Southern Utah has some of the greatest scenic highways in the nation. We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch love driving the back roads in search of something new. There are many scenic routes in and around our national parks, and each one offers amazing views.
If you can, try to work scenic routes into your road trip plans. There are always worth the few extra miles. Of all the back roads and scenic byways that we know of, our favorite is Highway 12.
Highway 12 is a spectacular route is just a few minutes from Capitol Reef National Park. It connects the Capitol Reef with Bryce Canyon National Park. Along the way it passes through the mountain town of Boulder and descends into the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. The town of Boulder is worth stopping in to have a look at the Anasazi ruins or have lunch at Hell’s Backbone Grill. But it is the panorama of the Grand Staircase that makes this trip so memorable.
The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument protects some of the most spectacular geological formations of Southern Utah. President Clinton declared the area surrounding the town of Escalante a national monument in 1996. The current monument encompasses almost 2 million acres of wilderness land.
Highway 12 follows the land around and over massive sandstone bluffs. The road connects a handful of little townships, including Escalante and Boulder. Along this route there are hundreds of places to pull over and enjoy the scenery or have a picnic. If you have the time, check out Calf Creek.
The sheer expanse of the desert beauty in the Grand Staircase is phenomenal. You drive Scenic Highway 12 to fully appreciate it. It’s one of the most famous, and it’s one of the best.