for 2 miles to Larb Hollow Overlook, where you will see interpretive wayside panels and views to the three peaks of the Henry Mountains, Navajo Mountain near the Arizona border and across the Water pocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park.
Continue north on Highway 12 for about 18 miles to Torrey, the end of your scenic drive and at the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park.