Scenic Byway 12 winds east-west through the heart of Bryce Canyon Country, leading travelers through some of the most remote and awe-inspiring scenery in southern Utah. A virtual passage through time, Scenic Byway 12 bears witness to eroded cliffs, Native American cliff dwellings, and authentic pioneer structures that stand today as a testament to the area’s rich geologic and human history. Beginning on the southwest end near Panguitch at the junction of Highway 89, Scenic Byway 12 traverses for 124 breathtaking miles through high desert plateaus, red rock canyons and hoodoos, alpine forests, a national monument, several state and national parks, and tiny rural communities throughout Bryce Canyon Country. Outstanding scenery, geologic wonder, and human history dot every mile of Scenic Byway 12.
A series of interpretive trails, pullouts, signs and small exhibits along Scenic Byway 12 accents Bryce Canyon Country’s rich history, providing footnotes about many of the scenic overlooks and the small local communities that keep history alive. The guiding interpretive topic along Scenic Byway 12 is ‘Journey Through Time,’ strategically designed for both leisure travelers who plan to stop at many of the interpretive sites, or passers-by who chose to stop only at key destinations. Primary interpretive sites offer informational overviews about the area, while secondary sites exhibit more detailed interpretation. This allows travelers to stop at whatever scenic vista or historical site catches their eye, or plan ahead according to personal interest.
More than a dozen primary interpretive sites highlight the route, including the visitor centers at Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cannonville, and Anasazi State Park, plus pullouts and waysides at Lower Blue Overlook, Upper Valley Graineries, Head of the Rocks Overlook, and Boulder Overlook, and the new Escalante Hole-in-the-Rock Interpretive Center. These primary interpretive sites offer local orientation and an overview of the geology, culture, ecology, archaeology, and human history.
Secondary interpretive sites have a more specific focus, and include the Bryce Canyon Airplane Crash Pullout (history), Mossy Cave Trailhead (natural history), Tropic Wayside (cultural history) and Visitor Information Cabin (orientation), waysides at Cannonville and Henrieville (history and culture), Hole-in-the-Rock Pullout (history/culture/geography), Boynton Overlook (natural history), Calf Creek Recreation Area (recreation), and the Hell’s Backbone Wayside (natural history).
Interpretive planning along the byway was initially completed in 1990, when the road was officially designated as a state byway. Interpretive signs along Scenic Byway 12 also offer important information about safety, resource protection, and land management policies. Bryce Canyon Country encourages visitors to ‘leave no trace and tread lightly,’ in order to maintain this beautiful region for years to come.