Driving Scenic Byway 12 in Utah: What to Expect

So when Shelly and I went on our road trip around Utah’s National Parks, I had many people reach out to me on Instagram insisting that we had to take the long way from Zion National Park to Moab via the Scenic Byway 12, or as it’s apparently known as, “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.”

Driving Utah's Scenic Byway 12

This road is a designated All-American Road, which is a distinction only given to about 1/3 of scenic byways. All-American Roads get this distinction because they offer unique features that you can’t find anywhere else. We also overheard a couple different people raving about it while we were in Zion. Needless to say, our expectations for this 113 mile-long stretch of highway were very high and we were excited about the journey… but did it live up to the hype?

Scenic Byway 12 - Utah

As we set off, I made the joke, “what if it’s not even that cool?” Laughing because everyone had talked so much about it. I think I might have jinxed us…

Red Canyon

When we first got onto the road, it was pretty cool! This part of the road goes through Red Canyon where tunnels are carved out of the stone canyon walls.

The canyons/rock formations were a striking red and very interesting but didn’t compare to what we had seen in Zion National Park.

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Our trusty road warrior: The 2018 Mazda CX-5 from Roger Beasley Mazda

Bryce Canyon National Park

We stopped off at Bryce Canyon National Park to do a little exploring. We opted not to do any hikes, but the road that runs through the park offers plenty of pull-offs with scenic viewing points. We probably spent an hour or two exploring Bryce Canyon.

Driving Utah's Scenic Byway 12

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After leaving Bryce National Park, that’s when things became a little questionable. We were expecting amazing, what we got was dirt…

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Not that it was ugly, it just wasn’t the incredible drive we were expecting — and again, it just wasn’t anywhere as amazing as Zion National Park.

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The Hogback

After Calf Creek is an internationally famous stretch of byway known as “The Hogback.” The road runs along a very steep ridge that drops off on both sides.

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Photo source: brycecanyoncountry.com

Boulder Mountain

It was a very diverse drive though, we went from the above photos to a forest on Boulder Mountain in a matter of a couple miles.

Driving the Scenic Byway 12 in Utah

Driving the Scenic Byway 12 in Utah

Driving the Scenic Byway 12 in Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

Once we got to Capitol Reef National Park, it definitely got way better. I would’ve loved to have explored this park more!

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On to Moab

Driving Utah's Scenic Byway 12

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So is it worth it to add on the extra hour and a half (at least)? Yes. You’re traveling and there to experience all that you can, so I say go for it! It didn’t live up to Shelly and I’s expectations, but it’s made for some pretty funny inside jokes and memories, including buying $50 fringe vests at a gas station…

Driven Scenic Byway 12 before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

xx Chels

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