Scenic Byway 12 in Utah

Highway 12 and Biking Red Canyon

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Highway 12

It was Monday and Keith had a productive day of work. As soon as he was done, we took off. I packed dinner and our plan was to drive as far out on Highway 12 Scenic Byway as possible before dark. Highway 12 is known as the 2nd Most Beautiful Road in the World! Can you guess the 1st?  Known as the All-American Road, it is 120 miles that connects two national parks, several state parks and expansive Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument.

The drive was absolutely amazing and it was fun to get a preview of what we’d be doing in the weeks ahead.  Our plan was to stop at several visitor centers along the way to collect guides and speak with rangers to help us plan our month.

We drove until almost dark and then stopped in the town of Escalante.  There was a small park we found with a picnic area in town.  I had used the thermal cooker to reheat our dinner for a picnic. It worked just as planned and we had a hot dinner. We drove just past Escalante and decided we needed to head back to Panguitch. Just as we turned the dashcam off, there was an enormous elk standing on the side of the road. We were bummed that we didn’t capture it on video. Further down the road, as we were yielding onto Highway 89 we both saw something in the road. It was a Monday night and no one was anywhere to be seen so we slowed down.  We ended up stopping on the road and watched an owl who was sitting in the road. We believe it was picking up a pop can from the road.

owl on the road

owl on the road

Check out our video

Short-term and Long-term Planning

There is so much you can do to learn about an area prior to visiting and we do research some, but we’ve found that talking with locals and stopping at the visitor centers are extremely valuable. We typically have a list started and since we’re in the area for a month, there is time to work on the list.

Before heading out on this trip, we knew we would mainly be in Bryce Canyon National Park.  There was the possibility of visiting Zion National Park and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument. Ultimately we decided to save those two parks for future trips. We didn’t have enough time (because of distance) to thoroughly explore as we would like to do so we decided to focus on Bryce.

Our hope is to spend a month near Zion and a month near Grand-Staircase Escalante at some point. Another factor was the weather. There are several hikes that we want to do at each park where you are in water. Even though it was fairly warm in Panguitch, I didn’t think it would be as enjoyable of an experience as it would be during warmer months.

Biking Red Canyon

There is a fantastic path along Highway 12/ Red Canyon that can be using for walking or biking. In most parts it follows right along the road, but also goes through some of the forest area so you don’t feel like you are riding near the road. We ended up biking along the path on two different days. The first time we parked at the bottom of Red Canyon and began riding uphill. I made it about 5 miles and needed to quit. When I say all uphill, I mean ALL UPHILL. The scenery was gorgeous, but after that much uphill, it wasn’t fun for me anymore. We came upon a parking lot off the side of the road so I stopped and Keith went on. I was perfectly content playing on my phone for awhile as he continued to ride another 3 miles. When he met back up with me we decided we would ride that section another night.

Keith biking Red Canyon

Keith biking Red Canyon

Lindsey biking Red Canyon

Lindsey biking Red Canyon

Red Canyon bike path

Red Canyon bike path

About two weeks later we parked in the lot where I had stopped and together we rode all the way to Bryce Canyon National Park. Once in the park, we rode to Inspiration Point. We had actually been to the viewpoint by that time in the trip, but it was such a unique way to see park of the park! This was also a difficult ride for me, several long uphill sections and we rode 20 miles in total! On the way back I was pretty worn out and Keith kept saying, "The jeep is just around the next corner." He said this several times before we actually got back to the jeep! Grrr... sometimes he thinks he's being helpful 😉

Solar panels at Bryce Canyon

Solar panels at Bryce Canyon

Inspiration Point

Inspiration  Point

World's 10 Most Beautiful Highways

Were you still wondering about the #1 most beautiful highway?

In 2013 Fox News Travel put out an article called World's 10 Most Beautiful Highways. This article was hanging at the campground and references Highway 12 as the 2nd most beautiful highway.

Have you driven on any of these highways?  Do you agree with their list?

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