Imagine all the scenic wonders southern and central Utah can offer. Now imagine that all visible from one main road. There are so many different scenic natural landscapes that traveling through Utah can seem like going through a different world. Desert, forests, and historical landmarks are abundant all throughout the state. No road offers views to all these delights quite like Utah’s Scenic Byway, Highway 12. This road is called, “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway”, and is a 122.863-mile-long state highway designated an All-American Road. Located right off Highway 12, Bryce Valley Lodging is the perfect place to stay while you explore the unique nature and history surrounding this scenic byway.
One could say traveling Highway 12 is like landing in a veritable Oz full of munchkins made of sage and red rock. Traveling Highway 12 is like winding along the yellow brick road that guides you to where you need to be, sprinkling some adventure along the way (Don’t worry, there’s no wicked witch in this particular tale). This highway winds its way through some of the most famous, and scenic, parks and overlooks Utah has to offer. Below we will go over the top three must-see stops along the way!
1. Grand Staircase National Monument
Our first stop on our journey is Grand Staircase National Monument, this first stop is our “scarecrow” of sorts. It’s simple, a canyon formed by erosion. However, as you travel through, this simple option quickly turns into one of the most fascinating stops you can make. Over 200 million years in the making, this area includes both deep canyons that seemingly transport you to another world, as well as high overlooks that capture neighboring areas full of vibrant colors and unique formations. Activities include ATV trails, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and even dining out at local restaurants.
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Continuing along our winding trail, we arrive at our next must-see stop: Bryce Canyon National Park. As one of the most famous parks in the state, it’s an easy pick for a stop while traveling this scenic byway. The red rock and scenic vistas draw thousands of visitors each year. Wind, water, and father time have combined efforts over millennia to create these fascinating structures that weave themselves across the landscape to create a truly otherworldly sight. The true joy of the park lies in the fact that with each new bend in the road, the vista changes into another new sight to see. It’s no wonder it has inspired thousands of artists to recreate these landscapes. There’s really a shorter list of what you can’t do than what you can at Bryce Canyon. There is a long list of locations and facilities available. The highlights include ATV and hiking trails, dining, rock climbing, sightseeing, etc. Needless to say, it’s a fantastic stop along this memorable highway.
3. Red Canyon
Finally, our winding yellow brick road leads us to Red Canyon, our final stop. It’s safe to say the only reason Bryce Canyon has more notoriety is because of its sheer size and accessibility. In terms of scenic beauty, Red Canyon holds its own. Nestled in the Dixie National Forest, some of the most memorable rock formations and scenic vistas are found tucked away in Red Canyon. Since it is within a National Forest, the recreational activities are more limited. However, the visitors center is at anyone’s disposal to see the availability of hiking, sightseeing, and other activities.
Now that we’ve visited some of the wonderful stops along Highway 12, we’d like to remind you that there are many many more sites and sights to experience along the way. Read more of our other blogs for ideas on what you can do during your stay at Bryce Valley Lodging. And contact us for help planning your itinerary. This scenic byway holds many more treasures to discover in this desert oz we call Southern Utah. Next time you’re in town, take a drive. You never know what sort of adventure awaits.