The best scenic byway routes in Utah are in the Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante areas. There is nothing quite like the views and scenery that these beautiful byways have to offer. If you are looking for breathtaking views on a casual drive, give Utah’s Byway 12, Byway 143 and Scenic Highway 89 a try!
Scenic Byway 12
Spanning a route of more than 120 miles, Utah’s Byway 12 Scenic Byway travels through some of the most diverse and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. Included in this natural showcase is the newly created 1.7 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Scenic Byway 12 is one of two paved highways in the monument. See More »
Scenic Byway 143
Scenic Byway 143 follows a 55 mile course between Panguitch and Parowan, Utah, and connects Intestate-15 to Highway 89. This throughway follows the historic migration route used by the ancient Anasazi and is nicknamed Utah’s Patchwork Parkway. In 1864 pioneers were forced to walk on quilts to avoid sinking into the deep early winter snow as they crossed the mountains to Parowan, to obtain much needed flour to save their settlement from starvation. The now famous Quilt Walk is an annual celebration and is the impetus behind the name Utah’s Patchwork Parkway. See More »
Scenic Highway 89
Scenic Highway 89 through Bryce Canyon Country is part of the Utah Heritage Highway 89. This road passed through the western section of Bryce Canyon Country from north to south and connects travelers on the south to Zion National Park, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This section of the Utah Heritage Highway 89 is an adventure through scenic beauty and living history. See More »
Burr Trail Road
The Burr Trail road is a scenic backway that spans 66-miles and winds through dramatic portions of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. See More »
Hole In The Rock
While the Hole in the Rock road is a dirt road, it is wide and quite well maintained and is passable for most vehicles during good weather. Many visitors venture down this road to hike into slot canyons such as Peek-a-boo, Spooky, Egypt, Coyote Gulch and more. Also along this road is Devil’s Garden which is very much a natural play-land for adults and kids with its curious rock formations and arches. See More »
As you travel Byway 12 Scenic Byway, take time to explore the designated scenic backways. A backway is a paved or dirt road that reaches less traveled but breathtaking areas. Check with the nearest visitor center or any local business for road and weather conditions. Be sure to have plenty of gasoline, food and water as there are usually no facilities along these beautiful corridors.
East Fork of the Sevier Scenic Backway
Double and single lane gravel road / passenger cars / fair weather only. Excellent wildlife viewing opportunities for seeing pronghorn antelope, deer, prairie dogs and elk can be found. Features: East Fork of the Sevier River, Tropic Reservoir, Great Western Trail, Dixie National Forest and King Creek Campground. Distance 17 miles one way (1-1/2 hours).
Cottonwood Canyon Road Scenic Backway
Utah National and State Parks Scenic DrivesGraded dry-weather road. Do not travel this route if storms are threatening. A photographer’s dream. Features: Kodachrome Basin State Park (camping and picnicking facilities), Grosvenor Arch, Cockscomb, Paria River and views of Bryce Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Table Cliffs Plateau. Paved to Kodachrome State Park, dirt after. Distance 49 miles (2 hours).
Griffin Top Scenic Backway
Narrow single lane dirt and gravel road (closed in winter) / passenger cars. This 32-mile gravel road crosses the Table Cliffs Plateau on the Dixie National Forest. Features: secluded lakes, excellent wildlife viewing, and vistas from the high plateau. The road is wonderful for snowmobiling in the winter. Distance 32 miles (1 hour).
Smokey Mountain Scenic Backway
Dirt and gravel / impassable in bad weather / high clearance vehicles. This rugged corridor between Byway 12 and Highway 89 requires a high clearance vehicle. Spectacular views of Fifty Mile Mountain, Powell Point, desert slickrock and Lake Powell can be seen while traveling this backway. Distance 78 miles (5 hours).
Posey Lake Scenic Backway
Single lane dirt and gravel road (closed in winter). Camping, fishing, hiking, hunting and mountain biking opportunities abound on the road through the Dixie National Forest. This backway provides access to Posey Lake and Posey Lake Campground with beautiful scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. The backway starts in Escalante and ends on Highway 24 at Bicknell. Distance 40 miles (1 hour).
Hole-in-the-Rock Scenic Backway
Gravel and graded dirt road / passenger cars in good weather; 4-wheel drive recommended. Step back in time and travel the route that Mormon pioneers took on their historic journey to the San Juan country. Access is provided to Devil’s Rock Garden, Dance Hall Rock, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Hole-in-the-Rock and several desert hiking trail heads. Last five miles requires a high clearance vehicle. Distance 56 miles one way (6 hours round trip).
Burr Trail Scenic Backway
Hard surfaced, graded dirt and gravel road / passenger car in good weather; 4-wheel drive recommended. Beautiful scenery can be found around every turn! Features access to Deer Creek Recreation Site, Long Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Lake Powell and Bullfrog Marina. Impassable when wet. Distance 66 miles (4-1/2 hours).
Hell’s Backbone Road
Gravel and dirt road (closed in winter) / high clearance vehicles recommended. Although this is not a designated scenic backway, Hell’s Backbone is one of the most dramatic roads in the world. The road makes a loop connecting Escalante with Byway 12, three miles west of Boulder. From the Posey Lake Scenic Backway, Hell’s Backbone heads east, passes Blue Spruce Campground and circles the Box Death Hollow Wilderness Area. Hell’s Backbone Bridge is an engineering feat. Distance 44 miles (1-1/2 hours).
Notom Road Scenic Backway
Dry weather road (open all year) / high clearance vehicles recommended. Notom Road parallels the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park. It skirts the eastern section of Capitol Reef between Hwy 24 and the Burr Trail. Views of the Henry Mountains and Capitol Reef are among the highlights. Impassable when wet. Distance 29 miles (2 hours).
Bull Mountain Road Scenic Backway
Single lane dry weather road / high clearance vehicles required. Vistas of the Colorado Plateau can be seen along the Bull Mountain Road. It climbs from the desert floor to 10,500 feet as it crosses the Henry Mountains. Splendid scenery includes beautiful canyons, red cliffs, forests and mountains. Impassable in winter and when wet. Distance 68 miles (6 to 7 hours).
Some of the Scenic Backways are gateways to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Stop at the Interagency Office in Escalante for information and topographic maps of the area. When driving in the back country, please stay on the roads to avoid damaging the environment.
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