Scenic Byway 12 in Utah is absolutely one of the best scenic drives we have been to. It connects Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. We got on this road from the west. Red Canyon has stunning red colored rocks punctuated with green pines. The road winds through two tunnels in a short distance that resemble the natural arches at the foot of the red hill. The rock formations change to pink and salmon colored hoodoos when it nears Bryce Canyon National Park. Driving down to Bryce Valley, passed the small town Cannonville, we left Scenic Byway to camp at Kodachrome Basin Park.
The unique features at Kodachrome Basin State Park are the sedimentary pipes. They are odd looking large columns of sedimentary rocks that rise abruptly from the floor. After touring Bryce Canyon, I took the Angel’s Palace Trail after dinner. I saw several sedimentary pipes from the trail. Some of them were very big and tall. More than 60 sedimentary pipes are on record of the park. Some of them are as tall as 170 feet. The sedimentary pipes have pale colors. In the golden hour, all the rock formations and mountains glowed, and the colors changed from gold to crimson red. I made it back to the campground before it got dark. The moon rose slowly from behind the mountain. One more night it would be a full moon.
We left Kodachrome Basin State Park early in the morning and continued our drive on Scenic Byway 12 heading northeast. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center is located at Cannonville. The Grand Staircase has five different cliff formations that descend from elevation of 11,000 to 4,000 feet: Pink, Gray, White, Vermilion, and Chocolate. The Grand Staircase is rich in geologic history and dinosaur fossils. The scenery from Escalante to Boulder is magnificent. Scenic Byway 12 took us to the overlook where offers a sweeping view of Escalante Canyons and the meandering road. Miles after miles of cream and red colored petrified sand dunes dotted with green trees fill the area. Scenic Byway 12 descends to the canyon and winds through the stunning petrified sand dunes. Once a desert, the sand dunes hardened into sand stones and were carved by wind.
When the highway passes Calf Creek Recreation Area, it comes out of the canyons and climbs to a high cliff with a narrow ridge. This is the famous “The Hogsback.” There are no rail guards on the edges of the narrow road. After crossing “The Hogsback,” the town lies in the valley is Boulder.
Then the highway heads north along Boulder Mountain towards Torrey. Contrasting to the lush evergreens were aspen trees with fiery yellow colored leaves. Small groves of glittering aspen trees brighten up the roadside. The vista from the overlooks were spectacular. Lower Bowns Reservoir lays among red colored hills. Gray colored mesas sit further away, and hazy distant mountains stretch on the horizon.
Scenic Byway 12 descends from Boulder Mountain and ends at Torrey at the foot of the red sandstone cliffs. It was quite a drive along Scenic Byway 12. Each turn brings you something new, something exciting.