Scenic Byway 12 is a Utah driving treasure

Take advantage of the many turnoffs along Scenic Byway 12 for amazing views

We enjoyed our summer in Utah because there were so many beautiful places to see. Surprisingly, driving to some of those places ended up being an awe-inspiring adventure, too.

Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 traverses more than 100 miles through some of the state’s incredible scenery. Winding through towering red rock formations, lush forests, and ancient canyons, the byway offers travelers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and landscape. The “winding” part of the road may make some drivers or passengers nervous. But none of the curves and hills are as bad as they might seem at first, and we even saw large Class A motorhomes on 12, so there’s plenty of room.

The byway’s history dates back to the days of the earliest inhabitants, the Ancestral Puebloans. These people lived in the region for centuries, building cliff dwellings and other structures. In the 19th century, Mormon settlers arrived in the area, establishing towns and farms.

The first road through the region was built in the late 1800s. In 1914, the state added the road from Bryce Canyon Junction to Tropic to the state highway system. A few years later, Utah gained a forest road, built from Tropic Junction to Bryce Canyon. The state road commission numbered the branch and the road it came from State Route 12 in the 1920s.

Over the next few decades, the state extended and improved the road, connecting the towns of Panguitch, Torrey, and Boulder.

In 1988, Scenic Byway 12 was designated a National Forest Scenic Byway. In 2001, the road earned the designation of “All-American Road.”

Boondocking in the Dixie National Forest is a great way to stay the night along Scenic Byway 12

A few major highlights along the route, include Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and the Dixie National Forest. But you never need step foot into one of the national parks to see some breathtaking scenery. And many of the small towns along the route are worth stopping to check out what they have to offer.

We also recommend taking a side trip off of Scenic 12 to follow Burr Trail Road into Long Canyon. Along the way, you’ll pass Singing Canyon, which also is worth the short hike to see.

Long Canyon is a great side trip to see off of Utah’s Scenic Byway 12

If you plan a trip to Utah, make sure you leave time to take, literally, the scenic route.

If you want to see more about our adventures in Utah, check out this playlist at our YouTube channel.

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