Utah’s Best Road Trip: Scenic Byway 12

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Emily Moench from Visit Utah tells us why Scenic Byway 12 is her favorite road trip.

Where to stay: There are some neat and unique options along the way, such as stationary Airstreams in Escalante, or Pine Creek Cabins - see how you'd fare in a tiny house, or a quaint bed and breakfast (great for meeting locals and getting insider info). Or take the traditional route with Best Western Ruby's Inn.

Where to eat: Eating on the road is tricky! But there are a few gems along the way. Boulder has a Saturday morning farmer's market, as well as Hell's Backbone Grill for dinner. Kiva Koffeehouse has great coffee, smoothies and salads. Slot Canyon Inn in Escalante is home of North Creek Grill, with a wood-burning oven for amazing pizza, and Escalante Outfitters has the best baked oatmeal you'll ever eat. Near Bryce, Stone Hearth Grill is a great spot, with patio dining and stunning views.

Many restaurants will pack a picnic lunch for you to enjoy while you are out hiking or adventuring.

What to do: Of course there is great hiking, and cool slot canyons all along Scenic Byway 12, but consider adding in a horseback riding tour of Kodachrome Basin State Park, SUP or canoe or kayak in Escalante Petrified Forest, and visit Anasazi State Park Museum.

Here is her recommendations for your road trip schedule:

Day 1:

Utah Red Rock 101
Start: Panguitch
See: Heritage and Hoodoos
Explore: Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Cannonville Visitor Center
Options:Mossy Cave, Kodachrome Basin State Park
Scenic Routes: Scenic Byway 12 with options for Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive or Cottonwood Canyon Road
Roads: S.R. 12, 63
Miles: 40+
Night: Bryce Canyon, Tropic, Cannonville

Day 2:

Utah Red Rock 301
Start: Sunrise over sandstone
See: Endlessly fascinating geology and ecology
Explore: Kodachrome Basin State Park, Escalante Petrified Forest
Options: Grosvenor Arch, Escalante Interagency Visitor Center, Spooky Gulch
Scenic Routes: Scenic Byway 12 with Hole-in-the-Rock option to Spooky Gulch
Roads: S.R. 12, BLM Road #200
Miles: 35 + 50 out and back on groomed gravel to Spooky Gulch
Night: Escalante

Day 3:

Master's Course in Southern Utah
Start: Espresso and a pastry at Kiva Koffeehouse
See: Hogsback and History
Explore: Calf Creek Recreation Area, Anasazi State Park Museum
Options: Hell's Backbone Grill
Scenic Routes: Scenic Byway 12
Roads: S.R. 12
Miles: About 45 + 60 out and back on Paved Burr Trail
Night: Escalante, Boulder or Torrey

Day 4:

Start: Burr Trail Outpost or Robbers Roost
See: The beauty of Boulder Mountain
Explore: Dixie National Forest or Capitol Reef
Options: Burr Trail as far as the Waterpocket District
Scenic Routes: Scenic Byway 12, Capitol Reef Country
Roads: S.R. 12, 24
Miles: 30 + 60 out and back Burr Trail option
Night: Return home

For more great ideas on what to see and do in Utah, go here.