It's been said that Utah's Highway 12 is a destination in itself, and after being stunned by our drive through it, I would have to agree. We started out on Highway 12 on Day 3 of our road trip as we made our way to Bryce. The scenic byway rolls through Red Canyon, which just begs you to jump out and take pictures of hoodoos and arches.
We stopped at Bryce for the rest of the day, and early the next day went right back on Highway 12 for the 2-hour 40-minute drive to Capitol Reef.View Larger Map
We started out a tad glum, sad from having to skip the hike into Wall Street and weary at the thought of driving to Capitol Reef and then Natural Bridges all in one day. But all that quickly gave way to sheer amazement when we realized what a treat we were in for driving Highway 12. You know you're somewhere special when the scenery goes from this ...
... to this in just a matter of minutes.
From Bryce Canyon, Highway 12 crosses into parts of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which accounts for the continuously changing colors of the cliffs and canyons surrounding the road. I distinctly recall traversing the road above and finding ourselves surrounded by cream colored cliffs and fields rolling with pistachio and seafoam colored plants. The scenery on this road is nothing short of breathtaking.
We stopped at every overlook possible, but nothing prepared us for the one that hangs over what's known as "Hog's Back." The scenery is breathtaking, as is the path traversed by the road over a narrow canyon surrounded by 2000-foot drops. Here's Kate soaking it all in before we tackled Hog's Back. I'm not sure if she's appreciating the gorgeous vista or contemplating pushing me off for making her do all the driving for this trip. I'd like to believe it's the former.
The only problem with Highway 12 is that cellphone reception is spotty to nonexistent, and there aren't many other cars traveling on it. The isolation is great if you're car's running well, but I shudder to think what would've happened if we'd had car trouble. This is a road lined with cows crossing signs and no pedestrian lanes. Sure enough it was easier to spot cows than people on the road.
Thankfully we were never in need of rescuing and just had a truly wonderful time getting surprised at every turn. This road was an absolute gem on our trip. If you ever feel the need to get away and hit the road, I highly recommend adding a romp down Highway 12 to your itinerary.